Away From the River and Over the Pass

Trip Start Sep 10, 2009
Trip End Oct 10, 2009

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Flag of Ireland  , County Kerry,
Friday, October 2, 2009

What a wonderful day! This morning we met Marian, our hostess, who had been on the road from Dublin when we checked in yesterday. Her husband, Morty, had shown us our room and helped carry luggage upstairs. Pancakes were on the breakfast menu, so we both ordered those, and we enjoyed the change.

We wanted to split our time on the Beara Peninsula into two days, so today we headed for Healy Pass. The pass bisects the peninsula from south to north, with the counties of Cork and Kerry meeting at the summit. Since we hadn’t driven the pass the last time we were here due to bad weather, we decided we would do it twice on this trip. Today we started from the north and went south.

The pass on the Kerry side was beautiful--lush green valleys and lakes, and lots of sheep. The road was the width of 1 ˝ cars, but there was no traffic at all. At the summit, we stopped at a large roadside shrine and read the history of the pass. We looked down at the Cork side, and the contrast was amazing. There were no lush green valleys, just brown hills and rocks, along with more sheep.

John asked if I wanted to drive, and because there were no other cars in sight, I agreed to do it. I drove much more slowly than John does now, and I did have to pull over for an oncoming car (apparently a little too close to a big rock for John’s comfort), but I made it down the pass and into the little town at the bottom. That was enough stress for both of us!

We drove into Glengarriff again and went into a few shops before stopping for tea in a pub. Then we took a ferry out to Ilnacullin or Garinish Island. We passed the seal rocks in the bay, and saw several seals resting out there. As if on cue, some of them turned to look at us as we drew near.

The island we visited is a heritage site, and the entire island is a series of gardens. There are sub-tropical plants and trees that thrive in the climate of Bantry Bay. The island had been privately owned until the early 1950’s when it was deeded to the people of Ireland. It’s a very beautiful place, and there were just a few of us walking around. I imagine in the spring and summer that it looks like paradise with all the plants and flowers blooming, but there was still some residual beauty for us. We walked around the entire island, then stopped in at the little tea room for a sandwich while we waited for the ferry to pick us up.

We again stopped at the seal rocks, which were beginning to disappear with the incoming tide, then returned to the mainland.

We then drove to the Glengarriff National Park and Oak Forest. They have a waterfall walk, so we took it. The waterfall wasn’t huge, but it was a nice walk through the forest before we headed for Kenmare.

On the way to Kenmare we passed the Lorge Chocolatier, out in virtually the middle of nowhere. We stopped in and John bought a somewhat pricey bar of milk chocolate. I tasted their dark chocolate, and it was very good, but I have my own stash with me.

We went into town and walked to the tourist information office. While there, we heard the woman who worked there recommend restaurants, and she mentioned one that we had gone to and found closed. She called the Lime Tree for us, and found that they’ve cut back to two nights a week. She booked us in for dinner, and then gave us some more local information.

We stopped in at Café Mocha, another stop from five years ago, and had lattes, then went back to the b&b to relax a bit.

Before dinner, we drove to a stone circle that was near the town center. We walked to it, and found two people sitting in chairs with their backs to two stones, holding umbrellas and reading. They didn’t acknowledge us in the least, so we decided to leave them to the circle and we left for dinner.

We were offered our choice of tables, and we took a table for two in a corner by the fireplace. As we were seated, our server informed us that spot was romantic and jokingly asked if we were up for it. I told her that we had met 45 years ago today, and I thought that qualified.

We had a wonderful dinner with a half bottle of wine, half orders of dessert, and a lot of time to talk. We drove back through town, but decided it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow will be another busy day!
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