Ok, so I’m not doing so well with my goal of catching up. After starting a new job at the beginning of the year, it’s been a challenge. Not sure how half the year has already gone by but here we are. It’s going to happen… The story continues…
We woke up on Day 2 to bad news. We missed the ferry to Aran Islands. The only real planning snafu of the trip, but my bad nonetheless. So we decided to reverse our route and head to Cork and the Blarney Castle first. We drove to Cork in record time (now that Bridget was driving) and walked around the city of Cork. The highlight? The English Market nestled in the center of town. Fresh cheese, meats, olives, chocolates – the market was chocked full of delicacies readily found on the streets of Europe.
After grabbing some treats, we made our way to Blarney Castle, famous for the Blarney Stone. And yes, we kissed it, bending backward over the side of the castle. What may have been more impressive than the castle itself though was the beautiful grounds surrounding it and the Blarney house hidden back behind the main feature. The gardens were lush, green, beautiful – a secret oasis.
After exploring the grounds, we ended the day relaxing at The Courtyard at Sheen Falls – highly recommended if traveling with a group – but not before stopping at the local grocery stores to see what unusual things we could find – it’s our thing. We ended the night at another pub, with locals and tourists singing Irish tunes.
We lazily started the next day and started the drive around the Ring of Kerry. Blue skies with a touch of clouds and a raindrop here and there – you can never go wrong with coastal drives. Stopping off in the small towns along the way, we experienced the Ring of Kerry the way it’s meant to be – slow, stop and go – pulling off at all the overlooks. While the town of Kilarney buzzed with traffic, Kilarney National Park provided a nice break from the hustle. Still, the best part was towards the end of the day, after stopping off at Lady View and Torc View, the perfect light glazed the valley as we rounded the corner outside of Kenmare. Another home cooked meal and a bottle of wine ended the night at the townhouse.
We had an early start the next morning, and when I say early, I mean before dawn. We left the townhouse at 6:00 AM and sped north to Doolin to catch the ferry to Inis Mor while headlights blinded us all. We arrived in Doolin with time to spare. We boarded a ferry and transferred to the Happy Hooker on Inismaan by walking the plank across one boat to another. Once we arrived on Inis Mor, it was a step into another realm – quaint little villages with bikes galore and barely any cars. We rode all over, first east along the bay and then back west toward Dun Aonghasa along the sea and countryside. All the effort to get to Inis Mor was well worth it in the end. By late afternoon, we left the island happy campers on our old friend the Happy Hooker but not before shopping for a notorious Aran sweater.
We ended the day at the Cliffs of Moher as the sun dropped to the horizon. Racing up the steeps cliffs to catch the light, I could of stayed all night staring at the sea. But it would be another busy day in the morning and so we made the trek back to Belindah’s house – then it was off to Dublin!