Right before our big move, Husband and I honeymooned in Ireland and Scotland. In the middle of wedding activities and the hecticness of our move, Ireland and Scotland blog reviews got overlooked. One year and a half later, I'm finally getting around to sharing my opinion. Better late than never right?
Some trips can leave you needing a vacation from the vacation. We had been on trips before where we just ran, ran, ran from one city to the next trying to see as much as possible. This time, Husband and I wanted our trip to be relaxing and not rushed. With this in mind we chose to stay in one location, Killarney, during our time in Ireland.
Among the rolling hills, dotted lakes, and narrow two lane roads, Kerry County is charming with quaint "mom and pop" bed and breakfasts. In the town of Killarney, Husband and I stayed 5 nights at the Crystal Springs Bed and Breakfast. It is a family run Bed and Breakfast on the banks of the River Flesk. Husband and I enjoyed sipping our tea outside overlooking the river and lush forest on the cozy deck.
The best part about staying at the Crystal Springs Bed and Breakfast was the hot homemade breakfast each morning! Husband even tried blood sausage but I passed on that! I instead loved the hot porridge with brown sugar, whipped cream, and Baileys. Seriously, Baileys on top of oatmeal! It was an Irish dream come true for my taste buds. Forget those Lucky Charms!
Killarney National Forest
Husband and I hiked through the Killarney National Forest on two different days. Tucked back off of the main pathways you will find hiking trails graded by level of difficulty. The path we chose was a moderate level hike and lead to this amazing waterfall. Not used to much walking coming from suburban living, we were sweating, sore, and jet lagged but the beautiful green surroundings were well worth the time AND energy. You could easily spend one day just walking around the forest. We saw several couples stopping for picnics along the way.
Muckross Estate is a former hunting lodge set in the front part of Killarney National Forest. We took a tour of the house and found it's history interesting. The hunting lodge was a wedding present to an American girl from her family who ran a California vineyard. Not a bad gift, eh?
Ring of Kerry
Husband and I spent an entire day driving in our rented car around the Ring of Kerry. If you drove straight through without stopping the loop drive would take you around four hours. All along the Ring of Kerry are pull offs with fantastic photo opportunities. The rolling land and steep hills were breathtaking. I loved the stone walls between the farm fields, sheep sightings, and of course when we stopped so I could enjoy an Irish coffee. Check out the Red Fox Inn for good Irish Coffee!
Cahersiveen is a quaint town along the Ring of Kerry. While driving on the main street, Husband and I saw a castle up on a hill in the distant countryside. With all the time in the world, we decided to go exploring off the tourist trail. After a 10 minute drive through the winding back roads and across the river, we came to the abandoned castle set on private property. A weathered looking sign at the fence line told us a brief history of Ballycarberry Castle. An open gate and a beaten dirt trail through the tall grass field just beckoned for us to come on it. There Husband and I were, in the hills of Ireland climbing over decaying castle walls in what would become one of our favorite all time memories.
Cahergall Stone Fort
Just a bit down the road from Ballycarberry, Husband saw a historic sign for a ring fort. There in the middle of the countryside we pulled into a three car "parking lot" set on the edge of some farmer's land. With sheep on both sides as our audience, we took a 5 minute hike down another dirt path until we came upon the Cahergall Stone Fort. The ancient stone walls were about 7 feet thick of stone but the walking ledges were only 1 foot thick (and a drop straight down!) and went up to several different levels. Husband climbed all the way to the top but halfway up the stone wall was enough for me. Can you imagine having an ancient ruin set on your farmland?
Ross Castle is in Killarney where our hotel was located. It is a similar style to the Blarney Castle. Since a visit to Blarney Castle was set in our plans, Husband and I did not tour the inside of Ross Castle. Instead we looked around the outside and enjoyed the views next to the river.
Another day Husband and I toured Dingle Peninsula. We only spent a few hours in Dingle, Ireland but wish we would have planned a night's stay. Dingle was a bit smaller than Killarney and had a nice view on the North Atlantic. In the town of Dingle we enjoyed the best fish and chips of our trip. After lunch we shopped the cobble stone streets and stumbled into Dingle Crystal. The crystal shop is family run and is set up as a personal museum. The owner earned a certified crystal cutting certification from Waterford back in the 1970s. After Waterford moved out of Ireland, the owner continued cutting crystal and opened his own shop in Dingle. His crystal pieces are shipped all over the world and he has some loyal NFL customers. The prices for a crystal piece are pretty reasonable for a special souvenir.
The "Eiffel Tower" of Ireland, Blarney Castle was the most touristic spot on our trip. We waited for nearly two hours to climb up into the square tower to see the famous Blarney Stone. In the end we are glad we went but it was not one of our favorite sites in Ireland. How can you compare being alone in an abandoned castle in the middle of nowhere to a long line of anxious tourists?
Husband and I loved visiting Ireland. The people were friendly, the land gorgeous green, and the food comforting. (the accents aren't bad either!) Another visit is already on our trip radar but next time it will be an extended weekend in Dublin. From Munich we can find pretty decent flight options. It is just a matter of picking a time!
Luck o' the Irish,
Inside Blarney Castle