Turas chuig Ciarraí 2024

On Sunday 7th April, 2024 S.A.R.G. undertook the first phase of their holiday in Kerry with a trip from Stoneyford to Tralee, with stops at Obama Junction and Adare, it was a delightful journey for the active retirement group. 

Day 1: Departure from Kilkenny

We started our journey from Stoneyford bright and early, ensuring a full day of exploration ahead. En route to Obama Junction we  enjoyed the scenic drive through the countryside  of Kilkenny, Laois and Tipperary. On arriving at Obama Junction we had a rest and snack. We then  made our way to Moneygall. This small village gained fame as the ancestral home of former U.S. President Barack Obama.

After lunch we continued our journey to Adare, often referred to as Ireland’s prettiest village. In Adare we availed of the opportunity to see the thatched cottages, medieval church, and picturesque streets.

On arrival at ‘The Rose Hotel’ in Tralee we checked-in to our accommodations and took some time to relax and unwind before dinner.

Day 2: 

After a leisurely breakfast we were ready for our first day of exploration. For our first day in Kerry we chose to travel around The Ring of Kerry. Thankfully the day was fine and we had ample opportunity to enjoy the views and scenery of Kerry from the vantage point of travelling by bus.

Our first stop was The Kerry Bog Village.

The Kerry Bog Village explores Ireland’s rural history, heritage and lifestyle. There we experienced the culture, customs and living conditions of our great ancestors through the famine years, and late 19th century. The village has period thatched cottages, fully furnished with authentic antiques, complete with sound effects and figurines. Outdoors, we saw a display of a fabulous array of rural farm equipment, used by turf cutters and farmers of the time period.

In the village, saw the once almost extinct ‘Kerry Bog Pony’ and the world’s tallest dogs the ‘Irish Wolfhound’.

The Bog Village is set at the foot of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range. The Village is surrounded by the extensive Bog lands of Ballintleave. 

We travelled on to Cahersiveen, a town with a population of around 1200 people and which is one of the westernmost towns in Ireland and hence one of the westernmost towns in Europe. Cahersiveen is the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, we stopped for a quick photograph of the ruin in which Daniel was born.

O’Connell’s Birthplace

Cahersiveen has remained principally a market town down the centuries and never fully enjoyed the benefits of the tourist industry perhaps making it one of the more original towns on the Ring of Kerry.

Cahersiveen was also the home-place of “The Boys of Bár na Sráide”, who having risked life, health and limb fighting the British Occupying Army, were left with no option but to emigrate to England when the war was won. The country for which they fought had nothing to offer them but rejection.

The town of Cahersiveen lies at the foot of Beentee Mountain, on the river Fertha and overlooks Valentia Harbour. A beautiful marina has been added to the town in recent years and if you are a boating or marine enthusiast then it’s well worth a visit.

Next stop:  Waterville: An Coireán:

Stunningly situated between the Wild Atlantic Ocean and the freshwater lake of Lough Currane sits the beautiful village of Waterville. Waterville is the home of the famous Mick O’Dwyer of Kerry football fame, one of the most successful players and then as manager of the Kerry football team.  Waterville is unique in the fact that it is the only village on the Ring of Kerry that is actually right on the coast (you can taste the salt water on the main street on a calm day) and sandwiched on a strip of ground between the lake and the ocean.

An Coireán (Gaelic) translates as “the little whirlpool”, a reference some believe to the shape of the bay (Ballinskellig’s Bay) on which the town sits. The Waterville area and Ballinskellig’s Bay play an important part in the mythology of ancient Ireland. According to the Book of Invasions written about 1000 AD, Cessair, the granddaughter of Noah, landed in Ballinskellig’s Bay after the flood and became Ireland’s first invader. Here too, the last of the mythical invaders, the Milesians settled in 1700 BC and reportedly left behind many of the archaeological sites found in the area. These rich legends along with the earliest memories of Kerry’s history combine to form a mystical aura that visitors to Waterville can sense even today. 

Derrynane House:

Not very far from Waterville is the home of the Liberator Daniel O’Connell. Derrynane, Doire Fhionnáin, (The Wood of St. Finnan) stands at the very tip of the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry. Sheltered within the woodland stands Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, lawyer, politician and statesman, and one of the great figures in modern Irish history.

Many relics of O’Connell’s life and career are preserved in Derrynane House, but the house is more than just a museum. Derrynane was one of the great influences on Daniel O’Connell’s life as he himself was always happy to admit. For several generations, it had been the ancestral home of the O’Connell’s. It had been his own childhood home as he was reared there by his uncle known as Hunting Cap and throughout his career it was his country residence. He and his family spent most summers at Derrynane. It was here that he was host to many guests in the surroundings that he loved and here he indulged his passion for beagling. 

We had an amazing and informative tour, our historian-guide was able to bring the O’Connell period to life for us and in doing so dispensed with many myths regarding the liberator.

Today some 120 hectares (300 acres) of the lands of Derrynane, together with Derrynane House, make up Derrynane National Historic Park, under the management of National Historic Properties of the Office of Public Works.

We proceeded to drive through Moll’s Gap on our way to Killarney. On the way we stopped to take in the breathtaking views from “The Ladies View”. This is an ultra-famous spot in Ireland’s National Park. It is a marvellous viewpoint overlooking the entire park and its famous lakes. The location is nothing short of magical, in the heart of the great Irish wilderness, within a 10,000-hectare park of nature, lakes and mountains. In fact, it was one of Queen Victoria, The Famine Queen’s, favourite spots!

Next stop was at Torc Waterfall a stunningly natural attraction. Torc Waterfall cascades from a height of approximately 20 meters (66 feet) down a series of rocky ledges, surrounded by lush greenery and ancient oak trees. The setting is truly picturesque, offering a tranquil oasis in the heart of Killarney National Park.

The visit to Torc Waterfall was a memorable experience among many.

At this stage in the day we headed back to our hotel tired and hungry, but satisfied.

Day 2: Killarney.

Taking a jaunting car from Killarney to Ross Castle for a tour was a wonderful idea! Ross Castle perched in an inlet of Lough Leane. It is likely that the Irish chieftain O’Donoghue Mór built it in the fifteenth century.

Legend has it that O’Donoghue still slumbers under the waters of the lake. Every seven years, on the first morning of May, he rises on his magnificent white horse. If you manage to catch a glimpse of him you will enjoy good fortune for the rest of your life. Unfortunately we picked the wrong date for our visit.

Ross Castle was the last place in Munster to hold out against Cromwell. Its defenders, then led by Lord Muskerry, took confidence from a prophecy holding that the castle could only be taken by a ship. Knowing of the prophecy, the Cromwellian commander, General Ludlow, launched a large boat on the lake. When the defenders saw it, this hastened the surrender – and the prophecy was fulfilled.

We availed of the opportunity to take a boat trip on Lough Leane it was a fantastic experience! Lough Leane, which means “Lake of Learning,” is the largest of the three lakes in Killarney and forms part of Killarney National Park. Lough Leane is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. As you cruise along the lake, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque landscapes, including rugged mountains, lush forests, and serene waters.

Our skipper pointed out some historical sites such as Innisfallen Island, which is home to the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey. This ancient monastery dates back to the 7th century and added a fascinating layer of history to our journey.

After our boat trip we proceeded by bus to Muckross House. Once we arrived at Muckross House, we had a lovely lunch before exploring the elegant rooms of the mansion, some strolled through the meticulously manicured gardens others just relaxed luxuriating in the surrounding beauty.

It was delightful to immerse ourselves in the beauty and history of Killarney, and it was a thoroughly joyful experience!

Day 4 Slea Head Drive

Driving along Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula was an absolute must-do for the group. This scenic route offered breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs, rolling green hills, and picturesque beaches. We didn’t realise how difficult it would be for a 61 seater bus to negotiate the cliff roads, however our driver was excellent and managed the route with the greatest of aplomb. 

As we wound our way along the narrow roads of Slea Head Drive, we were treated to some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Ireland. 

Along the route, we encountered ancient archaeological sites, Slea Head Drive has also been featured in several films, including “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Far and Away.” 

Unfortunately the weather for our Slea Head trip left a lot to be desired as a heavy mist enveloped the area. Our only glimpse of the Blasket Islands was in our minds eye. However the Blasket Visitor and Interpretive Centre displays afforded us some idea of what island life was like. 

Overall, driving along Slea Head Drive was an unforgettable experience.

Day 5: Return to Kilkenny

We were a little sad when our visit to Tralee came to an end. After breakfast, we checked out of The Rose Hotel and prepared for our journey back to Kilkenny. The homeward journey was the reverse of the outward one except on the way back we had much to talk about as we compared stories, experiences and photos of our wonderful trip.

 

Our accommodation for the holiday was The Rose Hotel in Tralee. It  proved to be a delightful retreat for our group.  As a family-run establishment it has a special charm and warmth. With its excellent amenities and attentive staff, it proved to be a popular choice for Stoneyford Active Retirement Group.. The varied menu in the dining room was something to look forward to especially after a long days sight-seeing. The excellent choice of food provided was ensured to please every palate, offering a taste of the local cuisine alongside other culinary delights. It is truly a place where guests can relax and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company as members of SARG did.

I would like to thank the JMG Bus Tour Company for all their help over the years. they are a fantastic choice for any group wishing to  explore the sights of Ireland or abroad. With great organisation, courteous staff, and knowledgeable driver/tour guides, they provided a seamless and enjoyable experience for us. Their accommodating nature ensured that our every need was met, and their expertise added depth to the journey by sharing insights and information about the destinations visited. They are extremely easy to deal with, making the booking process and overall experience hassle-free. Over the years their drivers proved to be top class and this year was no different with Micheál at the wheel for our fantastic holiday.

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