Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seeing God's country, Ring of Kerry

This morning I started off the day with a “leisurely” hike in the Killarney National Park, which is the largest national park in Ireland at 20,000 acres.  I say"I" because Nick and Lucas decided to sleep in.  The park has a lovely estate called Muckross which was first owned by a family who overextended themselves sprucing up for a visit from Queen Victoria. 

This huge plant had prickly leaves and was a type of rhubarb plant.

They call these local drivers for hire jarveys.

This little town we went through is famous for their Puck fair every year we they honor the goat.
 The estate was then bought by a wealthy family from the US who bought it for a wedding present for their daughter.  The daughter died at a young age and the family gave the land back to Ireland. I enjoyed the hike, but it was a little more strenuous than  it was described and I was concerned for some of the less fit and healthy folks.

Peat bog pony

The land was beautiful, but it actually reminded me of the mountains around Gatlinburg and Asheville, NC.  We found out that the American owners had brought lots of plants and trees onto their land that was not indigenous to the area.  Rhododendrons had also been brought in some time in the past.  Although, they are huge and beautiful, they have become invasive.

You can see my new sweater and scarf made from Irish wool.

We had lunch here.

Our hike ended around 10:30 and we went back to the hotel to pick up those who didn’t come with us earlier.  The afternoon was spent driving on a 100 mile drive on a peninsula called the Ring of Kerry.  I won’t try describing the beautiful cliffs and shoreline, but I will add lots of pictures!  We had our lunch at a neat little place with a thatched roof.  The restaurant had delicious Irish food, desserts and sandwiches.  Lucas tried a shepard’s pie and he loved it.

We learned about ring forts which were the remains of the round homes left over from ancient times.  They are also called fairy rings.  I'm not sure if that is what is in this picture.

We probably took 50 pictures of sheep, but these are actually goats.

They marked their sheep with paint.  The sheep were all over the moutainside.
It was very foggy, so our views weren't the best during this part.

We stopped at this little town for a bathroom break. 

Can you tell it's windy?

Killarney, the town we are staying in


Tonight, we have one last dinner in the hotel that is provided by the tour.  Nick and I have talked about walking around Killarney tonight after dinner.  It’s another neat town with lots of quaint shops.  Tomorrow, we are to get on a ferry and see the Cliffs of Moher and that will be the last day of our tour.  We are still having a great time, and I have to say I haven’t been as tired as I thought I would be.  I’m sure I will have one more blog post!

Until next time!


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