Irish Travels: a star shaped fort, garden island, mountain pass, and a true Irish pub experience


We started the morning with a lovely breakfast at The Olde Bakery. Breakfast was served at a big table in the cozy eat-in kitchen.  The innkeepers, Chrissie and Tom, introduced us to the other two couples staying at the BnB and we chatted over a spread over fresh fruit, local cheeses, and freshly baked brown bread.  (The cheese was to die for!) After a few minutes spent in the homey living room petting the house dogs, we set out to check out Charles Fort.

Kinsale Harbor was gorgeous in the daylight. We stopped to look out over the harbor. The small pair of binoculars I brought along to keep in the car were perfect for such occasions.

We parked near Charles Fort around 9, but the Fort technically didn’t open until 10. But technically  the gate wasn’t locked. So we sauntered on in to check it out. Ruins of the Fort were well preserved and there were beautiful harbor views on three sides.

I liked these moss covered tunnels.

After a little while, some construction guys seemed to be on to us so we jetted out of there. On the bright side, we saved eight euro. Perhaps if we had had the tour we would know what the heck these things are? Anyone?

The plan for the rest of the day was to take a boat to Garnish Island to explore the gardens and then drive through the Healy Pass through the Beara Peninsula, which was recommended as a nice scenic drive by the guidebook . Enroute we stopped through the town of Macroom, described as a “colorful market town.” Pretty accurate I think.

Despite the creepy candyman vibe in picture, this candy shop we found had pretty apothecary jars stuffed with sweets  surrounding the walls and some yummy gourmet chocolate bars which we, of course, had to sample.

On our way to Garnish Island we stopped to explore some random ruins (they’re everywhere).

Next stop, Garnish Island. We took the Harbor Queen ferry from Glengariff and arrived on the island after a 20 minute ride past a whole bunch of seals.

You know, the guy in the front sort of reminds me of someone.

Definitely a resemblance. Especially in the way he raised his head to look at us as we passed, and then went right back to sleep.

Once on the Island we explored the extensive gardens and Martello tower.

The Martello tower was really neat – 360 degree views and when you stood in the inside, directly in the center, the sound was strangely amplified off the rounded ceiling. This is what the inside of the tower looks like, looking straight up at the ceiling.

The teeny tiny spiral staircase.

Here’s a shot of the Italian garden taken from the porch of the mansion on the island.

Beautiful bay views abound.

Blue boat at low tide.

After a short trip back to the mainland, we were on our way to the Beara Peninsula. The guidebook recommended that on limited time, a drive over the Healy Pass was a good bet. Watch out for sheep.

Looks twisty, yes?

You ain’t seen nothing yet. Check out the view from the top of the pass looking back. It reminds me of a candyland board minus the sugarplums.

From the same vantage point, right behind us was a view of a large lake and bay in the distance.

Our next pass through was Kenmare-an adorable market town with brightly colored shops that I would definitely recommend as a good town to spend a night and half a day in. We were just passing through, but stopped to wander the shops. There was some really good shopping in Kenmare. By good shopping, I mean lots of  locally made, handcrafted stuff. There were beautiful wool scarves, sweaters, textiles, art galleries, cheese shops, bakeries…I could go on. Here we bought a small original watercolor painting and a couple of prints in addition to some delicious mild sheep’s milk cheese and fresh bread. I’ll share all about our Irish purchases in a future post.

Wesley insisted we visit the ancient stone circle. He was actually excited about it. We put our two euro in the honesty box and checked it out. It turned out to be just a bunch of big stones. In a circle. Shocking, right? It’s thought that the stones are oriented to align with certain solar or lunar events.

Next we passed through Killarney, which could have been anytown USA. If you want to stay nearby to do the Ring of Kerry, you don’t want to stay here with the chain hotels and fast food. Stay in Kenmare. Kilarney National Park was nice to drive through, though. We stopped at a waterfall and a handful of other look outs.

There was plenty of mountain scenery to go around, more random ruins, and, of course, plenty of sheep.

We checked in at The Last Cottage, our BnB in Dingle. The room was tiny, but had a great view of Dingle Bay.

Dingle is in the Gaeltacht region of Ireland, which means the government encourages and subsidizes the use of Irish Gaelic. Road signs are in Gaelic and the language is spoken more widespread. We would occasionally walk by people on the streets speaking Gaelic.

After a dinner of pub grub accompanied by some traditional music at a restaurant near the harbor. We visited a couple of other pubs, following our ears for music. At Dick Mack’s we were greeted by Philip, the self appointed welcoming committee. We chatted with Philip and the rest of the regulars and had a most enjoyable evening.

On the map, you can see we’ve made it to our 3rd stop.

Next up: We visit Minnard Castle right on the beach, explore Dingle town, and spend most of the day on the gorgeous Dingle Peninsula, so don’t forget to check back!



You might also like:  Pack your suitcase: IrelandIrish Travels: a castle, monastic ruins, and winding roadsIrish Travels: Waterford Crystal and spectacular Rock of Cashel cathedral ruins

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Day 4: Dingle to Ennis « all in good spirits

  2. Pingback: Irish Travels: Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and Galway « all in good spirits

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