I had both an early and a late start this morning. The early start was because I couldn't remember how late breakfast is served here in my hotel, and shaved, showered, dressed and was downstairs by 9:30. The late start was because afer that, the only thing I was doing today that had any time constraint was the show in Tralee at 8:30 PM.
I had thought about heading into Tralee early enough to wander around the town and have dinner before the show, but the Kerry County Museum which is right next to the Siamsa Tire Irish National Folk Theatre closes at 5:30 PM and I know from experience that a lot of shops close around six with the only places usually still open being cafes, restaurants, and pubs.
This morning I decided I'd only head into Tralee about 6 PM, which would give me plenty of time to get there, find the theater, and find somewhere nearby to have dinner. I also decided not to take the 1:30-2:30 shuttle out to Ladies View in Killarney National Park.
That meant that I had pretty all day to do and go see whatever I wanted. On the way back from the show last night, the shuttle driver had gone past a small pub called The Shire, which bills itself as "the only Middle Earth-themed pub in Ireland" so of course I wanted to that was one of the places I wanted to go to today. I also wanted to find St Mary's RC cathedral and find the Market Cross. Most sites of markets in the UK and Ireland originally had a cross there, and Killarney still has its.
The weather had been fairly nice when I'd had breakfast, cloudy but not rainy with some sun. It had deteriorated a bit, however, by the time I left a bit after 1 PM and was sometimes drizzly with occasional heavier rain.
On the walk to the cathedral I went past what I think was a public school or a sports facility with lots of kids playing on the adjacent fields, and then the very lovely buildings and grounds of St Brendan's College, which is really a Roman Catholic all boys secondary school run by the local diocese instead of a college as we would think of back home.
St Mary's cathedral is beautiful, easily one of the most beautiful churches I've been to anywhere. Before I went in, however, I went across the street to take a picture of the pretty and charming tea house and horse carriages at the entrance to the Killarney National Park at that corner.
When I left it had started drizzling again and so the next part of my walk was kind of damp and I had left my waterproof jacket back in my room because I thought I wouldn't need it, although I actually had brought my pack and could have stuffed the jacket in it. The walk to the Market Cross took me back to the area where my tour group had stayed ten years ago and where I'd walked yesterday. I had to use Google Maps to find it, though, because it was kind of around the corner up the street from where I was yesterday.
After that I used Google Maps to make my way over to the Shire, and went around the wrong corner and up the wrong street a bit at first. The Shire is really a tiny pub and is a lot closer to the corner of a main street than I had remembered after briefly driving past it in the shuttle last night and the owner runs a small hostel right adjacent to it. I enjoyed the Shire when I got there, but they don't serve food and I hadn't had lunch yet so I had to wander back down the street to find somewhere to eat. There are several pubs with restaurants on that corner but since I was going back to a pub for a pint after eating I went to a lovely small restaurant called Cronin's which was around the corner. The food was also very good and reasonably priced.
The Shire wasn't busy at first when I got there or while I had my pint of Frodo's lager, which the pub has brewed locally for them along with an ale and a stout. It was still cloudy but not raining when I left the Shire but the walk back to my hotel is uphill from there so I had them call a cab for me.
My laundry would be back from the cleaners sometime this evening and so I wanted to bring in my two suitcases from the car to consolidate clean clothes. I brought one of them back in with me on the way to my room.
I got back here around 5 or 5:15 and wanted to leave here for Tralee by 6:30 at the latest but that gave me an hour or so to just hang out and rest in my room for a bit first which was very pleasant.
The weather had improved quite a bit by the time I left for Tralee. I probably could have navigated from here to the theater by just following the well marked road signs but I know that the theater is right next to the Kerry County Museum and the Garmin sat nav could find that so I used it. The route went through the lovely green rolling hills of the Kerry countryside and went through one or two towns with narrower, not as well paved streets but for the most part it was on beautiful, wide two lane roads with the occasional bumpier stretch or windy bends, so it was quite a pleasant drive there and back.
What I saw of Tralee on the way to the theater and heading back out of town verified what I've always heard, that it's a particularly pretty place. I would have liked to wander around it some more, but as I said earlier the show didn't start until 8:30 PM. I found the museum with no problem but had to check the theater's location on Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone because I hadn't walked far enough around the corner by the museum.
The first place I tried to eat dinner, an Italian restaurant recommended on the theater's web site said they wouldn't be able to seat and serve me before the show because they had a couple of large parties already, although it wasn't even 7:30 yet. I went a couple of places up the street to what turned out to be a lovely, small Italian restaurant. For some reason, I was the only person in the place at this time, and it was a really nice place, with friendly and helpful staff and very good food at a reasonable price. I had a lovely chicken risotto, which was so filling I couldn't eat all of it. I had no problem eating the much lighter serving of tiramisu, though.
Siamsa Tire is housed in a very lovely, interestingly designed building I liked very much. I was also very favorably impressed with the theater part where the show takes place, and especially that although the seats are a bit short for my liking they all have lovely leg room.
The show tonight was wonderful. There was no talking and all the singing was in Irish Gaelic but it really didn't matter all that much. The show, "Fado Fado", is thematically based on major events throughout the year in a rural setting. There was an orchestra of six musicians including a harp, a violin, an accordion, and a string bass. The cast was pretty large including about half a dozen kids, and everyone was excellent. There was lots of excellent singing and dancing, both solo and ensemble performances. It really was wonderful.
The weather was still very pleasant after the show, with the half moon occasionally shining between the clouds, and the drive back here to my hotel in Killarney was not bad although city kid that I am I have to admit that any time I'm driving after dark where the only light you see is your headlights or that of other cars always freaks me out a bit, whether that's on the way to Black Butte, up to St Augustine, or here in Ireland this evening.
The shuttle picks me up about 10:30 tomorrow morning for that day's adventure. I'm taking a tour up into the Killarney National Park, up to Kate Kearney's cottage, with a horse drawn carriage ride through the Gap of Dunloe, with a boat ride across the lakes to Ross Castle where the shuttle will pick me up again, with time at the cottage and castle to enjoy them.
I'm not sure what I'll do after that. Tomorrow's the third of the four evenings when horse racing is taking place this week. If I can get the shuttle driver to let me off somewhere the track, I might just do that and spend some time there to remember Dad. If not, I'll take a cab downtown later in the evening to find somewhere to eat and find somewhere to listen to more trad music.
I already have Thursday all planned out. It's an hour and a half drive directly from here in Killarney to my hotel in Colrk, but I think I'll stop by two places also in the National Park that I've read are very well worth visiting, Muckross Abbey and Muckross House. From there it's about a 45 minute drive to the megalithic stone circle down near Kenmare. It's then an hour and half from the Stone Circle to Cork, so I think I'll make those stops along the way. That will still give me some time to explore Cork City before dinner and maybe find somewhere to listen to some traditional music later on in the evening.
And now it's about 1:15 AM and time for bed.