Loughcrew Megalithical Cairn where I ate my lunch and then walked up the hill. It was a bit windy but it was great to see the green fields sprawled across the landscape. I couldn't resist spreading my arms and exclaiming with a laugh, "I'm in Irleand." It was good to be back and know I had five and a half days before me to see it properly this time. I walked up to Carnbane East and had a look at the interesting rock set ups. It's a tomblike place though I don't think it actually is. But apparantly at the spring and autumn equinox at sunrise the sun shines at just the right angle onto a rock at the back that has carvings all over it. But you know, it's rocks. Not quite like the ones I'd seen in pictures though. I think I missed the main photographed ones in Ireland because I didn't have time that day to make a detour. These, and the walk, were a nice start though to exploring the country.
I was driving along one of the highways when I spotted a sign for the Museum of Country Life which someone had told me about the day before. So since I was passing by I took the detour and happily spent more time there than planned. It was set out in lovely gardens/woodlands and I wandered around a little before I actually found the museum building that was around the back of the estate. This museum was a display of country life (obviously) that existed right up until the 1950s or so. They were so resourceful. They handmade just about everything they needed and used what they could get their hands on. It was interesting to see how they did things and got what they needed. I was fascinated by all that they made using just straw; furniture, rope, bridle and saddle and reins and more. They also used reeds, heather and willow. I also found a huge spinning wheel and saw a short video of napping which I'd never heard of before. (It's a method to roughen and treat fabric to make it warmer and more waterproof.) In the 'education rooms' there was a whole bunch of women knitting and spinning so I went in to have a look. I chatted with a lady who said they all got together once every two months to craft together. We talked about dyeing because that's what they'd done last time and I found out that the 'fruit' around the walnut and shell is the best source of brown dye.
I backtracked slightly to the Cliffs of Moher which were quite a sight. Pity it was a little hazey though. The sun did come out momentarily and it didn't rain really so at least I was able to view it comfortably. I took lots of photos and wandered back and forth. I thought it looked great but it would be an amazing view on a clear sunny day. I had in mind to sit out here somewhere and just enjoy it but it's one of those tourist destinations so there was lots of people around. Whilst I did linger I didn't kick back and relax like I had planned. Not that it was really the weather for that anyway.
On Tuesday the weather was a bit patchy so I decided to switch my walking idea with a driving one and see if the weather would, per chance, be any better the following day. So I drove around the Dingle Penninsula. It did rain on and off too so I didn't particularly stop anywhere--not for long anyway--just once I got to the point where there was a scenic stop. There I decided to pull out the watercolour pencils I'd been carting around with me and actually use them. I sketched without water though as I stayed sitting in my car and didn't want to bother getting too messy. My sketch was based on the view you see below. Nothing particularly fabulous but I haven't done any drawing in a while I probably prefer to draw more from my imagination with perhaps some inspiration rather than copy what I see. Eventually I continued on around the penninsula and back to Killarney.
This evening was a bit wierd. I wandered into town again but the atmosphere wasn't the same. But of course, it was Monday. I should have gone to have my pub meal the night before when it was still the weekend and more lively. I feel so silly and odd going into a pub by myself. I eventually stopped thinking about it and just went in. (The offer of Bailey's Cheesecake helped.) I did still feel awkward but I sat down and ordered the cheesecake and some Bailey's as well. It was sweet on my tastebuds. Mmm. Then I went and ordered some soup. He he. Fun to have tea backwards. The soup would have been quite enjoyable too except it really was over salty. Oh well.
Tuesday I checked out early and drove southward stopping at Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park as I'd planned. Very glad I did as it was beautiful. With the cloud covered sky and the tree canopy above the atmosphere on the short walk to the falls was delightful. Almost like I was in a misty, mystical forest. There was plenty of rocks and green around to make me gleeful. I hung out there a long while and took lots of photos.
I stopped at Lady's View which is apparently so named because Queen Victoria and her ladies thought this view was so beautiful. Perhaps so. It was hard to tell for me with the low cloud and misty rain. I decided to go find one of the walking tracks even though it was spitting but after walking about five minutes I changed my mind and headed back to the car. It wasn't really going in the direction I wanted to go and I really couldn't see much of a view still. So I just drove on to my next destination, another couchsurfing stop. The drive there wasn't bad. I giggled when I drove through a rock. I wish I had been able to stop and take a photo. There was this huge rock, smack bang in the middle of the road's path. So the builders of the road dug through it. Now I have been through plenty of tunnels but this was more like just a hole in a big rock. Shortly after this experience I drove through a cloud. (I have done that before and did a lot more this day too.) Once I got down near the Beara Penninsula it cleared a bit. At least in patches and I got to view a bit of the natural beauty of this more remote area as I drove. I didn't stop as I planned to just get to my host's place and settle in. I didn't know this would be the best I saw of the Beara Penninsula. I got to Allihies from a different direction than my hosts had given me, then drove on to find a buddhist centre they'd mentioned, and then pulled over and smsed them again. I ended up driving back and forth quite a bit trying to figure out where they were. Turns out they weren't actually in Allihies, just near it...somewhere. Eventually I found the Buddhist Centre and went there to ask them as my hosts volunteer there. One of the ladies there helped me make sense of the directions I was given and I was able to find my hosts at last. They were a nice couple and we had a pleasant chat. It was interesting to stay with Buddhists as I don't think I've ever spent time with any before. I hadn't previously connected the 'no killing any living thing' to being vegetarian but it's a good thing I quite enjoy vegetarian meals. And this homecooked one was most delicious and I savoured every bite. They had a living area that was glass for one wall that looked across what they told me was a beautiful view. But the cloud had come right down to the earth and I could see maybe five metres down the hill. The next day was no better. My hosts suggested places that were worth a visit but when I left mid morning the driving conditions were exactly like the photo above. I wasn't gonna see any views out here. I was a little down because of that and the fact that this was my last day here. In the end I decided I'd go straight to Blarney Castle; one of those landmark tourist places of Ireland. Since it is right by Cork where I was due to fly out from later that evening, I was gonna spend a few hours there and check off the Blarney stone on my 'visited' list.
It was a good decision too. There's more than simply a castle there. I went straight to the castle first though to make sure I visited the blarney stone. Good thing I did too as there were lots of people and you had to join the queue at the top. There was a staff member assisting people to kiss the stone and one taking photos you could collect at the bottom. I settled for my own version of visiting the stone. I word it that way coz I had no interest on putting my lips on that hussey of a stone. But I was there. :)
I then went to wander around the gardens which were wonderful. All green, damp, rocky and almost hidden. There was lots of tracks to explore and a boardwalk area too. Even a little waterfall though it looked manmade. It very nice to relax and wander about in such beautiful nature before I left for England where a few days later I would move to London.
It turned out to be an expensive holiday and cost me more than I had hoped it would but I'm still glad I saw Ireland properly AND that I drove myself around. I'm sure there's more wonders there I could have seen. Other great places to visit. It's one of those things...the more I travel the more I realise there is to see and the more I realise I won't get to see it all. At least I now consider Ireland sufficiently covered. So now to think about what country to visit next.^^