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Report 1922: Coasting Through Ireland on Pints of Cider

By Green Dragon from FL, Spring 2011

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Page 17 of 21: Friday, May 27th: You've Got to Stop Playing With That, I Can't Handle It!

We got all packed and ready to check out, after getting led up to breakfast again. The tick-tocking of the clock was very loud in the quiet room, but our hostess was a bit more chatty this morning, and we checked out and headed for our final destination, Kenmare. And as a note, even though she accepts credit card for the reservation itself, she only takes cash on checkout – I'm glad I decided to get more cash at the last known ATM.

It was about an hour drive to try the Gap of Dunloe again. The weather was nicer so we decided to walk up the Gap, since cars were evidently not allowed – which was bull, because we saw at least a dozen cars of tourists drive through there while we walked it. I think the jaunting car driver last night simply wanted a fare from us instead of letting us drive it. However, it was a lovely walk, about 2.5 miles up to the bridge across the gap. There was a slight drizzle now and then, but it was green, lush, and the water made for wonderful photographs. There was one guy that looked like he had strapped three couch cushions to his back, and crossed the river. Evidently camping gear – but he looked very ungainly.

On the way up, we were passed by several tourists on bikes, jaunting carts with ponies, on ponies themselves, or in cars. There were also other walkers ... this is a spot of great natural beauty, and I'm glad others are appreciating it.

On the way back, I actually jogged a couple downhill spots – and I am not a jogger by any stretch of the imagination. But it felt good to get some speed up, with the help of Mother Gravity. The last time we were here we took the jaunting car, and Kim rode one of the ponies – I asked another cart driver about Tim, our previous driver, but he had the day off.

On to Muckross House, a stately Victorian home. The car park was packed, and the spots were very narrow, even for my little car. We walked through the cafι and into the gardens, and explored the rocky hill garden with stone steps up, around, and through. We ended up behind Muckross House itself, and that is a prettier view than the front of the house. The house tour is €7, and we enjoyed the tour a lot. Queen Victoria had stayed there, and the rooms are kept as they were at the time of the visit.

After the tour, we climbed up Torc Waterfall, enjoyed the views, but we felt we had been spoiled for waterfalls after Glenariffe Forest and Eos Waterfall in Ardara.

After Torc, we headed out of Killarney and on towards Kenmare, not too far away. We found ourselves in Moll's Gap, I recognized it from my 2002 trip – I hadn't realized it was on the route. In Kenmare, we found O'Donnabhain's Guest House and Gastro Pub with little trouble – it's halfway down one of the two main streets. We weren't sure where to park, so we parked around the corner and went to check in. Like most Irish towns, the houses were townhouses, all attached to each other, but this place was huge! It looks normal from the outside, but it keeps going and going and going back – and it's three stories tall, as well. The rooms are all upstairs, the kitchen and pub is downstairs. Jerry, the owner, was great, showed us our room, the lounge, the pub. The room was huge, by any standards, and the bathroom large, as well. Very clean, very modern, very precise. More of an American Hotel standard dιcor than an Irish B&B standard.

We parked our car in the back parking lot (thanks to Jerry for directions), and went into the pub for food and pints. Our waiter, Michael, was Australian, and reminded us very much of Moe on the Simpsons – the way he looked, walked, etc. I had a seafood open sandwich with prawns (of course), while V had the seafood chowder – and we discovered the best brown bread in Ireland. It had honey in it, was sweet, soft, and absolutely delectable. Jerry said he would post the recipe on his website in a month or so, as he kept getting comments. Oh, and my meal included a large prawn, complete with head and antennae. I kept playing with it, and V said "You've got to stop playing with that, I just can't handle it!"

Once more we braved the soft weather to go shopping. We were going to meet a friend at the Square Pint, but when we looked around it was hopelessly closed. I noticed some Irish towns are geometrically challenged – their town square here was triangular, and it's not the first time I've noticed that. Back to the pub after a flurry of shopping goodness, for pints and sticky toffee pudding! I figured it is our last stop on the trip, I'd been good but wanted some sweetness to counter the bitterness of an ending vacation.

I like Kenmare, as a town, better than Dingle. I still like Ardara more, but Ardara, if I were to live there, would likely be quite cold in the winters. Kenmare is likely to be warmer – and it's cozier than Dingle, more intimate, more friendly. We were planning our trip for the next day around the Ring of Beara, and Jerry came over with some advice about sticking to the coastal road for the more scenic bits.

We went back to the room, and I started my Grand Repacking Scheme. I knew I had bought lots of stuff, and wanted to check my extra bag with my clothes on the way back, bring the gifts as a carry-on. However, I realized that the extra bag was soft sided, and I had bought a bottle of poitin for J. That means that I would have to instead check my roller-board (the one with wheels!) and carry my soft-sided bag, as the poitin was definitely more than three ounces. Sigh – it is what it is. V had found a nice duffel bag, with Ireland embroidered on it, for her second bag, but had to figure out how much space she still had left to fill.

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