Those Wild Irish Roads: Kenmare/Ring of Beara
Trip Start Jul 06, 2009
20Trip End Jul 27, 2009
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Those Wild Irish Roads
Last night, on advice from Mrs. O'Dwyer, we ate dinner at The Coachmans, across the street from Foley’s. The food was great, but couldn’t be topped by the live music that followed. The brothers O’Connor took the place by storm with a night of contemporary and traditional Irish music that had us clapping and singing, along with everyone else. We will have to do some research on these two once we get home, but fear any Google search will probably have a lot of random results. One of the brothers sang and played an extraordinary fiddle, and the other was a guitarist who sounded a great deal like "the Boss" (Bruce Springsteen). It ended up being a late night, but was well worth our time… we bought three CDs.
We woke up for another great B&B breakfast on our last day in Ireland before starting our final adventure – The Ring of Beara. This driving trip had also come highly recommended from Mrs. O’Dwyer as being “authentic” Ireland. It was. Our first stop was at Molly Gallivan’s museum, a recreated homestead from the 19th century. Widowed with seven children, Molly made ends meet by running a homestead and selling her knitted goods, baked goods, and Mountain Dew. It packed more than caffeine and occasionally landed her in trouble with the law. On the site we also saw some prehistoric stones linked to the summer solstice as well as a ruin dating from the famine era.
We continued on to Glengariff, where we stopped for gas and hoped to see some seals before the rain came pouring down. We quickly returned to the Jetta and continued on our way to the Healy pass. This stretch of narrow road was built in 1847, a kind of works project effort to provide relief during the famine, and connected Cork and Kerry counties at a mountain peak. In days of yore, when funeral processions had to pass between the two counties, the caskets were unloaded and literally passed through the pass. What a gorgeous view. This was definitely breathtaking and a highlight of the day, worthy of a stop for quite some time just to take in the scenery
Next it was back and forth, back and forth, through the “wild Irish roads” down the other side of the mountain. For much of the descent the VW was not even in gear and gravity did its magic. We stopped for lunch at B.B. O’Sullivan’s and enjoyed four cups of seafood chowder and brown bread. It was the perfect amount to sustain us before our dinner.
Upon arrival back in Kenmare we did some final housekeeping, including repacking our bags, spending our remaining Euros, and Rich and Barb took in the Heritage Center. It told the story of the settlement of Kenmare, the 19th century Kenmare nun who stood for women’s rights ahead of its time, the lace making industry and its role in providing a vocation for women post-famine, as well as the story of the British Prime Minister William Petty, who owned most of the land in this area and negotiated the Treaty of Paris of 1789 that ended the American Revolution and established the boundaries of the new United States of America. Later, his family saw to it that approximately 4,000 local Irish were resettled to this new land as opposed to letting them starve during the famine.
What a fascinating day and a great end to a 21 day journey. Tomorrow we depart Kenmare at 6:00 am bound for Shannon Airport and hope the roads, signs, and weather cooperate with our plans to return home.
Thanks for reading and we will see you in a matter of hours.