Travel # 6 -- March 26, 2005
The Ring of Kerry

By Bob Corbett

We woke to a glorious, warm and sunny day, turned out to be one of the very best weather days of the whole trip. And, lucky us. Just by chance we happened to have gone on the very long walk of The Gap of Dunloe on our first full day in Ireland, and now, on this second, we were taking a day long bus ride round the famous Ring of Kerry. A chance to rest those legs on full day at least.

This trip was a great deal. We paid 25 Euros each and the company came to our B&B and picked us up, took us to the central meeting place in Killarney. Again, it was early in the season and the day before Easter to boot, so there werenít too many people. They used a modest sized tourist bus and we had great window seats high above the ground.

Besides the Ring of Kerry itself, the hilarious and informed guide, John OíNeil really made this a wonderful day trip.

There is little to I can tell of the beauty and magnificence of the Ring itself. It is a circle road that goes round the peninsula, about 120 miles. It first runs alongside Dingle Bay on the north, goes up into the mountains as it rounds the point on the Atlantic and enters the Kerry National Forest. The road is very narrow, winding and the scenery is simply spectacular. We left Killarney about 10 AM and stopped in the lovely seaside town of Waterville for lunch. Later in the afternoon we also stopped in the marvelous tiny village of Sneem. That was an especially good stop.

John and I had lunch there in our 2003 trip and I knew of a small grocery. Sally and I walked up to it and picked up a lovely picnic of wine, some nice cheese, fresh baked bread, a pleasant little chocolate thing for dessert and other goodies. Our plan was to eat in the evening on our balcony which we did. Then there was a famous pub in the middle of town and while Sally went off to check the shopping scene, I decided to have a drink. Ah, this was to change much in the rest of our trip. I have NEVER been a whiskey drinker. Beer and wine. However, way back in the days I lived in the Bahama Islands (1962-64) I couldnít afford the beer since the import duties were extreme. At that time the Bahamas were still a British colony, and there was no duty at on Scotch whiskey. I could get a whole quart bottle of the marvelous Grantís scotch for about $1.25!!!! I did learn to love scotch and drank it for a few years after returning to the U.S., but somehow got out of the habit.

Sally and I had talked about trying the Irish whiskey to see what it was like. So, on that lovely sunny afternoon, sitting outside at a picnic table in lovely Sneem, I got a Jameson. And I didnít like it. There was a slight sharpness in the taste that I didnít care for. However, I didnít give up. Later Ė another day, not there in Sneem Ė after an afternoon meal, the two of us tried Bushmills. Oh my, that was simply delicious, and after that we added Irish whiskey to the trip. Not much. We normally carried a bottle with us, and in the evenings as we relaxed before going to sleep each of us would have a small glass, about the equivalent of a single shot glass full. Occasionally, we might extend that to two, at least one of us did upon occasions. My oh my, was that lovely. I also tried Paddyís (which the Irish recommended) and Tullamoredew and didnít like either of those. Ah, born in Northern Ireland or not, Bushmills is a lovely drink.

Our guide was simply hilarious. He had us howling with laughter Ĺ the time, and listening in rapt attention to his lectures on Irish history and tales (clearly some tall tales, but oh so entertaining) of the sites we were seeing. But the best of all were his Bill Clinton jokes. Oh my goodness. We did learn everywhere we went in Ireland that Bill Clinton is the Irish peopleís favorite U.S. president. That surprised me. I had always assumed it was John F. Kennedy. But, John OíNeil explained that Clinton had done more to bring about the current cease fire with Northern Ireland than anyone else and the Irish people love him. But, they pick on him unmercifully with their humor. I wonít relate most of the wildly off-color jokes he told, but one of my favorites was his answer to the question: What was the Clinton presidency? His reply: Sex between the Bushes.

But of the rest of the jokes, well, Iíll leave those out. No matter what the crowd on the bus was, John OíNeil was not the slightest hesitant to tell Clinton jokes which would make sailors blush, but had our bus full of folks screaming with laughter.

About 5 PM we got back to Killarney, rested from a nice day sitting and watching out the window, being entertained by our guide, we returned home to the setting sun, sat on our balcony and munched on our cheeses, drinking Chilean wine, about as satisfied as humans could be.

And looking forward to the next day when we would leave Killarney, by not County Kerry. We were moving on to the Dingle Peninsula.

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Bob Corbett