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Ireland

Part Two

Wednesday, August 2, 2017, Limerick

King John's Castle

‣ There once was a young girl named Julia

‣ Who really loved her petunias

‣ She planted all day

‣ But they did not stay

‣ And so, she stopped planting petunias

Limerick is the first genuine big city town in Ireland we've encountered. Dublin and Galway are bigger cities, but they are both overflowing with tourists and crack (the term for fun in Ireland). This has given these Irish cities a very artificial and disingenuous feeling. Limerick, on the other hand, is a clean and fun place, but has hardly any tourists and so it is a sincere Irish city moving slowly towards gentrification.

The Shannon River

Limerick's most famous attraction is King John's Castle. The audio-visual part of this excellent venue is very informative about the history of Ireland. This is a tumultuous history of invasion after rebellion after invasion. I thought the history of Russia was bad (and it is), but Russia's turmoil is nothing compared to the painful history of Ireland.

‣ There once was a moron named Trump

‣ Whose fans made him king of the dump

‣ The Russians he heeded

‣ His tweets were unneeded

‣ Oh, that plump and indolent chump Trump

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Desmond Castle

Desmond Castle, as it is popularly known, is from the 12th century and stands on the north bank of the Maigue River. Since 1996 it has undergone extensive renovations, which are still in progress. Supervised tours are offered in the summer months of which we partook. This is the most castlely castle we've seen so far. With motes, drawbridges, giant gates, and stone walls it is an amazing experience.

We next visited a not very well known, but extremely important site: Knockfeerina. Julia discovered this place by going into the public library, how about that for low tech.

The Knockfeerina region has been settled since Neolithic times, with evidence of a wedge tomb on Knockfeerina Hill in the county of Kilmacow. There is also an Early Bronze Age cist grave at Frankfort, with evidence of a standing stone at Ballygrennan. These relics all suggest a continuity of settlement into the later Bronze Age period of this beautiful region. But it also has its horrors too.

Knockfeerina

Knockfeerina, the highest point in County Limerick at approximately 950 feet. It was common land once and so anyone could live here. This was the place that many of the dispossessed of Ireland went to live during the famine years between 1845 to 1852. Some folks had been evicted because they could not pay their rent, but most had no place else to go because there was no work in Ireland.

Knockfeerina countryside

Foundations of primitive shacks have remained in place on Knockfeerina since it was deserted in 1847. The small long forgotten village of the dammed is spread over some 200 acres and there are still standing remnants of many tiny, eight feet by eight feet, houses. These meager cottages had nothing more than walls and clay floors with sod roofs. It is estimated that about 130 families lived here at one time. These houses are now being preserved in memory of those who died in that terrible time.

The views of the very green countryside from this are unparalleled.

Friday, August 4, 2017, Killarney

Lough Leane

‣ There once was a young man named Arney

‣ Who fought in the war in the army

‣ He killed all day long

‣ And he killed at night too

‣ So that's why they called him Killarney

Today we hiked all the way around Lough Leane. We started at Muckross House, which is an amazing old mansion with manicured grounds on the edge of the vast lake. We walked to the Meeting of the Waters, which is where the smaller lakes all meet with the much larger Lough Leane. After eating our cheese sandwich at the teahouse there, we walked on to a very steep assent up to Torc Mountain. There we climbed 1,500 feet in half an hour, but it was worth the effort as the views from up top, of the lakes and mountains, are superb. The locals call this climb cardiac-hill, I can see why. After taking in the vista we walked on to the small, but serene Torc Falls and then returned to Muckross House feeling satisfied we'd hiked the hell out of this lake.

Muckross House

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Gap of Dunloe

Millennia ago, when Ireland was covered by vast ice sheets the Gap of Dunloe was carved out of the rock by powerful and unrelenting glaciers. We walked this stupendous landscape this day and got lost in its lush green vistas. Of course, modern day Ireland can rain on you at any moment, at any time of the year. It did just this as we were about four miles into our seven-mile hike. We've experienced this changeable rainy weather ever since we arrived here, but today we got caught in a torrential downpour that drenched us for about ten minutes. Then the sun came out, as it does in Ireland, and we slowly dried out wandering through the beautiful and rugged valley.

A very soggy bottom

We finally reached the upper lake of Lough Leane where we ate our bacon-butty sandwich and enjoyed a latte, while passing the time waiting for a small motor boat to arrive. The boat transported us back to the main lake of Lough Leane via amazing views of an incredible countryside. About half way on our boat ride the engine gave out and we drifted helplessly on the vast lake for a few minutes before another boat towed us on. The unexpected harnessing of the two boats caused Julia and I to get very wet once again, but we are used to getting wet in Ireland now.

We eventually landed at Ross Castle where we disembarked happy with our adventure, but with very soggy bottoms.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Celtic Village

We drove through the pouring rain, single lane roads, and howling wind to Dunquin. Dunquin is the most westerly part of mainland Ireland. The rustic coastline there is the site of some of the first inhabitants of this very green and damp country, the Celts. Fortunately, there remains 5,000 year-old ruins of a Celtic Village on this cold and wind-blown peninsular. It was a long and arduous drive there and back, but well worth experiencing how our ancient ancestors carved out a living in such an inhospitable place.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Muckross Abby

We walked the lush green grounds of Muckross House to the ruined Muckross Abby. As ruins go this Abby is in really good shape. The walk from the manor house took us by the lakeshore and through emerald woodlands. The rain held off long enough today for us to stay dry all-day long, praise be to Darwin.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summit of Carrauntoohil

Today we climbed the highest mountain in Ireland, Carrauntoohil at 3,406 feet (1,038 m). It's not the highest mountain we've climbed, but this hike was extremely challenging non-the less. It poured rain on and off all day and this soaked us to the bone. Standing on top of 3,406-foot mountain, drenched, in a howling northerly wind is not my idea of fun. The view from up high is amazing, but given the weather we only got a fleeting glimpse of it as the clouds continually engulfed us. I was glad when my boots sunk into to the last bit of sodden boggy ground and we arrived back at our car to dry off as best we could, and we left this soggy mountain behind us.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lunch in Cork

We began our gradual return home to the US of A today by driving from Killarney to Dublin. We stopped to eat lunch somewhere in Cork.

The natural beauty of Ireland is overwhelming and the friendliness of its people was deeply appreciated by both Julia and me. We’ll come back sometime and I cannot wait to see the this emerald place again.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Iceland

We continued our long trek home flying from Ireland to Iceland. Flying on WOW Air is horrible. The seats are hard and you have to pay for everything on the flight, but it�s good to be back in Iceland and one step closer to home.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Goodbye Iceland

Before we made the flight back to Seattle we walked the area behind the airport in Keflavik at the local hotel, where we had spent the night. Iceland has a tourist face and like all counties a realistic one too. It is a wonderful place with stupendous scenery, but it has one of the highest antidepressant usages in the world. Why? Because it is a stark place that spends many months in compete darkness and freezing cold. The answer for many Icelanders is self-medication. It seems the USA does not exceed in this area either.


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