Killarney, Dingle, and Dublin

[April 2017]

Day 4: From Galway to Killarney

I took a bus from Galway to Killarney. Two buses, actually. I had looked it the timetable online and noticed that I had to make a connection in Limerick. When I arrived at the bus station, there was a bus to Limerick leaving in just under 10 minutes, so I decided to hop on. It may have been a City Link bus, but I don’t exactly recall. Whatever it was, when we got to Limerick, it didn’t stop at the main bus station where I was to catch my connection. It dropped us off on a street somewhere. Luckily, it is super easy to ask the Irish for help and I wasn’t that far off.

The main bus station houses the Eirebus company. If you are going to Killarney, I recommend taking Eirebus for both legs of the journey to avoid any confusion.

I stayed at the Black Sheep Hostel (which was fantastic). I arrived a bit too early for check in, but they have a comfortable living room to relax in and a place to store my bag. My first day was rather lazy. I walked through the small town, admired the churches, went into too many sweater shops, and did a short walk in the forest just as they were locking up some gates. Like a naughty lass, I treated myself to Sea Salt and Butterscotch ice cream from Murphy’s Ice Cream Shop before going to dinner at The Porterhouse.

The Irish love their ice cream. That’s definitely something I can admire. The Turks and I don’t quite agree on what proper ice cream is.

Back at my hostel, I met a German woman, not much older than me, who had just spent a week or so hiking the Ring of Kerry. Those Germans. If anyone appreciates trekking, it’s them! She was such a lovely person.

Day 5: Day Tour of the Dingle Peninsula

This was, hands down, the highlight of my trip. I took the shotgun seat in the van to enjoy the best view. The village of Dingle itself is a small fishing village on the coast. It’s the drive, however, around the peninsula that will take your breath away.

The tour makes stops to enjoy a stunning white sand beach, several look out points, the beehive huts (though I would have liked a closer look), and Dingle itself. It was another day with perfect weather to enjoy the very best, I feel, that Ireland has to offer.

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Day 6: Gap of Dunloe

There are three ways you can do the Gap of Dunloe. You can:

  1. Take a traditional boat  from Ross Castle through the lakes for two hours and then hike from Lord Brandon’s Cottage to Kate Kearney’s Cottage.
  2. Do the opposite.
  3. Drive.

I decided to do the first option and having done it, I wouldn’t change it. I didn’t think that a car was an option, but the entire way is paved and there were cars on it while I hiked, so if you’re pinched for time but want to see The Gap, you could definitely give the road a spin. Just be mindful of hikers.

My morning started with about a mile or so walk from my hostel to Ross Castle.

When I arrived at the castle, there was a mystical fog settled over the water. It seemed so fitting. The fog slowly lifted as it approached departure time.

The boat ride through the lower, middle, and upper lakes was stunningly peaceful. We saw wild goats, beautiful birds, mountains…

When we got to the cottage, most people ate a small lunch. I had soup with dark bread and a slice of rhubarb pie. It’s not possible to eat enough rhubarb in my lifetime.

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The hike is pretty straight forward, but after you pass a church be sure to hang right and go up the winding road into the mountains. It feels like you’re walking back the way you came, but that is the right direction. If you continue on straight you’ll be a long ways off course.

This hike offers some stunning views, and while I enjoyed that, I also enjoyed seeing how long it would take for a family with a stroller to pass me. Once they did, they were gone. Between this and my Mount Sinai hike, I think nature has made it abundantly clear that I need to develop more stamina when hiking on an incline!

Throughout the hike, I KNEW I had to make it to the cottage before 4pm to catch the bus, but I was too scared to look at the time. The hike is about 11km, I think. I made it with about ten minutes to spare! Be careful. Don’t take a picture of every adorable sheep you see.

I treated myself to a soft serve, jumped on the bus for 5 euros and made my way back to the hostel. I cleaned myself up and made my way to Danny Mann for dinner and music. There was a group of young Germans from my hostel who invited me to join them when they saw me sit down. They were such lovely company and a great reminder of why I love staying in hostels so much.

Day 7: Killarney to Dublin

On my last morning in Killarney, I went to an Irish Step Dance Competition that a Russian girl, also a music teacher, from my hostel was competing in. It cost quite a bit to get in, but I never found her. It was fun to watch for awhile, but when her division had clearly finished and I never saw her, I asked if I could get my money back. I was hoping for more of a dance troupe competition, but this was individuals competing against each other on various types of Irish dance.

As I walked back to my hostel, I stopped at the Underground Cafe on the corner of main street to devour a scone with clotted creme and jam with a hot chocolate. Scrumptious.

On my way to the train station I stopped at a small music store to test out higher quality Irish Whistles. My only regret from this trip is not buying one.

This day might have been the only day I would have changed on my trip. I think I would have preferred to either take a tour of the Ring of Kerry, go to the waterfalls and the Muckross House, or leave earlier to spend some time in Cork or Kilkenny. When you go from Killarney to Dublin, you have to connect near Cork anyway, so you may as well make a stop, but at this point, I wouldn’t arrive in Dublin till 17:00 and I wanted to meet my friend, Ancil.

When I got to Dublin, I followed Ancil’s directions on how to find him. Note that if you take a bus in Dublin, you have to have exact change or a bus card. They give you a receipt for a refund instead of change. I’m sure they make a fortune from people not cashing in those refunds.

Ancil and I dropped off my bag then wandered through Trinity College, Grafton Street, and up to the Temple Bar district. We stopped at Thunder Road Cafe for a fix of our American favorites.

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In the morning we trekked over to Metro Cafe for a delicious breakfast. The entire menu looked amazing and it didn’t disappoint. After breakfast we went to see the Book of Kells and the Long Room. I think most people go just for the Long Room, but I thought the exhibit on the Book of Kells was a great display that got my teacher wheels spinning. The Long Room, while inspiring, is flooded with people like the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

I’m sure Dublin has loads more to offer, but I wasn’t that interested in spending time in a city. To me, it is just another city. I wanted to see Ancil, but beyond that the objective of my trip was to hang out with nature and listen to great music. Between Galway and Killarney, my mission was accomplished.

At this point, it was time to catch the bus back to the airport and bid Ireland adieu until another time. No matter where I was, I had opportunities to interact with the local people. Every encounter I had was positive. There was not a single negative experience. The people are kind, funny, and welcoming. You won’t have to twist my arm very hard to return again soon.

Cheers, Ireland!

 

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