The Annual Irish Pilgrimage.

Kerry Travel Blog

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A Jaunting Cart in the grounds of Muckross House.

Wednesday - We arrived early evening at Cork Airport and collected the car with no hold ups. It was an hour drive to Killarney Co Kerry where we were staying at my Cousin Noreen's house. On arrival in Killarney we visited one of our favourite restaurants, Paddy's. Paddy's had changed a bit though, it was always one of those restaurants where you could get a reasonable priced traditional Irish meal such as Irish Stew or Bacon Cabbage and Spuds but it had now gone 'up market' with a low light ambience and candles on your table. It was 30 euro for a 3 course meal with nice presentation but small portions (a sort of Irish Raymond Blanc). Never mind, we were famished so anything would have hit the spot.

One of many plaques throughout Skibbereen remembering the famine of 1845 to 1850.
We then drove up to my Uncle's place to find that plans had already been made for alterations to our pre planned itinerary. Then off to Lackabane and a relatively early night.

Thursday - up fairly early and a drive in to Killarney for a bit of retail therapy. We have been so often before that we are very familiar with the layout of Killarney but we had forgotten how small it is and that it doesn't take long to stroll from one side of town to the other and stop at most of the shops in between. For me, Killarney has lost a lot of it's charm - I remember going when all the staff in shops, pubs, restaurants etc were Irish but now (due to the freedom of movement in Europe) you get lots of Eastern Europeans working there. On top of that the place was crawling with tourists, mainly Germans and Americans.

One of the memorials in Skibbereen Cemetary remembering the victims of the famine.
We picked my Dad up from my Uncle's (he happened to be over there at the same time as us) and headed off to Tralee for a day at the races. For some reason I didn't take any photos (probably because it was just another race meeting) but on returning to England I've found out that Tralee race track has been sold to Housing developers so that is one of the last ever race meetings to be held there. No winners for Debbie or myself but Dad had 3 winners so dinner was on him. We headed in to Killarney for dinner and found ourselves in O'Meara's Pub. Not one I'd recommend as the food was average and it was packed with families who all appeared to have at least one screaming kid in tow. At least the cider was cold.
The mass grave of the famine victims. Many of the families buried their dead in the middle of the night to avoid the shame and stigma attached to it.

Friday

After another early night it was up early again to go and play golf at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club. I played 18 holes on the Mahoney's Point course with my Cousin Noreen which was average. Debbie went out to Beaufort to take some photos of the church there. We met up for lunch at Murphy's Pub in Killarney which is easily the best pub in town. It's Irish through and through with local staff and the best food at a very reasonable price. In the afternoon we stayed in Killarney and bought a few gifts for the relatives back home. In the early evening we headed off to the Gap of Dunloe Golf Club for the annual 'Coffey Golf Tournamen where the relatives all get together for a bit of competitive golf. My team of three didn't win but it was a beautiful golf course with some amazing views.

The main plaque in the cemetary commemorating the victims.
After the golf we all headed for Kate Kearney's Cottage at the Gap of Dunloe where we indulged ourselves with the fine food and drink on offer. Just for once it was a late(ish) night so the next morning we had a very welcome lie in.

Saturday

Today had been set aside for my Uncle John's 88th birthday dinner. In the morning we paid a quick visit to Muckross House and had a walk up to Torc Waterfall. We all met up at the Castlerosse Hotel at 1 o clock to celebrate with him. Once again it was a gathering of my extended family and it was nice to meet some of my 2nd cousins for the first time. We enjoyed a tasty 3 course meal and lots more cider (which was becoming a regular visitor to my diet). We eventually finished up at 5ish and decided that the time was right to hit downtown Killarney for more cider and a night at a traditional Irish pub for a bit of a sing song.

Bantry Bay.
Sadly the pub we chose was obviously a favourite with the hoardes of tourists in Killarney so we drank up and headed off to Murphy's (better the devil you know). A tasty portion of Chips from Mike's take away and home to bed to round off what seemed to be a very long day.

Sunday

Back to our pre-planned itinerary. We were heading off to West Cork to a small fishing village called Skibbereen. This is an area that was hit very badly by the famine of 1845-1850 and is also the place where Michael Collins had his last meal before being killed in an ambush. We headed out of Killarney on the Kenmare Rd and took in some of the most amazing scenery. We drove for a couple of hours before arriving there and immediately visited the Heritage Centre to get our bearings and ensure we saw everything of interest.

Bantry Bay.
To be honest there wasn't much to see but the mass graves in the cemetery for the victims of the famine were very sad. We decided to head back to Killarney but stopped briefly at Bantry Bay to take some photos and stopped in Kenmare for a drink and a bite to eat. Back in Killarney we grabbed a pizza and headed home for a night in.

Monday

Again we decided to try and take in some scenery so we headed out mid morning to Dingle. We stopped briefly at Inch beach which is actually 2 miles long so it must have been named by someone who enjoyed irony. We continued on to Dingle but didn't stop there, although once again we got some decent photos. We decided to come back via Connor Pass which is a notoriously dangerous drive through the mountains.

The beach at Inch.
Having said that, we found that it is fairly steep but as long as you are considerate to people coming up then it's not a problem. We then drove on to Tralee for a bit of a stroll around the shops. When we got back to Killarney I went for 9 holes at the Gap of Dunloe Golf Course with Debbie just so she could appreciate the scenery I had admired a few days earlier. Dinner at Murphy's again but as I said earlier, it's somewhere you can rely on.

Tuesday

Flying home today but there was something I wanted to go and see. Apparently my Dad's Uncle Michael had been an insurgent during the 20's and 30's and he was captured by the Irish Free State Army along with a friend called John Kevins. Kevins had swithced sides from the British Army to join the Irish rebellion. When they were captured, Kevins was shot dead and my Great Uncle escaped.

Looking back towards Dingle from the top of Connor Pass.
There is now a memorial to Kevins by the side of the road just outside Fossa on the Dunloe Rd. We visited this and carried on out towards the Gap of Dunloe to walk in Tomies Wood and see O'Sullivans Cascade. We managed to fit this in comfortably followed by a quick lunch at the Humble Pie cafe in Killarney and then off to Cork Airport. 

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A Jaunting Cart in the grounds of …
A Jaunting Cart in the grounds of…
One of many plaques throughout Ski…
One of many plaques throughout Sk…
One of the memorials in Skibbereen…
One of the memorials in Skibberee…
The mass grave of the famine victi…
The mass grave of the famine vict…
The main plaque in the cemetary co…
The main plaque in the cemetary c…
Bantry Bay.
Bantry Bay.
Bantry Bay.
Bantry Bay.
The beach at Inch.
The beach at Inch.
Looking back towards Dingle from t…
Looking back towards Dingle from …
The roadside memorial for Capt Joh…
The roadside memorial for Capt Jo…
A very odd looking tree in the gro…
A very odd looking tree in the gr…
This tunnel leads under the Killar…
This tunnel leads under the Killa…
Torc Waterfall.
Torc Waterfall.
The view from Castlerosse Hotel. Y…
The view from Castlerosse Hotel. …
The Coffey clan (part of it anyway…
The Coffey clan (part of it anywa…
This is an old castle on the Killa…
This is an old castle on the Kill…
Ladys View. Looking back to the L…
Lady's View. Looking back to the …
The Town Hall in Skibbereen.
The Town Hall in Skibbereen.
Start not Irish born man. If you…
"Start not Irish born man. If you…
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photo by: PaulT