I had a great night’s sleep last night in part due to the eye covers that I finally remembered to wear. Daylight comes early in Ireland and my body wakes when the sun says, “Rise!” The O’Donovan Hotel was another adequate accommodation. No complaints, but nothing fancy; and, NO hairdryer. I leave here every morning looking like a waif. It is a unique hotel. There were music school tryouts on the third floor and a daycare center on the second. As you disembarked the elevator you walked into a small library. The hotel is filled with unique places and history.
After breakfast we walked a short distance to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Mass had recent ended so Seana and I ventured inside. It was quite beautiful. We were slow and deliberate so as to (hopefully) not offend the parishioners. When we exited the boys had disappeared. We ended up walking all the way to the carpark and then back to the church in search of them. Of course, they claimed they had been there the whole time. Yep.
We headed off to find the Drombeg Stone Circle. As we approached, there was a detour sign that presumably redirected us away from the circle. I didn’t think so. We skirted around the partially blocked road and continued on our way. The issue was a slight resurfacing of the road that really caused no obstruction; just a lot of dust. We happened upon the stone circle with no impairment.
It was a remarkably beautiful day. There were a handful of couples exploring the site that came and went while we were there. Stone circles were typically arranged in relationship to the winter solstice. Carbon dating at Drombeg indicated that it had been constructed somewhere between 1100 and 800 B.C. In other words, it was over 3,000 years old! My kids enjoy exploring as much as I do and we climbed hills for perfect vantage points. If we’d not done another thing, this would have been a good day’s accomplishment. We left Drombeg and snaked our way back to N71 via Glandore Bay. The sun was shining and it was really glorious.
We wound around on N71 through Bantry and the Caha Pass. At one point we passed a graffiti on a hillside with a large marijuana leaf and “Legalize it now” written underneath. When my mother, sisters, and I traveled Ireland on a buss tour in 2000, we ended up with a picture of our tour director and bus driver hamming it up under the same graffiti. We stopped for silly pictures and left some of mom there as well. Next, we traveled through Glengariff where we had hoped to see some more seals. No seals at all but there was a large barge in the harbor that appeared to be loaded with giant bags of trash. Bummer.
Just outside of Bonane we visited the Dromagorteen Stone Circle and Bullaun Stone. I forgot how much of a hike it was to the circle. Man, we are getting a workout. Bullaun stones have been said to be a part of pagan rituals as well as early Christian religious items. No one really knows for sure.
The boys headed back to the car faster than Seana and I. When we arrived they were having conversation with an older Irish gentleman who was desperate for more visitors to his site. He loaded us up with brochures and not a one of us could barely understand what he was saying. He did complain about the French couple who had preceded us there and not paid by the honor system.
Once we reached Kenmare it was time to venture onto the Ring of Kerry. The ROK circles the large Iveragh Peninsula. It’s said to be one of the loveliest drives in all of Ireland. My passengers really enjoyed it when they were awake! I’m sure riding gets as tedious as driving but the views were spectacular. By that time our enjoyable meandering had left us with little time to reach our B&B before check-in. We really didn’t want to make a habit of messing with our hosts. We skipped any other side trips, most pull-overs, etc. and headed to Portmagee Heights B&B. Once we had checked into our rooms we headed out again in search of the Kerry Cliffs.
I’d been to the Iveragh Peninsula 3 times and had never heard of the Kerry Cliffs until recently. They are just outside Portmagee and for 4 Euros you can hike up the hillside to the observation areas. I can barely even express how monumental these cliffs are. We all hear about the Cliff of Moher. They are a top tourist destination. I think these cliffs were almost equally impressive. Even better, you can see both of the Skellig Islands from there, Michael Skellig and Little Skellig. We spent considerable time hear taking all kinds of photos. The sky had become partly cloudy so the landscape seems to change as the shadows passed over. We all agreed…no words could describe it.
After a small respite back at the B&B we headed to the Bridge Bar for dinner. We all shared an ample seafood sampler plate brimming with multiple kinds of seafood; prawns, mussels, smoked salmon, hake, raw oyster, shredded crab, etc. We each also enjoyed a most delicious meal. I had the fried hake with potatoes augratin and mashed carrots and parsnips. One of my favorites! We all relished our meals.
Even better yet was the couple who sat next to us, Anna and Orla. They lived on Valencia Island and were about to celebrate their first year as a married couple. They were delightful company and we shared our stories together. Turns out they were also into comedy improv! We probably could have spent more time visiting with them but we have an early morning tomorrow. We are hoping to at least be able to do a boat tour around the Skelligs since the OPW had delayed opening just long enough to squash our plans of a island landing on Skellig Michael. As I journal tonight, the siblings are sitting on Seana’s bed playing rummy. I’m not sure life can get better than this. Oh yes, it can! Bill joins us in just 3 days!