Monday, July 11–Killarney, Co Kerry

Chat with Pat at Duninin House; Inch Strand & beach; valleys of the Slieve Mish Mountains; towns of Castlemaine & Milltown; lunch in Killarney; tourist information offices; St Mary's Church; dinner at the hotel; "Celtic steps" show

Killarney Court Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan

Slideshow

11/10/2016

I had a very pleasant last breakfast and chat with my host, Pat, at Duinin House. We talked a bit more about the book he's writing on local history and more about his background. He's a retired school teacher, and taught for 35 years. Earlier when I had mentioned that I'm on a grand trip for my 60th birthday, Pat told me that on a whim he had said he'd be somewhere on the Great Wall of China for his next birthday, his 70th. We also talked a bit about my fondness for "Time Team", the BBC show about archaeology that ran for 20 years. Pat told me his B&B is called Duinin, because fort in Irish Gaelic is dun (as in Dun Aengus and Dun Beag) and duinin is little fort and in the field next to their property is the remains of an old fort. Pat also reminded me that often such sites have been protected from development over the centuries because of a folk belief that such ancient sites were connected with the fairy folk.

The weather today was pretty nice, with a persistent & complete but light cloud cover all day.

The drive from Dingle to here in Killarney took just over an hour, including stopping a couple of times to take pictures. The route followed the coast for a bit, including going by the lovely Inch Strand & beach (where my tour stopped ten years ago, as I did today) and swung inland, through the valleys of the Slieve Mish Mountains and went through the towns of Castlemaine & Milltown. I got here to my hotel about noon, and of course it was too early to check into my hotel.

My hotel, the Killarney Court Hotel, is older in some parts but I think my room might be in a newer extension of an older wing. There's not much of a view from anywhere in the hotel except for the gas station/shopping center across the street so it doesn't matter that my room faces a long concrete wall. It has a very nice bar, though.

The hotel's a ten minute walk or a short cab ride away from the center of town, so while I was waiting to be able to check into my room at 2 PM I walked into town which was a pleasant walk, first through a residential neighborhood lined with townhouses many of whose owners had made nice attempts to make their properties stand out a bit from their neighbors, then hit one of the main streets which connected to the other main street that runs alongside the International Hotel which is where my tour group stayed ten years ago.

I went past a very nice French patisserie but didn't have lunch there because although they had some lovely pastries they had a very limited lunch menu which didn't thrill me. I had lunch instead at a small but quite good and not expensive Asian place a little bit down the street even if I wasn't yet hungry enough to eat all the food that was part of my order.

I also went past a small tourist information office. They had some information there about three Irish music & dance shows that are currently running here in town. One flier was for a show called "Celtic steps" and advertised that one of the male dancers was a five time Irish dancing world champion, so that was the show that interested me the most. The lone employee working there then told me that if I went to the main tourist information office they'd be able to book a ticket to tonight's show for me and told me how to get there. It was on the way over to the larger tourist office that I walked through the same area I'd stayed in last time, and stopped in the very lovely St Mary's church where there was a wedding rehearsal going on. I stayed at the back of the church and took pictures from there.

When I got to the larger tourist office, the guy who helped me there didn't book a ticket for me but called to find out if tickets were available and they were. It was after 2 PM by now, and so I asked him to call a cab for me to take me back here to my hotel.

My host back in Dingle, Pat, had told me that he and his wife are frequent visitors down here to Killarney. He suggested taking the tour that picks you up at your hotel here in town, takes you up to Kate Kearney's cottage and then across the Gap of Dunloe to the Lakes of Killarney where you ride a tour boat across to Ross Castle where you have about an hour before a shuttle drops you off back at your hotel. That sounded pretty good to me, since the Cottage and the Gap are supposed to be well worth visiting and the trip would also get me out on the lakes, so I booked a ticket for Wednesday downstairs at reception when I came back to the hotel.

I set my laptop up and logged into the hotel's wifi after unpacking most of the stuff I wanted out for the next three mornings. I thought I'd better see about booking a ticket to tonight's show myself to make sure I had one. I tried calling the phone number listed for the box office on the flier I had but no one answered and I was finishing ordering a ticket on the show's web page when the woman at the box office called me back. The show is usually held somewhere at the local horse racing track since the track actually only has live racing for four days in a row in May, July, and August, and the four days this July are today through Thursday, so the show is being held in a large conference room at one of the other hotels downtown.

I had a very good dinner downstairs in the hotel's pub then called a cab for the short ride to the hotel where the show was being held, and got there early enough to be able to get a seat in the front row of what turned out to be a mostly full house.

The show was excellent. There were four lovely, very talented female dancers. There were two male dancers, one of them being the five time champ advertised on the flier and the other himself a champion in sean nos (or old style) dancing, and they were both excellent as well. There was an older guy who was the MC, played bodhran and could still dance. There was a woman who played fiddle and had a beautiful singing voice. There was a guy who played various accordions, tin whistles, and flute, and there was a fourth guy who played guitar, banjo, bodhran and was the show's musical director.

All the music was beautifully performed and sung, and all the dances were very well done as well. There was a variety of different types of music and dancing, including mostly solo but with some ensemble pieces where two couples danced the Kerry set. One of my favorite numbers was a bodhran & dancing competition.

I took the free shuttle provided by the show back here to the hotel and was dropped off last after the driver had to drop off a group of German or Swiss or Austrian tourists first. I didn't mind since I wasn't in a hurry, got to see more of the town, and enjoyed the driver's company,

It's now about 1:30 AM and I really should get to bed soon. My room once again faces East, so I've closed the curtains to see if I can sleep longer past the dawn. I plan on having breakfast here in the hotel. I have that ticket for the show at Siamsa Tire, the national folk theater up in Tralee (about a 35 minute drive from here) tomorrow evening so I think I'll leave Killarney around 3 or 4 to explore the town a bit and have dinner somewhere before the show.


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