It is inconceivable to me that we've been in Ireland a week!
This morning we got up and had a big Irish breakfast in the hotel. Irish Breakfast's seem to have fried eggs (sunny side up), scrambled eggs, breakfast puddings, grilled tomatoes, sausages, "bacon" (more like a cross between ham and Canadian bacon), some fruit, cereals and toast. After a breakfast like that lunch comes late or dinner comes early, but two meals a day is clearly all I need.
The Sneem Hotel is large and quite modern. It seems to be the perfect location for weddings. It also featured an Irish Setter "Hotel Hound" that spent equal parts of his time at the river, asleep in the parking lot, running across the back verandah and sleeping in the porte cochere. As we left he was positioned strategically where we could say good bye.
It made me realize how much I miss Rocket and Daisy.
We turned our little Ford Fiesta north east into the mountains and lakes of the stunning Killarney National Park.
The Alpine Splendor or Barfinnihy Lake
The first major site we came upon was a placid hanging alpine Barfinnihy Lake. It is at Molls Gap and is well above treeline. The lake itself is stocked with trout so it attracts summer fisherman. The water is crystal clear. The whole mountaintop is a composed of rock outcroppings and some very hearty sheep.
The "Ladies View"
Continuing on into the Park we came to an overlook referred to as the "Ladies View". From here there one can see all of the major lakes in the park as well as the Gap of Dunloe, the Black Valley below and (on a clear day) Ross Castle.
From this point we began our descent and almost immediately encountered tree and ruins of a little castle like house. I could not find any information on it. I'm guessing the building was built at different times as the main section was pretty ancient stone construction, but the towers at each end were built of concrete, so they had to have been added much later. Just below the house was a series of streams and waterfalls.
Abandoned Mountaintop Ruins
Another View Ruins Killarney National Park
We then descended quickly and stopped to walk up to the Torc Falls. The falls were noisy and churning pretty wildly. A very pretty place to stop. On the way out it started to rain and I caught this leafy view of the lower falls.
Lower Torc Falls
All of this water eventually flows from one lake to another near at the Confluence of the Waters near the Muckross Abbey.
We did not stop to see Muckross (another time...) and passed on the Adare Manor on our way to Ireland's third most populous city (after Dublin and Cork), Limerick.
I wanted to make a stop in Limerick as it was named Ireland's City of Culture for 2014. Limerick has had serious economic woes, yet it seems like a lot of 'whats happening" in design in Ireland is incubating here.
When the "Celtic Tiger" collapse hit, unemployment in Limerick soared to twice the national average (28%). I think it is now poised for regrowth. It has a diverse population, the Shannon free-trade zone and a well regarded University.
At dinner tonight the guests at the table next to us were computer and software engineers from the US. We overheard their long discussions about their successful operations here in Ireland versus problems they have been having in other locations.
One thing is for sure - the economy netted us a stunning hotel with a great location and wonderful view for a ridiculously low price of 75E a night! The Absolute Hotel Limerick is a gem!
Well tomorrow we drive back to the Dublin Airport, drop off the rental car and board our flight for London.
Roadboy's Travels © 2014