Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ireland Revisited: To Kerry

Day 20 of 35: Monday, August 23, 2010

Today we drove to Killarney for a three-night stay in Foley’s Town House, a hotel in the heart of that tourist town that we stayed in on our previous trip to Ireland.

Diane in Room 35. This is a 90-degree panorama of several vertical frames, so its geometry is a little whacko.

In the intervening four years, Foley’s had been remodeled as a “boutique” hotel (in a desk clerk’s word), each room decorated individually with furnishings obtained at auctions across Europe. Our room, number 35, was exquisite – the furnishings, we were told, were from a German castle, and its location at the back of the hotel, well away from the busy street, was very, very quiet. We are a little concerned, though, about the establishment’s ability to survive: it had very few guests during our stay (in fact, on the first night, only two rooms were occupied, judging from the hotel’s car park and the number of places set for breakfast the next morning.) The restaurant, highly touted in guide books, was similarly near-vacant in the evening. Other hotels farther from the city center didn’t seem to be in a similar drought, so Foley’s location may be working against it somehow in the global economic downturn.

Now a pleasant drive of only three hours.

The drive from Birr to Killarney on the vastly improved (and still improving) Irish highway system was only three hours, so we had plenty of time for some exploration before settling in.

Looking toward Killarney from Ladies' View: an iconic Kerry image.

The vista from Ladies’ View of the Lakes of Killarney in their glacier-carved valley was stunning as usual. We continued up past that on the N21 toward Kenmare, stopping at the summit and doing some shopping at the Avoca store at Molls Gap. From Molls Gap, we took the road less traveled, down into Black Valley:

Looking down into Black Valley from Molls Gap (approx. 135-degree panorama.)

Heading down the back road from Molls Gap to Sneem from which the narrow road into Black Valley branches. (Click on the image to read the signs.)

Black Valley, despite its immediate adjacency to one of the most heavily-visited tourist destinations in Ireland, is “unspoiled” in a very isolated sort of way. Electricity is relatively recent (1970s), its road is little more than a one-lane track, and there is no cell phone service there due to the precipitous surrounding mountains of Macgillicuddy's Reeks. It is gorgeous.

In Black Valley.

The stream through Black Valley pours over a series of cascades on its way to the Lakes of Killarney.

More images from this day, including a link to a very large-scale, detailed version of the Black Valley panorama, are available here.

Next: August 24, 2010 -- The Beara Peninsula
Previous: August 22, 2010 -- Clonfinlough and Its Stone
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2


Margaret Ryall said...

I'm so far behind on your visit! Not having internet access at our summer house can be a royal pain. We're leaving for our holiday tomorrow as you know. That will put me even more behind. Much reading will be in order when I return. I'm enjoying the photos which I scanned quickly tonight.

Sherwood Harrington said...

That's the nice thing about this tour bus, Margaret: it's always going to be waiting to take you to the next stop no matter how much time it takes for you to come back!

I'm glad you're enjoying it, but do so at your leisure, please!