Thursday, after a restful evening, we were up and out at 9 for our day trip on the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a loop of 179 Km (112 miles) following the coastline of the lveragh Peninsula with a number of points of interest to stop and visit. We started off from Killarney heading along the road with our first stop at an overview of Lough Leane – one of the large lakes along the way.
It was a beautiful day for November. From there, we continued on for a quick view of the Ogham stones. Ogham is the earliest form of writing in Ireland it dates to around the 4th century and was in use for around 500 years. The original alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. No clue what these things say – or at least I have no clue. Maybe “Yankee Go Home” for all I know.
A little further down the road we stopped for views of the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. While it was a bit chilly it was still a lovely day and the views were great.
Along the road, we passed the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell is often referred to as the Liberator as he was an early Irish political leader in the first have of the 19th century in the structural for Irish Catholics to be allowed freedom within Ireland. Unfortunately his home is in ruins now but at least they are trying to keep what is left intact.
A short distance further down the road, we passed the Daniel O’Connel Memorial Church. The Church is unusual as it is not named after a Saint or deity – but a layperson.
The next stop was a photo op to take pictures of the Skellig Islands. One of these islands, about 12 Km off the coast, became a monastery in the ninth century.
Talk about a harsh place – the monks had to chip steps into the rock to even gain access up the island peak. In order to have any kind of garden, they had to haul dirt from the mainland and spread it around. Their rock shelters are in the shape of ‘bees hives’ and are still in near perfect condition withstanding Atlantic waves and wind. We didn’t actually make it to the island, it’s usually inaccessible due to weather conditions, and would have been a difficult trip as there are over 600 steps without any kind of railing secure the steps!
However, we did stop at a place for lunch that was called the Skellig Experience and it had some general information. An interesting side note is the final scene of Star Wars 6 where Luke is scene (and never speaks) was filmed on Skellig Island. They have a t-shirt for sale with Luke holding a Guinness with R2D2 next to him with the typical bird that lives on the island. Didn’t but the t-shirt needless to say.
After visiting the Skellig Experience and having lunch we got back on the bus and continued our trip on the Ring of Kerry.
We saw, but didn’t stop, one of the Ring Forts that are scattered around Ireland. These are circular fortified settlements that were mostly built during the bronze age up to about year 1000.
The Killarney National Park, was the first national park of Ireland created in 1932. We drove through it on the way back to Killarney and several of the lakes and other features of the area.
Throughout the day there were sheep – some in large enclosures some in small and the hedge rows or stone walls separating the areas were interesting to see. The Irish Republic encourages the maintenance of hedgerows as natural habitat for local birds, badgers, hedgehogs etc.