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Published: September 7th 2019
Buffet breakfast at the hotel. In the category of combinations you never thought of, I have a caramel fudge-flavoured yoghurt. It's yet another drizzly day, unfortunately.
We reach Limerick, Tony’s home town. Our first stop is alongside the Shannon River to see the Treaty Stone, where reputedly the treaty that ended the war between the Irish and William of Orange was signed in 1691. Under the terms, a promise was made to respect Catholicism, but the treaty was rejected by both the English and Irish Parliaments and its terms were ignored. Thus Limerick became known as The City of the Broken Treaty.
We cross the river and stop on the other side of the Shannon, directly across from the Treaty Stone. We descend and have the opportunity for a quick visit to St. John’s Castle (1210) and St. Mary’s Cathedral (1168). I also walk back across the river to the city centre to see what I can see. The Hunt Museum looks very interesting, but that will have to be another visit. I have to say that, compared with other towns/cities we have visited, Limerick looks a bit down on its luck.
One of our number had popped
into a coffee shop to get a coffee to go. But the restaurant had no take-out cups, so the lady serving her told her to just take the china cup and saucer. She arrives at the bus with the cup in hand and gets quite a ribbing about being light-fingered.
We leave Limerick and push on to nearby Adare. We drive by Adare Manor, looking more like a castle than a manor. It is now a hotel and golf resort. We stop outside a visitors centre and have an hour to walk around. Inside the visitors centre, lovely jazz is playing, first what sounds like Oscar Peterson, then a beautiful atmospheric piece. A series of chromatic descending #9s just about kills me.
A walk down Main Street. Adare is an absolutely adorable village. There is a lovely city park with beautiful flowers, and a series of homes with thatched roofs. The Trinitarian Abbey (1230) is just across the street. Returning to the visitors centre we make a few last-minute purchases before running (ok, walking quickly) for the bus.
We drive through a series of little villages: Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale, Ballyseedee. Tony mentions that his area has received
quite a few Polish immigrants, who have fit in quite nicely, thank you. We stop along the road outside of Ballyseedee to view a monument to a massacre that occurred during the Irish civil war. The roads here are narrow and twisty and lined with hedgerows. Every time the coach meets another bus or sizeable vehicle coming towards it, our driver must slow down and carefully inch by.
We arrive in Trallee, traditionally one of the hot beds of Irish independence. The hugely popular Rose of Tralee beauty pageant is held here annually. Entrants come from Ireland and from abroad, but they must be of Irish descent. The beautiful Central Park has exhibits tracing the history of the festival, and also showcases many varieties of roses.
Tony was excited because there is a Hillbilly Chicken franchise in Tralee. We decide to check it out as well as a respite from Irish food. It's essentially a southern fried chicken outlet, not much different from KFC. Milkshakes are really good, though. I'm also impressed that there are no single-use plastics. Cutlery is wood and straws are paper.
We're in the central square just outside Hillbilly when a vast swarm
of uniformed students descends on the plaza, squawking and looking for food. Yes, it's school lunchtime. On the walk back to the coach, we overhear some young local people speaking Polish to each other. That surprises me, because I would have thought that children of immigrants (supposing that's what they are) might speak Polish at home but would speak English to their peers.
We're now on the road to Killarney. We stop for a lookout view of the Killarney Lakes, but it's raining too hard to see much. We have another stop at a cemetery that is guarded by two ancient watch towers. The cemetery holds both ancient and new graves. A poignant discovery is a grave-site offering of flowers and a helium-filled balloon shaped like a 5. From the dates and inscription on the tombstone, we can surmise that today marks the 5-year anniversary of a stillborn child. The family must have been here shortly before us.
Back on the coach. Tony plays CDs from two of his favourite artists: Sarah O’Shea (now living in Calgary) and Christi Hennessy.
We arrive at Killarney, where we will spend the next three nights. The city is a tourist
mecca thanks to its sublime scenery of lakes, mountains and wood lands. Our welcome to Killarney takes the form of so-called jaunting cars, essentially horse-drawn buggies. Our horse is named Sally. We immediately head off into Killarney National Park, which begins at the south end of the city. Our driver narrates our journey. There are a couple of species of deer that roam free here. We see Muckross Estates and stop for 20 minutes at Ross Castle. It's been raining (of course) but the sun peaks out just as we reach Ross Castle (12th century). The castle ruins look like something out of a fairy tale: imposing stone walls and round towers right beside a quiet lake. I thoroughly enjoy exploring the structure and imagining the stories that have played out within and without these walls. Just to keep you grounded, the annoying midges are here in abundance.
The jaunting car delivers us right to our hotel. Dromhall Hotel will be our base of operations for the next few days. There is a Centra across the street, Ireland's dépanneur. I pop over for a look. They have everything. I bring a bottle of wine back for my bride. We
have been told that there is a laundromat next to the Centra and we are eager to do laundry, but it closed at 6 pm (sad face). But the hotel has a laundry service (happy face)! We stuff all our stinky stuff into a bag and hand it in.
We have supper on our own at the hotel and then call it a night.
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