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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 19 of 21: Sunday, May 29th: Enough with the Mists Already!

Today was the Ring of Kerry. I had thought about the boat out to Skellig Michael, but the weather was still too rough for this, and we would have had to arrange it the day before, anyhow. It was very misty and still quite windy today.

We had breakfast again, served by Jerry's wife, and we realized that the floors in that breakfast room was an entire orchestra of squeaks! I would hate to have the room just above it – I'm sure they were loud enough to break through any fog of sleep and ear plugs I had surrounded myself in.

V was able to check out with no problem that morning, since we would be up and out before sunrise the next morning to get to the airport on time. She mentioned that Vanessa, Jerry's wife, was incredibly helpful and friendly, and for V, that is quite a compliment.

We started out on the southern road of the Ring of Kerry towards Sneem. Now, I'd driven the ROK twice myself already, but V had of course never seen it. The last time I went, we went counter-clockwise, and got stuck in the middle of a huge charity bike race in June. There were literally hundreds of bicyclers using the road in the same direction we were, and they take over the entire road. Trying to pass them is a nightmare around bends and twisty roads, and we were all nervous wrecks by the time we decided to take a detour to Valentia Island. This time, there were no such problems, though the ever-present mist and drizzles still continued to haunt us.

We explored around Ballinskelligs Bay, thanks to Jerry's recommendation the night before, and the beach there was wonderful, with a ruin on an island out into the ocean. We continued on to Staigue Fort, St. Finan's Bay, and Killonacaha. TomTom took us over another mountain, and the way was steep and a bit scary, but at the top you could see all of Valentia Island spread out in front of us, even through the mists and the wind.

We went down to the Visitor Centre to learn about Skellig Michael, and while I really wanted to go, I realized it would have been impossible to see much, and probably quite dangerous climbing those stairs in the wind without any railing or support.

The last time I had been there, we had climbed part of the hill at the end of the island, but came back before getting to the top. This time we walked the whole thing, and what a wonderful choice! There was a surprise view on the other side, with crashing waves against rocks and lovely cliffs. There was a rather spooky ruined house at the top – I have no idea if there was any historical significance, but it looked like a rather modern concrete structure. It had a sublime view, though, when the mists cleared.

Back on the main road of the ROK, we found two other ring forts along the coast, one of which we saw from the road, and took a long, runaround way to get to it. We were greeted by the owner (an orange tabby cat) who allowed us access after paying a toll of several pets. This was a cool fort, as it still had some of the internal structures in place, so you could see better how people lived inside the fort.

Farther along the road, we saw more brown signs – two forts and a castle. The castle that was surrounded by barbed wire, but several teenage boys were inside and climbing around. As we left, we saw a rather angry-looking older woman driving a tractor up the road, and figured she was going to go thrash the boys that were on her land and her castle.

The two forts were right near each other, on neighboring hills, and we parked in one place for both. These were larger, higher forts than the last one, again with some internal structures to help us picture life of that time. Yesterday was the Stone Circle day, today was evidently the Stone Fort day.

We went back down to the main road, and found Rossbeigh Beach, which was pretty, but we had just about had enough of the gloom and mist, and were rather tired of it all. We got back to Killorglin, and then back home to Kenmare. We decided to go out to the take-away for chips and curry, and V had a chicken burger. They had decent food, and Jer (I assume that's the owner's name, as it said Jer's Take-away) is evidently the hardest working man in Kenmare. He was doing great, had several customers going at once, and I think owned the kabob place across the street, too. He had gone over there for more curry sauce the night before.

One of the last things we saw on the ROK was a horse, peeing on the ground, and I joyfully pointed it out to V and said 'So that will be your last memory of a horse in Ireland!' Luckily for her, we saw a pony a short time later, bending down and then rolling in the grass to itch its back, so she had a better final memory.

We went back to the pub in Kenmare, and got some Irish coffee crθme brulee – yum! And then we had to get to sleep early, as we were up early, 3:45, to get to the airport on time.

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