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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 51.8768, -9.58479
July 25, 2009
Ring of Kerry
Last night, we walked the village of Kenmare and took in a number of local sites. This place is a perfect little Irish village at the base of the Kerry Peninsula. We explored the local church, dating to 1864, and then ventured up and down the streets heading out from the town center. One feature was a stone circle, one of over 100 of such formations to be found in Ireland. Perhaps they were inspired along the same ideas that led to Stonehenge. Whether they were for ceremonial purposes or just a crop calendar we do not know, but it definitely would have been a major production for the druids to move these massive stones a considerable distance from their origin in order to construct this formation. We had dinner at Foley's, which treated us to the absolute best steak and Guinness pie and fish and chips any of us had ever tasted. We are not kidding about this.
We started our day off, today, with breakfast at our luxury B&B, Rockcrest House. Eager to get started, we were the first ones up. It was interesting listening to the exchange between our host and a German-speaking
family. She sorted them out. Some things were lost in translation, but everyone got fed.
From here we headed out of Kenmare toward Sneem, took in the town from the convenience of our VW, and moved on to Derrynane House, the country estate of Daniel O'Connell, "the Liberator." He served as a voice for the independence of Catholic Ireland from the time of the Act of Union with England in 1800. Even when he was arrested, he held fast to the principle of nonviolent noncooperation, because he had experienced the French Revolution and the associated violence that did not accomplish its ends. The first Catholic member of Parliament, he refused to take the oath (in 1828) because it stated that the King was the head of the Church and that the Catholic Mass was no good. At first, he wasn't admitted, but public pressure soon got him the chair to which he was rightfully elected. Outside of the home was a fabulous garden which included a number of plants imported from South America. We weren't sure how this was connected to Daniel O'Connell, but it was a fun walk nevertheless.
Next stop: Valentia Island. Here Rich and Barb took in the Skellig
Experience Centre, which told the story of 6th century monks who established the first Christian monastery on the west coast of Ireland on a remote island, far away from civilization. We then continued along the island to Knightstown, where we visited a museum located in an old school that was in use from 1861-1911. It included a lot of information about Valentia Island's early rise as a possible “package station” to link Europe with America and Britain's other colonial possessions. Unfortunately, the port of Valentia lost out to the port of Galway, and the tiny town's hope for grandeur never unfolded. In addition, this place formed the eastern station on the transatlantic cable, which was fully operational in 1866. Interestingly, this location also discovered tetrapod tracks in 1992, which locals believe is proof that theirs is the site where amphibians first decided to become land-walkers. Valentians are proud of a lot of things. We stopped for a bite to eat at Boston's, which provided us with a taste of local crab. It was tasty and a lot cheaper than the equivalent amount of crabmeat in the U.S.
We then boarded a ferry that crossed a distance of about 2km and
sought out some potentially prehistoric stone forts. These are difficult to date, but are unique in that they were constructed without mortar. It was very windy here.
We've done a lot today, and were grateful to have the weather on our side as we took in some beautiful views along the way. The rain really didn't start until the tail end of our day, which was mostly a return journey on a twisty, turny, bumpy, windy, narrow road. We made it home in one piece. So did the VW.
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