On Friday morning we were up bright and early so we could shower, have breakfast and vacate our hostel rooms by 10 a.m. Then it was off to the Rock of Cashel, the most visited Heritage site in Ireland. We parked the car in Cashel town and walked up to the rock, passing this ruined abbey on the way.
The ruin is literally right next to a row of houses, which I thought was pretty cool.
Aaaand here’s the main attraction itself – the Rock of Cashel:
We were told the next tour would be in 20 minutes, so we wandered around on our own for 20 minutes until the guide was ready. It turned out to be well worth the wait – our guide was excellent, providing just the right balance between informative and entertaining.
As our tour ended, we started to feel a few drops of rain, but we thought we’d still be okay to take a look at Hore Abbey (and get some photos of the Rock of Cashel from an excellent angle). We went and picked up the car, drove over to the abbey, and then this happened:
Needless to say I didn’t bother getting out of the car! I wasn’t too disappointed though as I’d had my afternoon of climbing on ruins at Kells Priory.
Here, have a better picture of the Abbey, taken from the Rock of Cashel:
Next up was Cahir Castle. That word is not pronounced how you think… C-A-H-I-R is said like care. Because that’s how the Irish roll…
It was still raining, but luckily Cahir Castle is fairly well preserved, which meant we were able to spend lots of time inside, out of the rain.
Of course, Charlie wanted to get in on the fun too…
After looking around the castle and admiring the swans and ducks in the river (Cahir Castle is on an island in the River Suir), everyone was hungry so we headed into town to look for somewhere to eat. On the corner of a square – imaginatively named The Square – we found a place that claimed to do sandwiches, so in we went. It turned out to be a kind og newsagents that also had a kind of deli section where the sandwiches were made up. I went for the garlic chicken wrap, which was INCREDIBLE. There was cheese in it, as well as the garlicky chicken, and they warmed it up for me as well. Yum, yum, yum. I think the place was called The Heritage, if I managed to Google map it correctly. While I was there, I also bought a packet of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs because I LOVE them and I wasn’t around at Easter to eat any. I got the very last packet in the shop.
Having eaten, we walked back to the car through the rain and drove to Blarney. The plan had been to look at Blarney Castle, but on arriving we discovered that the price was 12 euros! That would have been fine for the castle and gardens, but for just the castle it seemed a bit steep and as it was still absolutely throwing it down we didn’t feel like viewing the gardens. If it had just been Jan and I we might have gone in anyway, but other people were on a tighter budget so instead we went in search of a hot drink (and a toilet!). We ended up going to the Half Moon Café, which was cute but when we went to pay for our drinks there was an extra service charge which hadn’t been mentioned in the menu! On the way back to the car I took a photo of this door, because it looked cool:
When we left Blarney, the sun was actually beginning to come out again, but time was creeping on and we needed to get moving. Our next stop was Bantry, where we took photos of the bay and located a supermarket to purchase that evening’s meal – we knew it would be late by the time we arrived in Killarney and we wanted to do the shopping while we were sure of finding something open! We still had carrots from the previous day, so we bought a pre-cooked chicken and some potatoes, as well as breakfast supplies for the next day.
We then stopped very briefly at Balleylicky Bay to take a photo of the gorgeousness below (and snigger a little at the name)
Our sat nav was bought in 2010 and Jan hasn’t downloaded any new maps for it since then (because that would apparantly cost way too much), so despite being programmed to take the fastest route, we were not directed from Bantry to Killarney via… oh, I don’t know, maybe a motorway? Instead, the sat nav sent us over the Priest’s Leap pass, which is totally AWESOME but I’m very glad we did it in daylight! As you drive along, the road gets more and more narrow until it turns into a single-lane track… and there are no passing places! Also, as the fact that it’s a pass implies, the road goes right across the mountain so there is really no moving out of the way! Luckily, we didn’t encounter any cars going the other way… although we did have to slow down for sheep a few times. The road goes up and down fairly steeply, and while you’re going up there’s absolutely no way of knowing what’s on the other side of the slope! Quite the adventure. The views from up there are spectacular though, and once we got to the top of the pass we stopped for some photos.
The Priest’s Leap pass runs along the border between Cork and Kerry, so once we got to the end we were officially in Kerry, but still with about an hour to go until we reached Killarney. The journey was uneventful until we reached Kenmare. We had driven through the village and were just emerging out the other side when a deer jumped out in front of our car! Jan (who was driving) swerved, so we only clipped the deer and luckily the car coming from the other direction was far enough away that we were able to pull over without any further incident. It could have been a nasty accident! Nobody was sure what Irish law says about such incidents (in Germany, you would have to call the police), so Jan made a call to the emergency services just in case while the other guys checked the car for damage (us girls decided to get back in the car as it was freezing and there was only one torch available for damage checking – by this time, it was dark). I’m pleaed to report that the deer was able to make its own way back into the trees and there were no traces of blood, so I think it was fine, as were all the people in the car. Finally, we were able to continue on our way to Killarney where we checked into our self-catering apartment at around quarter past 11! We were the last to arrive on that day and the old man we picked the key up from said he’d been starting to worry!
One meal of chicken, carrots and potatoes later (eaten at 1 a.m.!!) we were all ready for bed. It had been a very long day…