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devil duck

Tuesday, 26 June

OK, let's see. Saturday morning we packed and left the lovely Clonunion B&B and spent maybe two hours visiting the lovely village of Adare, outside Limerick, including a guided tour of Desmond Castle. Then we drove from County Limerick into County Kerry, stopping to visit the remains of Ardfert Cathedral, through Tralee and some lovely mountain scenery (i.e. twisty narrow mountain roads) to the town of Dingle, halfway out the Dingle Peninsula.

The B&B in Adare happens to be on a horse farm -- not only breeding racing horses, but also accepting them in retirement. About a dozen race horses are buried in the field behind the B&B:
race horse cemetery

The village of Adare is dominated by a Norman castle that belonged to the Desmond family for a couple of centuries. We took a guided tour...
desmond castle
... which mentioned among other things a "corn kiln", where grain was dried over a low fire before going into storage.
grain kiln at desmond castle
A few hundred metres away are the remains of a Trinitarian abbey. 13th-century church architects engaged in an interesting bit of guerilla psychology: they built dark, solid-walled naves for the people to stand in, then added chancels with windows facing east and south so the altar area would be bathed in light. (Ireland is at a high enough latitude that the sun is always substantially to the south, so most of the light would have come in through the south-facing windows.) Here's the chancel as seen from the nave...
chancel in adare
... and the nave as seen from the chancel.
nave in adare
West of Adare and north of Tralee are the remains of Ardfert Cathedral....
ardfert cathedral
... whose architects did the exact same thing.
chancel at ardfert cathedral

After driving through Tralee, we entered the scenic Dingle Peninsula. This is the less-scenic, less-twisty of the two possible routes:
Dingle peninsula 1
Dingle peninsula 2
Dingle peninsula 3
Dingle peninsula 4

We arrived at our B&B to find there had been a misunderstanding, we didn't have a reservation after all, and the B&B was full. The proprietor called her friend up the road, who had a room in her B&B, but that one was well outside town and not convenient for pedestrian exploration. Fortunately, one of the other B&B's I had contacted in advance had had a cancellation, so we stayed at the "Last Cottage". Tiny room, but awesome harbor-and-hills view out the bedroom window, and two cute dogs.
view from B&B

Dingle was apparently unknown to most of the world until the 1970 film "Ryan's Daughter" made it a tourist attraction, and now every store that isn't a pub is a souvenir shop. Still a reasonably cute village, but one feels somewhat under assault. Dingle also has a reputation for great live music in the pubs, and we did what by our standards could be called a "pub crawl": we ate in one pub, stepped into another for a few minutes to listen to a quartet of aging hippies, then went to a third, sat down, and ordered dessert while listening to three guys with instruments -- one (I think the proprietor of the pub) playing accordion, another playing a variety of guitars and ukeleles (he also did an unaccompanied-voice number of his own composition), and a young fellow playing some fascinating and complex stuff on the banjo.

Sunday we drove a loop trip around the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, visiting a variety of prehistoric stone forts and awesome seaside scenery. It was only thirty miles around the loop, but it took us about six hours.

beach from Dingle loop road
wild & barren dingle peninsula
cliffs 1
Here's one of several stone forts on the peninsula. I think these date from 500-1000 AD.
stone fort on cliffs
stone fort 2
flowers in stone fort
flowers in stone fort 2
cliffs 2
bird on rocks
Within these stone forts, people lived in "beehive huts", ...
beehive hut 1
... which are built of unmortared stone, with corbeled roofs (as you can see from this interior shot of the ceiling).
beehive hut from inside
stone fort 3
beehive hut in landscape
More pictures to follow.

At the end of that, we were too tired to take the "scenic but twisty and narrow" Conor Pass route from Dingle back to Tralee, so we took the still-fairly-scenic, still-somewhat-twisty-and-narrow N86 road, then turned south from Tralee, through Killarney to our B&B in Kenmare.

Monday we had scheduled a similar loop trip around the Iveragh Peninsula (aka "the Ring of Kerry"). Since this is four times as long as the Dingle loop, which had taken us six hours, we were a little worried about timing, but it appeared that the attractions on this loop were fewer and farther between, and as it turned out, it took us about eight hours, including visits to several more stone ring-forts (c. 10th-11th centuries), the beautifully-preserved 7th-10th-century Gallarus Oratory, a 15th-16th-century castle, more awe-inspiring coastal scenery, and a 20th-21st-century chocolate factory. Pictures to follow. Spent another night in the same B&B in Kenmare, where the proprietor had done a load of laundry for us. Clean undies -- yay! Will tip well.

Today we're driving to Limerick, visiting the Lough Gur archaeological and historical site, then hopping on the motorway to Galway.