Kenmare and the Magical Ring of Kerry
Kenmare, one of the loveliest little towns in Ireland, is full of music and magic. My B&B host suggested a few different places for “craic,’ which is what the Irish call fun, entertainment, gossip, news, and enjoyable conversation. In Ireland, it’s all about the music. I’d been told several times to do as the locals do – walk down the street, put your ear up to the door, and if you like the music, go in. If not, keep walking until you do. So that’s what I did, until finally I stopped and listened to a woman fiddler and a guy on the banjo, playing Irish ballads, while I enjoyed some hearty Irish fare – a fish pie, rich and creamy, with a puff pastry crust on top, served with julienned carrots and turnips, and mashed potatoes – definitely a comfort food dinner.
Indeed, you will not go hungry in Ireland. Not being a big breakfast eater, I did my best with the massive morning B&B meals. When I’d say please hold the sausage, I can’t eat that much, they’d bring me extra eggs to make up for it. Toast? How about a whole basket for one? And don’t forget the cereal and pastries!
After checking emails, and receiving some bad financial news (it was time to pay the penalties and take out my retirement money, but I found out the market had just tanked), I tried to stay calm, to let go, to trust, but it was hard. I decided to take a break, walked out the door, and a big beautiful rainbow stretched across the whole sky, a sign, in living color! I still felt anxious, but seeing that bright glowing arch reminded me that there’s something bigger going on, and to have faith.
After several hours of booking accommodations, and financial correspondence, I drove to a spot nearby where I heard there was a beautiful waterfall. By the time I arrived, the sun that had replaced the morning’s pouring rain had disappeared back into gray clouds, and I couldn’t find the waterfall. I was about to give up when I saw a young guy mowing the lawn of a fancy hotel, and I stopped to ask him. He was super nice and friendly, a trait I found common in Ireland, and he stopped his mower to come over to my car. “It’s under the stone bridge,” he told me. “You can’t see it from the road. Park in the hotel parking lot, walk around the front of the hotel, and follow the walkway down the side for the best view of the waterfall and the bridge.” I asked if it was okay if I’m not a hotel guest.“Sure!” he assured me.
Then he showed up again and told me to cross the bridge, go through the Private Property gates, and follow the path along the river on the other side for some more great views.
I passed through the greenest of green forests, the tree trunks covered in moss, and I shot panoramas of clouds reflected in the lake where the river spills out, all moody and shades of gray. Just the smell of the earth and the moss and the rain lifted my spirits.
With a friend’s birthday coming up, I even shot a bouquet of flowers to send her in photo form. Lots of rain makes for a rainbow of blossoms.
Kenmare sits at the southern start of the famous Ring of Kerry, a place I’ve long dreamed of seeing. In fact, I would like to have walked it, but didn’t have enough time, although when I saw some hikers, they didn’t look too comfortable in the cold and rain lugging their heavy backpacks. You can take tour buses around, but I was glad I had a car, as there are so many scenic spots to stop, which I could do at will, and at my own pace. The weather varied from sun to wind to rain and back again.
It’s about a 5 hour drive all the way around. I’d been told by several people that Beara and Dingle are more beautiful than Kerry, which I think partly has to do with how touristy Kerry has become. With fame, come crowds, and the roads are a bit clogged with tour buses. In fact, my host recommended I drive clockwise, the opposite direction of the buses, so I wouldn’t get stuck behind one and not be able to see anything.
It was still an enjoyable drive, vast scenes of water and sky, punctuated by stops in small, colorful villages, and ending at the ever-present Irish pub.
Next post, check out Killarney and the National Park…