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A trip to the Emerald Isle (Pt 3)

The best highlight of Kerry County Killarney National Park Easily my favorite part of our trip, was when we visited the Killarney national park. Over 25 000 acres of different types of trees, lakes, hiking trails, a waterfall... Wikipedia can explain it better than I: We took a hiking trail and went up to Torc waterfall, then a little bit higher. Very steep climb, but apparently that was nothing because they have a hiking trail called Cardiac! 😅 one wonders why.... We originally wanted to take a boat tour that would bring us by the ring of Kerry, but couldn't find the place! (Later found out it was at Ross castle you get the opportunity...) Be that as it may, an old gentleman offered us a ride in a jaunting car: horse-drawn carriage. They each have their own trails they take you on, and as we were (sadly) pressed for time, this enabled us to see so much more of the park than if we had gone on foot. Being there was truly like stepping back in time. But I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Also in the vicinity of Killarney, we went by Muckross House and Ross Castle. Muckross House and Gardens The story, told to us by the nice gentleman who did the tour, moved me deeply. Built by a British architect, William Burn, in 1843, it has over 60 rooms and showcases the Tudor-style, so popular in that time. Originally built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife Mary, it was sold to Arthur Guinness when financial troubles hit the couple, due to major renovations undertaken to prepare for Queen Victoria's visit. Arthur himself rented the place out to wealthy aristocrats, then ended up selling it to a wealthy Californian magnate (made his money in gold mining) named William Bowers Bourn in 1911. This is where the story gets a bit sad.... William and his wife gifted it to their daughter and her new husband as a wedding present. Unfortunately the daughter died of pneumonia in 1929, and shortly after they all decided to present the estate to the Irish Nation, and it was incorporated into the national park.

Towards the end of the slideshow you'll see pictures of the wonderful gardens (you could spend hours there!), the groundskeeper's cottage, and the surrounding land (also part of Killarney National Park).

Ross Castle Beautiful tower house on the edge of Killarney lakes, the view took my breath away! You can walk freely on the grounds, and there's a nice little coffee/gift shop that makes the most wonderful sandwiches! It was the ancestral home of the O'Donoghue clan and was among the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell during the Irish Confederate Wars.

The dock you see is where you can hop on a guided water boat tour of the Ring of Kerry, taking you to see the park, the house and castle from the water.

Some highlights of Cork County

Cork city Great for shopping and souvenirs! Very picturesque and slightly less busy than Limerick, we really enjoyed our shopping experience at Penneys. Their clothing prices were astounding (9 euros for a pair of jeans!!!) and the quality superb.

Blarney castle Ah Blarney... I had a love and hate relationship climbing your stairs to kiss the stone! I recently discovered during a cave exploration in Canada that I'm claustrophobic. Well, needless to say, the steps up into Blarney castle get narrower the closer you get to the top... But I made it! And it was so worth it! Not for the stone (though I did kiss it for the sake of it 😁) but the view! I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Youghal and surroundings of our b&b There was this gorgeous beach near our Castle Farm b&b, 💕💕💕 we went by and spent an entire morning listening to the roar of the ocean.

Cobh city Better know as the last port of the Titanic before going out on its voyage, this beautiful ocean-side town blew my mind away! Pictures 3 and 4 show a wall with plaques with the names of the Lusitania passengers that died when it sank may 7th, 1915, bombed by a German submarine waging war against the UK.

Also in Cobh, we went by the Titanic memorial garden: They have a large glass wall in the middle of it with the names of all who died, plus on the sides they commemorate the other ships that sank around the same period. There is a nice spot above to sit on benches, then you can go by the garden itself that spirals all the way down to the beach and ocean. On the other staircase, you can descend to a display of bushes forming the word Titanic. It was definitely a nostalgic moment.

Up next: more castles, caves and birds of prey! Plus, giraffes in Ireland??

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