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Entries about killarney

Alarmed and Dangerous in Ireland

by Ben

overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Our day began somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 am. From outside we heard the sound of some tipsy revelers in the street. Unfortunately, they were staying in the same hotel apartment as us. Within a few moments we heard carousing in the hallway one floor up accompanied by some angry yelling. It eventually died down and we slipped back into our slumber. Several minutes later our bedroom door opened a crack casting a feeble ray of light over our bed. Abby was running a fever and had the chills and a roiling tummy. Even teenagers need some parental doctoring in the middle of the night now and then. After a pain reliever and some rejigging of bedding, Abby was slightly more comfortable.

Muckross House

Muckross House

Sleep, wonderful sleep was soon to return. I rested in the satisfaction that I had set my iPhone alarm for a civilized 8:00 am so there was plenty of time to get some good winks in. No less than ten minutes after helping Abby, the smoke detector in our apartment began emitting a shrill call. Within moments our entire apartment was ablaze in light, and all of us got up to investigate what the hullabaloo was about. There definitely was no fire in our apartment. I pressed the reset button but the banshee call would not let up. I popped my head out the door and realized the fire alarm was sounding through all the smoke detectors in the building. We donned our day clothes along with raincoats and waterproof shoes as it was raining cats and dogs outside. I went out to scour the hallways and get a read on what was happening. I saw no one. I went up and down a few stairs looking for signs of fire or commotion but found nothing. I went downstairs and saw no fire truck or apartment personnel. When I went up the stairwell a third time I saw a family and one guy in shorts and t-shirt who looked more than a few sheets to the wind. It was evident what was really up. Finally a security guard stormed into the building talking up a storm in an Irish accent so thick I couldn't tell if he was swearing a blue streak of giving me information. After examining the alarm panel he ran off to the offending apartment and returned within moments, saying there was no fire but also announcing he wouldn't be able to shut off the alarm. The occupant of the offending apartment had ripped the entire smoke alarm out of the ceiling, thinking it was the sole source of the noise. As we were being told this, another drunk young man teetered down the stairs and dramatically motioned to all of us to stay calm, saying, “There is no fire, there is no fire, there is no fire”. The security guard gave a few choice remarks in his thick Irish drawl which I did not understand but which really required no translation. The mother of the family gave the young man a look that would have turned grapes to raisins in a millisecond. He instantly stopped speaking although his mouth continued to move in a speaking motion for a few more seconds.

Eventually the alarm was turned off and we all returned to our apartments. It was difficult to get back to sleep but eventually slumber did come, only to be cruelly snatched away once more when the alarm went off briefly as the system was reset.

Needless to say, when our alarm did go off at its appointed time there was nothing civilized about it. When we checked out we were greeted by a very apologetic front desk clerk. She had been called in at 3:00 am to help deal with the problem. Apparently the drunk young men wanted to party with an apartment full of girls and tried to force themselves in their suite. Somewhere in the midst of this incident the fire alarm was pulled. The men did not finish their stay in the apartment hotel, and there were still police on scene as we checked out.

Adare church

Adare church

Being a little blurry eyed, we decided to shake the sleepiness by checking out the grounds of nearby Muckross House in Killarney National Park before hitting the road. It is a huge 65 room estate house established in 1843. It is beautifully situated next to Muckross Lake and the wilds of the hills that are now the national park. Its gardens were substantially improved and expanded in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861. In fact the investment was so large that it ultimately led to its owner’s insolvency a number of years later. It changed hands a few times and finally was gifted to the Irish state in 1932. It is such an idyllic spot and would have been a magical place to grow up and live in. Today it is not only a favourite with tourists and jaunting cart drivers (horse and buggies for hire), but also for locals since access to the grounds is free.
After a brief stroll of the grounds (Abby stayed in the car and rested), we felt invigorated enough to hit the road. Our halfway stop was to be Adare. It is often called the prettiest village in Ireland. For a village of 2500 people it has a lot going for it. It is home to a friary, priory, abbey, manor, castle, thatched cottages, and a gorgeous civic park. All of this is augmented with two private schools and a couple of prestigious golf courses. It is a popular locale for weddings and conferences. Needless to say, it was an ideal location for a picnic lunch. Even though the skies were mostly overcast, the mercury was still at a balmy 15 degrees.

Our Place in Kinvarra

Our Place in Kinvarra

Muriel and I wandered the village a little and took in the interiors of the abbey and the priory before heading back to the car, where Hannah and Abby were trying to cope with the results of their largely sleepless night. Another hour and a half in the car got us to our seaport destination of Kinvara. We drove by our vacation rental home to see if the owner was home. He was not, but his more than eclectic ramshackle home was an overwhelming introduction in itself. The place has several doors and entrances in various stages of installation. There is a tree house out back and half a boat in the driveway. An unfinished wood frame building is attached to a whimsical stone out building, the outline of a brick pizza oven set underneath. The yard is littered with piles of wood, sand, stone, brick, and wine bottles. Two Corinthian columns planted at random set the whole display off. This all sits below several unconnected rooflines. Imagine a house and yard created by a hurricane out of repurposed building materials and you start getting the idea. The inside of our suite is a bit better in that it reflects the work of a semi-artistic but unskilled carpenter with attention deficit disorder.

Our view of the inside and introduction to our landlord did not occur until a couple of hours later. We went to a coffee shop in the village to wait and process what we saw. All the online reviews of this accommodation had been heartfelt endorsements of the place and very fond tributes to the extremely quirky owner. It was this that had caught Muriel’s fancy and sparked her desire to take a walk on the wild side. After all, how bad could it be?

After two return visits to the house we finally found another trailer load of reclaimed wood sitting in the already crowded driveway, announcing that the owner was home. He greeted us at the door of the suite saying he just arrived a moment ago and had not yet prepared the suite after last night’s visitors. However, he assured us, “I am on top of it. Just give me 20 minutes”. I am not sure what we found less reassuring: the fact that the place was not ready or the fact that he thought a 20 minute cleanup was sufficient preparation for the next customers. We assured him we would give him longer than a mere 20 minutes and drove off to the beach to wait. When we returned, our peculiar landlord started to count us on the tips of his finger as we emerged from the car. His mouth was somewhat agape when he exclaimed, “There are four of you?” This was not music to our ears. He did assure us he had plenty of bedding and then proceeded to wrestle with an ancient couch that turned into a bed, but had a mechanism that was more like a complicated Transformer toy rather than a simple hide-a-bed.

Let’s just say we quickly noticed that we only got 20 minutes worth of cleaning at best. In addition to this, the entrance to the bathroom is only covered by curtains and our bedroom door is missing the window that constitutes half the door. By now it was getting close to seven in the evening, and there really was not much to be done. There is plenty of firewood and a wood stove. The place has wifi, a dishwasher, a washing machine, and all the other appliances of a regular kitchen. We will see this evening what actually works and decide in the light of day if this walk of the wild side is actually a just a fun detour from the mundane or the onramp to the highway to hell.

Posted by KZFamily 05:49 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland killarney adare kinvarra Comments (7)

Emerald Green and Stormy Grey

By Hannah

overcast 7 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we spent the better part of six hours driving around the Dingle Peninsula, in a quest to explore and enjoy Ireland's countryside. We left Abby at home, as she wasn't feeling well (her immune system is a decidedly bad traveller), and set out to immerse ourselves in the rugged Irish terrain.

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Our first stop was at a beach about halfway between Killarney and Dingle. As soon we emerged from the car, we were sandblasted. Nevertheless, we decided to chance a bit of a walk along the shore. The greyness was absolute. The slate coloured sand met the dirty grey of the ocean which faded up into the storm clouds covering the sky. All this was coated in a heavy layer of fog. It was a different kind of natural beauty. Eventually, we admitted defeat and headed back to the sanctuary of the car.

Dingle is a small harbour town about an hour or so west of Killarney. Mom and Dad giggled immaturely upon discovering its name. This is not the only town whose name sounds a little unusual to our Canadian ears. The villages of Sneem and Inch have the same odd yet slightly cute quality to them. However, the strangest of all Irish village titles has to be Muckanaghederdauhaulia. The longest place name in Ireland, it translates to "pig-shaped hill between two seas". We're happy not to be faced with asking for directions there.

We walked along the streets of Dingle and made our way to the seagull-ridden harbour. Most of the birds seemed to be having a great time riding the violent gusts of wind. The water and sky were still cloudy and grey, and it didn't look like the weather was going to shift anytime soon. Despite the dreary atmosphere, Dingle appeared to be a rather quaint and charming seaside town. My impression was only slightly altered when I nearly stepped into a pile of fish innards laying on the dock.

We had a picnic lunch in the warmth and safety of the car. The remainder of our day was a blur of wind, waves, cliffs, pastures, and sheep. We saw hundreds of sheep. Once in awhile we'd spot cattle or horses, but these sightings were far less frequent. Nearly all of the sheep we set eyes on had been partially coated in various colours of paint. Pink and blue seemed to be the favourites. We had one particularly close encounter with a ewe and a lamb who were taking a stroll along the side of the road. They trotted off rather quickly when we stopped to take pictures, though.

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

The pastures stretched up over the rolling hills like one enormous patchwork quilt. Decorating each patch were scatterings of black and white sheep and their lambs. Mom and Dad kept exclaiming how breathtakingly beautiful the landscape was and how if it was sunny it would be too amazing to behold. Every minute or so I'd hear a whispered "wow" or "incredible" from the front seats. Ireland really lives up to the moniker Emerald Isle. It was like we were driving through a never-ending sea of green.

Some of the twisting, narrow roads we drove took us along cliffs, where we saw massive, churning waves hurtling into their sides. We stopped again and again to take pictures, ignoring the gusts of wind tearing at our hair and clothes. It was difficult keeping the camera straight whilst trying not to get knocked over by the breeze.

When we returned, we found Abby curled up on the couch, looking a little worse for wear. She had progressed from bad to worse during the six or so hours we'd been out. Mom and Dad trooped off to bed for a nap, and she soon followed suit. I made chicken noodle soup for dinner, which was hearty and perfect after the rainy, blustery day the three of us had. Abby, on the other hand, had ten whole noodles and called it a meal.

Ireland is gorgeous. Fantastically so. I can't wait to see what we'll encounter as we head northeast to Kinvara tomorrow.

Posted by KZFamily 11:28 Archived in Ireland Tagged sheep ireland dingle killarney Comments (2)

It's raining, it's pouring...

by Ben

rain 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Raining in Killarney

Raining in Killarney

It’s raining, it’s pouring and the whole family couldn’t get up in the morning.

So what did we do on such a rainy day? We decided to live like normal folk. After we slept in, we did laundry, income tax (we finally got around to it), hair colouring (it wasn’t me), grocery shopping, dishes, cooking (Abby) and school work (Hannah). The key difference between our Saturday and those of many people we know, is that we did all these household chores in Ireland. For some reason that just makes these task seem a little less mundane. We also feel pretty good that we are only paying 59 Euros a night for a fully decked out six year old apartment complete with washing machine. Our only real “hardship” is that a problem has arisen with how hot water supply today. Hopefully this won't mean cold showers in the morning. Maybe that is one of the reasons for the cheap rent--hopefully not.

Tonight, Abby is connecting with her friend Shaelyn over Skype in order to wish her a happy birthday and to check on our cat Bella. A few more Skype calls may follow. Later on we will read and play a few games. We will venture out tomorrow, rain or shine. As the saying goes in Ireland, there is no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing.

Posted by KZFamily 12:06 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland killarney Comments (8)

The Two Cormacs

BY ABBY

rain 10 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we left Inistioge for Killarney, which was a 3.5 hour drive. On the way we stopped at a town called Cashel to visit Saint Patrick's Rock (the Rock of Cashel), which happens to have been visited by Queen Elizabeth (this is what excited me most about going there). When we did get there however, the weather was very much against us. It was raining much more than cats and dogs... elephants and whales more like it. But my parents braved through the storm to find some more information on the place, and whether the majority of it was covered or not. When they came back to the car the rain had almost stopped, and in a matter of minutes after that, the sun had come out and the rain seemed to be finally over.

It is said that Saint Patrick's Rock is where Saint Patrick banished Satan from a cave, as well as being the site where Saint Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity. Cormac's Chapel is also by the castle, and it is the chapel of King Cormac Mac Carthaigh. Hannah and I just made jokes about how it's actually Cormac McLaggan's chapel, who is secretly a saint, not an annoying, self-centered Quidditch player

.Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Learn more about Cormac's Chapel by clicking here.
Learn more about Cormac McLaggan by clicking here.

We watched an audio visual presentation (a video for those of you who aren't aware), which was actually pretty interesting and informative, and even if it looked like it hadn't been updated since the camera was invented, we didn't mind. We opted out of the guided tour, as most of the castle was under restoration, so there wouldn't be much for the guide to actually show us. We wandered around the outside mostly, looking at the view and the small cemetery out back. Inside they had a small museum with replicas of old artifacts, as well as a 'shrine' to Queen Elizabeth's visit, complete with pictures and the book in which she and Philip signed their names. The pen they used is also kept in the glass box along with the signatures.

After the castle we stopped for soup at a restaurant nearby. The soup was passable, but I have definitely seen better bread. Soon we were back on our way though, and I was back to my nap.

Rock of Cashel countryside ruin

Rock of Cashel countryside ruin

Our new place is very comfortable, complete with two bathrooms, a TV and Wi-Fi (hallelujah!). My plan for tonight is to try to persuade the rest of my family to watch as many West Wings as possible, but I think I may only receive two.... oh, the hardships I have to endure.

Click here to learn more about Cashel.
Click here to learn more about Saint Patrick's Rock/Rock of Chashel.

Posted by KZFamily 12:29 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland castle killarney cashel saint_patrick's_rock saint_patrick cormac's_chapel cormac_mclaggan Comments (2)

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