Wednesday, August 10, 2022
This was a long day, with many sites to visit. Our first stop was for a photo op at Inch Beach. Inch Strand is a 3-mile sand split that juts into the sea, a favorite recreational spot for swimming, surfing and fishing. It was truly beautiful this morning.
Near lunchtime, we stopped in Kenmare, in time to check out their weekly market, which featured locally grown produce, craft items, cheeses, honey and more. We grabbed sandwiches at the Rookery, really good. Sean bought the sweetest strawberries ever, which we ate for desert on the bus. Seriously, the best strawberries anywhere!
More photo stops outside Killarney and at Ladies View.
Then, a little time at Torc Waterfall, just a short walk from the road. Torc is a 66 foot high, 360 foot long cascade waterfall at the base of Torc Mountain, in Killarney National Park.
Next stop was Killarney City, where we boarded horse drawn wagons for a ride through Killarney National Park, or rather, a small part of the park. This was the first national park in Ireland, created in 1932 when William Bowers Bourn and Arthur Rose Vincent donated the Muckross Estate to the young Republic of Ireland. Since then, the park has been expanded and now covers over 25,000 acres, including the Lakes of Killarney (Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake), oak and yew woodlands, and mountain peaks. The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981.
The park is home to two species of deer, the only wild herd of native deer (red deer) in Ireland, and Sika, a Japanese breed introduced to the area in 1865. The red deer is Ireland’s largest mammal, with males weighing up to 485 pounds. The Sika is much smaller, with males usually less than 200 pounds. The red deer proved to be elusive during our ride, but we did spot a Sika.
Ross Castle, built in the 15th century, sits on the edge of Lough Leane, It was the last stronghold in Munster to hold out against Oliver Cromwell, but the castle was eventually overtaken in 1652. It is open to the public in the summer.
Imagine our surprise when we stopped at the Barack Obama Plaza, in Offaly, so Cash could fuel up the bus on our way back to Dublin. Whether or not you appreciated the former President, this was something so kitschy that it would be a shame to not check it out. The plaza has a display on the second level that is devoted to Ireland’s impact on American politics, specifically the Presidency. We all know that Kennedy and Reagan had Irish heritage, but they are joined by at least twenty more US Presidents who had Irish or Scots-Irish ancestry, from Andrew Jackson to Ulysses S Grant, Harry S Truman, Richard Nixon and both Bushes. I already knew about Obama from the EPIC Emigration visit. The Irish value this connection to the US; each year on St. Patrick’s Day, a Waterford Crystal bowl filled with Irish shamrocks is presented to the President of the United States.
We traveled about 300 miles today, arriving back in Dublin in time for a late dinner.