Friday, April 14th, Good Friday–Killarney, Co Kerry

Showers; licensing laws; Deros Ring of Kerry tour–sheep herding, incredible scenery, and lunch high above the sea; Irish souvenir guitar picks for my guitar playing Ren Faire dinner guests; leftovers for dinner; walking over to and back from the wonderful "Gaelic Roots" show

Park Place Apartments

Silver VW Jetta



As usual it's now about 11:15 PM and I'm just getting around to typing up my notes from today. Not only did I not get home from this evening's show until about 10:30 but I also first wanted to get some further information about where we went on the tour today since I can guarantee that I've already forgotten the names of at least half the places we went to and especially the ones we only drove past.

Before I start with this morning, I want to make a comment about showers again which are a very important part of how much I like anywhere I stay. The shower here in my mini apartment is phone booth size but has a door that's large enough for me to pretty easily get in and out of. One design flaw is that the controls for the water (one for on/off, one for heat/cold) are behind the door when it's open and the shower head barely pivots so there's not a lot of room to stand out of the water while it's warming up. The shower head is, I'd say, low flow and medium but adequate efficiency. And the worst design flaw is that there are no towel hooks or racks close to the shower doorway so I've had to drape my towel across the sink which is right next to the shower. None of those are major complaints, though.

I also learned a bit about Ireland's sort of post-Catholic licensing laws. Today was Good Friday and technically all bars, pubs, taverns and liquor stores were closed. There are exceptions, however, such as if you are staying in a hotel that has its own bar they can't sell booze to non-residents but they can to you. And the same is true even if, like I was this evening, you are just attending an event there.

Although this morning I woke up with what I thought would be plenty of time to get down the street to the Deros Tours where the Ring of Kerry tour leaves from I was almost late and didn't even leave myself time to have one of my Slimfasts before I had to leave. At first I couldn't find my ticket voucher with a number on it that turned out to be my seat assignment and had to dig through the small recycling bin to find it.

On the way to the departure point I went past the shop that had the Ireland guitar picks, the Blackthorn (no web site apparently), and also some people collecting for Killarney Water Rescue but as I mentioned I was in a hurry then. I also answered a question I had. I had been wondering if there was any place in town where I could ship things back home in case I buy another sweatshirt or jacket that won't fit in my suitcases and I walked right past a sign for Mailboxes Etc. I might need to go there Tuesday or Wednesday morning before I leave. I'm still looking for an Ireland zip front sweatshirt or jacket.

The bus was quite nice and new with OK leg room but since I had two seats to myself since I was traveling alone I could sit on the aisle and that allowed me to stretch out my legs almost as much as I needed to. Oddly enough, though, the seats are all more like recliners and as usual I'd have preferred more of a straight back.

The bus was fairly full, with what looked like a few couples (husband & wife, mother & daughter maybe), a couple of families (one was American, with grandfather, mom, dad & two teen sons) and I think eight Indians or Pakistanis in their 20s who were traveling together, switched seats every time we stopped, and some of whom talked almost the whole time which I found mildly annoying.

Before I started typing up today's notes I took a look again at the section on the Ring of Kerry in Rick Steves's, Fodor's and Frommer's guides to Ireland. Although some of the places we went to, including where we stopped for lunch, aren't in any of those three books we do seem to have gone through or to all the major places mentioned in them.

The weather today ranged from misty to a very fine drizzle most of the time.

The first place we stopped was the small Kerry Bog Village Museum and the wonderful Red Fox Inn adjacent to it. Although Irish & Bailey's coffees were on offer I didn't have one because I'd skipped breakfast but just took a look around the Red Fox before paying the 5 Euros to visit the Bog Village which was interesting and well done.

The rest of the places I'm going to mention are in no particular order, especially not the order in which we visited them. As I said earlier, I can't even remember the names of many of the places we drove past but we did pass through all the major villages along the way even if we didn't stop there.

One very lovely and interesting place was where the farmer who owned the land which was on the side of the mountain demonstrated working with his two sheep dogs to herd his sheep. They were quite amazing. Afterwards he showed off some of the several different breeds of sheep he has. This was quite an enjoyable stop.

We drove past the ruins of where Daniel O'Connell was born and not long afterwards drove past Derrynane House, where he went to live with a rich uncle and which he later inherited from him.

We stopped in the small and lovely village of Waterville with its incredible scenery and statue of Charlie Chaplin who had a vacation home there. Denis, our guide, mentioned that three of Chaplin's daughters still have homes there now. While we and several other tour buses were there a strange toothless little old man came by and sat on a bench to play the accordion and weird though he may have been he could play quite well.

We drove through the small town of Killorglin which is best known for the world famous Puck Fair which is one of the oldest festivals still continuing in Ireland. Each year a wild goat is captured and made King of the festival.

We also stopped in the little village of Sneem which is quite lovely and has two very pretty churches, a bridge where the River Sneem comes in over very rocky terrain, and several shops and cafes. One of the stores specializes in music and gifts. I went in and asked the ladies who they had on CD who was local to the area and they helped me select several that were by performers from Kerry or at least nearby on the West coast. While we were in Sneem I had a chance to chat with Denis, our driver, a bit. When I told him how flat South Florida, where I now live, is he mentioned that he probably couldn't live there. He's a dedicated hill walker, and every Sunday he climbs one of the nearby mountains. When I told him he's what the Scots call a "Munro bagger" I had to explain to him that a Munro is any mountain in Scotland that is over 3000 feet (apparently named so after the first guy who cataloged them) and a Munro bagger is a devoted climber of them.

While we were there in Sneem there was a guy with a beard in a cap who had with him a goat, which Denis said was the most recent King Puck from Puck Fair. The goat was a very placid, gentle creature apparently well used to strange people now which just kind of hung out, laying on the sidewalk next to his human friend. You could see there was quite a bit of affection between them because while I was sitting in the bus waiting for us to leave I could watch them and the goat was then standing on the small wall next to its human and coming up to rub his head against him or to be scratched. It was rather endearing.

Early on we made a quick stop at O'Carroll's Cove with its lovely beach and restaurant/bar.

We stopped somewhere for lunch whose name I can't remember and wish I could (but I did take pictures of the place's sign, and it was the Scarriff Inn); it's definitely a regular stop on the tour route because as usual we saw several other buses there. They have a restaurant and gift shop and B&B and do a very friendly but efficient job of moving people through the food lines. I had a good egg salad sandwich and a cup of excellent seafood chowder and a very good but dense piece of carrot cake. The place apparently has a direct view of Skellig Michael and their sign out front says something like "The best view in Ireland (fog permitting)."

On the final leg of the trip, shortly before we returned to Killarney town itself, we made a brief stop at Ladies' View which is one of the best views of the Lakes of Killarney and gets its name from a picnic stop Queen Victoria took with her ladies in waiting on her single trip to Killarney.

We got back to town between 5:15 and 5:30 PM. On the way back here to the Park Place Apartments I saw the collectors for the Water Rescue were still out so I dropped a small donation in their bucket and then stopped in at the Blackthorn. They only had two packs of the guitar picks near the cash register but the nice woman working then found five more hanging on a rack nearby.

Tonight's show was at 8:30 PM so I hung out here until about 7:40 and had my leftovers from lunch on Wednesday for dinner instead of trying to find somewhere on Good Friday.

The show was "Gaelic Roots" at the Killarney Avenue Hotel, a very nice, fancy hotel not far from the International Hotel where I stayed on the CIE tour Mom sent me on eleven years ago, around the corner from the Shire pub and only a ten minute walk from here. I'm glad I got there early because all the seats were unreserved except for a section for people on a CIE tour.

The show was wonderful and incredible and I fell in love with the female harper as well as the three female Irish dancers and the three vocalists, who are sisters, every time they came out in a different dress or costume. Not only were they beautiful but they were very good. Don't get me wrong, the male dancer and musicians were also extremely good.

There was a wide variety of different kinds of dancing and music and songs, including a bodhran and male dancer showdown and a percussion and dancer showdown where the male flute player got in on the dancing as well. All in all it was an excellent show.

It's now about 12:30 AM. I'm going to have a bit of a snack since I still have my pastries from the French bakery while I finish watching a "Time Team" video I've started three or so times already.

Tomorrow, Saturday, is the Irish evening at the Jarvey's Rest. If I want to have dinner there before the show I should probably be there before 6:30 PM. I think what I'll do is drive over to Muckross House in the late morning and maybe have lunch there, then come back here for the rest of the afternoon before driving over for dinner and the show.

And that's it for tonight.

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