The Ring of Kerry and the whiskey making woman

Happily leaving the city of Cork, we headed off to our next accommodation on the Dingle Peninsula. We took the longer route, the N71/Wild Atlantic Way, because we wanted to visit Bantry Bay. The sun was shining, the water shimmering and parking (not free) was easy to find. The bay is really beautiful where two of the largest islands, the Whiddy and Bere, can be seen from almost any vantage point. Our main point of interest though, was to visit a house, home and Irish heritage which exists since around 1690.

 

Bantry Bay House and Garden

As mentioned before, the Bantry House has been here for more than three hundred years, and in the same family for about two hundred and fifty years. We didn’t know that they had their own parking, so had to walk up a long steep lane (puff-puff) lined by many big lovely shady trees, which was good as it was quite hot. At the end of the lane you pass through a gate, unlocked and unmanned, which might give the impression that you are free to roam around. Yes, you may roam, but you have to pay an admission fee first. You can buy a ticket for the house (interior) and garden, or just the garden, which we chose. Do not even try to cheat as they do check!

The view of the bay and the islands from the garden is stunning. There’s also a cemetery bordering on the property. They also have a tearoom serving light homemade lunches and teas. The house was opened to the public in 1946 and is now also a Bed and Breakfast. We were very impressed with the attractively laid out gardens! In 2001 Archaeologists found a 17th century deserted English fishing settlement and a medieval Gaelic village on the west lawn. Impressive and Wow! After ambling for an hour or two, we had to rush back to the car because the parking ticket had already expired. Oops! It was also still a long way to the hotel. We could have stayed at least another hour, that’s how awesome it was.

This is what we found along the N71/Wild Atlantic Way

There are many surprises to be found along the roads in Ireland, and this was one of them. A well-dressed sheep in an old vintage car. An amusing yet fetching advertisement for “The Ewe Experience” which is *quote* Ireland’s only interactive & interpretive sculpture garden *unquote*  We unfortunately could not go in as it was closed.

Amazing hills and moutains on the way to Kenmare showing the Turner Rock tunnels. There are three of them and they are quite narrow. Apparently some very large vehicles have managed to get themselves stuck under here. Oh no…

Another delightful surprise was this 200-year old cottage found on the Caha Pass half way between Kenmare and Glengarriff. Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and Traditional Farm is still as it was before all the mod-cons like electricity. Old farm equipment, vintage cars and other interesting objects from days gone by can be seen. There are also some farm animals roaming around and Molly’s Old Tea Room and Barn Restaurant serves traditional food. It is a very unique and interesting house which belonged to a very special woman who had to bring up seven small children on her own. She was creative and a genius! She even made her own whiskey! A woman. So there!

The Ring of Kerry and still on the Wild Atlantic Way

We had to stop in Sneem for a wee and a nibble. It is a small village yet busloads of visitors stop here almost every day. There are many interesting sculptures dotted around the town, a panda donated by China and the goddess Isis donated by Egypt, to name but a few. What we will never forget is that there, in the mountains, a shop owner stumped me! Ordering baileys and cookie flavoured ice-creams, he asked if I was South African. Impressed and chuffed, I took off my red turban (my favourite cap) and beamed a big YES. “Have you been to South Africa?” I asked him. “No, never” was his reply. “Uhm, do you know any South Africans?” (hoping he would say yes and show us the way to my fellow countrymen) “No, never ever met one in my life”. Okaaayyyy! So how did he know! Was it the hair (red turban flattened the afro), the nose, or lips, or maybe my bum? I wish I knew. Everywhere else I’m mistaken for Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian (still cannot figure that one out as my curves are not samba-samba). South African? Never ever! So it could only have been my accent…I hope  😊 He must’ve seen some movies or something…

The coastline along the Ring of Kerry is absolutely breath-taking!

 

Waterville House and Golf Links is a golf resort with an 18-century manor.

 

View from the Dingle Peninsula towards the Ring of Kerry

 

The very famous and quite large Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula

 

At last! Our hotel. The house is about three miles from Dingle Village and situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the mighty Mount Brandon. We were heartily welcomed by the owner herself, and shown to a lovely large room with an inviting bathtub…splash-splash which was used almost immediately 🛀🏻 After settling in we had supper in the restuarant downstairs and enjoyed some delicious home-cooked food. It was so good that we ate here every night of our stay. Of course, because they have an award winning chef (her husband) and an award winning restaurant! Forgot to mention the thirst-quenchers 😆 One of us had wine, as you know, sip happens, to it’s better to wine. The other one had beer…bläh. Okay, so he said it was lekker, so lekkerrrrr that he could have easily filled a bathtub with it and splish-splosh-hic-hic the whole night through. We’re talking about the very tasty craft beer from West Kerry Brewery!

Baltimore, Lot’s Wife and 17 Stones

We were on our way again! Leaving the lovely Kildare we headed southwards to the city of Cork. We booked a two night stay in a so called University appartment, which is a sort of bed and breakfast meets hostel accommodation. Old but clean. It was on a rather busy main road but not too far from the centre of town. Fortunately we had a room at the back, so the only noises we heard were coming from above. The persons residing in the room above us must have been wearing shoes made out of bricks. Oh well, we managed to get some sleep anyway. Our first day in Cork we planned to explore the town. The city centre, believe it or not, is on an island. Yes, Cork has a river running through it, the River Lee, and two of it’s channels surround the centre. We browsed and saw a few lovely buildings and did a little bit of shopping, but the highlight was the bustling English Market. Here one can find lots of fresh produce, especially different sorts of fish. It was quite crowded and well visited by locals and tourists alike. It was a very short excursion of Cork, maybe because there was not enough to see or to impress us, or the weather was just too crappy, making everything seem grey. We went for a late lunch then headed back to the “comfort” of our room. Tomorrow is another day!

Baltimore and the famous Beacon

Yay! The weather God smiled upon us. Warm, dry and with only a few clouds floating in the sky. We meandered our way along the coast towards the interesting town of Baltimore.

The coastline between Cork and Baltimore is one word: AMAZING! Before we reached Baltimore, we stopped for a nibble and a bite at this uncommon inland sea-water lake called the Lough Hyne. The water is so clear that you can clearly see plants and animal thingies swimming about, which of course is also essential for marine research. When we sat down on the stone ledge, the water seemed so far away, but by the time we left, the tide had come in. A wonderful process of nature! There is a hilly “forest” next to the lake where many climb up to experience some dazzling views towards the sea. Unfortunately we did not know this, so missed a super opportunity 😞

Before entering the town you come upon this area, favoured and loved by scuba-divers because there are a lot of shipwrecks which can be found here. We found one! ⚓️

Baltimore was completely ravaged in 1631 by either Algerian or Moroccan pirates. Every single person in the village at that time were sold either as slaves, or managed to run away to the nearby town of Skibbereen. The village remained deserted for many generations, but slowly began to recover and prosper around the 1800’s, only to suffer more losses in the Great Irish Famine. Now it is a picturesque little town, with small harbour and the imposing O’Driscoll castle overlooking the area. The recently restored castle, known as the “fort of jewels”, is open to the public.

Climbing the way up to Baltimore Beacon

The short drive out of town to visit the beacon means that you have to meander upwards on a very narrow road before you reach the car park. The beacon is now nearer, but only muscle power will get you to the top. So go on baby, huff, puff and clamber up those rocks!

The beacon and the whole area around it is worth all the trouble to get up there. It was not bad climbing up though…easy peasy *fingers crossed*. The original beacon was too small, shoddily built and also vandalised, that is why a newer and larger one was constructed and finished in the late 1840’s. It is often called the “pillar of salt” or “Lot’s wife”, who is mentioned in the Bible, the book of Genesis. We have seen people sitting on the edge of the cliff enjoying the vast views, while others scrambled down to the rocky waters edge for whatever reason. Both are dangerous. The cliffs are crumbly and not secure and the rocks on the water are slippery. Besides that, the waves hit hard and fast so it is not easy to judge their strength. One little mistake and you done in for…It was on the news last year that three people apparently drowned here. Sad 😢

Drombeg Stone Circle

Driving back to Cork we made a detour past Skibbereen towards the megalithic site of Drombeg to visit this famous stone circle. We almost got lost driving through the back roads, but the trip was very interesting and all the little villages we passed by even more so. When we had almost given up, we found the car park! It is a few hundred metres away from the circle, and you have to walk through an interesting hedged path to get there.

Prepare yourself for the impressive quietness, the historical and spiritual “feelings” and most of all, the most breathtaking views of the fields and the ocean. The weather was beautiful, that is why we also made a little “offering” as a thank you. The circle consists of seventeen pillar stones which have been dated back to 1100BC. It is very popular and we were told that it can become quite busy, but we were the only ones there until an American guy came, looked and left. There is no entrance fee, and only this area is for the public. The surrounding fields are all privately owned…horses, cows, sheep and all.

Hope that you’ve enjoyed looking at all these awesome photos!!