Probably the most well-known and traveled road in Ireland is The Ring of Kerry.
This was our second time on it and we were just as excited as the first time. The first time we ventured around the ring we did the whole thing in one day, which was way too quickly. This time, we are taking three days. (FYI, drive the ring counter-clockwise to avoid getting stuck behind the tour buses, they have to drive it clock-wise.)
The first leg was the longest. We made for Portmagee on the very tip of the Iveragh Peninsula. This small town is about as west as you can go in Ireland. It sits way out into the North Atlantic Ocean on the rocky coast. We felt almost vulnerable being exposed on the treeless point. Luckily we found a wonderful bed and breakfast, Skellig View, within walking distance to the edge of the land.
The land ends dramatically in enormous cliffs that plummet over 200 feet to the crashing waves below. It looks like a gigantic sword sliced the peninsula off at its tip. Standing on the top of them was both exhilarating and terrifying. We felt very tiny and insignificant in comparison to the landscape.
We ventured around the area by car and found some cool sites and another chocolate factory! By now we have seen several stone forts, but they are still cool. Even though I have been to many chocolatier’s too, why miss one? So, off we went to see forts and chocolate. The forts were enormous Stone Age structures that have withstood time and the elements. Skelligs Chocolate Factory was much newer, but still amazing. They have free samples! I bought their Irish Whiskey Creme Truffles. Wow! They are amazing!
That afternoon, a violent storm raged in from the ocean. We hunkered down in our little cottage as the wind howled outside and the rain beat down on the roof. Despite being trapped inside, we were quite cozy and relaxed. We spent the night relaxing and reading. It was actually a very nice change of pace from all of the driving and walking. It felt very authentic Irish.
The next morning dawned windy, but clear. Off the coast we could clearly see the original Jedi Temple. Ok, it is not really, but it is the site in the Star Wars movies where Luke Skywalker goes to do Jedi stuff. The island is actually called Skellig Michael. It is one of only three World Heritage Sites in Ireland. It has been a revered holy place long before the Jedi. It is the home of the most western Christian Monastery in Europe. The monastery consists of several ancient stone beehive huts that are only accessible by boat and then climbing a long steep flight of uneven stone stairs to their high perch. The hour long crossing is rough, even in relatively calm weather, so we opted not to go. Besides, I’m a Trekkie anyway. Even from the mainland, however, the island is impressive. May the force be with you!