It is hard to imagine countryside more spectacular than the Cliffs of Mohr we saw on July 6th, as our first few pictures demonstrated. And I would not describe the Irish countryside as spectacular in the sense that I would describe California’s coast in the same way, or the Swedish Alps, or even Colorado’s Rockies. Ireland is indeed beautiful, serene, and picturesque. It is as people say – very green! Is it more green than Missouri where we live? Perhaps not – we probably get as much rain as Ireland does, but one thing Shirley and I have been struck by is how temperate Ireland is… how the weather does not vary much over the course of the year. It has been very pleasant while we have been here, in the 60’s every day, and raining every day, but the breezes are very nice, but we read it does not get that cold… and so when we see the trees and plants we see there are some that thrive in this climate that don’t elsewhere (such as a HUGE Rhododendron tree, bigger than one we have ever seen before).
So on Days 4-5 of our trip we headed down to the stunningly beautiful “Ring of Kerry”, that is a long winding drive in County Kerry that is apparently one of the most popular destinations for tourists. We used as our taking off point thee city of Killarney, a very nice if not overdone tourist town on the edge of the Ring of Kerry. By that I mean the town clearly makes a lot from tourism and has great hotels and such, but this was the first place where we experienced pushy guys trying to make a buck off tourism (such as rides on horse carriages).
But as the pictures will show you, once you get on the drive,
there is nothing that can wreck the views.
The county sports some wonderful mountain views that reminded me perhaps
of mountains maybe in Appalachia (the Blue Ridge) or some beautiful drives we
have done in parts of Colorado (but with peaks not as high). However, as you will see, with each turn you
come across a great view of either lakes, bays or peaks at the ocean.
Real highlights are the amazing views of the “Skellig Islands”,
an amazing set of twin island rocks stuck about 8KM out into the ocean named "Skellig Michael" and "Little Skellig". Many hundreds of years ago the Monks built a
stunning monastery out of these rocks that defies imagination at what was
called “the edge of the world”. At the
time it was probably believed to be – as they likely thought there was nothing east
of there. They lived in harsh weather,
gone to do nothing but pray and live with beautiful puffins and others. The ruins of this still remain and a boat can
be taken to see it today. Here is a
picture or two of this amazing site.
We also stopped to see a great Chocolate factory --called the Skelligs Chocolate Factory, and within
minutes ate some of the best chocolate we have had in years—you can see how
happy Shirley was after that before she demanded the woman stop feeding us
We continued our trek around the ring to what for me may have been the highlight of the trip. I asked to stop for lunch at a little town. Little did I know what treasure awaited us there. The town was Waterville, Ireland.
It turns out this town is obsessed with all-time favorite
Director, Charlie Chaplin. He visited there
in 1959, and fell in love with the town, and came and visited every year after
that until he died. They honored him
with a statute (see the picture) and now for the last five years have a Charlie
Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in his honor, giving out a “Charlie” Award they
call it in his honor. Apparently the
whole town dresses as Charlie when the festival is on, and they show movies on
the walls of the buildings of the town.
Two of Charlie’s children own houses in the town, they love it there so
much and come to visit in the summer. I
talked with an older Irish chap for a long time, and he and I knew a lot about “Charlie”
both having read a lot of books about him.
I was in heaven.
THe RIng of Kerry sports some amazing and beautiful beaches as well as you will see below (though on one of these did we see anyone brave enough to be out swimming!).
One of our last stops of th days was to a great stop -- a circular fort, that dates back to early centuries AD, as you will see. The one we visited is in great shape and and was all constructed of stone, of course.
In : Ireland