On the way back from Dingle, we stopped in Killarney National Park, Ireland’s largest, for some light hiking. We stopped near Muckross House, a palatial estate, and Heather, John and Carol walked in to see Torc waterfall. The verdant forest, vines and wildflowers at this time of year, and views over a string of lakes, made it a fragrant as well as scenic stroll. Tom had duly warned John and Heather about Carol’s penchant for “death marches.” So when the group reached the falls, John and Heather made the smart choice to stop for picture taking. Carol, of course, made a vain attempt to climb farther to see the TOP of the falls. Even she gave up after the trail kept curving ‘round and ‘round the mountainside. The brief stop at the falls was well-spent by John, who once again managed to capture some of the breathtaking views of his ancestral homeland.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
It is Saturday. Bright sunshine is painting the streets of Rosscarbery. But sweet sorrow approaches. The time we have left in Ireland can now be counted in hours. Life is full of twists and turns. Some sweet. Some bitter. It was a happy bend in the road of our lives that led us here to West Cork in December 2008 and again this past week.
This blog has been our attempt to share a magical experience with family and friends. Words can hardly do justice to the way this place feels. A small town, far from the beaten tourist track, Rosscarbery has become a special place for us. The people here have made it so. With their welcoming good nature, they have once again decorated our lives with memories to cherish through the years.
Returning to the place where we discovered the game of rings has been sweet for John and Heather. They’ve both won two matches each against Carol and Tom. It may not be possible for them to have a rubber match showdown because it is difficult to play rings while the televisions are being watched in pubs. The match won by Heather on Friday was sweetened by the involvement of two young children who stopped in for a wee bit with their parents. The children here are cute beyond belief!
Bartenders here know how to pour fine pints. On more than one occasion this past week, we were well-treated by Mark, who was picking up shifts at O’Brien’s. As will happen during bar banter, we learned that Mark, 25, is an outstanding musician. He shared an acoustic album with us, which we listened to and enjoyed. We’re delighted to recommend to our friends back in the states that they find the band Rescue Hill on Facebook!
Some of the old roads we’ve traveled on are so narrow that roadside hedges rub up against both sides of our rental car. But many of the roadsides are embroidered with some of the prettiest wild flowers. One in particular caught John’s eye. They are foxgloves and native to mountains in Europe, not Ireland. But they still grow freely here, blooming from May to September, we were told.
With the departure of Emily and Ali on Wednesday, a holiday bromance ended. John and Ali became fast friends. They share an interest in music and good drink. Between last Saturday and Wednesday, the two were almost inseparable. At one point when put on the spot about his bromance with Ali, John described it as a relationship that is “disturbingly comfortable.”
Friday, June 18, 2010
We haven’t felt like tourists most of the time we’ve been in Ireland. Rosscarbery has been so welcoming that we feel sort of like relatives who have strayed back to the old homestead. That said, we agreed before leaving Iowa that we would breakaway for one tourist excursion.
This happened Thursday. With Heather behind the wheel for more than three hours we drove across Ireland’s sunsplashed west country from County Cork to Dingle, which is in Kerry. For Carol and Tom, it was a return to a place they’d visited in the mid-1990s with their dear friends from Jersey, Marilyn and Brian. For John and Heather, it was a chance to go back about as close as you can to Iowa and still be in Ireland.
We arrived on an amazingly beautiful day. We had booked accommodations at the Dingle Pub, right in the center of this small seaport town. The Dingle Pub is both a pub and a B&B. The man who runs the show here is Tom Geaney. Chances are he will be here if you ever wander into the place. Our stay here was wonderful. For a glimpse at this place go to www.thedinglepub.com and enjoy!
Our host at the Dingle Pub encouraged us to take advantage of the lovely weather. The landscape was astounding and while it was not without visitors, there were times when it felt as if we had the entire peninsula to ourselves. The whole of the afternoon was spent driving and stopping to see sights such as a prehistoric fort, authentic Irish potato famine cottages and a church from around the time of St. Patrick. Oh, there was one stop at a brewpub, followed by a drive to Connor Pass. A narrow road with hair-pin turns took us to a viewing area 1,509 feet above the town of Dingle. John, of course, went mad taking photos and poor Heather had to drive the treacherous road up and back. Tom and Carol are enjoying the tourist life.
Today, it is back to Rosscarbery, but before we go, we thought we’d share a few more photos from our visit.