There are many options in Killarney for those intersted in mountain biking. Striceen mountain on the gap of Dunloe is one of my favourite runs! From the image below you may be able to make out the singletrack! It's a very rocky technical decent. The switchbacks are great fun! There are also some great tracks on Torc mountain near Muckross house. Good strong mountain bike. Waterproofs and warm clothes. Also food and water!
Simple food, Super Setting
This ancient and atmospheric pub and restaurant is perfectly situated just at the entrance to the Gap of Dunloe.
It still retains the old spit-on-the-floor sort of atmosphere without the actual spitting;-)
The menu is basic and ranges from typically Irish stews and bacon to the more modern burgers and chicken. I saw no sign of the seafood that is much called for in this area, apart altogether from the usual fish and chips. I must admit, the food was good. I have to say this surprised me as I wasn't too gone on the atmosphere.
I had the burger which was a half pound of well cooked but moist ground beef served in a bun with a generous helping of salad and chunky fries.
Prices are pretty reasonable, too.
They also have a more formal restaurant for the night.
The Muckross estate is not far outside of Killarney and really a nice place to visit.
The Muckross House is in excellent shape and you can walk through it to get a glimpse of what a grand life Henry Arthur Herbert must have lived.
It's easy to understand why it took five years to build this mansion. It was completed in 1843.
On the estate there are numerous walking trails and jaunting cars to show you around.
Ring of Kerry
If you look at a map of Ireland and see the 2nd peninsula in the south, the Ring of Kerry is just a road around the peninsula encompassing the main towns in the area like Killarney, Caherciveen, Kenmare. Yes, there is some great scenery in some parts of it, but when the Ring road is heavily laden with tour buses, it does spoil the experience - in my most humble opinion.
We were up at 8am and asked Declan (our host at Ashville house) what the best way to get to Carrantuohill would be. He suggested a cab and we took his advice.
The friendly cabby Dennis stopped during the 20 minute ride to the base to make sure he would get us as close as possible. At the stop, we noticed some strange vegetation for Ireland. We were excited...our target loomed in the distance (or so we thought).
We arrived at the starting gate and wondered where the trails were. Dennis said he doesn't do anything more strenuous than golf and told us he was sure we'd find someone who could tell us. And then he left.
The only other person we came in contact with appeared just then. An old lady carrying firewood to her home (which we had just exited not having found the tourist office we thought would be there). We asked her how to get to Carrantuohill, but she just looked at us like we were crazy and said that we probably couldn't get to it due to the river. Thanks!
It started to rain pretty hard and we noticed signs warning hikers that they should be experienced and they should carry among other things, torches, whistles and good boots. We had none of that, but we weren't about to call the cab right then; he wouldn't even be back to Killarney yet.
We started off soaked, muddy, and ill-prepared, but determined. At least Ellen wasn't wearing sandals! :)
"Ellen Grins and Bears It"
Ellen was quite the trooper, climbing on a rock wall with only barbed wire as a support. Next came the mudfield made of mushy crabgrass. The rain started to let up at this point, making the trek a little more bearable.
Our shoes held up pretty well, even though we didn't think that they would be any good at first. We found that stepping on rocks was especially helpful because they weren't slippery (not sure if that was due to the shoes, the rocks, or both...obviously I'm not a seasoned climber). The worst things to step on were patches of grass that looked stable but were only secured to Mother Earth by mud, peat, and squishy crabgrass that felt like we were stepping on leprechaun huts.
This is a shot of the mountain we actually climbed. I'm not really sure of the actual name of it though. I later found out that it is definately not Carrantuohill judging from postcards and websites I've looked at. From where we were standing, Carrantuohill's summit was overcast, preventing us from judging which peak around us was tallest.
Being the inexperienced climbers that we are, we forgot to bring water (we did think of it though). We found this little thing of water about halfway up and figured it would be ok to drink. Still not sure if it was, but it was the best tasting water either of us has ever had surrounded by some really green moss.
"BLEAT...THAT'S WHAT SHEEP DO"
There were tons of sheep all over the place. This was the closest one came to us. We felt bad because we caused a couple of them to look up at us and stop eating for a moment, and this one actually bleated at us. It took about a day for us to remember that "bleating" is the word for "baa'ing."
A joke I heard more than once in Ireland pertained to paint farmers put on sheeps' backs: blue is to denote the boy sheep, pink is for the girls, and those with both colors are from San Francisco.
I was tempted to label this as 'summit of Carrantuohill,' but it's actually a plaque at the base. Oh well. Either way, we had a good, fun, tiring day and we rewarded ourselves with plenty of black gold (Guinness) afterwards.