After settling into our lovely hotel, and with the sun beating down on us (while the rest of Ireland was languishing in uncharacteristically poor weather) we went straight back to the car – in one of Ireland’s most difficult car parks, as I mentioned previously – and out to Muckross House and Killarney National Park.
I’ve only been to Killarney and the National Park once before, and that was for work when I was based in the grounds of the place for the entire day, but with the relative inability to walk more than a few paces away. So you can imagine the pleasure of actually seeing these grounds unspoilt, having some ‘proper time’ and with my own personal freedom to walk wherever I wanted.
Muckross House, even today, is quite an impressive structure – it sticks out of the surrounding landscape like only an old country house can – and all the more so in the blistering sunlight. We took a tour of the house, where my ability to be impressed by the most ridiculous tidbits of information once again came again to the fore; in this case, how they got ice by transporting it all the way from Norway in some kind of hermetic container. Can you imagine?
A lot of work has obviously been put into restoring the house to its former glory as much as possible, and it’s quite incredible how they’ve managed to restore some elements so closely to the originals; along with how anyone managed to get such an incredibly heavy pool table into the house in the first place (you’ll know what I mean after the tour).
From there, we headed back outside and Anna’s parents very generously treated us to a trip on the jaunting cars. I don’t know why but the excitement of being on a horse-drawn trailer has never done much for me; but to give some credit, it does offer a very welcome chance to sit down for a few minutes and take in the view, and perhaps you do sort of feel like lord of the manor bobbing along in your trailer with everyone looking in.
We were taken on our jaunting car trip to a waterfall; where two girls had climbed unbelievably (and very dangerously) high while at the same time, a couple were getting their wedding pictures taken with the waterfall in the background. Actually, probably the most scenic part of the trip – if you get taken on it like ourselves – is to walk the long and climbing steps up from the waterfall and take in some of the wonderful views across the park.
Back onto planet earth though and it was time to head onwards back to our horse who was already looking seriously ticked off by waiting so long, and back to Muckross House.
With the Ring of Kerry on the agenda for the next morning, we went for a grill that evening before finishing off with the customary few pints in a pub on the main street. We hit the Ring of Kerry pretty early the next morning, with me driving for the day, inwardly determined to get the driving parts done in an expeditious manner.
We stopped first at the Kerry Bog Village, which is an incredible entire reconstruction of Ireland in the 18th century. Note, I’m not sure what the practice is during peak times, but in our case you actually paid for your tickets in the adjoining pub (which also has an amply-sized souvenir shop). The whole place is very much a tourist attraction and I had almost ordered myself not to like it from the outset, but really…it was actually much more interesting and educational than expected and ended up being one of my favourite stops.