The moment I got off the bus and started walking in Killarney, I knew I found my favorite place. The narrow streets, colorful buildings, shops and pubs every which way – it was picturesque. The entrance to Killarney National Park was a close distance from my hostel and once I had settled in, I went off to explore a bit on my own. I walked in to be greeted by a small cottage and a horse-driven carriage, trotting towards me. I chose the path on the river walk at first, before exploring further and further until I reached a lake itself. I found myself encompassed by the greenest of trees and mountains in the distance.
That evening, as I was about to walk out of my hostel to grab a coffee, I ran into the girl from my previous hostel and a girl from my hostel chatting. We decided to get dinner together before heading out for the evening. After a recommendation from the girl at my last hostel, we landed at the Killarney Grand, a bustling bar that was packed for only a Wednesday night. Beyond the first room was a door labeled “Night Club” where traditional Irish music played and people swung around to the music. With a pint of Guinness in hand, I knew that I was where I needed to be.
The following day I was up early for a tour of the Dingle Peninsula. When I walked onto the tour bus, I realized I was surrounded by people who were at least in their mid-fifties or higher, except for one girl. It took me until our first stop to actually find out where she was from, but it turns out she had been traveling for quite some time and originated from Australia. She pumped me up for my next destinations in Portugal, as the country itself was one of her favorite places. We ended up chatting most of the day and we found ourselves faced with a huge amount of Fish and Chips in the town of Dingle at the end of our tour.
The tour itself was beyond what I had expected. Our first stop was a quiet, wavy beach with a vast amount of room for walking. It was cold and windy, and absolutely surrounded by hills and mountains. It was hard to get pictures of the waves themselves without getting soaked, but the sight was beautiful nonetheless.
Our second stop was only a few minutes, at a beautiful area to pull in and take pictures of the rolling hills. The sun shone between the hills where the sky opened up and you could see the mountains clearly. My only thought in this moment was, “this is the Ireland I have been waiting for.”
Don’t get me wrong, Ireland is a seriously beautiful place, but some parts I passed weren’t like the pictures you’re shown. It seemed like any other place. In Dun Laoghaire, I felt as though I were back in Tarrytown, New York, walking toward the Hudson River. It was during this tour that I understood the magic of this country, this green, misty country.
Our next stops were all along the Dingle Peninsula itself, from varying distances from its most Western peak. The driver told us that the pictures would only get better as time went on, and he was definitely right. From peering over the cliffs into the dark blue waters, to seeing blue-green waves and the sight of the most recent Star Wars (the one that isn’t out yet, apparently), the Dingle Peninsula was remarkable.
That night in an attempt to save money, my friend whom I met in Cork, Maryssa, and I shared a 5euro bottle of wine before heading out for the night. The Grand didn’t have the same Irish dancing, which was a disappointment, as most of the kids in the “night club” looked like prepubescent boys and teenage girls who overdressed and didn’t understand the concept of “less is more” when it comes to makeup. High heels and tight, tight, tight dresses – I was uncomfortable just looking at them, but that’s because I look like a disabled ostrich when I walk in heels.
Today, Friday, is my last full day in Killarney. I woke up early and met up with Maryssa for breakfast at our hostel before heading out to rent a bike. Our goal for the day was cheese and crackers, a low budget, and Torc Waterfall. We biked… a lot. At first, I really was not comfortable riding a bike on the main road. I hate bikers when I drive, so I figured people hated me too, but who cares. I actually haven’t ridden a bike in years and years, and my legs totally knew – they were pissed. My quads actually screamed at one point while biking up a hill, or maybe that was just me. Either way, we biked around the entire lake, or something. It was exhausting but the views were well worth it. Once we got to Torc Waterfall, we broke out the cheese, crackers, and grapes and happily ate over a cliff before being eaten alive by bugs. The Torc Waterfall was beautiful and well worth the trip and the distance.
Last night in Killarney:
Maryssa and I wound up grabbing a quick bite at a local cafe for dinner to regain our energy sources for the night. I got a delicious Brie bruschetta; toasted bread with caramelized onions and some sort of cranberry concoction and then covered in warm, sliced Brie. We strolled Killarney and shopped for a bit at some local stores before grabbing a bottle of wine and heading back to the hostel. I stumbled into my room to be greeted by my new “roommate” for the night: a 33 year old man from Lisbon, Portugal. Now, I chose a 4-bed mixed dorm, so I was prepared for the likeliness of being with a man at some point. As this wasn’t a youth hostel, I’m just glad it wasn’t some weird 60 year old man who snored.
Rather than going to the Grand that evening, we decided to take a chance on Murphy’s Bar. There was a rugby game playing and the bar was packed with locals and live traditional Irish music was playing. We sat and chatted while debating on whether or not to go up and buy a drink when a man named Robert came and sat beside me. He asked if we were Americans. I thought he was just shamelessly hitting on us, but he was friendly and conversational and ended up being a lot younger than expected. I sighed and exclaimed that I needed a drink, to where he offered to buy us each one. Score. He told us he and a lot of his work buddies were out celebrating a coworkers departure to a different job, and each of them slowly made their way over to us to introduce themselves. They invited us to go to a whiskey bar with them, and we thought, why the hell not.
We left and went to another bar, which was very, very crowded. So we left immediately. We went to another bar, only to have a girl insist on going back to the other bar because there was “no one there.” We fought our way through the crowd and we were offered another drink. But apparently “no one being there” means you can shove yourself through if you try hard enough.
The night carried on with conversation and drink until I met up with another friend before turning in for the night.
I’m now on the bus on my way back to Dublin, and I wish I could have stayed in Killarney for even longer. I felt as though I was given all of Ireland in one place and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or time, and my last night in Killarney certainly ended with a bang. I knew leaving certain places would be more difficult than others, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.
4 nights in Dublin, then off to Portugal!!! Ready to ditch these long sleeves and jeans and soak up the warmth and sunshine.