Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ring of Kerry

The halfway point of our visit to Ireland was a day I was pretty excited about -- a drive around the Ring of Kerry. I'd done some reading beforehand about all the wonderful things to see along the route, and knew it was the country's best known scenic drive. So I had high expectations, which unfortunately ended up being unmet.

Ring of Kerry
This was the day I learned definitively that stopping to see the country's natural beauty was simply not a priority on this tour.  Shopping, eating and going to the bathroom were.  That's the downside of a prepackaged group tour.  It has to cater to the desires of the majority, or what it assumes are the desires of the majority.  And from a business standpoint I completely understand that.  It just meant I had to adjust.

We got off the motorcoach here not primarily for the view of Lough Caragh, but to see some roadside peddler who had a small dog that stood on the back of a donkey while he hawked trinkets.  I normally wouldn't shoot a landscape with power lines running through it, but I was desperate.

Ring of Kerry
The reading I'd done beforehand also did not serve me well, since I had no control over where we stopped.  So instead of just being excited about the places we did get off the bus, I was also somewhat disappointed by the placed we didn't.  I learned my lesson, and never did detailed advance reading about our destinations again.

Dingle Bay
I was a bit surprised that the waters of Dingle Bay were so strikingly turquoise, something I associate more with the Caribbean than with Ireland.  But I certainly wasn't complaining about seeing some natural beauty!

Foxgloves and Dandelions, Ring of Kerry
Our scenic stops were few and quick -- typically 10 minutes or less.  But we made a lengthy stop at a place called the Thatch Cottage Restaurant in Cahersiveen for -- you guessed it -- food, bathrooms and souvenirs.  Like I said earlier, given the nature of the tour I knew I had to adjust if I wanted to get some quality picture-taking done.  So I wandered around the outside of the building and found this lovely area with foxgloves and dandelions growing.  Lemonade made. :)

Wildflowers, Ring of Kerry
The restaurant was separated from a cow pasture behind it by a fence and shrubbery with these pretty purple flowers, which I haven't been able to identify yet.  But I'm working on it.

Jenny Seawright of to the rescue!  "Its a garden shrub, hard to gauge size from your photo but a species of Hebe (also known as Shrubby Veronica)."

Coomakesta Pass, Ring of Kerry
Further along we stopped at Coomakesta Pass, again for just a few minutes.  I was literally jogging from spot to spot trying to find a good view.

Coomakesta Pass, Ring of Kerry
Deenish and Scariff Islands as seen from the pass.  Danelle made me promise before the trip that I'd never make the group wait while I took pictures.  This was probably the closest I came, as I jogged up to the bus right as the last other person was boarding. :)

Upper Lake, Killarney National Park
Our fourth and final scenic stop, reluctantly counting the place with the dog and donkey, was right as we entered Killarney National Park.  It's known as Ladies' View because Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting admired it on a royal visit in 1861.

While my expectations for the day were unmet, I certainly wouldn't call it disappointing.  If I'd thought things through a little more I would have realized that it wasn't fair to assume the bus would stop every place I wanted, for as long as I wanted.  And that most people simply aren't as interested in the scenic stuff as I am.  An important realization that would serve me well for the remainder of our visit. :)

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