Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sunday, 10th September – Killarney to Limerick

Our first rainy day! We abandoned our plans to do a lake cruise, and instead visited Muckross House, a large Victorian House and gardens. We took a guided tour around the house, which took us into the “upstairs” and “downstairs” of this grand house, giving an insight into the days of the English landlords in Ireland. We were interested to see a lot of locally made furniture and other items in the house, including two enormous Waterford Crystal chandeliers. There was a room which Queen Victoria had slept in on a short visit– they completely renovated the house before she came, even putting in a special fire-escape on her room, because she was afraid of fires. The house itself is situated on the edge of the lake, and the setting was beautiful, even in the rain (which was not heavy)

From Muckross, we headed to Listowel, a smallish town famous to Sydney Swans fans as the home of our Irish import Tadgh Kennelly. We had seen the town on a TV documentary about Tadgh, and as it was on our way we thought it would be fun to have a look. Like most Irish towns, it is very charming, with narrow streets, brightly painted houses, and old world shops. We were disappointed not to see any Swans posters or flags though! We had lunch in a pub (seafood chowder) and then spent an hour in an internet café.

On our way out of town we heard lots of car horns tooting, and saw a parade of cars with small boys hanging out of every window, wearing the County Kerry Gaelic football jerseys. We assumed that they had just won their final (they looked like under-12’s, and the whole town was cheering for them. They must have been breaking a dozen road rules (it wasn’t an official parade, just Mums and Dads hooning around with their kids sitting on the windowsills), but no-one seemed the least bit worried.

From Listowel we headed for Limerick, but at the last minute decided we could squeeze in a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s natural wonders. Getting there involved taking a car ferry across the Shannon River, which was fun (by the way, the rain had well and truly stopped by this point) and a couple of hours of driving, so we didn’t arrive until 5.30pm. But it is light until after 8 still, so we still had a good view. The cliffs are a series of dramatic vertical drops to the Atlantic Ocean, over 200m high. We were glad we went, it was really something to see. Although I (Shelley) was a bit traumatized by the numbers of people climbing over the fence to thrill-seek close to the edge. Considering the gusty wind, and loose soil I didn’t think it was a very good idea, but no-one else seemed to be bothered by it.

Our detour made us quite late getting to Limerick. Limerick turned out to be a large city and we got quite lost finding our B&B (in our defense, the directions we had been given were very inadequate). Eventually we rang our hostess for directions and she had to drive down to meet us so we could follow her back to the house. How embarrassing! But the room was warm and the bed was comfortable, so we were happy to be there.