Captivated By Killarney

August 9, 2010

Today, we made the bittersweet journey to Killarney from Limerick. But once we got here, we fell in love with the place and we suddenly weren’t so sad about leaving the university.

We are staying at this really nice bed&breakfast here called Kingfisher. The rooms are really nice and quite spacious. The door key is possibly the coolest thing about it though. It looks like an old-school skeleton key.

An eagle statue in town.

Dr. Rick gave us some time in town to acquaint ourselves with it  so we split off into small groups and grabbed a bite to eat at a pub then explored the little shops there. Naomi and I found the cutest little bookstore tucked neatly in between two other- much larger-shops. We perused through the different titles in the Irish literature and travel section, jotted down a few titles and had a nice conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of e-books vs. tangible books. Our conclusion was that nothing replaces the feel of a book in your hands and the smell that page very new and very old pages have.

After our time in town was up, we went back to the bus to drive up into the mountains and Killarney National Park. The view was spell-binding. As we climbed further up into the mountains- our tour guide, Michael, a pro with the big bus through the narrow roads- we became more and more mesmerized by the sight of the mountain rising up before us. It reminded me a little bit of the Ohio River Valley where I grew up, the Appalachians on all sides of me. Except here, the green stretches forever and the lakes are a deep, clear crystal blue color. Unlike some of our tourist destinations, I didn’t witness as much talking amongst the group members. I think they, like myself, wanted to bask in the moment and breathe the fresh air deep into their lungs, as I was.

Daylina Miller enjoys the mountain scenery and is dreading going back to flat Florida.

Daylina, Lauren, Carol and Torie enjoy the mountain view and their newfound friendships.

The problem with this is that it’s very difficult to do justice in my descriptions. I could read the best writer’s take, and see the best photographer’s photos, of the scenery I saw today and not have near an appreciation for it if I hadn’t visited it myself. The mountains are majestic and the lakes glitter like blue diamonds when the sun’s rays burst through the clouds. Like my experience walking along the River Shannon in Limerick, I felt magic in the air here.

The 2010 USF Study/Travel Tour to Ireland group takes a moment to face away from the mountains for a picture.

Group member Emily Wilson enjoys the picturesque view of the mountains inside Killarney National Park.

We also visited a stone circle where the fee to enter was based on an honor’s system. You put the money in the box and then proceed to enter. Everyone we saw paid the fee but I wonder how well the same system would work in the States. Not to sound unpatriotic but I have far less hope that Americans would be as honest.

Stone circle in Killarney. Farmers who destroy these and fairy raths or "forts" are believed to bring bad luck upon themselves and their families.

As we meandered back down the winding roads into town, through thick trees and foliage on both sides of us, I was reminded again of the fairy stories in Irish folklore and found it easy to believe that there are still many people who believe in faeries. Just walking outside here makes you an instant believer. And now, every time a bush rustles or a stick cracks in the near distance, my mind wanders to thoughts of the Good People and their world. It’s easy to envision Them following us through the forest and snickering at our touristy ways.

Tomorrow, we return to the captivating and charming sights of Killarney. For now, I’m off to dreams of faery folk and mountainous rendezvous.

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