Ireland: Killarney

In the morning we got up and grabbed coffee and a pastry in Portmagee at a cute cafe on the water, then began our journey to Killarney, only about an hour drive from Portmagee. We headed south in order to drive the rest of the Ring of Kerry.
This section of the Ring of Kerry was probably my favorite. We drove through mountains, past towns with thatched-roof buildings, and along the water. Our first stop along the way was a statue of Mary that overlooked the water. We enjoyed snapping pictures of the view, but were quickly distracted by three stowaway sheep that were wandering around right in front of the statute.

One of my absolute spots had to have been the beach we stumbled upon as we were driving through the mountains. The sun had finally come out and a beautiful, deserted beach could be seen through colorful Geraniums. As we got closer to Killarney, we also stopped at the Torc Waterfall. We pulled to the side of the road and headed though the moss-covered trees to reach the 80 foot waterfall. I had no idea it was going to be so huge! We spent some time exploring this section of the Killarney National Park, then headed over to the Muckross House, also in the park. The mansion was built in the 1800s and sits in front of the Muckross Lake, surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens. Connor and I spent time exploring the different gardens, and especially loved the Creek and Rock Gardens. We walked along the creek that was surrounded in different flowers and plants, and especially loved the large bushes of hydrangeas. 

THEN (this way a long day for us), we headed to another one of my favorite spots of the trip, the Gap of Dunloe. The Gap is a narrow mountain pass between MacGillycuddy's Reeks and Purple Mountain. Much to his dismay, I convinced Connor to drive partially up the narrow road that was filled with horse and horse drawn carriages lugging people up and down the gap. We pulled over and decided to walk the rest of the way, and were glad we did. We followed the windy road past the Wishing Bridge, several different small lakes, pastures filled with sheep and horses, and even a little house at the top of the hill - what a view they have.

After we walked the Gap we headed back to our hotel, the Loch Lein House, which overlooked the Loch Lein lake and provided great views of the Macgillicuddy Reeks. Our room was spacious and felt like an oasis after spending the whole day on our feet. However, we quickly showered and made our way to the city center of Killarney. We had pizza for dinner which was a welcomed changed from heavy Irish stews, and finished off our meal with coffee and Bailey's. After dinner we searched for a fun pub and found ourselves drawn into O'Connor's by the live music (also also the name). The pub was mostly locals, and we enjoyed several pints of Guinness and Murphys while listening to a duet sing and play the harp.

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