My time in Ireland is quickly coming to an end…. In one week, I will be in the air on the way back to the states. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by, and how much I have learned and gotten to see the last few months.
My most recent travels took me down to the southern region of Ireland. I decided to take off to adventure around the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, and Killarney. I really do like all of Ireland, and there are so many beauties around this country, but this area might be one of my favorites that I have traveled to. Killarney is the town that I stayed in, and I found a small guesthouse above a local pub that had food, drinks, and live music every night. The pub was a great place to hang out in the evenings, especially for someone traveling alone since it gave me a bit of company.
I spent two full days in County Kerry, and the first day was spent on a tour to the Dingle Peninsula. I went on a group tour bus that takes you on a coastal drive and has many stops along the way. We stopped at Inch Beach, which is a beautiful little stretch of coastline that sticks out from the peninsula. The beach has stunning views of the mountains surrounding you on both sides, but the water is awfully chilly and I couldn’t feel my feet for about 20 minutes because I decided to put my feet in the water. While driving around the peninsula, there are beautiful overlooks and panoramic views of many different sights. At one point, we could see the Skellig Islands, which are these odd little islands off of the coast that have an old Christian Monastery on them, and are also where the final scene in the most recent Star Wars was filmed. We then continued to drive on until we reached the most western point of the country, meaning its the closest I have been to home since I have arrived here. We also stopped in the town of Dingle, where I had some of the best fish and chips I have tasted, and made a stop at a little farm where I got to pet and hold a 10 week old lamb!
The next day, I took a tour bus to the Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park. I really don’t know which day I enjoyed more, because the views and scenery everywhere were simply stunning. While driving around the ring, we learned some words in Irish, saw the Dingle peninsula from the other side of the bay, drove through villages with names that I cannot properly pronounce, ate lunch at one of the most scenic restaurants in Ireland, and I even got to see a dog riding on a donkey. The views were just breathtaking, and sometimes didn’t even feel real. I walked up to the top of a hill that we were stopped at for a little while, and I had spectacular views 360 degrees all around me. There was something so peaceful about just sitting right there, with no one else around except the views of the mountains and the sea. The views on the ring were quite impressive, but then we drove through Killarney National Park where there are lakes nestled in the valleys of all of the mountains, and I was yet again amazed. I really cannot put into words how much I loved this place, how beautiful it was, and as lovely as the pictures are, they will never fully show the true charm this place has.
This weekend I ventured back down to another area in the south of Ireland, and visited Cork and Blarney Castle. Cork was neat, and the accents in Cork are definitely something else. Blarney Castle isn’t too far out of Cork, and this is where the famous “Kissing the Blarney Stone” happens. It is said that if you kiss this stone, it will bring 7 years of good luck, and it is almost essential to visit if visiting Ireland. I got to kiss the stone, and then we walked around the castle grounds and gardens, and headed off into the village of Blarney. While walking around the gardens, we found the Wishing Stairs, which is said to grant any wish of yours if you can walk up and back down the steps backwards with your eyes closed. Of course we all had to try this, and I think the only reason I didn’t fall and break anything was because of those 7 years of good luck I must be getting from kissing the Blarney Stone. The rest of the gardens and the village were really nice, and I am glad I finally got to see the southern part of this country!
As much as I don’t want to leave this place that is beginning to feel like a second home, I really am ready to get back to my real home… So many things remind me of home and how much I miss it. I went swing dancing the other night, and it made me think of Dad and all of our dance sessions. The lakes in Killarney made me miss my lake view at home. The mountains everywhere remind me of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The beaches remind me of all of the years I spent at Sunset with my family. Even when I was packing the other day, my music playlist was on shuffle and played “Carolina In My Mind” by James Taylor. I’ve never left home for this long, and I think being away from it has made me appreciate it even more than I did before. Ireland has been great, and as thankful as I am for all of the new places, faces, and experiences, I have never been more excited to fly back home. Cheers to one more week here, and to this trip that I will forever be thankful for!