Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ring of Kerry

The skies off the "Ring of Kerry" coast were mesmerizing.
As anticipated, there were many rainy days during our Irish adventure but, as we had planned for it, it really didn't bother us much. Likewise, once I realized that I was fighting motion sickness, I was able to anticipate it and cope with it.

We stayed two nights in Galway, so we could take a day tour of the Ring of Kerry. Here is a map of the (approximate) route we took.

View Ireland Tour 2013 in a larger map

I'm glad I'd found some tricks to battle the nausea before we took on this day. The road was quite twisty and narrow. In fact, buses were only permitted to travel counter-clockwise on this section of highway so that they would never have to squeeze alongside each other at narrow points.
We finally glimpsed some working bogs - areas where the landowners excavated peat for fuel.

And we saw those famously green fields.

Sadly, I do not recall what this shrine was about. You will note the stones set on-end along the wall. It was a style we saw throughout Ireland. I asked the guide about it and she seemed never to have considered the question. I suppose that's just the way it's done.

The weather really just made the views all that much more magical.

More of the yellow gorse bushes that bloomed profusely everywhere.
The forest in the southern coastal areas was blanketed with thick moss.
Suitable for filming a horror movie, I think.
I forgot to include the following sign in my previous post about the unique signs we saw on our trip.
"Ireland's best known view. (Fog permitting.)"
Can't say they aren't honest.

This photo was taken from inside the bus, to show you just how tight a squeeze we often faced.
You can see the seat-back reflected in the window.

That evening, we were in for a real treat. One of the tour's optional excursions was what they called "Be our Guest" - an evening of dining and entertainment at a working farm. "Working" in the sense that they actually have livestock, but they are not modern farms. At least, our's wasn't.
The sky was dramatic as we entered the grounds.
The owner (?) greeted us and gave us a tour of the operations.
This included showing us how a special implement cuts the turf for fuel.
They look a little like square cow patties. Probably not fundamentally a lot different,
though these have been decomposing for eons.
Compare those to the ones we saw earlier in our trip.
These, I'm guessing, were machine cut and then somehow processed.
Possibly to reduce smoke emissions and to improve efficiency.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this young woman.
She was absolutely charming and thought it a great lark that
the horse dropped a pile of poop as we watched.
I have a "thing" for windows.
Everywhere we looked, the eye was delighted.

The creamery, showing old items.
They showed us how they churn their own butter. I took pictures, but there was very little light and they did not turn out very well.
Yah, definitely a thing for windows. Especially if they include a lace curtain.
All this one is missing is a cat.
The meal, like the majority of the meals on the trip, was exquisite.
A blood sausage canape.
I had tried hotel-buffet blood sausage earlier and found it dry and tasteless. This was neither. The sausage was tender, moist and served on a potato pancake with a dash of crème fraîche. It was really, really good. And the presentation throughout the meal was just as simple and charming.

Bonus: since I was no longer crippled by nausea, I enjoyed every bite!

Peat fire in a cast-iron hearth.
He's holding uilleann pipes (pronounced EE-lin), an Irish form of the bagpipe.
He played, she sang, and they had a grand time, as did we. (I think that's Steve's shoulder in the foreground.) After dinner, we moved to the kitchen, a great room with a massive fireplace. Our entertainers performed some more - and they invited us to share some wit or stories as well. One fellow on our trip did get into the spirit, but I can't remember his tale.

She really had a lovely voice.
With the uilleann pipes, the air is controlled by a bag held under his armpit.
We went home happy and sated, and slept well.

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