Ireland part two - Kilarney   

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On Monday we checked out the Norman tower house, Rahinnane Castle, which Mary had spotted the night before, maybe a half-mile drive from our overnight B&B in Ventrys.  

The privately-owned ruin was very modest, and the land owner charged us four Euros each.  The Castle seemed to attract a steady stream of tourists, and I surmise that it's probably mentioned in guide books for those driving the popular Dingle Peninsula route, or, tourists see it coming while driving and stop to investigate. 

In the 40 minutes we were there, I counted the visitors and figured the owner took in 32 Euros, or about 50 dollars at the currency prices then.  Forget farming, is the idea, and the owner just sits, smiles, and collects money, for almost half a year, an easy, but repetitive, and possibly very boring, business plan. 

Perhaps the owner relieves boredom through sarcasm, because when Paul asked him about the "Irish Home-Coming in 2013" posters we'd seen at the Ennis airport, he quickly & dryly replied, 'yes, one more way for us Irish to squeeze money out o' you Americans.' 

Yes, more than a little irony there, but, after all, it was only six or seven bucks, well worth it to see an ancient and small-scale heap of stones.  Something I noticed at the time but failed to get a photo of....was the astounding view, over miles of open water.      

mini-Castle in County Kerry the story grandeur here, once upon a time now it belongs to the crows
  and the dandelion on the drive to Kilarney      


We drove maybe two hours from Dingle to our next B&B stay, in Kilarney, where we were on foot for two days.  The B&B was close to town, with its active shopping, pub & dining scene.  Killarney, like Dingle, has a lot of traditional Irish music venues to offer. 

Musicians we saw performed pieces modestly, and nearly every local is familiar with the music. There seemed to be many good restaurants here, and other shops.  I found a Bill Bryson paperback bio of Wm. Shakespeare at a book store, a great read, in fact, I read it twice on the trip. 

sign on the inside door of the B&B walking to Ross Castle National Park Ross Castle
    family history inside we had a 45 minute docent led tour  and photos were not allowed
descendants of the clan w/no legal claim my family's coat of arms walk back to town walking trails are everywhere
  the National Park starts in town   St. Catherine's  
thatched roof St. Catherine's cathedral        

Gap of Dunloe - on Tuesday we had a shuttle ride from the B&B to the trailhead for a long & sometimes strenuous uphill walk in the Hills of Kilarney to the Gap of Dunloe, followed by a long easy downhill walk and a brief stop for tea & snack at Brandon's Cottage.  I think it took us 3+ hours to reach the Cottage.  

The round trip fee included a scenic thirteen mile return boat ride in a motorized shallow-draft long-boat, crossing the three Lakes of Killarney, famous for blackish water & lovely hills.  These Lakes have been a popular destination, going back centuries. 

morning stroll the Gap of Dunloe hike   the topography
  clear and cool day   the hills of Kilarney
Crocosmia along the creek   local sheep  
  heading downhill from the pass Rowan berry country  doorway
fairy tale land near the end of a great walk Lord Brandon's Cottage Michael Tangney

Michael Tangney said he grew up on a sheep farm within a half mile of Brandon's Cottage.  He said his family continues to run the sheep business on this side of the Lakes, within the National Park. 

He spoke clearly and I thought Michael looked pretty good for a life-long farm kid, but I sensed he was a wee bit unsteady. A son soon appeared from the restroom, who seemed pleased to see someone keeping his Dad occupied.         

Donald O'Donoghue said his family has been in the tourist boating business on the Lakes of Killarney for 250 years.  He was two years into a four year apprenticeship to become an electrician when the economy tanked (in '08) and since then he's had to fall back on the family excursion business.  The economy never really picked up again as expected, he said to us in fall of 2013. 

Donald knew a lot about local environmental issues and showed us huge hillsides of invasive Rhododendron. Later when I asked him why there seem to be almost no hawks or herons, or birds of any kind, on these huge bodies of water, he said that a mink invasion in this part of Ireland starting decades ago remains responsible.  The heron shown below was acknowledged by Donald as the one & only Heron living here, over 13 miles of shoreline. This lack of birds and hawks in a National Park, was one of the most surprising impressions of the whole trip for me.     

Donald said that later the same day, he would be driving one of his best friends to the airport on his move to western Canada, to get his electrician career going. 

We heard this story many times from the B&B owners, that their children or close relatives had to move to Australia or Canada to get their career started, following graduation from an Irish college.  Getting a technical or even an advanced degree in Ireland certainly does not guarantee a job, is the story, and an Irish exodus continues to this day.      

  the family business Donald, boatman & storyteller the Lakes of Kilarney
  blackish water   narrow gap between lakes 3 and 2
  the lone heron on the lakes gap between lakes 2 and 1 tea cottage built for Queen Victoria's visit in the 1880s.
calendar shot alert      
  the only ray of sun today maybe we didn't tip enough? Castle at 11:59pm  

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