To see the first part of our trip take a look here (Part 1). The second part of our trip began in Killarney. We arrived in the afternoon so had plenty of time to start exploring. Our first stop was the Muckross House. Killarney National Park became the first national park of Ireland when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish people in 1932. The home has a very interesting history. I felt like I was on the set of Downton Abbey!
Killarney has a wonderful downtown with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. I highly recommend eating at Bricin. It is family owned and their boxty was the best I've had. There is also a shop under the restaurant that has crafts made by local artists. I purchased a beautiful pottery mug, of course! We stayed at Larkinley Lodge and a quick shout out to the owner Toni who is an absolute delight. The next day we woke bright and early to take a hike in the national park to see the Torc Waterfalls. There are horse drawn carriages that will pick you up near the parking lot by Muckross House and deposit you right at the trailhead. You get a nice dose of local history during your short carriage ride.
Just a short drive from the park is Ross Castle. The castle is situated on Lough Leane, one of the Killarney lakes.
Next on the agenda was driving the Ring of Kerry. This drive has some of the most breathtaking views. It's gorgeous and pictures don't do it justice. You just have to go and see for yourself!
We stopped for lunch in the sweet little town of Sneem. We ate at D O'Sheas and had some amazing fish and chips.
We arrived in Portamagee exhausted and ready for dinner. This might be the smallest town we visited. The downtown is a mere block long and there are only two pubs. We stayed at Portmagee Heights, a wonderful little bed and breakfast just up the hill. We had a mama cow and her calf greet us out the window the next morning.
Another interesting fact is that Portmagee's public restroom is one of the cleanest in Ireland. Ha!
The next day was to be our biggest adventure for our trip, Skellig Island. You may be familiar with this island from the last scene from the Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. It is another one of those times where pictures can't do it justice. You just have to go! The boat shuttle takes about 45 minutes which made me a little leery because I get sea sick. Thank goodness for calm waters that day! You are on the island for about 2 1/2 hours. There are no public bathrooms! Let me repeat, there are no public bathrooms!! You must either have a strong bladder or choose not to drink, ha! The views and experience are totally worth it though. The island is known for it's puffins. They are the cutest things and all over the island. You definitely get to see them up close. We also saw a whale and seals. The climbs are steep so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Monks seeking peace and solitude built a monastery here sometime between the 6th and 8th century. The ruins of the monastery resemble beehives and still remain intact after all these years.
Oh my, the puffins!
Here is a view of the steep stairs built by the monks to reach their monastery.
We got back to the mainland about 2pm and it was time to head to Dingle, a peninsula town that's very picturesque with it's quaint downtown and boat harbors. We made the mistake of only allowing ourselves an evening and morning in Dingle. Big Mistake! I would love to return to this town someday and spend more time.
We stayed at Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. It was set on a hill so had a nice view of the coast.
That night we went to O'Sullivan's where they are serious about their music. We had been searching for traditional Irish music and we finally found it.
The next morning we had to get back on the road to make our way to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a cloudy, dismal start to the day but just as we were reaching the cliffs, the clouds parted and we were blessed with a blue sky that made the views even more spectacular.
The cliffs were close to our next destination, the town of Doolin. This was another very small town along the coast. We stayed at Sea View House B&B. The owners are farmers and gardeners. I have to say, hands down, the breakfast they served us was the best we had in Ireland. Everything was made from scratch down to their jams, baked goods, granola, yoghurt and their specialty, rhubarb stewed with ginger and orange. Our omelettes were made with fresh eggs from their chickens and seasoned with herbs picked from their garden and local goat cheese. The house below is the b&b.
The view from our room overlooked the town of Doolin. We hit one of the pubs for local food and music.
We rose the next morning to greet our last day of sightseeing. We took a 30 minute ferry to see the Aran Island, Inis Oirr. We included the return cruise to pass under the Cliffs of Moher. If I were to do it again, I would skip this part and just come directly back to Doolin. Seeing the cliffs from the sea was not as spectacular as viewing them from the top, and did I mention sea sickness? Yeah, I just wanted to get back to solid ground! Tooling around Inis Oirr was fun though and we had an amazing meal at Tigh Ned.
We returned to Doolin in the afternoon and it was time to make our way back to Dublin for our flight home the following morning. Our Ireland adventure had come to an end. I was leaving a bit of my heart there on the emerald isle, but I knew I would return. Little did I know, it would be less than six months later!
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