In recent days the world has seemed to turn upside down, and it has been very steadying to look through wonderful memories of a simpler time when I was in Ireland shortly after graduating high school. So despite the unsettled nature of the world right now, I shall press on in my remembrances.
After leaving the beauty of Kenmare (read more about that here), we headed to Killarney despite the warnings from our host in Kenmare. She told my parents when we were talking about our next stop that Killarney was nothing but “tour busses and plastic leprechauns.” And though I don’t recall seeing any plastic leprechauns while we were there, she was right about the tour busses. However, that was pretty much everywhere in Ireland.
However, that was not where our disappointment came from in Killarney. We were scheduled to take a tour by horse cart and then have a boat ride. However, due to circumstances that I don’t remember, we were late getting to Killarney. A cart driver offered to take us to catch up with the group for an extra £10 (again remember this was several years before the Euro was introduced in Ireland). This frustrated my father beyond measure, and we decided to explore on our own.
We walked to Ross Castle ourselves (where the cart would have taken us), and it was a lovely walk. Though the carts are nice (I rode in one last year when I went to Ireland for the third time), the walk does allow you to stop and enjoy the beautiful views at your leisure. I highly advise walking instead of taking the horse carts.
Ross Castle was very nice – it’s beautifully situated on the water. The castle itself, according to my 1997 journal, was nothing to look at, so we didn’t spend the extra money to go inside. However, the surrounding area (part of Killarney National Park) is beautiful, wooded, and filled with wildlife.
After coming back from the castle, we found our bed and breakfast, Cleevaun Country House. From what I can see, this B&B is no longer open or at the very least does not advertise on the internet. I couldn’t remember anything about the accommodations there, but my mother said she clearly remembered the mattress being so bad that when she and my father laid down on it, they actually rolled to the middle in what she humorously called “a gully.”
We had dinner at a restaurant that was recommended to us by the host of the B&B. It overlooked the bay and shore. Though I tried to look for it online, I couldn’t remember enough about it to find it. Shame on me for not realizing I would want to write about it over 22 years later.
After dinner we went adventuring and searched for a place that the owner of our Kenmare B&B, Sallyport House, told us about. From what I remember, she thought was the most beautiful coast line in Ireland – Slea Head. And so we took her word for it, and went to find it.
It. Was. Magnificent.
The cliffs were stunning and the sound of the water on the rocks is a sound that I can still hear in my mind today. Dramatic and beautiful. We were there at dusk, so many of the pictures didn’t turn out very well. However, the cliffs were truly stunning. We walked down to the small beach at the base of the cliffs, and walked around for as long as we could until it started to get dark.
I wrote this in my journal later that night:
“You look one way and there was the ocean, with waves crashing up against he cliffs. The water was so clear and clean – totally unmarked by humanity. Then you look the other way and as far as you can see are little green squares covered in the white dots of sheep and cows. It is so green and so wonderful. I never wanted to leave.”
I have yet to go back to Slea Head in my subsequent adventures to Ireland, but I do hope to go back some day. I know we were close last year when we were in Killarney, but due to the news we got the morning we woke-up there, I was hardly in a position to pay attention to the roads we were passing. For those of you who haven’t been reading this blog long, you can read about my 2018 experience in Ireland here. The trip in general was wonderful, but the morning in Killarney was one of the most difficult days I’ve experienced.
Next week I’ll be writing about our trip to the Cliffs of Moher… both times. 😁