Ring of Kerry

Trip Start Jan 01, 2013
Trip End Jun 01, 2013

Flag of Ireland  ,
Friday, February 15, 2013

This weekend was the long awaited Ring of Kerry trip and probably one of the things I was most looking forward to in Ireland. The trip was three days and an all inclusive tour organized by UCC and amazingly paid for by Quinnipiac! Me and 51 others left Friday at 2:00 and took a 2 hour bus ride to our first stop, Crag Cave. These caves are believed to be more than a million years old and are 2.5 miles long, but we only saw 1,000 feet of it. After the tour, which lasted about half an hour, we went to our hotel and ate dinner right away and it was delicious. I had seafood pie and then bailey's cheesecake for desert and of course all the rolls I could get my hand on. After dinner we had an ice breaker which consisted of 10 questions that you ask someone, one being "what would you name your children," needless to say it was a bit awkward. After that, there was a local dance instructor that taught us 3 céili dances, which are basically just Irish step dances. I would like to think of myself as a fairly coordinated person, but these dances definitely tested that. Luckily I only injured 2 people and had a small ounce of pride left at the end. In all seriousness it was a lot of fun and humiliating myself with my friends attempting to do these dances is definitely a memory I will have forever. After we were done learning the dances, we finally went back to our rooms and went to bed. 

The next day we woke up bright and early, ate breakfast, and headed to Valentia Island. Unfortunately the weather was pretty crappy, but I tried not to let it ruin the entire day.Our first stop on the island was the trans-atlantic cable site which was beautiful, despite the mass amounts of fog. We then headed to the Fogher Cliffs, which is a lookout point on the island, but before this we got a chance to see baby cows on a farm near Fogher and took mass amounts of pictures of them. After we saw the calfs we started the short hike up the Cliffs and despite the fog the views were still magnificent and even thought the weather wasn't great, the water was extremely blue, which I was not expecting. There were also mass amounts of sheep on the walk to the cliffs, which made it a tad bit more enjoyable. When we got back to the bus we went to the Valentia slate quarries, which are apparently very famous and the slate is shipped and used all over the world. There was also a grotto there called Our Lady's grotto which was turned into a religious site. After the slate quarry we stopped at the Skellig Experience which is a museum about the Skellig Islands, we weren't able to actually go to the islands since they don't have boats running there until April. The museum was interesting and talked about how monks inhabited Skellig Michael and basically carved 618 steps from the stone of the mountain and used it as a sanctuary away from civilization. The last stop we made before lunch was Barleycove Beach and even though it was raining we still had a great time and made the most out of it. We stopped back at the hotel for lunch following the beach and headed to two stone ring forts, Cahegrall and Leacanabuaile. The forts were very interesting and had amazing 360 degree views of the area. Luckily the forts were in walking distance of each other and after a nice look at each we went back to the hotel to eat dinner. After dinner we had a famous Gaelic footballer Maurice Fitzgerald talk about the sport and attempt to explain it. To my understanding it is basically a cross between football, soccer, and rugby and it was a unique experience having him talk about how much the sport means to the players and to the country. He then demonstrated some common aspects of the gave along with his son and had some "volunteers" try them out. These "volunteers" were basically forced into this, myself being one of them, luckily my soccer skills came into good use. To end the night we played trivia and the top two teams of the game would win a prize. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am very competitive so I desperately wanted to win and. My team unfortunately came in second place (by only one point), but I still managed to win slate coasters made from Valentia slate which I was very excited about. 

On Sunday, our last day in the Ring of Kerry, we were doing one of the things I was the most excited about: holding lambs! The day started out pretty perfect, the skies were blue and the lambs were here. There were two lambs that were brought to the hotel, that were just over a week old and were so adorable. I basically turned into a 5 year old when I saw them and we even got to hold them and of course take 100s of pictures. I wanted to just nonchalantly take one on the bus and back to my apartment and see if anyone would notice. After we held the lambs and I contemplated committing a felony, we got on the bus and drove to a lookout point that is usually crowded with tourists in the high season, we luckily were not in the high season and were the only ones there. When I stepped off the bus, my mouth literally dropped when I saw the view. I honestly can't even describe how amazing it was, but it had to be one of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. After we took in the view as much as we could we went to Derrynane Beach which was a 10  minute drive from the lookout point and was not originally planned, but since it was such a beautiful day we were able to go. The beach was unreal, I didn't even think we were in Ireland anymore. We of course took loads of pictures, jumping shots and writing in the sand shots included. Even though I didn't want to leave, we were on to our next stop, Lady's View which was made famous after Queen Elizabeth visited. The view there was something out of a fairytale and luckily the weather was nice enough that we got some great pictures. When we were done at Lady's View we headed to Turc Waterfall in Killarney National Park. On the walk to the waterfall we walked through probably the greenest forest I have ever seen, almost every inch was covered in moss. Of course the waterfall was gorgeous, like everything else that day. After the waterfall we headed to our last stop for the trip, which was Muckross House. When we got there we got our luches and walked around the grounds of the House, which included a lake, gardens, and a forest. The walk was nice, but it was getting cold so I was ready to get back on the bus and head back to Cork. I mostly slept on the ride back and we got back to Cork around six. The trip to Kerry was one of the most amazing things I have done in Ireland so far and even though we didn't have the best weather, the trip was great craic!
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