At the End of the World

The last weekend in June we were at the end of the world, so it felt at least, when we were on the Dingle peninsula. My son, his girlfriend and I indulged in a weekend in Southern Ireland because we had heard that the area would be very beautiful. Once you have seen the photos, you must agree. We left around 8am on Saturday morning from Dublin. This time, I had not only the map but even two co-drivers, but still we drove in the wrong direction quite early during the trip, because in Dublin we did not find the road southwards to the “highway”, which we had to drive. As previously stated, the signs here are substandard in some places. However, we were not discouraged, but drove happily north to get on the right road.

With a happy mood we stopped in Limerick. The city where the Limerick rhymes come from:

There were three people from Dublin,
they drove on the way to Dingles Inn
They drove a car
and came quite far
three happy people from Dublin.

I had already been to Limerick before, but I was going by train. Limerick is a nice little town with a glass shopping center in the city center, a church built between an office or rental house and the town also has an opera, but Limerick is at the same time very similar to most other Irish towns. We stayed in town for a short while and the young people bought something to eat. I myself had a lunch bag with me. However, there was no park nearby and I did not find the people park again, which is very close to the train station. Honestly, it was because I could not find the train station. I thought, it would be signposted and that it would not be difficult to find a train station, but the reality was different. Of course, we did not want to sit and eat in the car park, so we later stopped on the side of a highway and, since there was no parking space, we put on the hazard warning lights for safety reasons – one has to take the custom where one come. I have seen several times before, that Irish people park that way. We could possibly have gone a little further, but I had just have had bronchitis and needed to take my medicine on time. I have never been ill on Ireland, but in recent weeks they ‘fell like flies’ at our job and I guess it spread through the ventilation system. My colleague, closest to me, has had it before I got it. She came to work sick during several days before going to the doctor, so there was no way for me to be spared.

My son, his girlfriend and I then proceeded to County Kerry, the destination of our trip, because we were going to conquer this County this weekend. Our first stop was in Killarney National Park. Here it seems like each county has its own National Park, but the one in Killarney is extreme large and it has lots of different kinds of trees, a very old oak, a big lake, a waterfall, rhododendrons and a lot of mountains/hills. By the way, Ireland’s highest mountain with a high of 1041m above sea level is nearby. In addition to that, here the last flock of wild, native red deer is living. We stayed for three hours in the park, we did not see any deer, but we were only in a small part of the park. It is so hugh! We went by horse and carriage to the waterfall. The driver’s name was Marc and he was quite young yet, the horse’s name was Tommy. We felt sorry for the animal because the driver hit it with the whip when it had to trot uphill. It was a trotter, but a little disobedient and occasionally fell into a gallop. Marc was certainly trained for dealing with tourists. In fact, I have never met such a polite Irishman as him, except my audiologist.

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Going by Horse and Carriage

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The first owner of the park had been a medical doctor and a botanist, who had over 1000 varieties of different trees planted. There is also an old mansion in the area, which has 365 windows, one window for each day and 52 chimneys, one chimney for each week. The mansion with it’s park was acquired in the early 20th century by the Guinness family, but is now owned by the Republic of Ireland. In the manor house was an exhibition about the park and, of course, a souvenir shop. I actually bought a necklace here and was able to tick off one thing on my shopping list, because I was thinking of buying some things here in Ireland as a memory and I like the island. Even a lot looks like a disaster in Ireland or still like the 19th century, Ireland also has some nice sides and for holiday trips I can recommend the country even if it is, in my opinion, much more beautiful in Sweden. In case I should repeat myself, but Ireland is still overwhelming in places even Sweden is fantastic. However, I do not think the country is nice enough to live here for ever.

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The Castle with the 365 Windows and 52 Chimneys

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When the national park closed, we continued our journey to the hostel, we had booked beds in and which was on the Dingle Peninsula. Fortunately, for a while now, even as a 58-year-old, one is young enough to sleep in a youth hostel. In some countries there are hostels that only accept people up to the age of 45 but in Ireland there is no such age discrimination. The road, I was driving now, became more and more adorable and – narrow. A combination of hills and low mountains, sea cliffs, narrow roads, small towns, serpentines, an unexpected sandy beach and a very surprising and unusual way to cross a stream as well as sheep, a few minimal cow herd and green, green, green colours everywhere. The late evening sunset painted such a beautiful picture of the area that one otherwise only can see in tourist brochures. We really saw ourselves moved into another world.

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The Waterfall

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Placed in another world, the young people also seemed to be, when we entered the hostel and especially when they saw the room where we had to sleep. The house had probably been used for the same purpose for decades and the stove in the kitchen seemed to be from the beginning of the last century. The pots seemed more made for camping purposes and both the pots and other equipment in the kitchen such as mugs, plates and cutlery were not really clean – but there were detergents. I thought I knew my son, I raised him, but we have never been camping or sleeping over in a hostel. We could almost never afford to go on vacation. He was sent to a bed in a large room with other men, who were here for fishing. Samuel is quite small and not heavily built either, so it was a great contrast and he did not enjoy being in the same room with them at all. Luckily, no other woman came to share our female room and the manager of the hostel offered Samuel to share it with us, which he was really happy about.

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A Stream is Crossing the Road

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Before we went to sleep, we were going a little further on the peninsula – towards sunset. The hostel was already very far from the main roads and no bus came here – the roads were not wide enough for that either, but we discovered two more villages a little further away where the world seemed to end. These houses looked forgotten between the mountains/hills and the water. The lights in the houses seemed to compete with the sunset and the crescent moon appeared as it’s own half in the sky. We never saw it get really dark and the light conditions were similar to a summer night in Central Sweden or southern Norrland. Unfortunately, I did not manage to capture both the sunset and the crescent moon in the same image. Meanwhile I have bought a better camera, but my equipment is not good enough yet for such a shot. Half of the photos I took at dusk I removed immediately because I would have needed a tripod for getting good ones.

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Sunset on This End of the World

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We slept really well that night at the hostel and I even woke up sweaty, because here they still had the winter blankets, real sheep wool blankets, which warmed very well. After a nice shower we packed up and sneaked out of the house, but not without me honoring Samuel’s girlfriend with a cake, because it was her birthday. She was very pleasantly surprised. Afterwards we snuck away for not waking up anyone else. We could not get breakfast so early and the young people were not interested in buying breakfast here either. They had planned to have breakfast in a café, because they did not think the hostel was clean enough – they would check behind the cafés and restaurants’ facades as well! However, it was still quite early in the morning and no café was open, our rescue was a supermarket, where we could buy take away coffee and also found something to eat. It was raining now and it looked like a continuous rain, that would last all day, so we took the opportunity and visited Dingles Aquarium where we could admire small sharks and exotic fishes. There was also a possibility to see dolphins, but in that case we had to go by boat. Unfortunately, the time was too short for such an excursion.

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Dingle Aquarium

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When we continued from the city of Dingle, the sun was not yet shining, but it had stopped raining. As usual in Ireland, the weather is very unstable and luckily it also applies to the rain. We were very happy about that, of course. We hoped, we could take a short hike on Ireland’s highest mountain, but unlike the Diamond Hill in Connemara, there were no trails laid out well and we could not see any at all with our naked eyes, however, the road up the mountain resembled a roller coaster and we got a very beautiful view from the car. Now we were on the other side of the Dingle Peninsula and could also see a small number of sandy beaches. The view of a sandy beach is one thing, but getting there is another. Nevertheless, one of these was on our way and was even signposted. We drove down to the parking lot and went for a round by foot at the beach. Where the sand was dry, it looked, as usual in Ireland, light gray. In fact, so far I have not seen any yellow sand on Ireland.

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Derrymore Beach

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We did not stay for a long time by the sea, because the wind was cold and the weather did not really invite to swim. In addition to that, we did not know the tides. We were unfamiliar with them. We still had not dared to take a dip at other occasions either. We began the last part of the journey home and also got hungry again. In each place we went through, the young people looked at the map and said, that we probably would find a place, where we could eat, easier in the next village or town. When we came to Roscrea, the young people finally became happy, because there were several places to eat. At the end, we still ended up in a pizzeria because the young people are vegetarians – partly in any case – and there was a shortage of places with vegetarian food. A poor chicken still had to put his life on the line for us, even if in pieces in a pasta sauce. Samuel invited us all for dinner – I guess he did it because of his girl’s birthday. I can not complain though, Samuel always is willing to share and when I needed to refuel the car he was not late to pay an amount.

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Seen this Turquois Water in the Rearview Mirror, I had to Stop the Car and Take a Photo

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The day ended as it had begun. We made a detour. We did not find the shortest route for my map readers. They chatted about the road number and the place we were aiming for. I had driven quite a lot the last two days and was probably a little tired in my head, which led to, that I did not even find the way to my place of work, although I had driven there several times before from this direction. In a way, the proverb about the many chefs applied here. There are too many roads to Rome and so also to Dublin. Samuel’s girlfriend also has a driver’s license and I would not have had to drive all the way myself if it were not for the crazy insurance regulations here. In Ireland, the car is insured with a named driver. If you want to give someone else permission to drive the car, you have to take out additional insurance, which on the one hand will be very expensive and on the other hand, I could not foresee that there could be another driver for the car. These rules also exclude that you can lend the car to someone else without taking out insurance for the car with that person in question. However, L-drivers (people, who practice driving before they get their driver’s license) are allowed to continue driving, even if they have not passed the run-up or theory test. I had also received too tight time information for the trip to Kerry from my colleagues and the woman, of who I rent my room. The journey took much longer for us. Only Irish people manage to drive at the time I was told. The roads were often very bad and narrow, that I only dared to drive at a speed of 60 km per hour, especially when it was raining. Security goes for rapidity and I am happy to be able to add another nice memory to those I already have from Ireland and that I was able to help my son and his girlfriend to a really nice weekend.