Another early bus call so a quick breakfast of porridge and coffee. I’d say porridge is more creamy and run-y vs the oatmeal I had back home. Filling for sure.
More people on the bus today. This was the tour of the big spots of the western island they named route The Ring of Kerry.
We’d head north to Killarney, on to Waterville, and Sneem each much more picturesque than the next. All were perfect film sets, some had already been used.
Our driver was a pleasant chap who also filled us in on the Irish language and people.
The 1st bit of knowledge, ‘so what’s the deal with all these towns called Kill- something? Well, in Irish, kill= church that way you’d know who has one if you’re traveling. You’re welcome!’ the driver explained.
He often took to explaining things and asking for a round of applause or for us to cheer his name. Very entertaining host as well as good driver. These were some narrow roads not meant for huge buses.
First stop in Killarney and it is truly one of the most pleasant places I’ve ever been. I was expecting to see a milkman walking around, waving or maybe a mail guy getting a cat out of a tree. It was a Norman Rockwell painting in real life.
We just walked up and down the main street during our hour layover. I think we were to pick up another group was the reason for this stop. It was now a full bus.
Our next stop was just outside Killarney and it was a strange place to stop. Just a stream and a guy with a donkey you could take you picture sitting on. We began to realize that these tours buses will stop anywhere so long as you paid.
There were an endless stream of handcrafted goods, foods and other trinkets available on our frequent stops.
We passed through tiny towns and our driver told us that they still farm here like they’ve done for centuries. Sheep mostly for its prized wool.
Each farmer had a unique color mark that was sprayed on the backs of the sheep. All the sheep were let go to graze up the side of a mountain and once it came time to shear the sheep, they just separate based on this mark.
The rams were just left on the mountain, free to roam and have their way with as many sheep as they could during season. You cannot contain a ram as easily as a sheep.
Before too long we had finally hit the coast, though I doubt they had many surfers, swimmers here.
We backed into a spot on a narrow curve atop a hill, it was lunch time, though I wasn’t too hungry. The long line aided in my decision.
I’d often joked that there was a sammich in every pint of Guinness, so that is all I had. My mom ordered a barley soup, I believe.
We were served by a beautiful lass and actually got her talking about the area. She said most people here worked the summer tourist season months and survived the rest of the year off that money.
She says it gets very cool, rainy during the winter so no one really goes outside. Still seeing all the tour buses and traffic we were causing, it seemed like we were in someone’s living room with dirty shoes.
During the coastal part of the tour our guide brought up a move shot there: Ryan’s Daughter, a 1970 film starring Robert Mitchum and directed by English titan David Lean.
I had to laugh as our driver pronounced it fil-uhm, ‘Have you seen the fil-uhm Ryan’s Daughter…” haha.
Growing up, my dad quoted, ‘give me the fil-uhm!’ to me, from a Three Stooges episode, but I’d not encountered anyone who actually pronounced it this way in person until this moment.
You can still pick up souvenirs about the film along the Ring, it is quite popular here and brings in a lot of ladies who have seen it, wanting to reminiscent and see the lands. I’d never heard of the film much less seen it but it is on my list.
My family has always been film watchers and it is nice to see where something was filmed. Sometimes we tried to guess where it was shot as the credits roll to see who knows their countryside the best.
Another film shot around here was the Star Wars, The Force Awakens. The final scene on the tiny island with stone stairs and dwelling was filmed on Skellig Island.
This view was rare our driver told us as there is usually fog obscuring these islands. The small one on the right foreground is where Star Wars scene was filmed.
Our driver told us that centuries ago, monks built stone structures on the island so they could live simply and meditate. They worshiped the sun.
Catholic missionaries showed up and found the monks in their tiny stone dwellings.
They really loved the sun so they couldn’t convert to anything not sun related. No problem the missionaries told them, we will add the sun to our cross.
And that is how the Celtic cross was created. Well at least one story anyway.
We hit the tiny town of Sneem, a town square really. It was sadly memorable due to an eccentric man who owned a friendly goat.
Goats have a distinct odor on them, in them, it is all-encompassing and will stay with you if you touch them. I’d say the smell extended a few feet in all directions from the goat and man.
Goat was pretty cool looking, long curled horns, a blank look on his ever chewing face.
The man looked like a guy who hangs out with a goat, long dishevled hair, long beard, grin on his face. He sat next to his goat, stroking its beard and petting it. He charged a bit for a photo, that was his racket.
Goats just seem dumb but they will sneak up on you, mess you up. Watch out for goats, why do you think they put bells on them?
Continuing our film centric part of the tour, we arrived to Waterville where Charlie Chaplin kept a house close to the sea. There is a statue of him dressed up as the Little Tramp with a clear view of the shore.
True story, while staying in Waterville he entered a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest and took 3rd! Haha the judges really got it from the press!
My mom was quite taken with the thatched roof houses we passed by. Our driver informed us that the neighbors took turns helping each other thatch their houses as it had to be done yearly and completed in 1 day.
We had a very tense moment when a tour bus going the opposite direction approached. The drivers had a protocol as the roads were very narrow.
You could reach out and touch the other bus, maybe 2 feet between us, 1 slowly driving while the other bus waited. We waved, some took pictures of the other bus as it passed.
Buses aside, everyone here drives like they are late as well as having no concept of bodily injury to themselves or others. Cars flew by in each direction, passing the bus even with an oncoming traffic ahead.
For sure driving in rural Ireland is a test and not for everyone. We were pleased several times that we didn’t have to drive.
The ground was very rocky here. Most of the land was squared off using rock walls. Our driver explained these were famine walls.
During the Irish Famine of 1847, there was a disease on potatoes. Most people lived off a ration of potatoes and grains, simple foods.
The English landowners still expected the crops grown on their land to be exported rather than used to feed the people harvesting these crops. It was also forbidden to shoot wild animals either as those also belonged to the landowners.
Stealing food was punished by pulling up rocks from the ground to build walls. This made the land farmable as well as giving the peasants something to do while they starved or as a form of punishment. Seemed any reason was suitable to work the rocks out of the land.
Resentment remains high amongst the Irish, that the English exploited their land, labor and food using the famine as a means to get native people off the land.
History is often grim and bleak, but it is needed to know what others have done, good and bad, so we can learn what to do and what not to do if faced with a similar situation.
You have to hope for peace, that everyone figures out a way to get along fairly. It seems that last fair bit has always been tricky.
Our bus continued on the winding road, rolling rocky hills and sea. At this point, no matter how gorgeous the view, we were a bit tired of getting on and off the bus for sometimes as few as 15 minutes.
We paused at Torq Waterfall, accessed via short walk through a rainforest.
Always funny how doing nothing all day on a bus wears you out. I suppose it was an all day adventure beginning by 830am and it was now 6pm.
We were the only ones who got off in Killarney, our bus driver wishing us well. Paddywagon Tours does a fine job, entertaining drivers.
It was a short walk to our bed and breakfast, a couple blocks from the city centre. The main road had pubs, shops and restaurants we looked forward to exploring.
Our main priority now was to get rid of these backpacks and then figure out evening options.
Ah yes, rain! Of course, rain, rain happens a lot in Ireland. Tried waiting it out and realized that there were levels of rain and this level was ok for walking.
Eventually as it does, the rain won out so we popped into a pub. Thus began a run of Irish lamb stew for dinner which made sense as it was coolish outside. Nice to warm yourself with a hot meal.
We finished the night after a couple pints, running home in the pouring rain, but it was foolish, we were soaked. Doesn’t drying out in bed makes for a good night’s rest, I should think so.
We’d checked off a big one-off my mom’s to see list today. We had a couple of days to explore the charming town of Killarney!
Beer: Kinsale Pale Ale
Song: Hothouse Flowers Don’t Go