The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry – Republic of Ireland

I agree with Dan when he said, “The Gap of Dunloe in an absolute jewel of the Emerald Isle”.   The Gap of Dunloe or the Valley of Echoes was formed 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s last ice age as a result of a “glacial breach”. This is where a glacier in the Black Valley which was part of the Templenoe Icecap, estimated to be over 500 metres deep, broke through the Head of the Gap and moved northwards carving out this magical U-shaped valley. The glen is a place of enchantment and full of legend and lore. It was an old tradition to ‘wake the valley’ by blowing a horn. One of the most famous local horn-blowers was Paddy Boyle with his magic bugle. It would have been wonderful to hear that bugle, instead we gave it our best “Woohoo”. There are five lakes within the Gap of Dunloe.  Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough; all connected by the River Loe. Between the first two lakes is an old arch bridge called the Wishing Bridge. Locals claim that wishes made while upon it are destined to come true. The bridge was a beautiful piece of architecture that has probably lasted for hundreds of years.

The abandoned Arbutus Cottages sit at the base of the gap and have been left in ruins. Of course, Dan and I had to stop for pictures. We have learned so many times to stop and capture these sites. Sometimes you can almost hear the stories they have to tell as the wind blows through the open windows. The light that shines through these ruins can definitely add character and atmosphere.

We must have passed through the Gap of Dunloe a handful of times but never during the day from roughly 10am-4pm as it is quite the tourist attraction.  The road is open to the public and locals use it often, but they even try to stay off the road during the busy hours. With our B & B on the other side, we needed to travel the very narrow road and we were never disappointed.  Since the road is very narrow (mostly one lane) and there is high pedestrian and carriage traffic, I would recommend hiking this beautiful area or supporting local business and taking a ride on a horse-drawn trap.

As we made our way back to the B & B, we decided to stop for Dinner at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and walk around the town for a wee bit. During our walk, we were approached by a local who asked if we would like a ride on the horse drawn trap and we accepted. The ride was a wonderful experience, and we feel fortunate that this lovely man had approached us even though most were done for the night. His pony, Lucy, was absolutely stunning and was very well mannered – Thanks Paul and Lucy; you provided a memory that will last a life time!

A popular form of transport for tourists is the horse-drawn trap, a cart where up to four occupants sit facing each other. The traps are guided by men from families that live in and around the Gap. These ponymen use a rotation system called the Turn which determines who takes the next customers. The Turn has been in existence since the 1920s and is passed down in the families to the next generation. – Wikipedia

You can see Dan’s post and images from this area here:

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 1

Dan Traun – Gap of Dunloe – Part 2

I hope you enjoyed this area as much as we did. See you on our next adventure!

On our way to Dingle

I know, I know… I promised a post on the Gap of Dunloe. We have not quite made it there yet, but I promise, it will be worth the wait! After we spent the morning driving around the Ring of the Reeks and the Ring of Kerry, we made our way to our goal for the day, the town of Dingle. A stop along the way at Derrynane Beach to stretch our legs was such a treat. The fresh sea breeze, the sand art we encountered signed by mother nature herself, and the calmness of the gentle waves just made the day even more special. Driving the Dingle Peninsula was absolutely stunning (much like the rest of Ireland) 😉

Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Blue Flag Beach is located in a proposed Natural Heritage Area site. It is also part of the Kenmare River SAC and the Iveragh Peninsula SPA. The area is rich in biodiversity and of significant national importance. – https://www.discoverireland.ie/kerry/derrynane-beach

The Town of Dingle

The town of Dingle was extremely colorful and full of cute little shops. A tourist destination for sure; it was even busy in April! We walked around town for the few hours we had left of the day’s drive and just took in the sights of this cheery town.

We made our way back to our B & B for the night, Hillcrest Farmhouse and yes, the Gap of Dunloe.

I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did!

The Ring of Kerry and Iveraph Peninsula, Ireland

I’ll start from the beginning and tell you the story of our travels on this day; I do have to apologize, the post I promised on the Gap of Dunloe will have to wait its turn. We started out every morning in Ireland with a traditional Irish breakfast which fueled us for the day ahead. Our goal was to visit the Dingle Peninsula and all areas in between.  Although the beauty of this place shined bright like a diamond, the rings I am about to comment on cannot be worn on your hand 😉

The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a 179-km-long circular tourist route in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. Clockwise from Killarney it follows the N71 to Kenmare, then the N70 around the Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin – passing through Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh – before returning to Killarney via the N72. – read more (wikipedia)

Ring of the Reeks

There is another ring inside the Ring of Kerry.  Widely known for cycle tours, the Ring of the Reeks boasts some outstanding beauty.  There are more official maps the outline the cycle route; the map below is Dan’s own account of the path we traveled.

Our first part of the trip included many narrow dirt roads within the Ring of the Reeks. We always had to ask each other, “What is down this road” as we turned down that path. The day started (and ended) perfectly; we felt important as we were led by two sheep along this narrow hilly road. It was almost like they were showing this beautiful area off (I don’t blame them). They eventually moved off the road; we said our goodbye’s and moved on.

The Iveraph Peninsula

The Iveragh Peninsula (Uíbh Ráthach) is the largest peninsula in Co. Kerry situated south of Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhneand north of the Beara Peninsula (Béarra). It is flanked by both Dingle Bay (Bá an Daingin)and Kenmare (An Neidín) Bay and faces the Atlantic Ocean. The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks(Na Cruacha Dubha) in the centre of the Iveragh Peninsula include Carrauntoohill(Corrán Tuathail), at 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) the tallest peak in the country. ~ Ask About Ireland

The Iveraph Peninsula is a very popular destination.  The Ring of Kerry is one of the most beloved areas to visit in the Republic of Ireland.  The peninsula is also home to The Kerry Way.  The Kerry Way is a walkers’ version of the Ring of Kerry.  It is a 113-mile-long circular hiking train the begins and ends in Killarney.  It typically takes 9 days to complete.  Can you imagine the memories you would make on this hike? It makes me smile as I imagine myself completing this hike. Our travels on this day was to say the least awe-inspiring; we passed through Irish towns, valleys and hills, and even ran into a farmer tending to his flock of sheep with the help of his trusty four legged friends. It was quite interesting to watch the effort of these dogs and we welcomed this little break from driving. Fox are the main predators of the Sheep in Ireland and dogs/farmers will protect their livestock if needed; especially when there are so many little lambs. We did happen across a not so lucky fox which the farmer dispatched and hung it on the fence alongside this remote dirt road.

All this and we have not made it to Dingle yet? Yes! Ireland is full of beauty that filled our eyes and hearts with wonder. More sites to come as we traveled further onward down the Dingle Peninsula towards the adorable town of Dingle in County Kerry, Ireland.

Counting Sheep

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Our travels for this day included a ferry trip from Killimer to Tarbert, travels off the beaten path and just a few sheep. We made our way to our next Bed & Breakfast, Hillcrest Farmhouse. We stayed at Hillcrest Farmhouse B&B for two nights.  This B&B was a perfect place to spend two days and explore […]

The Little Old Man – A True Story of Love and Animal Rescue

A true story of love and animal rescue

Once upon a time (yes, I just started this story with once upon a time) there was this amazing woman who was so full of life, her name was Liz. She had lost her husband a while back and had always had Dachshunds in her life. Her companion at that time was named Heidi, a beautiful red standard Dachshund. I met Liz at the Veterinary Clinic I used to work at and because we were both Dachshund lovers, we became friends and that friendship lasted for many years. Heidi gave Liz so much comfort and I would see them walking together around town often. Liz loved Heidi and they were inseparable. One day Heidi took her last breath which left Liz alone. Soon after Heidi’s passing, Liz started looking for another companion. She went to the Humane Society in Rochester, MN to adopt a cat but did not find the purrfect fit (I just love a good pun). As she was walking out, a woman and her child came in with this younger Dachshund. Liz was certainly never shy and asked, “Why are you bringing him in here, are you surrendering him? If so, I would love to adopt him”. She instantly fell in love with this 1-2  year old little young man and ended up bringing him home. She named him Harley Davidson; surely a reflection of the spunk she saw in him and perhaps in her as well.  I would see Liz walking with Harley around town; they were instantly inseparable characters.  Our friendship continued and we  gladly watched Harley while Liz was on vacation. Harley got to know our family and would very easily transition into cuddling and playing with our “gang”. He became a second child to us here at Dachshund a.k.a. “Wiener” Camp 😉 One day, Liz started forgetting. She fell victim to that one disease that interferes with daily functioning. That one disease that leaves you with nothing and steals your memories, your actions, your mind. Liz was diagnosed with dementia. It was horrible to see such a beautiful, active life taken away; she loved to play the piano, she loved to dance, she loved to sing, and she loved to drink and be merry with friends and family. She moved out of her home into a senior living apartment, but soon it became evident that she needed additional care. Liz was not able to take care of Harley anymore; I can only imagine how that devastated her. The family was at a loss and reached out to us asking if we could care for Harley. At the time we had a cat (Inga) and two Dachshunds (Clover and Lucy) which Harley knew and loved.  Without a doubt, we said yes and picked him up right away to bring him home to be around people and other animals. Dan and I brought Harley to visit Liz and we saw the effects of Dementia, the confusion, recognition, love, thankfulness, happiness, and sadness. She loved to see him (and we loved to see her) time and time again.

On November 20th, 2016, this is what I wrote on Facebook:

Meet Harley D… This lovable old man will be staying with us for a while until we can find him a fur-ever home. His owner, a wonderful lady who loves him so very much, is suffering from dementia (what a terrible disease) and cannot take care of him any longer.

We had received many comments/remarks of people who are afraid or did not want to take in a senior pet (he was 12-13 at that time). I know many rescue organizations get this remark as well. I am here to say that Harley was just as spry as our youngest who was 2-3 at that time. Yes, as dogs, no – as all species age – we develop issues and certainly older animals can be more costly with daily medications or an out of pocket cost for a yearly dental. You just adjust your life around them and you pay for whatever veterinary care the animal needs. Senior pets deserve to be happy and live out their remainder of their life in a loving home too. These senior pets have been taken away or tossed out from a life they have been accustomed to for a long time. An owner passing, an owner not having the means to properly care for the animal, or just because they are no longer wanted.  No matter the reason, it is traumatic for them. Having been in the Veterinary world, I’ve seen it all.  So please, remember senior animals need love too and if you have an open spot in your home for them, please consider adoption and give them the love they need, the love and care they so deserve. Ok, rant over.

Dan and I quickly decided that Harley would live the rest of his life with us.  He just fit and we knew that we had 5-7 years of unconditional love from him. Harley made us laugh every day. He was the one that made sure the gang was all fed on time. He KNEW that it was 6:30 AM or 5:00 PM no matter the day of the week. The stares of “it’s time to eat, feed me know” or “hey, I’ve got to go and if you don’t let me out right now, I will pee right here.” 😉 He let us know when he wanted to come in by his little bark, bark, bark (I sure do miss that sound). He had his own walk, a prance/trot of sorts (and yes, we called him Prancer Boy).  He was just a happy-go-lucky guy. As he got older, his nickname become the “Ninja Pooper.” Look the other direction for only seconds and upon glancing back, a present was just there.  This happened frequently and most often just after having been outside. When he couldn’t get outside fast enough or when we were not at home to let him outside, we adjusted and used pee pads. He was very much a part of our family.  He would go on bike rides, kayaking, hikes, and traveled in the car so well. He was a gentle soul and won the hearts of all that he encountered; he just loved being around people.

On June 2, 2019, Harley was diagnosed with prostate cancer (pretty rare in neutered dogs) and was given 2 months to live. Working with the Veterinary Team at Black Dog Animal Hospital, we found the right combination of medications that just worked for him. He was like the energizer bunny whose batteries never lost power. He acted normally although after his diagnosis, if he had to go potty, you better be there to let him outside! At the end of July 2020, he started leaking and diapers came into our lives. He wore them well and did not complain at all.

On August 11, 2020, thirteen months after his original diagnosis, we had to make one hard decision.  He woke up and could not urinate or defecate. I was able to give him some extra pain medications which helped relax him and allowed him to urinate and drip in his diaper. He became more comfortable, but I knew he needed to see the doctor. It was confirmed that the cancer had made his prostate so large that it appeared the tumor became one with the bladder. The cancer had engulfed his urethra squeezing the already tiny tubular structure and was pushing up on his colon. As a previous Veterinary Technician, I knew it was time and at any moment, his bladder could have ruptured. He was still so spry, he still wanted to eat, play, and run with Clover and Lucy. He still wanted to eat as much treats as he could. Although he was full of cancer, he just did not appear “sick” but we knew the cancer was taking over and limiting bodily functions. Damn cancer. This is the decision that an animal lover dreads even though you know it is better for them. We hated the decision that we were faced with. Harley passed away peacefully in our arms under the care of his doctor and a very kind technician.

The house just is not the same and at times, I think I hear the pitter-patter of his paws on the hardwood floor.  He is now reunited with his first love, Liz. I am sure they are dancing all around town. I know we will meet him again someday along with those other lost loved ones.

We miss you dearly little buddy – Ma (Cyndie), Paw (Dan), Lucy, Clover. and Inga

Loop Head Peninsula. County Clare

We awoke to yet another beautiful morning and devoured the Irish breakfast served at Sea Crest Farmhouse. With a happy tummy, we started our day and headed south on N67. As we crossed the stone arched bridge into the village of Doonbeg, we decided to stretch our legs and explore the area. A dog and his master out for a morning stroll, the swans swimming in the river… It was quite tranquil.

Loop Head

Loop Head peninsula has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other, with barely a mile of land saving it from island status. In 2013, Loop Head was named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by The Irish Times – Wikipedia

Traveling the Loop Head peninsula was breathtaking, and we stopped numerous times to take in the scenery and the fresh Irish air. Walking on the grass in this area was like walking on a cloud; another sign that Ireland is a little slice of heaven.

The geology of this area was impressive. Take notice in the images as to how the layers of land appear almost chaotic and slope in at different angles, sometimes jetting towards the sky.

Over a period of 7.5 million years (318.5 – 311 million years ago) a huge river system carried sand and clay out to sea where it was deposited in a succession of vast sheets to form a large submarine fan delta just off the coast of the continent. Due to pressure and heat caused by subsequent layers of sand and mud, the sediments turned into hard rock which was later pushed up above present-day sea level by many movements of the earth’s plates. For most of the following 300 million years, Ireland was above sea level and subjected to weathering which stripped away a lot of its rock mantle, including most of the coal deposits formed in the Carboniferous period. ~www.loophead.ie 

Bishop’s Island

This unique sea stack was separated from the mainland over the last thousand years. What makes this site unique is that there are the remains of a church, a clochaun (beehive hut) and the ruins of 3-4 other buildings on the piece of land. This monastic settlement is possible connected to St. Senan or his followers who founded a prominent monastery at Scattery on the opposite side of Loop Head in the 6th century. ~wildatlanticway.omeka.net

Kilkee Cliff Walk

Kilkee Cliff Walk is a 2.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland that features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips.  ~ www.alltrails.com

Bridges of Ross

The Bridges of Ross were a trio of spectacular natural sea arches – at least until two of them fell into the sea. Today, even though only one ‘bridge’ remains, the name persists in the plural. The Bridge of Ross lies on the western side of the natural harbor that is Ross Bay, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean, near the village of Kilbaha. It can’t be seen from the road, but it’s not difficult to find. Head due west (left) from the Bridges of Ross car park and walk for a few hundred meters along the footpath. (Be careful to keep close to the fence, as there have been recent landfalls over the water.) The area is regarded as one of the best sea-watching sites in Europe. In late summer and autumn, it becomes a birder’s paradise as thousands of rare seabirds pass close to shore on their southbound migration – www.loophead.ie

Thanks for joining Dan and I as we traveled this beautiful area of Ireland! I hope this finds you all well; sending peace and love to everyone.

Click HERE to see Dan’s blog post of this area. See you at our next stop.

 

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

I have to agree with Dan when he said, “The food at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn was divine. Prior to the main course, the chef brought out a sample of his parsnip puree; absolutely scrumptious. Vaughan’s Fish and Chips dinner consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter served with homemade tartar sauce, chips that were steamed, then fried in beef drippings and Pea Puree….Wow! One of the best fish and chips we had experienced on our trip.

After a wonderful meal, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. The visitor center closed, and all the tour buses had left for the night so there were not many people around.  We did manage a lengthy hike before the sun set under the horizon; first to O’Brien’s Tower and then back South along Burren Way. The path was easy, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful evening. We made our way south on foot towards a site where we could take in the sunset with O’Brien’s’ Tower in the background.

We were serenaded by the wind as it hit the fence along the path much in a way that a lover would play music in the night under the window of his loved one.

At the end of the 16th to early 19th centuries, young nobles would embark on grand tours of Europe and Irish travel journals around the time of 1780 give many descriptions of the beauty of County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857), a descendant of the first High King of Ireland, made many improvements to the area which included the construction of a tower that was erected in 1835 (now referred to as O’Brien’s tower).  He believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and to this day, he was right!

Situated in County Clare along the wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher have majestically faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years and their beauty is incomparable. The cliffs reach 214m (702 feet) in height at their highest point; the sheer scale and their dramatic impact never ceases to amaze and will delight in equal measure. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction; when you visit, you will understand why. – cliffsofmoher.ie

I would highly recommend a visit to Ireland’s top tourist attraction, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Walk

Click here to see Dan’s images from that area.

Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

A little after the sun disappeared below the horizon, we packed up the car and headed to our stop for the night, Ballynahinch Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle is a former Irish country house and estate, built on the site of a former castle, which is now a luxury hotel set in a private estate in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It is one of Ireland’s finest luxury hotels and is located on a private 700 acre estate of woodland and rivers. The castle overlooks the hotel’s famous salmon fishery with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain Range. We had a relaxing night and woke early enough to take in the sunrise and explore the grounds.

It is mentioned on the hotel’s website, “a visit to the Owenmore Restaurant is a treat for the senses”. I can attest, there was a tremendous buffet which left us completely satisfied for the day. If in the area, I would highly recommend a stay! Ballynahinch Castle.com 

We followed the coastline and stopped many times to stretch our legs. Of course, we ran into beautiful scenery and friendly critters. We even found some Leprechaun poo on the beach 😉 Ok, ok… The piles found in the sand were Lugworm casts.

Our next stop was to explore the Cliffs of Moher. We were close to the area and decided to stop to find a Bed & Breakfast for the night. The owners of Sea Crest Farmhouse were extremely friendly and had given us recommendations for visiting Cliffs of Moher plus mentioned a few good restaurants. We had a wonderful supper at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn. Their Fish and Chips consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter, chips steamed then fried in Beef Drippings with homemade tartar sauce and Pea Puree.  Wow!  I would agree with Dan when he said, “One of the best fish and chips I experienced on our trip”.

Click here to view Dan’s post on Ballynahinch Castle.

See you at our next adventure, Cliff of Moher.

 

A Sunset to Remember

The Irish Countryside

We made our way toward Clifden and the Sky Road for a sunset shoot; eventually ending up at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel for the evening.

I would have to agree with Dan’s statement, “Cong to Roundstone via Maam Cross is a beautiful drive through the Irish countryside.”  Maam Cross, meaning “the burned house”, is a crossroad in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. With several peat bogs around the area, we now have a sense of the smell burning peat gives off; it is quite unmistakable.” The images below are sites we saw along the road as we traveled towards our sunset location.

Roundstone

Today, Roundstone is a popular holiday resort renowned among artists and naturalists for the remarkable beauty of the surrounding mountains and seascapes.

In Roundstone you will find a busy harbour where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catch, featuring a mix of Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Mackerel, Cod plus a variety of other fish. The town itself boasts a good choice of Bars and Seafood Restaurants crammed full of locally caught seafood.  -http://www.roundstone-connemara.com

We stopped to stretch our legs and have dinner at O’Dawd’s of Roundstone. As we walked around the harbour, a couple out walking their dog had stopped to chat. They provided some history of the city and some information on the daily catch.  The pup certainly enjoyed chewing on a few crab legs!

We could not have asked for a more beautiful sunset to end this incredible day. We traveled a portion of the Sky Road as we headed west out of Clifden. Part way around the loop is a car park where we decided to stop and take in the sunset. We set up our cameras and enjoyed the views over Clifden Bay. As we watched the sun drop lower and lower on the horizon, we noticed some movement on the hill behind us. To our amazement, we watched a cow slowing walk to the edge and stand there seemingly watching the sunset with us; almost like it was a daily routine. Not long after the first cow appeared, another one joined. The two cows greeted each other and watched the sunset together. Their actions truly warmed my heart and brought imaginative stories to my mind of how these cows lovingly took the time to watch the beauty mother nature can provide. I think of that memory often.

The videos attached will provide you with additional insight into the area we were traveling in during this part of the trip… Enjoy!

Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life

Soundtrack of Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life by Walking on Cars  (My favorite band)– check out their CD – Everything This Way

Soaring over the Wild Atlantic Way

To see Dan’s post from this portion of our trip click on the following links:
Roundstone
Clifden

I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. See you at our next stop!

Our Drive Continues – Cong, Ireland

Our sixth day in Ireland was a full one; this post is just the half of it.  We started off at Aughnanure Castle and drove part way around Lough Corrib to Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary.  We continued our loop around the lough to the North and arrived in Cong. The city is situated on an island formed by a number of streams that surround it on all sides and is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the North.

Cong Abbey

The ruins of the former Augustinian abbey mostly date to the 13th century and have been described as featuring some of the finest examples of early Gothic architecture and masonry in Ireland.

The Monk’s Fishing House is located on the former grounds of Cong Abbey. This ingenious structure was built sometime in the 16th century on a platform over the River Cong. A small arched opening allows the river to flow underneath the floor of the building and a trapdoor allowed the monks to drop a net to catch fish. A line was then connected to the kitchen in the monastery to alert of a fresh catch. The house also had a chimney and a fireplace to keep the monks nice and warm whilst fishing.

The day was still young; we made our way West toward the next destination, Roundstone and beyond. See you all there!

Click here to view Dan’s post from that day.