Killarney is in Kerry, a popular tourist location known for the ring of Kerry and its beautiful national park. The town is quaint and more spread out than Galway, meaning the hoards of tourists aren't as obvious. After eating some good fish and chips, I took an afternoon tour to the area's highlights. The tour guide pointed out some things as we drove along, like the oldest house in the town and the horse racing track. The first stop, and my favourite, was the Gap of Dunloe- a gap in the mountain range, sort of a v in the mountains. It's the longest range in ireland and it's in the national park. We only had twenty minutes in the area so I started walking to the gap, hoping to get a better look through the trees. The only way there was walking, on horseback or a horse & carriage ride. About half way to the bridge with a good view, a local named Tim stopped and offered to drive me in his horse & carriage to the bridge for free because he was heading home. Yay! He was super nice and took a picture of me when we got there. He also said it was custom to make a wish on the bridge, so I did. It's such a beautiful area, with water, mountains and moss. Tim pointed to a yellow house in the distance, near the base of the gap and he said he lived there. What a beautiful place to live!! Considering I had to be back soon, I was all stressed and had to run back. Luckily it was downhill and I wasn't even the last one to the bus. Next was Torc Waterfall. It was in a beautiful and fresh smelling forest. The waterfall wasn't too large but it was beautiful. There was water, but there is much more when it rains. Then we went to the town's castle, called Ross castle. I bought a heritage card at Dublin castle so I could have toured it for free but there wasn't enough time. The castle used to be much bigger- it has two round towers left, plus the large square castle. It is in a beautiful place, looking over one of the 3 large lakes in the national park. I love castles, so I took tons of pictures. Lastly it was Muckross house and gardens. In 1861 Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert stayed here. The family at the time spent triple what the house cost to build in renovations for the queen's visit. Mr Herbert was hoping to be knighted but soon after the visit, Prince Albert died. Queen Victoria went through a long mourning period and forgot about them. They ended up having to sell the house because of money issues. I toured the house, which took my whole hour at the place. That means all I saw of the gardens was through windows. The house was beautiful. It was used as a hunting lodge for a while, so there was tons of elk and deer heads on the walls, including huge Irish elk that are now extinct. There were Waterford crystal chandeliers, beautiful wall paper made of silk and some original wood furniture with Killarney sites carved into them. We saw many rooms including a billiards room, the queen's dressing room, her bedroom, and the children's room with original dolls and matching furniture. In the women's room there were decorated screens which were used when women sat in front of the fireplace. This was to protect their wax makeup from melting off their faces! Because of it's location the house can be humid and we were told people slept sitting up because of it. You can definitely tell there's a difference in temperature between the upstairs and downstairs. From what i saw of the grounds, they were gorgeous. The house is near a lake and it is now a national park. There are also traditional Muckross farms that you can visit.
Driving away, the guide pointed out a Celtic cross on a hill. The house's first owner, Henry Arthur Herbert, is buried there. The house tour guide said he wanted to be buried standing up so he could keep watch over the mountains and sea. That was all of the tour. I found it very enjoyable. It was 3 hours and 18 euros.
That night I went to a pub Tim suggested- the Grand. It was nice, I had a couple beers, but the dancing an Irish music they advertised was in the nightclub beyond the pub for a cover charge. After hearing great music in Galway I refused to pay lol so I left. On my way back to the hostel there was a live band playing on the street singing Snow Patrol, so of course I had to check it out. As if it couldn't get any better, they then played "1000 Miles" ...and I would walk 500 miles and i would walk 500 more, just to be the man that walked 1000 miles... Etc. It was awesome. See, no need to pay!
I would love to go back and see the ring of Kerry and more of the national park! I really enjoyed my time in Killarney.
My mom recently asked me about the religious problems in Ireland. The only clue I've gotten about the religious differences is the guide always differentiated between Catholic and Protestant churches, though they look the same to me. A girl I met in Galway said there has been more trouble in the last week or two in Northern Ireland. You'd think after hundreds of years fighting about the same thing that they'd learn their lesson? I also saw an ad in the train station featuring a bible verse. So there's that.
On to Cork!