March 15th 2012

By Steph Crabb
After a very pleasant train journey from Dublin City Centre I arrived at Killarney town for the first leg of my walking vacation. Killarney is a very lively and well kept town with a real buzz in the air.   Our first day started with Guides Alan and Geraldine taking us to the entrance of ‘Killarney Park’ a serene and beautiful place, steeped in history with a Franciscan Abbey, Lochs (lakes) and a Historic Home Muckross House once visited by Queen Victoria and her family.
With the bright green fields, ancient yew forests, oak trees and moss-covered stone throughout the trail I then understood where the phrase ‘The Emerald Isle’ came from.  By mid morning Southern Ireland had me hooked.
 After a pleasant lunch at Victoria’s Tea Rooms we took a boat ride across the lake with John the boatman who gave us a lesson in local birdlife.  Pony & traps (jaunting cars driven by Jarvies) are common-place and the southern accent very relaxing to listen to.  Our afternoon walk proved challenging but unmissable; blessed with extremely good weather the views, light and landscape were everything I’d hoped for and more.  A fellow walker and I (a lovely single lady from New York) stopped on several occasions during the afternoon,  to silently take in our beautiful surroundings . We both confided later that the woodland areas were so mesmerising that if a fairy or leprechaun had made them-selves known it would not have been a surprise.
Kenmare is a real high light, a very small traditional market town where you can buy the most exquisite handmade woollens and lace. There is also a very good yet tiny book store located opposite our Hotel.  During the evening we dined on traditional Irish fare, enjoyed folk dancing to the fiddle and for those of us who were still up, went to the local spit-and-sawdust Inn for more live ceili music and Guinness!
During our week Alan and Geraldine taught us much of the local history, visiting ancient stone circles and forts and examining Celtic writings along the trail. We also visit Daniel O’Connell’s (The famous Liberator) summer house at Derrynane bay, walk part of the Dingle Peninsula and enjoy Dingle Beach (made famous by the film ‘Ryans Daughter’ starring John Mills, Sara Miles & Robert Mitchum)  We  enjoyed many other visits and highlights along the way - especially the local hospitality and food.  Despite the daily walking, an expanding waistline sadly signalled the delicious soda bread and me be parted ; the seafood  chowder and local baked mussels are also a must.
Our final destination - 2 nights at Carrig Lake is so enchanting, it’ll be hard to tear yourself away but our morning walk taking in the last of the scenic lakes and heather moorland followed by an afternoon at an Irish sheep and turf farm is not to be missed.   I truly loved Southern Ireland and walking ‘The Ring of Kerry’. There is a definite kind of magic there and I hope you’ll join us so we can share it with you….

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