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The Journal of a Journey,
UK and Ireland 1999


St. Mary's Cathedral, SignpostsDay 9—Friday, October 8 - Killarney to Rosslare

Of course the day after the rain was bright and sunny with light high clouds. Our train for Rosslare (actually the Dublin train, we had to transfer at Limerick Junction) didn't leave Killarney until 2 p.m., so we had a long morning to kill. After breakfast at Mrs. Carroll's table we set out for town. Tom was always on the lookout for souvenirs for children, grandchildren, and friends, and when he shopped I browsed and sometimes bought something, too. I'd bought metal relief artworks for two friends as wedding presents the day before when our Ring of Kerry bus stopped at a crossroads gift shop and restaurant at a mountain intersection, for example.

We took a taxi to the train station and locked our luggage in a locker, then made off for more shopping and sightseeing. We were soon at St. Mary's Cathedral, which is certainly Killarney's most photogenic site. After photographing it inside and out, I crossed the street at an entrance to Killarney National Park and noticed a sign pointing to Ross Castle, just 2.4 kilometers away. I urged Tom to take the trail with me, saying we might get good photo sightings of it on the way before arriving. We started out, my disposition toward Killarney rising with each step. We passed a beautiful thatch-roofed house serving as a park concession building, then had to cross a large meadow and walk through a woods to get to the castle. Tom decided to turn back at about the midway point, but I was more determined than ever.

To me, a good vacation day is determined by getting good photos; nothing else affects it more than that, and I've discovered in putting this journal online that I had a lot of days on this trip that were better than I realized at the time. Some of the best pictures I got, like Cashel Rock at sunset, were through bus and train windows or over the rail of a doubledecker Guide Friday tourbus. This was my third visit to Killarney and yet I had never seen either of its outlying main attractions, Ross Castle and Muckross Manor House. I'd been given to believe that taxis to these sites would be too costly and, it being after peak season there were no hop-on busses going to them, so discovering that Ross Castle was within reasonable walking distance was a real bonus. Ross Castle, Killarney

The walk itself would have been worthwhile even if there had been no payoff at the end, but the castle was indeed a photographic treat. Located on Lough Leane (Lower Lake), it was built in the 15th century and restored last century by an American who married a woman from Ireland and promised her a castle to live in. Though there were no tours of the inside while I was there, the outside was great for my purposes, with lots of fishermen and boats on the shore and in the water nearby...all beautiful photographs. There were also horsedrawn cabs coming and going and lots of tour busses and autos in the adjacent carpark.

The walk back toward town was even better than the walk away, because I got views of the cathedral spire rising over the trees in the distance that I'd missed the first time through, and the lake at the foot of the mountains in the opposite direction was now more visible. Also, I walked for a half mile or so on the banks of the Deenagh River which flows under overarching tree limbs. Tom and I met up again at the station and it became obvious that the train would be crowded, but it was our last day in Ireland, we were feeling that our vacation had definitely passed its midpoint, so the crowded train was just an inconvenience. After transferring to the more directly west-east route to Rosslare at Limerick Junction, the one we were on was much less crowded.

We got excellent views of Waterford and the Suir River valley approaching it, as well as lots of farmlands. We were told this area is known as Ireland's "sunny southeast," which I'd heard before, that it gets more sunshine than any other area in Ireland, and each time I've been in the area this has been borne out.

En route back from Ross Castle

We had booked our B&B in Rosslare, the port from which the ferry would take us back to South Wales, from Killarney, and the owner told us he would meet us at the train station if we called on arriving. We did this and found that the B&B was a couple of miles from "downtown," though Rosslare is so small its few shops are hardly worthy of that designation. No sooner had we unloaded our luggage than we had to call on the host to take us back to "town" for dinner, and he took us to the Tuskar Hotel which has a decent dining room. We ordered the rack of lamb and thought it one of the best meals we had on the entire trip. And, unlike American first-class restaurants, here the lamb was not exorbitantly priced. Though the menu was generally several pounds above the price range we were trying to stay within, the lamb was "only" about 14. After dinner the hotel desk called our host for us and he fetched us back to our B&B. Our room there was quite nice and I believe the least expensive of the whole trip, 14 each. Our host is a world traveler himself, having lived in various placed and just recently returned from "down under" in Australia and New Zealand.

And so the day that had appeared on the itinerary as just transport turned out to be one of the better vacation days of the trip.

—jon

Next station: At last, Nantyglo!

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