Mar 2016: It was a cold and windy Sunday night in Cork city. We were cold, tired and bored of waiting for our bus since past half an hour. The pub nearby was playing loud music but that wasn’t helping much either. Slowly the crowd at the bus stop was increasing. Amongst the crowd, there was this 17ish year old chatty Polish girl, messy hair, smoke in hand, piercing on her body with her 14ish yeah old sister who was mostly quiet. They probably looked 28 and 20. Then there was an Irish couple – the girl clearly looked twice the age of the guy. And there are a few other people waiting for the bus. Sometimes situations like these does strange things to you. We were so bored that we just started chatting with these people. And that desperate hour of boredom turned into one of the most memorable thing from the trip. Our conversion went something like this – India, Indian food, best Indian restaurant in Cork, Ireland, Poland, Irish & Polish weather, sun tan, crazy Irish weather with no sun, 17 years old dropping out of school and is a barber now which is her dream job, smoking, how the Irish lady doesn’t want her 17-year-old daughter to get into smoking, how the Polish girl is doesn’t mind smoking, places to visit in Ireland, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry… This whole conversation took place from the time we were waiting at the bus stop, boarding the bus, in the bus and till we got down at Blarney. The Irish lady was from Kerry and she was like a broken record and kept going on and on and on about Kerry this, Killarney that..
Jul 2016: Well, this blog is not about Cork. It is about Killarney, Co. Kerry. That cold winter night in March we decided that we need to see this place in person. We had a bank holiday here in July and we decided to pack our bags and go on a short trip.
Killarney is a quaint little town in the west of Ireland. The town is a little one with colorful pubs and some tourist shops. In the evening you can see street performers singing or playing instruments. But one wouldn’t go to Killarney to see the town. This town is a gateway to much more – the beautiful Ross castle, lakes of Killarney, Killarney National Park, Innisfallen Island, Gap of Dunloe, Ring of Kerry, and Dingle.
Irish Castle Towers
Irish castles towers are quite different from a regular castle one would usually picture. These castles are usually built during the middle ages and have a tower structure made out of stone. It is usually about 5 stories, broken down as below –
- First floor – used for storage
- Second floor – living space for the servants
- Third floor – space for food preparation and eating space for the servants
- Fourth floor – sleeping and living space for the lord and his family
- Fifth floor – space where the lord eat and entertained
The windows at the lower floors are in the form of a vertical thin slit which functioned as a defensive mechanism, while the windows on the top floors are broader to allow light inside. The stairways were built in clock wise direction with uneven height which again functioned as a defensive mechanism. Considering the cold Irish weather, the lord and his servants usually lived in a very bad condition especially during the winters.
Ross castle was built by O’Donoghue in the 15th century and legend has it that O’Donoghue still exists in a deep slumber under the waters of Lough Leane. One of the myths and legends of Killarney is that on the first morning of May every seven years he rises from the lake on his magnificent white horse and circles the lake. Anyone catching a glimpse of him is said to be assured of good fortune for the rest of their lives.
The enchanting Innisfallen island is located in the Lough Leane, one of the three lakes of Killarney. This island houses the remains of a Monastery from the 11th century and can be accessed by a 10 minutes’ boat ride from the Ross castle. We had about an hour to roam around in the island. We walked around the shore, strolled inside the woods, explored the ruins, encountered some wild deer and took loads of photos. The entire backdrop of the lake and bluish mountains surrounding the lake was so peaceful and relaxing. From the island we could see the Ross castle and it looked as magnificent as any castle would look. It was cold and windy and bringing a hot sandwich along helped us.
Cycling in Killarney
We had so much fun cycling in Killarney National Park! Originally we had planned to cycle the “Gap of Dunloe” on Monday early morning so we decided to rent the bikes from the city center on Sunday evening itself. The owner was very kind and rented his bikes without taking a proper ID from us (we had forgotten our IDs back in Dublin). The Irish folks are really warm and friendly I must say. The weather was really good in it’s 20’s, so we decided to take the bikes for a ride around the Killarney National Park. The park is huge and surrounds a very pretty lake. We checked the google maps for the route and started biking towards Muckross lake. The bikes were in amazing condition and they were pretty new too (purchased in June 2016). We biked on the national road for sometime and entered the designated biking path leading to the national park. One thing that we really love about Ireland is that it is a bicycle friendly country. The bike path was very good and we were welcomed by the spectacular scenery. We stopped for sometime and a friendly couple offered to take our pictures (and took their selfie as well ;)).
We admired the beauty of the greenery and continued towards the lake. Along the way we stopped at a serene place and there was not even a single soul around. The place looked heavenly and we rested over there for sometime and snapped some nice pics. Nature is so beautiful that the words cannot express it and photos cannot do justice. We continued around the lake and we just loved the fresh air and warm sun. We were not feeling tired at all even though we don’t bike regularly. I guess the stupendous views masked our tiredness and we kept going. Finally we reached the lake and we fell in love with the peaceful surroundings. We admired nature, we forgot all our worries and lost ourselves in the serene views. We were so enthusiastic and pepped up that we made a decision to bike around the lake expecting more such views. Nature did not disappoint us and we got to see more of the stunning lake views. We cycled for about 30 Kms that day and when we reached Killarney we were so damn hungry. All in all it was an amazing bike ride and we highly recommend biking around Killarney park for anyone that visits Killarney.
For those who are wondering what happened to our Monday trip, well Ireland being Ireland, the rain played spoil sport and we couldn’t bike the next day. We left Killarney highly disappointed but we will definitely go back there sometime just to cycle the “gap of dunloe”. And who knows, we might bike around the national park once more!