Today was supposed to be my tour of the Ring of Kerry, another peninsula jutting out into the southwestern side of Ireland, into the Atlantic. For the first time I got a taste of Irish weather. It started out cool and misty, top down. It alternated between mist and fog, and then deteriorated into full on rain after lunch (finally top up), before reverting to a persistent and annoying mist that lasted the rest of the day. Needless to say, my “tour” was a bust. Great roads, but very frustrating passing one “scenic view” stop after another, hardly able to see my hand in front of my face. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.
Here is my tour route, one of the longest of my trip (wouldn’t you know it?). Over 200km and about 5 hours driving.
But, when you get lemons, make lemonade (or vodka up with a lemon slice). Some good can come of even a bad day. Firstly, my hotel last night had great traditional Irish music starting at 7:30, an hour I can reasonably expect to be awake. I am going to try to embed a few audio files (click on audio files at end of post). I turned in about 9, and the headliner band started at 10. Despite being in a room near the bar, I kind of enjoyed the background music as I drifted off the sleep.
Since the “hotel” (i.e. rooms over a pub), offered no breakfast, I decided to leave early and get something on the road. Left at 8 and at about 9 wandered into the little town of Sneem where I stopped at a coffee shop. Had the best Belgium waffles ever, one with syrup and one with two eggs and two slices of Irish bacon on top. Yummy. As many of you know, what the English and Irish call bacon, we might call Canadian bacon, or even smoked ham. I am hooked on it.
Then a few miles down the road, and 4km up a winding side road I came to Staigue Fort, the best preserved pre-historic stacked stone fort in Ireland, almost perfectly intact. This was quite a feat of construction in 400AD and that fact that is still standing, totally without mortar, after 1600 years is astonishing. Too bad I couldn’t see the views. I suppose the inhabitants had plenty of this during their tenure.
CLICK ABOVE AND OPEN IN A NEW TAB TO READ THE STORY
HARD TO SEE, BUT THEY EVEN HAD STEPS LEADING UP TO A FIGHTING PLATFORM USED TO DEFEND THE FORT
RAIN = WATERFALLS
Next stop Waterville, a nice (I think) beach town with one claim to fame. Charlie Chaplin used to stay here and there is a statue of him in the central park. Every town must have its claim to fame. One I passed through had a huge statue of their favorite son, a professional wrestler!
Anyway, on around the Ring of Kerry, past what the signs promised were the “most spectacular cliffs in Kerry” (I could hardly see the side of the road, and the idiot in the motorhome in front of me was clearly in a deep panic attack as he crept along at 5 mph, slamming on the brakes every time another car approached. 15 km of this and I was ready for a panic attack, or a heart attack.
One interesting encounter, when I stopped for lunch. A group of old tractor guys on a day out drive in the mountains. These machines are from the 60’s, all restored. They make 17 mph and were doing a 60 mile loop!
Since we don’t have much to see today, I will digress into discussing the traffic, or more accurately, the driving I am experiencing. First of all, the traffic is generally very light, at least where I go, and the road surfaces are fairly good (variable), even though I am mostly sticking to the “tourist route”, the Wild Atlantic Way. Seems most tourists opt to skip the narrower (and more scenic) stretches and just bop from one tourist town to another on the better two-lane roads. I have done hundreds of kilometers on single track roads and have found oncoming drivers to be quite polite. Yes, one frequently must back up to the last turn out to let another one by. And you must be real careful going around tight corners and over blind rises. But so far, not even a close call.
Then there are the obvious tourists, particularly those who you can tell are from left hand drive countries and those driving motorhomes (probably for the first time). They are a nightmare. Slow, Ok, just pull over when there is a line of cars behind you. But you can’t drive in the middle of a one lane road and expect the oncoming traffic to get out of your way…. It’s just not possible. Some of the motorhomes are really too big to use these roads. Today, one guy just stopped in the middle of the road, got out of his motorhome and explained that there was just no way he could get by me and I would just have to back up a mile or so to let him through! If you can’t drive it, don’t rent it.
Oh well, so around the Ring and then back over the central spine of the peninsula via Ballaghbeama Gap, Moll’s Gap and Ladies View Gap and finally through the Killarney National Park (lovely fern covered forest) and into Killarney.
For some unknown reason I booked a B&B about ten miles outside of town. I did a drive through and there were dozens of great hotels in town and on the outskirts. What was I thinking? Bad room, bad bar, in the boonies. Got to pick better next time. Don’t trust online reviews.
Finally, I am posting a few internet photos, so you can see what I was supposed to see today. Hope tomorrow is better.