The next two nights were spent at Killarney, from which point we did the Ring of Kerry drive. We planned to do our laundry the first night we arrived, however all the laundromats in town were closed. (There is NO REASON a self-service laundromat can’t be open 24 hours a day!) One advertised opening at 7:30am though, so we thought if we got there first thing in the morning we could get our laundry done before heading out for the day. However, it turned out that’s only its summer operating hours – it only opened at 9:30! So due to our restricted time, we left the washing there for the laundry service (and got royally ripped off as you do in a tourist town where places have a monopoly).
We did have a lovely day though. We visited three medieval stone forts of varying size and type (one had been a farm house and had the remains of several buildings inside; the other two had been the homes of wealthy landowners or chieftains and had far fewer surviving remains inside the fortress wall, though were much bigger). We had lunch in a little town called Waterville (it’s on the coast, strangely enough… and people say Townsville has an uncreative name) where we ate our sandwiches (which we bought in the previous village) by the sea.
The Ring of Kerry is clearly designed for sight-seers and there were plenty of lookouts along the way. We also stopped to visit the remains of Ballycarbery Castle, which was a lot of fun. You can just walk in and are free to explore it to your heart’s content.
From the front the remains look fairly substantial and so you can’t see inside much to see what it’s like. After wandering around on the ground floor for a bit, and starting up a staircase which disappeared half way up, we ended up finding a doorway of some kind about four feet up the inside of an entrance archway. We climbed up into it and found a staircase, which we followed up inside the wall – which lead us around the back to where several other people had just walked up a hill created by where half the castle has collapsed away!
There were the remains of two floors, and enough staircase to access them, but it was clear that what is left is probably less than half the castle. We could see there must be part of another floor further up, but the staircase which must have serviced it must have been in the now-collapsed corners of the castle. We found the top half of the aforementioned staircase which disappeared half way up, as well as the slot along the front wall which would have been for the portcullis. A famous Rat once said “there’s nothing quite so fun as messing about in boats” – I think there is nothing quite so fun as messing about in ruined castles! They are playgrounds for grown-ups.
On our last full day in Ireland we headed back north and stopped in Cork to have a look at the town. I think we probably didn’t see the best of it, but we did see the (now deserted and ruined) house where George Boole (inventor of Boolean algebra) lived. We also stopped to see the Rock of Cashel, but half the castle was covered in scaffolding, and as it cost 7 euros each PLUS 4,50 for the car parking, we decided to give it a miss. We spent our last night in Kilkenny where we briefly visited the grounds of Kilkenny Castle to have a look at the castle (more of a palace than a castle) from the outside. You could certainly spend a lot more time in Ireland than we did, especially along the western and south-western coastal areas I think.