I just posted Part 2 on the Northern Ireland Forum if anyone is interested in reading.
So, on Monday morning we departed Belfast on the 8:00 train to Dublin. We then took a taxi to Hueston Train Station and continued on to Killarney. Super easy to retrieve tickets booked online using the machines in the station.
I had posted a question on whether we could depart the train in Killarney since we originally booked to Farranfore. Thanks to those who answered my post. It was just as simple as getting off the train one stop early. We were glad to have booked online because this train was overcrowded. Our seats were reserved for us, while some families didn’t get to sit together due to the limited seating.
The train travel was relaxing, and economical when factoring in the cost of driving from Belfast to Killarney. We were able to enjoy the beautiful rural scenes and we passed the time playing cards.
The train ride proved to be a good place to interact with the friendly Irish citizens. We met a man named Joe who was heading to Tralee with his family. He took the time to teach my son a card trick that he is now showing off to everyone. We also met Ann who was from Kenmare, where we would be self-catering. She gave us good information about the town of Kenmare and even offered us to drive us from the Killarney station in her car. We declined, based on the amount of luggage we were toting, but appreciated her kind offer.
When we got off the train in Killarney around 14:15, we smelled the familiar rural farm smells that we’re used to in Northern Ohio. We jokingly said that the name Killarney must be Gaelic for, ‘smells like cows.’
We easily located the bus station just around the corner and caught the last bus of the day into Kenmare.
Kenmare was our favorite town. We loved it. We feel ‘homesick’ for Kenmare now that we’re gone. There were so many advantages to self-catering, this was our first time to try it and would highly recommend it. We had the nicest owner, Kathleen. She worked nearby at a local business, so she was always available if we needed anything. Our cottage was located on Market Street, just around the corner from the downtown area. It was a perfect location and we could easily walk anywhere in town in minutes.
I remember waking each morning and thinking to myself, I’m in Ireland! We usually cooked our own breakfast, taking advantage of the Kenmare market for fresh eggs, sausages, baked goods, cheeses and fresh fruits.
We then took day trips to surrounding areas of interest, using busses and cabs for transportation. Those trips included Kissane Sheep Farm(so neat to see the dogs at work) and Ladies View lookout, a Deros tour of the beautiful Gap of Dunloe, Killarney Park, Muckross House and Farm, and Torc Waterfall. We enjoyed all of these activities and especially liked the views from the N17 from Kenmare to Killarney.
One note about the Gap of Dunloe Tour. We opted to hire a Jaunting Car to traverse the gap. We had ridden a jaunting car in Killarney and later on the Aran Island. The driver at the gap, Paul didn’t show his horse Lucy much respect. He called her a b____, used his switch more than necessary and seemed to be in a huge hurry to race as quickly as possible to the other side so that he could secure a return group. We called this the ‘Chariots of Fire’ tour, since it felt like we were in some kind of race. All this rushing and the hostility toward poor Lucy did take away from our overall enjoyment of the day. Also, as expected, he wanted the full fare of 80 euro for our group of 3. This was the least enjoyable, and most expensive of the 3 horse and cart rides, but the Gap was fabulous, and we also enjoyed the boat portion very much. We loved how many of the boat operators had their dogs on board. The dogs would ride up at the front of the boats, catching the wind. Then when the boats docked, off came the dogs to mingle with the tourist and get all kinds of attention. One call from their owners and back they went onto the boats. The 10 year old loves animals, and by the end of the week, I think he had introduced himself to every dog in Kenmare and was calling them by name . We remarked that even the dogs are friendlier in Ireland!
We used local cabbie, Declan Finnegan who answered all my pre-trip e-mails prompty. We enjoyed his easy conversation, entertaining storytelling and sense of humor. I would definitely recommend his service, Kenmare Coach and Cab for anyone in the area. One regret was that there were not enough people signed up for the Beara tour, so we weren’t able to experience Beara this trip. Declan said that he has had to cancel out due to low numbers more this year than last, so I hope his business picks up.
While in Killarney we had very good meals at both Murphy’s Bar, which was recommended by one of our cab drivers and also Tattler Jack’s, a sports bar that was gearing up for the big game, the Sunday Gaelic football match between County Kerry and County Cork. The town was hosting that event as well as the Saturday bicycle race around the Ring of Kerry, so things were buzzing in Killarney. We were so happy we chose Kenmare as our home base, though. It just appeared to be more picturesque and elegant while Killarney was fun but somewhat cheesy.
The attendant in the Killarney bus station got to know us pretty well by the end of the week. A return trip Kenmare to Killarney costs around 35 euro for family rate. We once returned by cab since we needed to get back later than the 15:00 bus, and that cost 50 euro. I felt that we were more than compensated for the added costs of travelling back and forth by the lower cost of self-catering in Kenmare compared to Killarney. Our two bedroom, two bath rental was just 250 euro for 5 days, and much more spacious and enjoyable than a B&B or hotel.
One afternoon we walked down to the pier for the Seafari Boat Tour to see the seals. My ten year old absolutely loved this. My older son and I didn’t enjoy it as much partly because the 2-3 hour tour was more like a 4-5 hour event. Oldest son kept singing the intro music to Gilligan’s Island,”…a 3 hour tour…”
We purchased a bundle of peat and relaxed in front of a peat fire each evening. The weather was just what we expected, a little drizzle, some sun and clouds and cool in the evenings, so the fire was just right.
We had fun sampling the offerings at the local pubs. Our favorites included O’Donnobhain’s, Foley’s and P.F. McCarthy’s. We didn’t enjoy the Horseshoe as much. Food was fine, just a more subdued atmosphere and the restaurant was too hot when we visited. We also had good seafood chowder and Irish Coffee at The Wander Inn while we enjoyed some live music ,and tasty fish and chips at Wharton’s, where we tried all three types of fish and liked the cod the best. We can honestly say that we were pleasantly surprised by how consisitently delicious the food was. While more costly than we’re used to in the States, there was more emphasis placed on fresh, organic and locally sourced food. The term used by the Irish ‘good value’ described almost all of our meals accurately, with most pub meals for the three of us costing around 50 euro, including a few rounds of pints, and an occasional sticky toffee pudding (good stuff!).
To sum it up, staying in Kenmare was so much nicer thqn I had even imagined, and I knew it was going to be nice thanks to TA! If you’re looking for a town to self-cater in, three enthusiastic thumbs up for Kenmare.