Killarney, Blarney, Cobh and Irish Whiskey

One afternoon during our stay at a delightful Bed and Breakfast in Killarney, we took a jaunting car tour through parts of Killarney National Park. Our guide Mark and his horse Susie took us through the forest, beside the lakes, and we had our first view of Ross Castle.

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Killarney National Park, Ireland
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Red Deer in Killarney National Park, Ireland
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Ross Castle on Killarney’s lower lake

On our way to our next destination near Cork, we drove to Ross Castle for a close up view. I was fascinated by all the fishermen unloading their fishing gear in the parking lot so I looked around to see where they were going. Boats were lined up on the banks of a stream which led to the lake on the other side of the stone bridge.

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Fishing Boats in Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland

Ross Castle is in a beautiful setting on the banks of Killarney’s lower lake inside Killarney National Park. We wandered around the castle before driving to County Cork,

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Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, Ireland

At the end of the day we arrived at our next bed and breakfast near Blarney. The gardens and views from the B&B were stunning.

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View from our B&B in Tower, Ireland

On Herny’s birthday we visited Blarney Castle to join the millions of others who have climbed the steps to the top of the tower to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence.

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Blarney Castle

Kissing the stone sounds easy. However, actually doing it isn’t so easy. First you must get in line and then go up a series of steps before arriving at the parapet walk at the top of the tower. Once it’s your turn to kiss the stone, you must lie on your back, hold onto an iron railing, lean backwards over a crevice, and hope you can reach the stone to kiss it! I needed help, but I did it!

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At the top of the Blarney Tower
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Me kissing the Blarney Stone
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After kissing the stone it’s time to go back down the stairs
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Do you see the person who is leaned back to kiss the Blarney Stone at the top of the tower?

Our next stop on Henry’s birthday was the pretty seaside town of Cobh which was the last place the Titanic picked up passengers before beginning it’s maiden (and only) voyage in April, 1912. We enjoyed a tour of The Titanic Experience Cobh before wandering around the waterfront and watching the activity in the harbor from a waterfront park.

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Annie Moore and her brothers sailed from Cobh to the United States in December, 1892. She was the first Immigrant to enter the United States at Ellis Island
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Titanic Experience Cobh at the original ticket office and dock where passengers were picked up
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Waterside Park in Cobh, Ireland

Next up was a tour of the Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery in Midleton.

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Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery, Midleton, Ireland
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Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery, Midleton, Ireland
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Sláinte! Toasting to Henry’s birthday after the Jameson Distillery Tour.

To top off a fun filled day we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a nearby pub.

Next up, two train rides and Northern Ireland.

 

 

Wandering on the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic coastal road along Ireland’s Atlantic Coast from the Northern Headlands all the way down to the southern coast. We spent three days exploring along the southern part of the route.

On our day trip from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher we were on the Wild Atlantic Way most of the day. We stopped at Dunguaire Castle on our way to the cliffs.

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Dunguaire Castle

Most of the way we were on a steep, narrow road.

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Driving on the Wild Atlantic Way

The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction and probably the most popular stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.  These majestic cliffs tower high above the ocean with several trails offering spectacular views. The day was  perfect with sunny skies and calm seas.

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Cliffs of Moher
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A different view of Cliffs of Moher
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Cliffs of Moher

After wandering around the cliffs we returned to Galway for another night before driving through the middle of the Dingle Peninsula on our way to the town of Dingle, our next destination. We stopped at an overlook to take in the spectacular scenery.

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Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

We loved our night in Dingle Town with it’s colorful buildings, fun pubs, great seafood, and beautiful Dingle Boat Harbour.

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Dingle Town, Ireland
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Dingle Boat Harbour, Dingle, Ireland

The next day we drove the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula. Much of the drive is high above the ocean where there were more spectacular cliffs, ancient Fairy Forts, Beehive Huts, beaches, and some Star Wars filming locations.

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Cliffs on the Slea Head Drive
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Fairy Fort
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Ancient Bee Hive Huts from about 2000 BC
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Beach on the Slea Head Drive
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“The Last Jedi” of the Star Wars series was filmed in the area of Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula
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Inch Beach on the Wild Atlantic Way

We opted to let someone else do the driving and took a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry from Killarney. Most of the tour was along the Wild Atlantic Way. We passed by an ancient castle, watched a sheep dog demonstration, walked on the beach in Waterville where Charlie Chaplin liked to go on holiday, saw the Eightercua Stone Row, enjoyed lunch with a view, and were near another Star Wars filming location.

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Wynn’s Castle, Kerry, Ireland
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Sheep Dog Demonstration, Ring of Kerry, Ireland
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Charlie Chaplin was a visitor to Waterville, Ireland, Ring of Kerry
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Eightercua Stone Row, Ring of Kerry, Wild Atlantic Way
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Wild Atlantic Way, Ring of Kerry, Ireland
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Sign  points to the ferry to Skellig Michael, filming location from “The Last Jedi”, Wild Atlantic Way, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

The tour left the Wild Atlantic Way and went through Killarney National Park on our return to Killarney. Our last stop was at Lady’s View.

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Ladie’s View, Killarney National Park

It was nice to let someone else do the driving. Our driver and guide Dennis was great and we learned a few things we wouldn’t have known if we had driven ourselves.

Next up, more adventures in Ireland.

Spring Road Trip

Our latest road trip destination was southwest Virginia. The scenery was spectacular as we drove north from Georgia through the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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Eastern Redbud at rest area in Western North Carolina

After an overnight stop in Asheville we continued to be awed by the scenery as we drove north through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The flowering eastern redbud trees added splashes of pink as we traveled to Southwest Virginia.

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View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from North Carolina Interstate Overlook
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Tennessee Welcome Center between Asheville and and Virginia
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Virginia welcome center in Bristol
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At the Virginia Welcome Center in Bristol

On our way to see Luray Caverns we took  a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia
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Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia

After we purchased our tickets at Luray Caverns we had a short wait before we walked down the steps to begin the 90 minute tour. We followed our tour guide and stopped a few times along the way to admire the spectacular formations (and of course take photos).

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Reflecting pool, Luray Caverns, Virginia
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Wishing Well, Luray Caverns, Virginia

All three generations of our family enjoyed the caverns, even our two teenage grandchildren!

Pink Spring Blossoms

Where I live in coastal Georgia, March is the month when our azaleas and some flowering trees show off their brilliant colors. Some of the beds in my yard are filled with azaleas I planted about 30 years ago. Every spring they still delight me with their beautiful blooms.

Many of the blooms are gone now and after our first April shower this morning, a lot of the remaining flowers now lay on the ground. I’ll have to wait another year for the pink blooms to return.

McQueen’s – Tybee Island Trail

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy nonprofit organization has created a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines. The McQueen’s – Tybee Island Trail near Savannah, Georgia is one of the those trails. The gravel trail is a popular place for walking, biking and jogging.

The trail suffered extensive damage in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew came through the area in October. Less that a year later, Hurricane Irma caused more damage. The work to repair the damage is still not complete and parts of trail are closed.

As of now, the only access to the trail is a parking area at the trailhead near the entrance to Fort Pulaski National Monument.  Starting at the trailhead, we walked until we came to a damaged bridge that still can be crossed safely. In all we went about about a mile and a half round trip.

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The bridge to Fort Pulaski National Monument as seen from McQueens – Tybee Island Rails To Trails, Savannah, GA
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McQueens – Tybee Island Rails To Trails, Savannah, GA
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McQueens – Tybee Island Rails To Trails, Savannah, GA
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McQueens – Tybee Island Rails To Trails, Savannah, GA
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This bridge was damaged during one of the storms that went through the area
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A great place to sit and enjoy the view
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Driftwood in the salt marsh beside the trail

We spied some wildlife along the trail.

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This little diamond back terrapin was crossing the trail in front of us
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Great blue heron in the salt marsh beside the trail

It was a gorgeous March day to get out and explore close to home.