Travel Journal April 16, 1999
Killarney and Dingle.


Being in Killarney, it made sense to have a look at the fabled Killarney National Park. After driving to the park entrance, I was immediately set upon by a gentleman who wanted to sell me on the idea of hiring one of his horse-drawn jaunting carts. I agreed, mainly because this would be an easy way to see the interesting sights of the park in a fairly short time, and also because the idea of riding in a cart was a novelty.

This is Danny and Queenie. I leave you to decide which is which.

Entering the park.

More fantastic Irish scenery.

The park was originally built by a rich fellow as a present for his daughter. When the daughter died, he donated the park to the state. Muckross House was the main house.

The arboretum in back of the house drew my interest more than the house itself. I've seen more Victorian mansions that I ever want to. (Also, they charge you to get inside.)

More park scenery:

One of the stops on the tour was the waterfall. Here's a shot on the walk up towards it.

And here's the waterfall itself. While it's certainly not the biggest waterfall I've ever seen (that one was in Australia), it's certainly a charming one and worth seeing. Here also is a picture of myself, taken by a friendly passer-by.

After the park, I decided to head towards Dingle, mainly to see if I could get a glipse of the famous dolphin.

A view of the Ring of Kerry from the Dingle Peninsula.

The roads on the Dingle Peninsula are much better than on the Ring of Kerry.

Half way along the peninsula towards Dingle is Inch beach (which is actually six miles long). This is the widest beach I've ever seen, at least 300 meters from the sea to where the sand stops. (I passed by here on the way back when the tide was in, and it looked like a normal beach.)

The patterns in the sand are fantastic! One could almost imagine oneself on dragonback, or riding atop a sandworm from Dune:

I came across an English couple building a sand castle, so I stopped and helped them out for a while. Using the boards as moulds was my idea.

More of the spectacular scenery.

The town of Dingle, a compact and friendly little place.

Many places in Ireland you will find "craft villages", places where you can watch various craft items being made, and Dingle is no exception. The only craftsman that was there at the time I checked was the potter, who was using an electric hair dryer to quickly dry the glaze on some plates. ("Craft Village" does not mean "Traditional Craft Village" I guess.)

Dingle is the home of OceanWorld, an oceanographic center and aquarium.

In the "touch tank" you can touch rays, flatfish, and other sea creatures. They felt like, well, fish.

The largest tank has some impressive rays and sharks, but the light level was too dim to take really good pictures.

More exhibits:

The sign said "Dolphin Boat Tours, £6. No charge if dolphin not seen." Who could pass up a guarantee like that.

Some background about Fungie the dolphin: The name "Fungie" was actually the nickname of a local fisherman; giving that name to the dolphin was kind of a joke, done on the spur of the moment in response to a tourist's question.

Fungie doesn't accept handouts of fish or other food from the fisherman. He's not interested in dead food. Why he stays in the harbor is anyone's guess, perhaps he likes playing with the silly humans.

Fungie is a bit careless around propellers, he's been scarred many times by propeller cuts but it doesn't seem to phase him. He's been known to use his nose to turn a propeller when the engine was off.

But first, before we get to Fungie, some shots of the coastline from the boat. If you look carefully, you'll see quite a few caves in the cliffs. If you look ever more carefully (with your eye of imagination) you'll see the bowsprit of a pirate ship hidden between the rocks, and lairs stuffed with stolen treasure.

We saw Fungie not just once or twice but several dozen times. A few times he swam along with the boat, jumping in and out of the water. I certainly got my money's worth.

After Fungie, I drove back along the penisula and headed for Rathkeale and Castle Matrix. Scott MacMillan had mentioned that I should spend a day or two there.

Liz O'Driscoll, who runs the place (her husband, the late Sean O'Driscoll, died a few years back) was in the middle of hosting a wedding reception. She hadn't realized I had been expecting to stay that night, but she said that I could stay in a small spare room she had if I could help carry the mattress down the spiral staircase (it had been peed on by the cat) and carry up a replacement. Unfortunately, the replacement didn't fit in the anqtique bed frame, so I slept on the mattress on the floor.

More on Castle Matrix tomorrow...