gaps, ghosts and gremlins: my week in killarney

As I mentioned in my previous post, due to massive renovations (and the mum factor) the boyfriend and I had to flee our home for a couple of weeks to avoid being crushed by walls and/or tiles in our sleep. The lack of a functioning toilet (or, in the boyfriend’s case, a TV with live sports) just really isn’t conducive to a happy living environment.

So on that note we booked an impromptu trip down to the south west part of Ireland, namely to Killarney – the number one tourist destination according to TripAdvisor (because TripAdvisor could never be wrong) and a large amount of American tourists. Killarney is much more in line with the preconceived view of Ireland than Dublin is, that’s for sure.

Since Paul has never been to Killarney either we decided to do it proper tourist style – including a stint on the bright green Paddy Wagon bus, which was more awkward for Paul, being from “the big smoke” aka Dublin, than myself since the Aussie accent was considered excuse enough.

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On the topic of accents, the Kerry (that’s the county – or state for us Australians – in which Killarney is located) accent is something to behold. During almost every encounter I left the talking to Paul and resorted to the standard awkward laugh-cough-smile combo and hoped for the best. In fact, in the taxi to our hotel I only realised that our driver wasn’t speaking Gaelic when I identified an English word in the mix. My Irish heritage was of absolutely no use on this trip. For those who haven’t heard the accent before, here for your viewing pleasure is a video guide to the varying accents of Ireland. Pay particular attention to Kerry and their neighbour Cork (which is where our tour guide was from, boy).

Beyond my communication issues, I loved Killarney. While it was touristy, there was a beautiful and quaint air about the town which I absolutely loved – I really do mean quaint… since the primary mode of transport is a horse drawn carriage. Fresh clean air, no scary ‘nackers’ (aka hobos, bogans, or generally alarming toothless individuals who like to yell at you for no apparent reason), and an opportunity to see another part of my new home. What more could anyone ask for?

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We did all the touristy things, like looking at castles, watching Irish dancing, and visiting haunted abbeys – more on that shortly – and sampling the local bar scene. But among that there was one absolute highlight in the Gap of Dunloe. Following a trail along a windy path through the mountains, down into valleys and beyond – it was stunning. Actually it felt like I was in Lord of the Rings waiting for Legolas to come skipping along beside me with his bow and arrow and perfectly groomed hair fluttering in the breeze. While there weren’t any elves, we did have the most wonderful guide, Mac, who led us safely through the pass. While he wasn’t much for chit chat, his mane was beautifully maintained.

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Meet Mac, my friendly guide through the mountains.

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One of our other tours was the Ring of Kerry, which is probably one of the most famous sights in Ireland. The tour was great and the views were incredible. The only irksome aspect was an incredibly annoying Dutch woman travelling on her own (you know the type) who insisted on regaling the bus driver/tour guide with stories of her own experiences, naturally confusing his smiles and nods as a sign of his extreme interest rather than the fact that he was being paid to talk to her. I, however, was not being paid to listen to her wax lyrical about how she was in a Christian girls’ choir in Holland, and loves to paint – is apparently just so talented – and just couldn’t believe that contraception was once illegal in Ireland. We were on a tour bus… not really the time to argue about condoms and abortion. 11751821_10153086521254220_7247315494904053999_n11751440_10153086521419220_7473598330919754044_n

We then took a motorised boat across the lakes and up to Ross Castle. The trip in all took about an hour and half, and scenery was beautiful – despite the lack of feeling in my toes from potential hypothermia. The only downside to this was that I was once more exposed to annoying tourists. This time from Alaska, “the most beautiful place on the planet”. I’m sure it’s exquisite, but I’d probably take the opinion more seriously from someone who hadn’t just stepped out of said place for the first time in her life. The mother/daughter act were very enthusiastic, and I suppose given it was their first holiday, I can’t blame them too much. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have stuck out so much if not for the fact that the daughter, while describing her beloved homeland, kept saying things like “the taste of first snow on your tongue” and “the fierce and beautiful storm rose up”. We were on a speedboat, not on stage at a school poetry recital.

Naturally this didn’t annoy Paul too much since he seemed to enjoy how much they were irritating me, given my generally low tolerance for other people’s foibles.

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The highlight of the trip though was the Ghost Tour. I’ve done a few of these before – including one in Dublin (during which my friend and I nearly had coronaries due to a suspiciously ghost-like face appearing in one of her photos) – but this was far better. Not only does the scenery and history of the locations lend a greater air of creepiness come nightfall, but the stories and local legends of the faeries (spirits in this context, rather than cousins of Tinkerbell) were pretty cool too. The best spot was Muckross Abbey, located down a long path surrounded by trees, and set next to a graveyard (naturally). I managed to record orbs – in fact I recall discussing them with the tour guide and all – though strangely when we left the abbey most of my photos were completely blacked out. Suffice to I was a bit scared to go to the bathroom on my own that night. Given the mysterious malfunction on my camera, you’ll have to imagine the below photo at night time to get a proper impression.

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My ghost impression… which also resembles a rather awkward duck face.

All in all it was a great trip, though we didn’t meet any leprechauns. In fact, it was about as great as an impromptu getaway can be. Absolutely perfect. Except for the time when I accidentally locked myself in the hotel bar toilet after failing to notice the neon ‘out of order’ sign, followed by numerous failed attempts to get the five year old girl standing outside to open the door for me. Oh, and there was also that last minute bout of food poisoning.

On the last day I morphed into a strange hybrid of Linda Blair from The Exorcist and the ugly gremlins (from the movie of the same name) after they get exposed to water. Not pretty. Although being forced to stay in bed and watch back to back episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show (Who Stole the Baby’s Bracelet? Did Your Husband Cheat on You with Your Brother’s Mother’s Sister’s Neighbour?) did remind me that my life could be a whole lot worse.

Now we’re back in Dublin, house and puppy sitting for my cousin. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.

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