We took a punt and moved our Skellig boat ticket from Tuesday to Thursday, ever hopeful that maybe someone would have been out to the island, inspected the rockfall, and declared that it was safe for visitors.
Today we had no plan. It was meant to be our big adventure to Skellig. We decided instead to take the driving route called The Ring of Skellig, which later rejoins the Ring of Kerry which in turn would take us homewards back to Killarney. And we would stop and walk as the mood took us along the route.
Our first stop proclaimed itself as the best cliffs in Kerry. We parked and paid the entrance fee; we were a little sceptical but to be fair it ended up being a pretty impressive trail. It wasn’t a really long walk, only a few kilometres but it was really steep in places. The owners had made great paths along the cliffs with very secure fencing, which was just as well as we got very close to the edge at times.
The Ring of Kerry is a 179 km circular driving route in County Kerry. The route starts in Killarney, not far from our base, and follows the coast around the Iveragh Peninsula. Along the way visitors get to stop off and visit places like the Gap of Dunloe, where we walked yesterday or Port Maghee and the island of Valentia… where we’ve come today.
We had a few days of moving house. We drove family 1’s car back to Dublin airport but we got caught up in traffic and so ended up in a mad dash with a very friendly Uber driver across Dublin to get us to the railway station for our onward train journey. Thankfully the train was running 4 minutes late so we made it by the skin of our teeth! And it’s a good job we are both feeling better as we were running from taxi to carriage with a full rucksack!
Thankfully we had a few hours to relax… and we had a tasty picnic and hot tea in our packs too. We chatted with a guy opposite, who by chance, was a walking guide in Ireland!
Our second home was about 20 minutes from Killarney and their car was waiting for us in the tiny village station car park. We stopped off at a supermarket on our way home and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening, planning the next stages of our journey.
Yeah! We went out! Gerry is mobile again. He’s not quite hiker ready but he can manage short distances and I’m doing ok but still a bit tender. But time was running out for us in County Clare, so like a couple of old dears we decided we could go out for a nice drive. And we took a picnic and a flask of tea too!
We’d wanted to explore the Shannon Estuary. We’d planned to take the ferry across to Ballybunion Beach (mainly because we loved the name) although there was a glorious coastal walk there too. Sadly not for us this time. Instead we drove out to Loop Head lighthouse at the County Clare end of the Shannon estuary, having first driven along the coastal road as much as we could. It felt good to be out again!
They say it never rains but it pours. Well it’s pouring now and it’s been raining for a few days. We had seen the weather forecast and planned accordingly. First we thought we’d head off to visit Bunratty Castle. After this we planned a few days driving along The Wild Atlantic Way, after all it is a driving tour! However, life had other plans for us.
The 15th century Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic castle in Ireland. The site it stands on what was originally a Viking trading camp built in 970 and the present structure is the last of four castles that have been built here. We bought our tickets online again. It saves a lot of time at the cash desk and they had a separate queue for online tickets. We first headed off to the castle.
We know that rain is coming but not today. Today we basked in glorious sunshine under blue blue skies. We knew it was going to be a glorious day so we planned a walk that would take us back to the coast but that would also turn inland across an area known as The Burren. The Burren National Park covers 1% of the land surface of Ireland and is approximately 360 square kilometres in size.
Our walk started at Fanore, fainne oir in Gaelic means ring of gold, with reference to the beautiful sandy beaches here. The Caher Valley runs down to Fanore between Slieve Elva and Gleninagh and the Caher river is one of the few rivers in the Burren, which cuts its way down through the rock and glacial deposits and enter the sea at Fanore. The word “Burren” comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place which is extremely appropriate when you consider the lack of soil and the extent of exposed limestone, such as we walked on yesterday. In 1651 a Cromwellian Army Officer named Ludlow remarked, “of this barony it is said that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them. This last is so scarce that the inhabitants steal it from one another and yet their cattle are very fat. The grass grows in tufts of earth of two or three foot square which lies between the limestone rocks and is very sweet and nourishing.” Obviously Ludlow failed to be won over by the charms of Ireland… I think he should have walked with us today and he would have fallen in love with the area!
“Does the viola have a role in Irish music?” I heard some chap say as he cycled by us “Well, I was discussing just this with a lady on the plane just yesterday” his cycling companion replied. I never got to hear the end of the conversation because they cycled on out of earshot but I was left wondering a) was the lady on the plane a willing participant of that conversation and b) does the viola actually have a role in Irish music?
Today we planned on hugging the coast as much as possible. We’re coming around to the idea that The Wild Atlantic Way is more of a driving tour than a walking trail because there’s a lot of road walking and often the coast path is unmarked. So we pick our walks now based on how close to the coast we can get. Today Doolin was our start point. The name makes me think of Nicky… my lovely songbird of a friend who left this world far far too soon. Her husband’s band is called Doolin. I miss her smile (and Jaqui’s) and both these ladies continue to remind me that life should be lived to the full.
The weather man had said to expect lots of rain today so we took a break from the coastal path and instead decided to visit a famous little town on the banks of the river Shannon. I’ll give you a clue to its name :
There was a young woman from Manzac Who travelled a lot with a rucksack She often went far Without need of a car dadadadadada (I’m leaving the last line for you all to complete… answers below please)