Inside Ireland: Unforgettable Kilkee

County Clare, Ireland
County Clare, Ireland Map

 
Kilkee was the last leg of our tour of Ireland. It was a small coastal town in County Clare where we stayed for four days.

All the way through this trip, our designated driver had relied on old-fashioned maps to get to our destination. He pooh poohed using the GPS. But after driving in circles and unable to locate the B&B that we booked, he finally gave up and let the GPS app in my phone show the way.

Kilkee was just like the other small towns that we had visited so far. At this time of the year, it was full of tourists on a holiday.

We were lucky to have a local person gave us a short tour of the town centre. It was pedestrian-friendly with people jaywalking as they pleased.

“Don’t worry, they won’t hit you,” she said when I hesitated crossing the street with cars zooming around. “They won’t kill the goose (tourist) that lays the golden eggs.”

Kilkee Kilkee
Kilkee Kilkee

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She led us to the beach front house where Arthur Bell Nicholls and Charlotte Bronte stayed during their honeymoon. Along the way, I could see three generations of families, mostly from Limerick and nearby towns, enjoying their time together. It wasn’t surprising considering that the Irish are known to be close-knit. What I found surprising was to see the portrait of Che Guevara on the seawall. I later learned that he was part Irish and considered a folk hero in Ireland.

We invited her and her husband for dinner at a nice restaurant that evening. Afterwards, we went to the oldest pub in town. Since I don’t drink, I stayed just long enough to get the feel of the place, called it a night, and walked back to the B&B.

At the lobby of the B&B, I met an elderly man in his 70s sitting by himself. After talking with him for a bit, I learned that he grew up in the area and left as a young man to teach English in Grenada. He was in town to visit his older brother.

Back in the day, an Irish family would hold a wake for a member emigrating to America or another country because it was expected that he wouldn’t be coming back.

With that in mind, I asked him if he had thoughts of returning to Ireland for good.

“No,” he said. “I’ve got family in Grenada now. It’s home.”

As an immigrant myself, I could relate.

Kilkee, Ireland Kilkee, Ireland
Kilkee, Ireland Kilkee, Ireland

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While in Kilkee, we went for a leisurely 4-hour cliff hike along the rugged Atlantic coastline with occasional moderate to steep climb. From time to time, we stopped to marvel at the spectacular views before us. It was all worth it.

Kilkee Kilkee

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We enjoyed the popular loop head walk at the lighthouse and the ruins of Carrigaholt Castle. We expected to watch dolphins playing offshore, but somehow they refused to give us the time of day. Nonetheless, the natural beauty of the scenery around us made up for it.

Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher

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Lastly, we drove to nearby Doolin village and joined a 3-hour guided tour of the Cliffs of Moher, one of the most popular attractions in Ireland It started along the road towards the ruins of Doonagore Castle. We continued our ascent until we reach the highest point of the cliffs shaped by time and the ocean waves. The view from there was simply magnificent. We could see the Dingle Peninsula and Loop Head in the South, the Aran Islands to the West with the Twelve Pins and mountains of Connemara to the North in all their glory.

On our last day in Kilkee, our friend and her family treated us to Irish hospitality at its finest at their home. After a sumptuous seafood dinner that she prepared herself, drinks followed. I wasn’t sure if it was part of tradition or not, but her father, who sat at the head of the table, suddenly started singing an old Irish ballad. As if on cue, people gathered around the table took their turn singing, too. What the heck, I gave my best rendition of a John Denver song if only in my mind. It was a great evening of camaraderie and merriment and a fitting send off for us.

Early in the morning of the next day, we returned to Dublin to catch our flight back to the U.S. For the first time, we experienced what’s referred to as US Customs Pre-Clearance at the Dublin Airport before boarding the aircraft. It meant I just had to pick up my bags when I arrived in San Francisco without going through passport control anymore.

I felt sad leaving this beautiful country. At the same time, I looked forward to sleeping in my own bed again.

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September 4, 2018 at 9:04 am 2 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Concert in the Park

Concert in the Park
Location: Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland

 

September 3, 2018 at 9:03 am 6 comments

Haunted

For Friday Fictioneers 100-Word Challenge: 31 August 2018

Nathan Sowers

Photo Credit: Nathan Sowers
 
“I won’t go near it if I were you,” Olivia said pointing to the old shed in the backyard to her 7-year old cousin Nathan visiting from city.

“It’s haunted,” she warned. “Some nights you could hear strange noises coming from the inside.”

But one lazy afternoon, Nathan’s curiosity got the best of him and went to the old shed determined to unravel its secrets. Unbeknownst to him, Olivia was following closely from behind.

With shaking hands, he opened the latch and gasped at what he saw.

It was empty.

“Gotcha!” Olivia giggled. “I can’t believe you fell for it.”
 

August 29, 2018 at 10:22 am 44 comments

Wordless Wednesday: Cross of Slea Head

Cross of Slea Head
Location: Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry, Ireland

 

August 27, 2018 at 7:59 am 6 comments

Inside Ireland: The Dingle Peninsula

Dingle, Ireland
Location: Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

 
It was a hot and sunny day when we arrived in the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry County, Ireland. We stayed at the B&B in the only town on the peninsula bearing the same name.

After checking in at the B&B, I looked forward to do laundry as I was running out of clean underwear. You could imagine my disappointment when I saw a handwritten note in my room saying that no washing was allowed. For Pete’s sake, it was a recommended B&B by Rick Steves. As you know, Mr. Steves is a proponent of packing smart and traveling light and washing laundry in the bathroom sink. Welp, desperate time called for desperate measure. I had to do what I had to do. I just had to be discrete about it.

Once I got to know them better, however, I found that the couple running the B&B were in reality great hosts. They kept the room clean and served the best Irish breakfast that I’d ever had. But was the recommendation of Rick Steves for real? Although I wanted to believe, I still had doubts.

What attracted us to this place 200 miles from Dublin was its reputation preceding it. For one thing, it’s located in the area known as the Gaelthache where locals speak Irish Gaelic as their first language compared to English which is commonly used by the rest of the population. If you want to really, really soak in the traditional Irish music and culture, this is it.

For another, the Dingle Peninsula has been considered by National Geographic Traveler as “the most beautiful place on earth.”

Ogham Stones Ballintearman Standing Stone Beehive Hut
Ogham Stones Dngle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula
Stone Walls Kilmalkedar Church Kilmalkedar Church Graveyard

Click any picture to enlarge
 
We booked a 3-hour Archaeological Tour of the Dingle Peninsula.

It started at Burham, the seat of Lord Ventry, to look at stones found in an ancient burial-ground on the shore of Smerwick Bay in 1848.

Our guide then took us on a scenic drive offering a panoramic view of sea cliffs, the Atlantic, and fields with sheep grazing in the sun. Sorry, I was so awestruck by the scenery that I failed to take photos good enough for National Geographic. In addition, he led us to the remnant of a mid-12th century church and beehive huts and stones dating back to Ireland’s ancient past.

On our last day in Dingle, I let my curiosity get the better of me and asked one of the owners of the B&B if Rick Steves had actually been there. “He comes at least once a year,” she said proudly showing his photo taken at the B&B as proof. I guess that settled it.

August 26, 2018 at 6:32 pm 4 comments

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