Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Ireland - Installment V

Saturday evening, September 14, in Kenmare was the evening of the big All Ireland Senior Football Championship 2019 - Kerry vs Dublin that we had been hearing so much about all along our trip so far. Due to all of the flags, bunting and banners in Kerry's colors, green and orange, that we had been seeing everywhere as we drove the highways and byways, we knew that we were in Kerry territory. Rich and I were also careful to pick a pub for dinner where we were pretty sure the game would be on all of the TVs. PF McCarthy's  was our choice based solely upon it's appearance and it was a great one.

The Guinness stew was to die for and the Fish and Chips that Rich picked was one of the best of our trip. But the best part of the evening was the conversation we had with the two young German women at the table next to us. Neither they nor we knew the first thing about the game going on which made the talk at our tables even funnier. One of the young ladies was furiously trying to Google the rules each time a referee held up a different colored penalty card. In the end all four of us chose to just cheer along with the crowd when Kerry did something positive, or groan when they committed a mistake. I did notice though, that the actual Irish fans in the pub were much better mannered when Kerry received a bad call than the Ohio State fans here at home when our team was in a similar situation! Hmmm? Ultimately Kerry lost and everyone in the pub when on drinking congenially.

Sunday morning, after a lovely breakfast in the dining room of Shelburn Lodge where I had the delicious porridge with whisky sauce, we decided to  stroll around town a bit to check out the shops.  I didn't really expect for any of them to be open on Sunday but since Kenmare is such a tourist town there were a few open. Of course I found a woolen shop with yarn in it and couldn't resist another purchase.

We also noticed a long line outside a lovely French bakery so of course we had to stop for mid-morning coffee and a pastry. We were not disappointed as we sat at a table on the sidewalk and watched the crowds.

After our delicious break we decided to go in search of the Kenmare stone circle that we had seen on an episode of Rick Steves PBS travel show. Tucked away in a grassy, out of the way corner of Kenmare, we found an actual stone circle. This was another one of my favorite places to see in Ireland.  I'm beginning to think that in another life I may have been an ancient Celt, or maybe a Druid Goddess. Who knows?

Rich dared to lay a hand on the center stone (sacrificial altar?) Luckily he didn't disappear into another time and place and we were able to continue on our trip the next day.

Later that same day we drove aimlessly around the country roads surrounding Kenmare. One of our discoveries was a small gourmet chocolate shop, Lorge Chocolatier. With a full showcase of chocolates to choose from we made a modest purchase of a variety of chocolates. They didn't even make it out of Kenmare as we began tasting after dinner and, well, one thing led to another! I suggest you check out the link that I provided so you can enjoy a feast for the eyes if not the palate. Lorge also offers classes in chocolate making and if I lived nearby I would certainly love to make myself sick in one of those classes!

That evening we had our supper in a small pizza shop in town and decided to turn in early because we had quite a few sites to see on our way to Kinsale, our next stop.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Ireland - Installment IV

We spent September 14th and 15th in Kenmare in County Kerry where we would later watch the "Big Match" between Kerry and Dublin in the Irish Football playoff on Saturday night. More on that later. The drive to Kenmare along the narrow, twisty roads was absolutely lovely. Most of the roads were lined with hedges of fuschia shrubs. These plants that we buy in hanging baskets in the spring to grace our porches and patios, grow wild and woody in Ireland's temperate climate. So to label the autumn colorful in Ireland means an entirely different thing than the earthy colors of fall at home.

We drove along the picturesque coastal roads for a little way before heading inland towards Kenmare and the vistas did not disappoint. The famous Ring of Kerry drive is so rife with breathtaking views that I have to recheck my iphone camera on each one to be sure just where I snapped the pictures!

We passed through the small town of Killorglin at about coffee break time and discovered a small coffee shop in the center of town where we decided to pause. Rich wanted to explore the map, (Yes, he's still a paper map kind of person!) and to check out the sites between Killorglin and Kenmare in case there might be something we didn't want to miss. Bob's Coffee Shop is just a little hole-in-the-wall kind of local shop that we love to patronize over larger chain shops. I had my first authentic, Irish scone there with an excellent cup of latte. Rich had a yummy, jam filled pastry with his coffee. I must say the coffees were excellent and the scone, served with jam and "clotted cream" was to die for!

(I set this post aside for a bit and when I came back to it a week later I had discovered that Bob's, which I followed on Facebook, will be closing down. It makes me sad when any small business that had an excellent product and atmosphere closes.)

From here we took the N70 down the coast, passing through towns with such lilting names as Cahershiveen, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee, and Caherdaniel, stopping along the way to snap pictures of the picturesque Wild Atlantic Way. Valentia Island just off the coast was just one of the breathtaking views of the North Atlantic.

There were sunny yellow flowers nestled among the coastal rocks in places where it didn't seem that anything should be growing.

By late afternoon we arrived in Kenmare. Rich drove around a bit before we checked in to our B&B, something he does just to get an idea of the layout of the town. It gives us an idea of where to park if we drive or if we even need to drive into the business area. Mostly we try to get accommodations that are centrally located so we can walk everywhere. We did stop at Holy Cross Catholic Church, an old stone church that is at a pivotal point in the town. Holy Cross has a simplicity that makes it serenely beautiful and a perfect place to gather one's wits at the end of a day of traveling.

Holy Cross Catholic Church, Kenmare, Ireland

From here we drove to our B&B, The Shelburn Lodge to check in and rest up a bit before supper. Shelburn Lodge was built in the mid-18th Century and was the home of William Petty Fitzmaurice, Lord Shelburn. He loved this area so much that after building his home he commissioned the building of Kenmare town which was completed in 1775. After the American Revolution he became friendly to some of our founding fathers and Adams even named a town in Pennsylvania after him. Shelburn, PA (not Fitzmaurice!).

Shelburn Lodge

This was one of my favorite places to stay. Liz and Moira, the two lovely ladies who so smoothly ran the inn, greeted us warmly. The room was spacious and so lovely, with a very posh and cushy bed and a huge bathroom. The breakfast was delicious and the porridge with whiskey sauce has hooked me on   McCann's Irish steel cut oatmeal to this day. And I can get it at my local Kroger store!

This is why I so loved this place and will definitely book a stay if (when) I go back:

Entrance hall of Shelburn Lodge

Our room with a deep window ledge and a view of the lawn.

A teeny little snail on the windowsill outside our room

More on Kenmare and the Kerry vs Dublin football match in my next installment.