Thursday, March 22, 2012

Walk to Ross Castle

When we returned from Dingle Friday evening, Robin and Carla retired to their rooms. I went down to Murphy's pub, grabbed a cider, and made friends with a couple of mates, one from Killarney, the other a friend of his from London. They get together every St. Patrick's Day. They started buying. I started drinking. Jamie came and went without us ever seeing each other, even though I was standing within a few feet of the door. Eventually I saw Jamie walk by and grabbed him. He'd been down the street checking out all the other pubs that were in full party mode. 

Show me, I said. OK he said. We made our way through the crowded street to a pub with amplified Irish music blasting out the front doors. We were able to squeeze inside a foot or two, which put us about a foot from the two musicians and the amplifiers. The musicians, especially the singer, were fantastic and the crowd in the narrow, long bar were into it big time. Dancing and shouting. Maybe that was singing. Hard to tell. After listening to 5 or 20 songs we explored further down the street for a while. I decided to get some rest so we went back to our rooms at Murphy's. 

Luckily for me, and Robin, our room was on the 3rd floor and on the backside, away from the street. The only thing we could hear was water dripping from a gutter. Jamie and Carla's room was on the second floor, overlooking the street. No sleep for four nights. You'd think Sunday night would have been quiet, the day after St. Patrick's Day. But no, it was the worst. Jamie said the party outside didn't stop until about 4 a.m. Monday morning. Monday was a "bank holiday" so I guess St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is a little bit more intense than it is in Santa Fe or Louisville, Kentucky.

In spite of little or no sleep Friday night, on Saturday Jamie and Carla joined us for a walk to Ross Castle, located just outside of Killarney, on a lake.

The walk took us past an old abandoned house.

1839. That's brand new around here. 

Nice woodsy scenery all along the walk.

This castle belonged to an Irish chieftain and his clan. It's a tower design with an outer defensive wall. When the tower was attacked, the clan of about 150 people, most of whom lived outside the walls, would gather up all the livestock and put them inside the walls, then they would go in the castle for protection. These raids were not long-term sieges, but instead were hit-and-run attacks by Vikings or other clans, stealing cattle or maybe just celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The tower was fascinating and incredibly well preserved. It's estimated it would have taken the clan 5 years to build it. It took 50 years to restore it. As usual, no photos allowed inside.

On one of the islands in the lake just a 10 minuter boat ride away are the ruins of a monastery and an abbey. Fergus, our boatman, said European princes were sent to this island for education. I know, sounds unlikely, but I didn't ask questions. 

It's a bit nippy out here on the lake. Fergus said it was warmer on the island.

It's not warmer here. And he forgot to mention the billion mosquitos and gnats that either live or vacation here. I stopped wondering why Fergus stayed down at the dock.

Ancient Celtic cross.

Robin and Carla conjure up memories of their Druid past lives. 

Just how hard is it to get all of these stones across a lake and onto a small island?

On the walk back to Killarney we pass a group of deer. Or unicorns. Around here, you can't be sure.

Back in Killarney I spotted what must have been two tiny Irish fairies, peeking out of a patch of flowers. I love this place.

She didn't buy hats in Dingle, but after listening to Irish musicians every night she couldn't resist buying an Irish accordion.