February 1, 2023

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My Long Overdue Visit to Ireland!

Can you think of a country you have wanted to visit for the past 20 years or so? For me, that country is Ireland, and I’m grateful to have visited County Kerry, Killarney, Ireland in May 2012. From the moment in early January when it was decided that I would just do it and plan the trip, I thought of Ireland pretty much on a daily basis. Unbelievably, a lot of people are not avid travellers, and especially Americans, many do not travel overseas frequently. When you limit yourself to just remaining in your country, and maybe visiting border countries, you miss out so much on what life has to offer. Let me tell you a few things about why I wanted to visit Ireland.
Back in the 1980s, when I was a fan of U2, I wanted to visit the country the rock band hailed from. I was only a teenager that the time, so I just fantasized about travelling to Ireland one day. Consequently, I started to pay more attention to the culture of Ireland, the major news stories, and watching Irish themed films, and adapting a fondness for some Irish actors. But before I decided to travel to Ireland, my fascination with England took precedence so much so, that for the 15 years that I have vacationed in England, I always flew past Ireland, often thinking, I’ll make it there some day.
However, after my last trip to London in December 2011, which was my 9th trip, I figured it was time to do whatever I could to make a trip to Ireland possible. I started to research some local travel agents, but they were not helpful, and they were also too expensive and featuring Irish locations that I didn’t want to go to at the time, and they focused on large group tours. I knew I wanted to visit the touristy city of Killarney which is in the Southwestern part of Ireland. And since I was going alone, it was best that I just make the plans on my own using popular travel websites to research flights and hotel information. I bought several different books about Killarney and SW Ireland to help me with the planning of my trip.
A very important thing to remember when it comes to making holiday plans is to decide when to visit. Due to work and college obligations, and for budgetary reasons, I decided that the very end of May was the ideal time to go. I saved over 100 euros by booking a six-night stay at the Killarney Court Hotel (May 24-31), instead of staying there villas near hoskote for five-nights one week later! The peak tour season starts June 1st, and doing a simple pre-booking price check at hotels in the area confirmed that clearly. Another caveat in traveling to Killarney is that because it’s such a popular holiday destination, that you must book your hotel early. There’s nothing more headache inducing in booking a vacation to a particular town and then being locked out of all the hotels in the town, and having to book a hotel outside of town where you need to hire a car to get into the city. No thanks, I’m decisive, and so I booked early. I stayed at a popular hotel, and it was a ten minute walk from the town center. This was perfect as it allowed me to walk for a short spell through a Killarney neighborhood, and thereby allowing me to truly enjoy local life.
I selected Killarney also because of the Killarney National Park and its beautiful hiking trails. I spent a great deal of time in the park enjoying sights of beauty that I don’t see here at home, or have seen elsewhere. I also used Deros Tours for day tours to two key travel adventures: The Ring of Kerry, and The Gap of Dunloe. In a nutshell, these two tours are must see tours for visitors to Killarney. The Ring of Kerry is nearly an all day tour that takes you around in a circle of Co. Kerry and the Dingle Bay, and it is absolutely beautiful. But my favorite was the Gap of Dunloe because as a hiker, I was able to walk through a mountain valley and feel like the only human around… until I saw a car or jaunting car pass by with people in it. The rocky mountainous scenic views remind one of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings films. Only the brave and strong walk through the Gap of Dunloe, and I am one of them. As an avid photographer, the pictures I took from these tours were fantastic! I will enlarge and frame them, and I hope to sell some to local businesses, and perhaps give one to my brother for his law firm office.
The people of Killarney are lively and polite, and the food was great as well, I especially enjoyed a lovely meal of duck and buffalo mozzarella at the West End House, presented by an attentive wait staff. Killarney has been voted as the cleanest city in Ireland, and it’s true, the town was spotless. I’m lucky in that I can travel, and that I travel to really neat cities, and they all stick with me and I always yearn to return to them. But there is something spiritual about my visit to Ireland. It’s such a mystical, laid back, and beautifully green country, that invites you to visit again and again. I had a conversation with an American couple who was on their fourth visit to Killarney within seven years! That was proof to me of the power of Killarney to lure its visitors back time and time again. I think about my trip to Killarney almost daily, and I can’t wait to visit again… it will be much sooner than later.
I hope to travel there again with a friend or two, just so that I can be able to enjoy the adventures and talk to someone along the way. I also want to go up to Dublin for a few days on my next trip. The convenience of Ireland is that every large city is connected by rail or bus. And it is common for travelers to Ireland to fly into the airport of their choice, stay in that town, and then take the bus or train to other cities. I flew on Aer Lingus, a nice small airliner, into Shannon airport. From there, I took two buses to get to Killarney. A car can be hired at the airport to drive to Killarney, but only if you are accustomed to driving UK style. It sounds cumbersome, but the connections between the buses at Limerick give you enough time to transfer between buses. So, if you have the inclination, please visit Ireland, there’s no other place quite like it. And by the way, I added on a few nights in London after Killarney. Some travel habits are hard to break.