Sunday morning we woke up and ate breakfast with the other guests. That’s one of my favorite things about a B&B, the chance to meet people from different places. There was a couple from New Zealand and one from Nashville. It’s always fun to see other Americans too, a little bit of home.
We drove up to a town called Tralee for church. We were having the hardest time finding it because it didn’t resemble any church I’ve ever been to. We stayed just for Sacrament Meeting and then we drove down to Kilarney where we ate lunch and began the Ring of Kerry loop.
The look on my face… I just don’t know…
On the left is Main Street in Kilarney, where we ate lunch. On the right is a group of young street performers. They were really good, the best I’d seen so far in Ireland. There were quite a few groups in Dingle and Kilarney, with instruments I didn’t recognize.
I had picked a handful of things I wanted to see on the Ring of Kerry loop, but I also wanted to just wing-it and stop when we saw something that looked interesting. The loop goes around the Kerry peninsula and there are a lot of people on TripAdvisor that debate which drive is more scenic, the Slea Head Loop, or the Ring of Kerry. We loved them both but the Ring of Kerry had really diverse views, a lot of variation in the scenery.
Not too far into the drive we saw a sign for Caragh Lake and since I really wanted to see some lakes we took the turn-off. We followed the road up to an empty parking lot at a trail head and read a sign that promised a gorgeous view at the end of the trail. A view of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and since Macgillycuddy is so fun to say we took set off.
I was just wearing flip-flops but the trail was easy and reminded us a lot of Idaho.
Caragh Lake- the view from the trailhead
The view from the top.
After our mini-hike we resumed our journey on the loop and our next stop was Ballycarberry Castle. It was just ruins but it was totally accessible, so we could climb in and around it. I loved that, and thought of how much my younger self, with her wild imagination, would have loved to explore and play there.
The castle was built around 1569 and belonged to the McCarthy and then O’Donnell families.
We continued on the Ring of Kerry and just stopped here and there for some photos until we got to Staige Fort.
I loved the old bridges- I would have taken a dozen pictures of bridges I saw but it would have inhibited our ability to get through our day efficiently.
See what I mean about Ireland having plenty of rocks?
Our German friend at the Gallarus Oratory told us that Staigue Fort was not to be missed. It was quite impressive. You can read about it in the photo below because it is written much better than I could describe from my memory. It is estimated to have been built between 300AD and 400AD, one of the oldest structures we’ve seen so far.
*Clever caption about thick rock walls and handsome husband…*
Once again there were no rules or signs or fences so we could climb up and look around. I couldn’t believe how big it was on the inside, enough room for a small community. The thing I’ve been realizing as we’ve seen castles and ruins is that safety was always #1, and I think I would have felt pretty safe in this ringfort, albeit pretty isolated. Hard to imagine what the dating pool was like…
There were several steps and terraces that allowed a great view of the surrounding valley.
The view of the valley from the fort.
This drawing helped me visualize a bit better what it might have looked like. You could see the remains of the ditch also, that surrounded the fort.
You could walk down into these little coves in the rock wall and even stand up inside them.
The sheep in Ireland are almost and numerous as the rocks. You can’t see it on this one, but most sheep are painted on their backs. I asked a local about this and she said that the farmers all share land, so by the end of the summer the sheep have grazed all over and so when they herd them up they can sort them by color for each owner.
The entire day I had that Johnny Cash song “Ring of Fire” stuck in my head, everytime I saw or said the words “Ring of Kerry.” After we left Staigue Fort we drove to the town of Sneem, where I had ice cream and we took a little stroll down main street. Richard wasn’t feeling well so we called it a day and drove the rest of the Ring mostly as observers.
It turns out we would see more of the Ring of Kerry on the next day.
We did make one last stop at a place called “Ladies View.” Richard made lots of jokes about that but unfortunately I can’t recall them…