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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ireland, Day 6

March 29th was another full day of sightseeing! 

We started the morning with a visit to Ross Castle in Killarney. This castle was built in the 15th century and sits by a beautiful lake - Lough Leane.

Next we headed out to search for the Dunloe Ogham Stones.  Dan has looked for these before but never found them. We stopped and asked directions and were successful.  They are literally on the side of the road in a field.  We had to park on the country road and walk on the side of the road and walk a ways to see them.

Ogham is the earliest system of writing to appear in Ireland, dating back to the 4th century. It was used for about 500 years, evolving and adapting over that time.  The stones we saw date back to the 5th or 6th century and were originally used as the covering to a subterranean passage and because of this are remarkably well preserved.  Typically the writing is hard to see on ogham stones but not on these. 

After this we we were planning on driving the Ring of Kerry.  The Ring of Kerry is a 111 mile scenic drive along the Irish coast.  Dan has driven it a couple of times before but each time was also overcast and the views were covered by fog and clouds.  Because this day was also overcast he didn't want to do that and risk a long drive with obscured coastal views.  Plus, we had already seen a lot of scenic water views in previous days. 

So we made the split decision to drive through the Gap of Dunloe and I am so glad we did. 
The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass between MacGillycuddy's Reeks (west) and Purple Mountain (east) in County Kerry.  The pass is 7 miles running north to south and the road through it is narrow, winding and is difficult for larger vehicles.  Many people take a horse drawn buggy ride through the gap while others chose to bike it or hike it.

Dan isn't afraid of narrow winding mountain roads (while driving on the wrong side!) so we decided to drive it.

And I am so glad we did.  The gap was absolutely breathtaking.  It was totally unexpected.  I seriously felt like we had been transported to another place.  I can't describe the beauty and as usual my pictures don't do it justice but I would have to say that driving through the gap was one of my favorite things.  The kids were in awe of the beauty as well.  It was just such a nice drive.  And the sun even made it's appearance while we were driving through.

None of these pictures do it justice but just trust me when I say it was beautiful. 

After the gap, we headed to Torc Waterfall which is located at the base of the Torc Mountain.

After visiting the waterfall, we headed to Blarney Castle! Blarney Castle was built in 1446 and is the home of the famous Blarney Stone.

It's up on this top level that the Blarney Stone resides. The Blarney Stone  is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of Blarney Castle. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.

Basically to kiss the stone you have to lean down backwards over a giant hole in side of the castle.  There are handrails that you have to hold on to while someone from the castle holds your legs so you don't fall.  Then you kiss the stone.  It is all very awkward and odd.  And we have the awkward pictures to prove it.

And here's the view all the way down (124 feet) from the hole in the wall...

Luckily we were there at the end of the day and there was no one else in line to kiss the stone.  And we got to explore the different rooms of the castle alone.

As we were heading to Waterford to spend the night, we saw another magnificent rainbow!

And once again, it we could see the end!  But as usual, there was no pot of gold for us.  Those darn leprechauns! (And as usual, my photography doesn't capture how beautiful all these rainbows we kept seeing really were.)


Madeline said...

I am just loving your trip. You really packed a whole lot in, I imagine you slept so well!

RR Mama said...

Awesome pictures! What a great trip.

Joy Beyond the Cross said...

The Blarney stone, well, that is not just a simple kiss, is it? Ha! That is awesome! I have definitely heard of the blarney stone, but never how you actually have to kiss it, I love it that you included that on your trip! The Gap does in fact look gorgeous and my favorite picture of you and the kids is the one where you are standing with them in front of the forest and there is the opening to the lake below. So precious!!!

Mari said...

This place is just so very beautiful - those views are amazing! Love the kissing of the blarney stone. I'll expect to see evidence of the gift of gab here soon. :)

Lucky as Sunshine said...

So cool you got to kiss the Blarney Stone. Excellent pictures of your trip.