The Annual Irish Pilgrimage.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.