In our last post we visited and went on day trips from Galway; in this post we continue down the western Irish coast. We visited three cities south of Galway: Limerick, Dingle, and Killarney, with Killarney serving as a jumping off point for Ireland’s famous Ring of Kerry. We discovered so many amazing things at these destinations; keep reading this post to learn all about them!
Like all great European cities, Limerick lies on a river and is really old (1200+ years to be exact). However, despite being the third largest city in Ireland, I wouldn’t characterize Limerick as a “great” city, although it definitely was a good one.
Other than the limerick style of poetry, which may or may not have originated in Limerick, Limerick’s greatest claim to fame is King John’s Castle. This castle, built in 1200, is one of the best preserved Norman castles in the world.
These churches, the most famous in Limerick, were not too grand by European standards. The church on the left however does feature the tallest spire in Ireland.
Like the above churches, Limerick’s grandest museum was also lackluster by European standards. But it was still pretty good, especially considering it exists solely as a display of one family’s private collection.
Our favorite section of this museum was its jewelry collection; some of the pieces were more than 1500 years old!
The jewelry was our favorite but we went to the museum for this: one of the actual silver coins Judas was paid to betray Christ.
While we thoroughly enjoyed the above destinations, this was our favorite site in this city. The pubs throughout Ireland were amazing but this one featured Irish dance, making it one of the best!
Not sure how to caption this. Just watch the video and enjoy!
We had some rain while we were in Limerick. Totally worth it because we got this.
This marks the end of our stay in Limerick, a nice but somewhat disappointing city. But not to worry, we still enjoyed our visit, and up next was one of our favorite destinations in Ireland! So keep reading!
This is Dingle, a small fishing city on the southwest corner of Ireland. Despite its size (the population is less than 2000), this is one of the most popular destinations in the country. And it didn’t disappoint; the food, the people, the music, the scenery, everything about Dingle was amazing!
Dingle is located on a small inlet of the North Atlantic Ocean. The bayside scenery here was spectacular.
Seafood from Dingle, made from fish caught earlier that day.
More Irish music, this one a solo artist. Dingle is know for its musicians, and this guy did not disappoint!
One last shot of the Dingle coast. We didn’t take a lot of pictures here, mainly because pictures couldn’t capture what Dingle had to offer. The city had so much charm; it wasn’t what we did or saw but rather the feeling it gave us. We loved this city; it was magical.
Dingle definitely did not disappoint, and we wish we could have stayed longer. But we still have one more stop on this portion of our trip: Killarney.
This is Killarney, the first and only city in Ireland that we didn’t like. The reason: this city is too touristy (and expensive)! This city was so touristy there was barely anything Irish; we couldn’t even find steak and Guinness pie or an Irish breakfast!
Killarney wasn’t great but it was our access point for something that was: the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry, another spectacular Irish drive, runs 100 miles along the Irish coast and through Killarney National Park. It was beautiful.
There are two interesting items in this photograph. First, if you look closely at the far coast, you’ll see two inlets; the second one leads to Dingle, the town we visited before coming here. More interestingly is Skellig Michael, the larger of the two islands to the left of the far coast. This island is one of only three World Heritage Sites in Ireland/Northern Ireland (Bru Na Boinne and Giant’s Causeway are the others) and is notable for being a location Christian Monks who sought solitude pilgrimaged to. Monks pilgrimaged here from either the 6th or 8th to the 12th century, and the remains of the monastery they pilgrimaged to comprise the focal point of the World Heritage Site on this island.
Also, Skellig Michael is where Luke Skywalker hid during Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ireland has actually become a popular film destination, another hit that films on the island (near Giant’s Causeway) is Game of Thrones.
Behind Inna and myself is the Gap of Dunloe, one of Ireland’s most unique land formations. Trekking and horseback riding through this gap is another of Ireland’s most popular tourist activities, although we did not do it on this trip.
This is Bog Village, one of the more powerful stops on our Ring of Kerry tour. Bog Village is a recreated 18th century village that depicts Irish life before and during the potato famine. One million people died during that famine and even more fled, causing Ireland’s population to drop by 20% to 25%. While all this was happening, England (which ruled Ireland at the time) was active shipping food out of the country, and this is one of the main reasons for England and Ireland’s historically sour relationship.
Some of the artwork we saw on our tour. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about a fox holding a shotgun that is completely awesome.
Here are two additional stops from our tour. On the left is a church bell that if you ring three times your wishes will come true, and on the right is a historic wool mill that produces clothing and linens so soft it’s unreal; you have to feel it to believe it.
Pictured above is the ruins of an old castle we drove by on our tour. We didn’t stop here, probably because there are so many castle ruins in Ireland; if we stopped at them all then there’d be no time for anything else!
Here’s one last look at the Irish coast. After this we move inland, to Killarney National Park!
The last stop on our tour, Killarney National Park, is Ireland’s oldest national park. Created in 1932, this parkland was originally owned by William Bowers Bourn, an American entrepreneur who bought the land as a wedding present for his daughter. But after his daughter tragically died, Bourn donated the land with the stipulation it become a national park. Since then, the park has been greatly expanded, and the estate that inspired Bourn to buy the property is still located inside.
The most famous features in Killarney National Park are the Lakes of Killarney, three linked lakes that comprise almost a quarter of the park.
One final view of the Killarney Lakes. Ireland is so beautiful, it’s amazing.
That brings us to the end of our Ring of Kerry tour, which means we’ve reached the end of this post. Up next, our last and one of our favorite stops in Ireland: Cork!