Thursday, August 16, 2007
Today we woke up and it was actually sunny! We raced to get to Killarney before the weather got worse because we wanted to take a jaunting car ride. We arrived at Ross Castle fairly early in the morning, around 10:00, and there were no carriages to be had and the boat (for the boat tour of the lake) didn’t depart until 12:00 or 2:00. The kids played with the ducks in the stream and on the castle grounds while Mark and I tried to decide what to do. Take a tour of the castle and then the boat ride and hope the weather would hold for a carriage ride in the afternoon? Go out of our way to go on a carriage ride first even though it was backwards? We elected to take the carriage ride first just in case it started to rain, we really didn’t want to blow our chance! A carriage driver that already had a passenger called another guy to meet us at the top of the road, and we drove there and got on our carriage. Our horse’s name was Queenie and the girls were just thrilled. The driver was very nice and took us through the Killarney National Forest. After the ride, we went to lunch in downtown Killarney because we were practically there already. There are two things I really really appreciated about Ireland, 1) Service is very fast–they take your order right away and make your food right away too, so we were able to go to a pub and have a nice lunch and still make it back in an hour before our parking expired, and 2) they have restrooms everywhere, even ruined castles and parks. After lunch, we returned back to Ross Castle in time for the boat tour of Killarney Lake. As we were heading over to the other shore the tour guide mentioned that for the past week they had had 15 endangered Sea Eagles in pens that they were reintroducing to the lake and they had released them at 1:00 (it was now 2:15). So I told Genevieve to keep her eyes peeled because there was a good chance she could see one. Sure enough, a few minutes later she said “eagle” and there it was, soaring really close to the trees. The rest of the tour was nice and our guide was funny, and it started to rain but the boat had a top so who cares?! After the boat ride we toured Ross Castle, which had been a “picturesque ruin” enjoyed by the Herberts but was restored to a pristine state about ten years ago because it was in danger of collapse. It was a good example of a medieval Irish tower house, and we would have enjoyed the tour a lot more had our guide not had the world’s worst canned tour voice. Oh my god, talk about droning! If she had been a teacher her kids would have killed themselves about the second week rather than listen to her talk. Hey, and did you know that they used fire screens to keep their lead based makeup from running, and that the beds were short not because the people were short, but because they slept sitting up? But the kids did learn about Guardarobes, which was the corridor where the “potty” was located and they hung their clothes in it because the ammonia smell got rid of bugs. A stinky place, was the Irish tower house! Anyhow, we made it back to our house okay, driving the “long way” that is actually quicker, through Kilgarvan. Speaking of Kilgarvan, that brings to mind an observation I have about Irish towns. They all seem to go to a T, in that there is no road that you can take that will go through the town, there is always a dead end into another perpendicular street. Why is that? Italian towns aren’t like that, and they were built about the same time. Hmmmm.