Alright so picking up where I left off on the last post… We had just finished watching the beautiful sunrise and were ready to figure out where the next step was to be. We decided to make our way back to Cork and head to a local Starbucks that just opened. We wanted to go here because 1) I had a gift card from the states I could use 2) Melanie being a partner (employee) in the states we thought we might get a discount, and 3) a reliable wifi connection. We drove about 20 minutes to Cork and got situated. When we went into the Starbucks we struck up a conversation with the guy working the counter and let him know that Melanie worked at one of the busiest locations in Virginia and he in return informed us that we were at the 7th busiest location in all of Ireland. Fortunately they were not overly crowded and even more fortunately, this super pleasant employee offered us free coffee, which was definitely unexpected (so we left him a nice tip). While drinking our coffee we hopped on to multiple accommodation sights i.e. Hostelworld, AirBnb, and finally Ireland B&B. We searched for a number of places trying to find the best deal for a place to stay near in Country Kerry. I wanted to stay in Kerry because I knew that was where the O’Shea side of my family came from, little did I know that is also where the O’Sullivan side of my family also emanated. We found a fairly pricey but still affordable Bed & Breakfast in Cahersiveen. I was drawn to this place because the name of the accommodation was O’Sheas B&B… how could I resist! From here we planned our route with the intention of stopping by a place called Gougane Barra (a place our previous host said was a must see) as well as driving a good portion of the Ring of Kerry. After getting the directions into our phones we took off!
The Drive to Gougane Barra was only about an hour away and hardly out-of-the-way from our main destination. We made it there in one piece and in good time. Thankfully I was pretty well-adjusted to driving here by this time because the route there and pretty much the rest of the Ring Kerry was about as treacherous as driving gets in Ireland. Upon our arrival at Gougane Barra we quickly saw why Valerie (our previous host) suggested it. To say the words majestic or beautiful simply does this place no justice! The setting of this magical location was a small church and several shrines set on a lake surrounded by mountains. When we got out of our car Melanie and I explored the area separately, with each of us finding peace and serenity like we had never experienced. It was very apparent to me that God thrived here, I have never quite felt so moved and swept away by emotion as I did here. We each took our time to express our gratitude for this wonderous spectacle through prayer and silence. During this time it was just us, with no others around, which only magnified the sensation of bewilderment and awe. Just as we were leaving a tour bus filled with tourist arrived and filled the place. We couldn’t have timed our arrival better, I’m pretty sure the big man upstairs wanted us to find peace and tranquility here and granted solidarity. From the church and lake area we decided it would be absolutely worth the 5 euro to drive and hike the mountain side that surrounded it.
We began driving slowly up the mountain, parking at various points to hike and explore. There were numerous trails, waterfalls, and overlooks and we took advantage of each one. We drove as high as the car path would allow and then set out on foot. We hiked for a good 30-45 minutes reaching the highest point we could safely climb (after a point it became very steep and rocky and neither of us felt like testing our luck much further). From this highest reachable point there was nothing/no one around but nature (and lots of sheep). We spent a good 20 minutes up there just breathing in the views and enjoying each others company. Again, words could never do justice to how mesmerizing this place was and how close to God we felt. Even as I write this (several weeks in the future) this was easily the best experience of the trip so far and I honestly don’t know if anything in my life could ever top it. After hiking back down to our vehicle, we had worked up quite an appetite. So we ate some sandwiches that we had picked up from our Starbucks trip that morning and went on our way, heading onwards to the Ring of Kerry.
From Gougane Barra to our B&B it was about another hour or so drive but we made it take about 3 with all the stops and sightseeing. Driving through the Ring of Kerry was again a very sphincter-tightening drive but had many pull offs so that travelers could take pictures and admire the sights. Each pull off seemed more glorious than the last however one stands out in my memory as the most entrancing (I’ll post separately from the slide show). This image depicted nearly everything that the Ring had to offer. It showed a massive body of water with islands and peninsulas jutting out, as well as the surrounding massive mountains. In addition, the weather was nothing short of perfect and offered some amazing lighting for the photography. In making our way to Cahersiveen we had to drive around these mountains and received an equal dose of beauty overlooking the Dingle Bay. By this time it was a little overcast and rainy and so the photos don’t quite reveal the imagery as well as the human eye, but yet again these were some awe-inspiring views.
We finally arrived at O’Shea’s Bed & Breakfast around 5pm and were pretty exhausted. After introductions our host Linda O’Shea offered about a 10 minute spiel on all the events and things to do in town (including a local festival going on that night as well as visiting a place where the newest star wars movie used in filming). Unfortunately we were only able to afford the place for a single night and we were so wiped from the lack of sleep the night before, as well as all the sight-seeing we had accomplished throughout the day, that we simply didn’t have the energy to do more. We got situated in our room and showered up in a nice high pressured, hot shower (the little things you learn to appreciate after not having access to for a couple of days) and got cozy. We were also pretty hungry for a legit meal and Linda had suggested a great pizza place down the road, which we were all for! We stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some wine and then made our way to the pizza place. The pizza shop was one of the coolest restaurant/bars we had ever seen. The owners transformed an old oratory (church) into a very hip pizza and wine bar. Being a former church we thought it was a little ironic ordering a pizza called “El Diablo” as our pizza for take out, however it was a the best looking pizza on the menu with spicy sausage, jalapenos, and bacon… how could we resist. We returned to our room with the pizza and wine and filled our empty stomachs to the brim… it was absolutley delicious! After eating and drinking the bottle of wine we climbed into our cozy bed and passed out watching a movie.
All in all this was probably one of the best, if not the best, days of the trip thus far (again speaking from today 9/7). All of the experience so far will be memorable but today’s will be the ones that will last a lifetime. If you made here thanks for reading this lengthy post!!