09 Sept 2006 Saturday - Castleisland to Sneem

Today our goal was to drive through the Ring of Kerry, a very popular and scenic drive in the country. But before that, we had a choice: driving clockwise or counterclockwise around the ring. Counterclockwise was the direction the tour buses all went. I told Kathy I’d rather drive with the tour buses because I’d rather take a chance on getting stuck behind a couple annoyingly slow buses than having to be side-swiped by several head-on with these narrow roads. These roads are barely wide enough for motorcycles to pass, let alone cars or worse, buses.

So we started out driving to the small city of Killorglin where we came across a scenic bridge

and at one end there was a strange goat statue.

It seems that there is an ancient tradition from the pagan times where a wild goat was captured, crowned “King Puck” and paraded through the town for a big celebration.

I can imagine that the Christians didn’t take kindly to that tradition but it’s still going on. It makes me wonder if the Christians didn’t get some of their Satanic goat symbols from pagan rituals like this.

We parked the car and walked around the town. We walked across the bridge and took some photos, then we walked back and did some shopping at a shop. We bought a few fun gifts, but the store soon became uncomfortably crowded with French and German tourists from a nearby tour bus.

As we drove through town, I spotted a small church that looked interesting,

so talked Kathy into stopping. It had some cool stained glass, but we didn't spend much time there.

Next, we drove to the town of Cahersiveen where we got out and looked at a really cool church

that also had beautiful stained glass.

We walked around town a little while, took some photos

and bought some soda pop and cookies at a small grocery store.

Next we walked to a visitor’s center

which we thought was an tourist information office, but it really turned out to be a museum that had recreations of ancient peasant living conditions and such, and we decided not to spend our time there.

Instead, we got in the car, crossed a very long single-lane stone bridge to see Ballycarberry castle.

The castle was unattended, in ruins

and behind barbed wire fence, but there was a hole in the fence that let more agile people inside. The castle was very cool and we had great fun climbing around it.

After that, we drove to a nearby ancient fortress that was round. It was called Cahergall Stone Fort.

All around the inner walls of the fortress, there were steps leading up to the top.

It reminded me of the step-wells we saw in India. It also had a round inner ring that looked like some kind of ceremonial area or something.

At one point, Kathy walked up the stairs to the top of the wall, then she accidentally dropped the still-sealed package of cookies. Some of the cookies might have survived, except the package went bang-bang-bang-bang all the way down several flights of stairs. From then on we had cookie fragments, but it was a very amusing moment.

From there, we drove down to Valentia island and drove around the Ring of Skellig. We drove down more tiny roads, saw the picturesque lighthouse,

saw the slate mine and grotto.

We also found a cute little restaurant,

ate lunch there and talked with an Irish couple who we invited to share the same table.

After Velentia, we drove around the Ring of Kerry and it was very beautiful. Kathy thought the Galway area was more beautiful though.

We spent the night at a B&B called the Rockville House in the tiny town of Sneem.

For the past four days, it’s been sunny and beautiful, but now it started raining again. Despite the rain, we walked around town for a bit. There's a cute little one-lane bridge across a river with a very beautiful view.

The sun was down, and it was starting to get dark. At the other side of the bridge, I climbed down to the river and across the slippery rocks, trying to get a perfect photograph, despite the encroaching darkness. I'm not happy with my photos though. We found a very nice restaurant at the other end of town—all two blocks of it! It was very crowded with people, but we managed to get served.

Because it was Saturday night, we expected to find pubs with lots of people and lively music. Instead, we saw about five pubs that were all very quiet and mostly empty. Disgusted, we walked back to the B&B. As I always do, I transferred all the photos from the cameras to the computer. I was surprised to find out there was a WIFI Internet connection, but it required payment, so I didn't pay. We went to bed after I watched a bit of the old James Bond movie, “Goldfinger,” with Sean Connery.

Incidentally, tonight we used our last B&B voucher, so now we have two nights without vouchers. The vouchers have worked out pretty well.