Saturday, 22 August 2015

Southern Ireland

After leaving Limerick we headed to the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, where we spent a day scuba-diving at Castlegregory (in water at 13°C!).

looking towards our dive site

near our accommodation (Harbour House) at Castlegregory

wild honeysuckle

fruit of wild honeysuckle

cow in a field

Fresh Irish scallops and black pudding

The next day we toured the Peninsula and adjacent Ring of Kerry, a famous panoramic loop. The scenic 456-metre high Conor Pass connects the town of Dingle, on the south-western end of the Dingle Peninsula, with Castlegregory in the north-east, and is one of Ireland's highest Irish mountain passes served by an asphalted road.

Looking north from Conor Pass

near Slea Head, a promontory in the westernmost part of the Peninsula

The Skellig Islands, 12km out into the Atlantic, have a gannet population of 50,000!

seagull with Skellig Islands in the background

The Blasket Islands are Ireland's most westerly. The next stop west is Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Legend has it that inhabitants' homes were decorated by elements from shipwrecks. The last permanent residents left in 1953.

Blasket Islands, off the Kerry coast

Looking towards Blasket Islands


near Dunquin, Dingle Peninsula, the most westernmost part of Europe

west Dingle peninsula

Scariff Island (right) and Deenish Island, off the Kerry coast 

 Heading towards Killarney, we stumbled across a sheepdog display.

Sheepdogs herding flock of sheep

About 18km before reaching Killarney, we stopped off at the scenic point known as Ladies View, whose name apparently stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit.

Ladies View near Killarney

 Near Killarney we visited 15th-century Ross Castle, on the edge of the lake Lough Leane.

Ross Castle 

Priest's Leap is the highest pass in Ireland, crossing from County Cork to County Kerry. The road up is single-track and very steep. The placename stems from an old legend, in which a priest pursued by soldiers escaped by a miraculous leap of his horse from a mountain cliff in the townland of Cummeenshrule into County Cork. 
sheep contemplating the landscape from Priest's Leap

view from Priest's Leap

Kerry/Cork county border

We finished our trip to Ireland in Cork, Ireland's second city. It has a long history of butter making, and in the 1860s it was the world's largest butter market, exporting throughout the British Empire.

Firkin Crane, where the barrels or casks of butter were weighed
(now a dance centre)

The old Butter Exchange

Millennium bridge over the River Lee, Cork

Hurling players practising

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