Ireland – Day 1 

We got home really late on Friday night from Richard’s work dinner party so we collapsed in bed.  Just before my eyelids closed I asked Richard if I should set my alarm too, as back-up to his, and he said that was a good idea so I did.  Turns out it was a really good idea because his alarm is only set to go off on weekdays.  The bad part was that I set it for the last possible minute, thinking his would go off first, so we had to scramble.  We hadn’t packed yet because we were so tired the night before so I was just stuffing things in the suitcase.  I had some regrets about what I brought and didn’t bring but oh well! 

We had to leave the house for the airport a little after 6:00AM.  We hoofed it to the station as fast as we could so we wouldn’t miss the train.  There are something like eight airports in London, and I chose the one with the cheapest flight, but it was a pain to get to.  Fortunately Saturdays are pretty quiet that early in the morning.  We grabbed breakfast at the airport once we got there and then just relaxed until we boarded.  Well, if you can call standing for 20 minutes at the gate relaxing… 

The flight was quick, just over an hour and we landed at the Kerry International Airport.  It was the smallest airport I’ve ever been in but it made arrival and departure pretty straightforward.  We picked up our rental car, which was a manual transmission, and off we went.  It all went really well except that we couldn’t figure out how to put the car in reverse.  It was so hilarious. (But not really.)  

At one point we pulled over to the side of the road to try and figure out where we were going.  My cell phone didn’t work at all and Richard’s was on international roaming and we felt totally handicapped without GPS.  Anyway, Richard had pulled into a parking spot at a little park and we seriously could not figure out how to put the car in reverse, so Richard had to open his door and with the car in neutral managed to use his foot to get us backed up enough to turn around. (That part really was hilarious.)

We stopped for lunch at a pub in a little town, I can’t recall the name, but the food was sooo good.  I just had fish and chips and Richard had roast beef with potatoes and gravy, but it was some serious comfort food.  Richard decided to just eat the data charges and Googled how to put the car in reverse.  Thank Heaven for Google.  

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Annascaul House Bed and Breakfast

After lunch we drove to the town of Annascaul, and checked in at our Bed and Breakfast.  It was small and quaint and the people were polite, but it wasn’t nearly as warm and welcoming as the one we stayed at in Scotland.  

It was a really pretty day- we passed a beach on our way and I wish we would have stopped because the weather was so perfect, but I thought we would have another chance, which we never did.  

We left Annascaul and drove to Dingle.  My friend Suzy had suggested Dingle and it was the destination we were looking for.  So charming and Irish and lovely.  

Trip Advisor has become my go-to source for planning our holidays.  I read on there about two loops that you can drive, one is around the Dingle Peninsula, called Slea Head drive and the other is back near Kerry, called the Ring of Kerry.  The thing about holidays is that it’s this conflict about never planning enough but always planning too much.  The more I learn about a place, the less prepared I feel about visiting it.  It becomes overwhelming. I had a list a mile long of things to see, but once we got there it was complicated and hard to sort out how to see them all.  It’s one thing to read about places to visit and to do all the research about how to fit as much as possible into a day, but then inevitably things come up that look interesting, or are closed, or take longer than planned.  Anyway, there were a couple things we missed because I didn’t know where to find them and I’m sad about that- but all in all I felt really grateful about all we got to do.  

So we left from Dingle and drove the Slea Head loop.  It worked out really well, the timing was nice so that we came around the western side of the peninsula at dusk.  

We stopped at this beach along the drive, which was lovely, but not as nice as Inch Strand, the one we never really made it back to.  

I loved the pattern the water made in the sand as the tide went out.  

As I was thinking about what to write about these Beehive huts that are all over the Western Coast of Ireland, I started thinking about what the ancient Americans lived in around this time.  I was thinking “If they built anything it’s not anywhere to be seen.”  Then all of the sudden I recalled visiting Mesa Verde National Park, just this last January so I did a little research. 

At the same time these beehive huts were being built in Ireland in the 8-12th centuries, ancestral Puebloans were living in cliff dwellings in the western United States.  Richard and I talked a lot while we were in Ireland about how people just make the best use of the resources the land has to offer, but it strikes me now with even more awe about the reality of that concept. 

The Beehive huts were built with rocks, with a geometric design that kept them dry inside because the rain would wash down the outside.  Ireland has rocks everywhere, but not much timber and no canyon walls for cliff dwellings.  They were built before mortar, and yet they have lasted so long.  

There are also rock walls everywhere in Ireland.  Everything is built from rocks, even in the last couple hundred years. 

This spot was believed to be a little settlement, designed either for safety or to keep the animals in.  I just really love things like this, imagining what it was like to live in a place like this.  But just like the park ranger at Mesa Verde pointed out, I’m probably romanticizing it.  

I remember Suzy and Caleb telling us that things in Ireland (and probably elsewhere in Europe) are different than the U.S. in the sense that you are more free to use your best judgement, there aren’t guard rails or fences protecting you from imminent death.  Just plain old common sense.  Which meant that we could climb, walk, explore just about anywhere we wanted to.   (And thankfully we didn’t have kids with us to worry about.)
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Living in Idaho we are so deprived of the ocean.

The roads are so narrow.  Richard and I joked that when planning the roads the engineers said 

“What is the average width of a car?  Alrighty, multiply that by two and that should be adequate!”

When passing other cars you have to slow down, and sort of maneuver your way around, and that’s saying something because the cars are so small.  In this case it was cattle we had to maneuver around.  

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A couple examples of old stone homes that we saw everywhere.

The Gallarus Oratory. 

I’ve learned that an Oratory is a small chapel or prayer room, often used by early Christian monks.  This one was discovered in 1756  but believed to have been built between the 9th and 12th century.  It was so amazing.  The stones were all cut perfectly to fit together like a puzzle and we were told that nary a drop of rain gets inside.  It must have taken years to build with the most primitive technology, and it has never been “restored” in modern day.  It stands exactly now as it did 900+ years ago.  You can see the pictures that it sags a bit on the outside walls.  

There was a retired German school teacher there when we approached, and not anther soul in sight.  He wanted to take our picture next to the oratory so that people who saw the photograph could understand the size of it properly.  He was really fun to talk to and he took a picture with my camera for us. 

Ireland was green, no doubt about it, but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t MORE green.  I think that had a lot to do with the parts of the country we visited and the time of year, I suppose the beginning of September is the driest time, which made for perfect weather for sight seeing.  So I’ll stop complaining now.  
After looking back through my Ireland pictures I’m committed to becoming a better photographer. I know that a picture can never do justice to the scenery, but I know it can do a lot better than I’ve done.  

We finished the loop back in Dingle and then drove back to Annascaul for dinner. We ate at a pub called The South Pole Inn, it was started and run by the famous Tom Crean, an explorer who ventured to the Antarctic and lived to tell about it, miraculously and multiple times! He is the pride and joy of Annascaul and I have to admit I was pretty impressed by his tales.  Sadly, after all he survived in explorations and war, he died of a ruptured appendix in 1938.  

Anyway, the pub was fun and tasty and we were exhausted.  We left the pub before 10:00PM but our fellow guests at the B&B told us that the party really got started at midnight.  Yikes. 

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