Ring of Kerry

We drove the Ring of Kerry this day, starting and ending in Killarney,
stopping at various points along the way, taking in scenes, sights, and lunch.

Our superb bus driver, Mark, navigated his way on the narrow, winding road,
and managed to avoid all the crazy tourists out there in their own vehicles.

We stopped to view a demonstration of sheep herding dogs (Border Collies) at work.
These small dogs are amazing and the breed is considered the world's smartest.

There are various breeds of sheep in Ireland, with this one being the most unusual we saw that day.

Mary poses with a "pile o' peat" at our visit to the Kerry Bog Village and museum. This mock
village shows what life was like in the early 19th century in and around a peat bog. Peat is
an interesting substance, consisting of Sphagnum moss along with the debris from dead plantlife
including roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, and branches and trunks from trees such as Scots pine,
oak, birch, and yews. In Ireland, two factors contribute to the existence of peatlands: high
rainfall and poor drainage. It's still amazing to me that you can take a saw, cut out of the
ground, chunks of what looks like dirt, and burn it as fuel for heating and cooking stoves!

Our world's-best guide, Gerry O'Brien, talks to us about the details of peat and its value to the Irish economy.

This view of the mock village shows the small thatched-roof huts
used in the day, and the peat pile outside used for fuel.

The following two pix show the Kerry Bog Pony. Some believe the horse originated in Ireland, others
think it was imported from Spain in the 17th century. This bog pony was used to haul peat from the
fields to the roadside, being the right size to carry the weight without getting "bogged" down (!)
in the soggy fields. The 19th century potato famine and the Napoleonic Wars reduced the number of
these ponies in Ireland (the British used them for their armies) to the point of near extinction.
20th century conservation efforts have saved the pony as a distinct breed and it is now Ireland's
National Heritage Pony. It is estimated that their numbers have grown to about 400 today.

The small size of the pony can be clearly seen in this picture when compared to a person.

At the mock bog farm, there happened to be an establishment offering
food and drink, so we indulged in their specialty, Irish Coffees.

They had an assembly line operation going here, similar to the Buena Vista in San Francisco.

A tourist sneaks behind the bar and takes over (for about 30 seconds) at the Red Fox Inn.

The next two pix show the beautiful Irish countryside along the drive known as the
Ring of Kerry. A little more sun would have been better but at least it wasn't raining!

In the house in this picture, the occupants have mastered the art of "getting away from it all"!

This is the "Ladies View" of the Killarney Valley, showing the Upper Lake of the three Lakes of
Killarney. It is named after Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting when they visited the area in 1861.

Our next stop is the famous Blarney Castle - please join us!

Click to view Blarney Castle.

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