Well, we had a completely splendid little holiday. We went out to Killarney, which I recalled as being a town which looked as though someone had said to an American tourist, “So tell me what you think an ideal Irish village would look like,” and then purpose-built to suit.
It still looks that way. :) Ted’s completely enamored and wanted to know why we didn’t choose there to live in the first place (especially given that there must be about forty hotels within a two mile radius, and more B&Bs and restaurants than you can count). I pointed out he’d gotten a job in Douglas, originally. He thought that was a reasonable explanation, and now wants to know when we get to move there. :)
We stayed at the Killarney Park Hotel, where they obligingly upgraded us to a junior suite because it was our anniversary. The suite had, I kid you not, *three* plasma screen TVs. One of them was in the bathroom, above the very large tub. (Not directly above it. On the wall.) It was larger than some apartments we’ve lived in (the suite, not the bathroom, although the bathroom was noticeably larger than, say, the third bedroom in this house). It was all quite absurdly magnificent, and we managed to contain our giggles over the quality of the place until the nice lady who showed us to our room had left. :)
Thursday afternoon we went on a “jaunting car” (horse & carriage) ride around Killarney National Park, and were regaled with tales by our driver, Danny, who also very obligingly took several pictures of us. Unfortunately (and this was a theme for the whole break) I kept forgetting I had the auto-focus on my camera turned off, so most of the pictures have a very sharp clear background and a very fuzzy Kit and Ted. Oh well. :) We stopped at Ross Castle within the park, but didn’t have time to do the guided tour (which is the only way to get inside it) ’cause we had the jaunting car The park is amazingly gorgeous, and I think probably a jaunting car is the best way to go around it the first time, and then after that you’d probably want a bicycle so you could do things in your own time. Walking seems like a tiring option. :)
Thursday night we had some thought of going out to find some traditional music, but there was a male choir over from Wales to perform at one of the churches, so we went in there instead, and completely enjoyed the performance. It got out comparatively early and we walked around the town a bit, but ended up not looking for any more music and trundling back to the hotel.
Friday, having been directed by garrulous Danny, we went to Aghadoe Heights, where an abbey once stood, and looked around the ruins and got a view of the valley from that side, then went to Ladies View, which overlooks Killarney and its lakes from the other side, and is so-named because when Queen Victoria and her ladies-in-waiting visited Killarney, the ladies were so taken with the view that it was named for them. It is, in fact, pretty phenomenal, even if a rainstorm came upon me and soaked me through while I was admiring the view. :) Then we came back down toward Killarney and stopped at Torc Waterfalls, which were gorgeous, and took a little hike up to their top and back down again. We were also supposed to go to the Muckross House, but by then it was nearly time to get back to the hotel for our massages (oh woe), so we skipped that for the moment.
We had a completely magnificent dinner (*laugh* actually, breakfast had been good, too. We’d both ordered steak and eggs, but at a 5 star restaurant that’s filet mignon, and when I took the first bite of mine, Ted asked me how it was, and I said, “As God intended it should be,” which he thought was very very funny :)) of (for Ted) foie gras, filet mignon, and a complicated strawberry and rhubarb dessert which was difficult to eat but very tasty, and (for me) parmesan risotto, seafood medley, and lemon tart which was so lemony I nearly couldn’t finish it. (I persevered.) The names of all of the things were much more complicated than that (except the lemon tart), and it was as much fun to watch Ted observing the service and judging the food and all with his chef-trained eyes as it was to eat the wonderful meal.
This morning we attempted to go to the cathedral to take pictures, but they, of all the nerve, were holding a Mass, so we couldn’t take pictures. We did sneak in for a minute, and good lord. I mean, well, yes, that’s the idea, but good lord. O.O The Cobh cathedral is absolutely magnificent (and vastly prettier outside), but the interior of the Killarney cathedral may be even more awe-inspiring. So we’ll have to go back to take pictures. (Oh darn.) :)
Having been thwarted there, we went out to the Muckross House and took another jaunting car around to the old monastary, which was…really cool. They’re working on it, so I hope sometime the rest of it will open up so you can get around in there, but man. Wow. Really cool. There’s a massive old yew tree in its centre, and I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like living there back in the day (you know, before it was sacked by Cromwell. As far as we could tell, pretty much everything in Killarney was sacked by Cromwell. The Aghadoe abbey, the Muckross monastary, and another monastary on an island near Ross Castle, anyway, were all sacked, as was Ross Castle itself.). Dark, cold, crowded, and from a 21st century viewpoint, utterly fascinating.
It turned out the Muckross House itself (which has 52 chimneys and 365 windows, thus earning it the nickname “The Calendar House”, and which has a hundred rooms, 25 of which are bedrooms, and which covers an acre, and whose original owners were bankrupted by Queen Victoria’s visit (mentioned above) for which she had given 6 years’ notice and which lasted 2 days, was given to the Irish government in 1932, along with some 11,000 acres of land, to form the basis of Ireland’s first national park) was also guided-tour only, and by the time we found that out it was kinda too late to do a tour, but hey, we got all those details about the house without even doing the tour! So we have to go back to do the Muckross House tour, too. (And the boat tour of Locke Leane, which is the lake next to Ross Castle, and to have ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream shop, which we went by six times and were always too full to have any ice cream at. I’ve been wanting to try their ice cream since I found out about them, as ice cream in Ireland is…somewhat lacking, and I have hope of finding out that their homemade ice cream is not. :))
It was, in short (or not, given the length of this post), a *completely* splendid few days, and we are very very happy we went. :)
With any luck, I’ll post pictures tomorrow. :)
miles to Minas Tirith: 150