We made it to the campground in Killarney without any difficulty. We had a full day to explore, so we just had to decide what to do. Initially, I wanted to take a day tour to the Dingle Peninsula to give CH a break from driving. Plus I thought he'd really enjoy it. After a discussion and really thinking about it, we decided that may not be the best idea, to be on a bus most of the day. We ended up taking a cab to Ross Castle and touring there.

This Tower House was built in the 15th Century. It is the last stronghold in the province of Munster to hold out against Cromwell. The castle was used as military barracks for a couple of centuries, until the early 19th century. 
The downspouts were built under the windows to keep rain out of the inside

The slits allowed guns and arrows to be aimed at attackers

As most castles are, Ross Castle was built along the shores of a lake. There were boat tours to be taken, but it was cash only and we didn't have enough. So we had to skip it.
Since we had taken a cab to the castle, the problem was getting back into town. We really didn't want to take a jaunty (horse-drawn carriage), and there weren't any available anyway. We talked with one of the jaunty drivers and he called to see if there were any available. He directed us to the path where we could walk through the National Park back to town. (Sidenote: When we approached the jaunty driver, a very rude American man said, "He's already taken." Not necessary at all. Just rude.)
It turned out to be a very nice walk back to town. We enjoyed being in the forest and hearing the birds.

As we walked closer to town we came upon a herd of Irish Red Deer laying in a field.

This isn't a clear picture but you can see how big the antlers are
They were just incredible. As we walked into town we saw St. Mary's. 

We arrived into town and ended up walking around the town center. I wasn't looking for it, but we stumbled upon the same pub that M & I visited. It's across the street from a mechanic and it's at the end of the street so I don't think many people actually look for it. It is a very traditional pub, complete with a Snug. 

I didn't ask her, but I believe that the lady at the bar was the one who served me last time. She is the owner's daughter so it very well could have been. I told the owner about the last time I was there. Just as in other places we visited, we had a great conversation.

Hussey's was where I had my first sip of Guinness last time
We were on the hunt for Irish music. We ended up walking into a bakery that had only been open for a week or two and speaking with a young lady. She recommended Tattler Jack's so we headed that way. Once there, we walked into a very full pub. We made our way to the back but all of the tables were taken. The tables against the wall were full but the people were against the wall, not on the other side of the table. I asked CH if we should ask if we could join someone and he told me to do it. I chose a couple who looked friendly and they agreed. We ended up sitting and talking and drinking for a few hours. This couple was so lovely! She is originally from County Kerry and he is from Tipperary, but she is working in Cork as a special ed teacher! What are the chances that I would pick that person to sit with in a full pub? I wish I had more time to talk to her; I also wish we had exchanged contact information. Maeve & James were such a sweet couple. Oh, and the reason the pub was so crowded: Ireland and Scotland were playing a Rugby Match in the European Championship Tournament. So that was neat to be in the pub while the game was going on! 

We never found "Trad Irish Music" though. There was a singer with a guitar who played a couple of trad songs. We told Maeve & James that the place mentioned in "Wagon Wheel" is where we met (Johnson City, TN) so they'd remember us every time they hear that song.  When he stopped playing things were getting a little rowdier so we decided it was a good time for the old folks to hit the road. We found a cab without any problem (there were several sitting right outside) and got back to the campground.

That was our day in Killarney. I have to say that last time, Killarney wasn't my favorite. I was hoping I would like it more this time but I didn't. Maybe it's because it's too busy. I enjoyed the slower pace of the Irish countryside more. 

Check out what I thought of the campground where we stayed on the camping blog.

A Very Vanilla Hodgepodge


1. What does the word values mean to you personally? Where did your values come from? What are some of the values that have guided you throughout your life? 
Morals. Doing the right thing even when no one is watching. My values came from my parents.

2. Your favorite vanilla flavored something? 
Homemade vanilla ice cream

3. What's something you've seen/done recently that you found to be very difficult, very confusing, very helpful, very interesting, or very special. Elaborate. 
Interesting & special: Ireland
Difficult: Being back in the US after visiting Ireland
Confusing: Helping CH navigate the routes in Ireland
Helpful: Google Maps (of course, while in Ireland!)

4. Something you own and love that is violet in color? 
I have a shirt or 2 that is violet. The wildflowers are blooming in the park so I'm enjoying them before they get mowed down.
Wild Blue Violets

Lyreleaf Sage in a field

5. Do you have vacation plans on the calendar this summer? Tell us more. 
I am planning on taking a visit to see one of my sisters for a few days. I also hope that CH & I will be able to get away for a few days. There was a campground in GA that I want to go back to & spend a little more time. Added plus: there's a winery close to the campground that I enjoyed. 
I was going to put in a link to our camping vacation last summer but realized I never wrote a post about it! I've written a post on the camping blog but haven't posted it there, either! Anyway, the winery is Frogtown Winery near Dahlonega, GA. Beautiful winery...the wine wasn't bad, either!

6. Insert your own random thought here.  
I guess you can tell by my answer to #3 that Ireland is still very much on my mind. I'm not even halfway through the recap. If you're interested in the camping side of the trip, I'm doing a recap on our camping blog, too. 

One more random thought: Looking ahead to retirement in June, 2023, I've decided to go ahead and consolidate my IG accounts. If you follow @oldschoolspeech (where I've also put my "personal" posts on IG), please consider following @mskicoop instead. The @oldschoolspeech account will be deleted on May 31, 2022.

An Ireland Adventure: On the Way to Killarney

We had a bit of a rough start to begin our drive to Killarney. We had to get fuel, only CH couldn't get the fuel tank open. The key wouldn't turn as much as it should have. He asked a guy who pulled in beside us if there was a trick to it, and that wonderful man tried for about 30 minutes to get it open but couldn't. He suggested a mechanic but then mentioned that since it was a holiday he may have trouble finding one. CH went inside to see if he could get some help. This was after calling the guy at the camper place and leaving a message. While we waited for a callback, CH told me that I might as well walk around town. Well, there was a Catholic Church right next to the gas station and Mass was just starting. So I went in for Mass. The Church was really pretty.

By the time Mass was over, there was a mechanic's truck pulling away. A lady in the station called someone she knew who came and lubricated the key so CH could get it open. That put us behind schedule a bit but we weren't stressing over it.

On the way to our sightseeing destination, we saw a castle so we decided to stop. It was closed so we didn't get to go into it, but we were able to walk around it.
Dunguaire Castle is a tower house that was built in 1520. WB Yeats and Bernard Shaw were among the great writers who met here in the 1920s. There are tours available beginning in April as well as period-style banquets.

I assume these ruins were, at one time, part of the tower house.

castle on a hill set against a blue sky

Tower House set on a hill against a blue sky

These ruins are across the street from the castle
I assume this is a residential house. Notice the thatched roof. Can you imagine looking out of your front window every day to see a castle?

That was a pleasant surprise! Instead of turning around and going back to the place we should have gone, we trusted Google maps and ended up going the other way. That took us through some beautiful Irish countryside, although the roads were pretty narrow.
Irish stone fences
Field of Stones

Field of stones with a partially torn down stone fence in the background
I remembered seeing a sign for Irish Natural Stone and found a contact email online. I emailed the company I received a reply: We were in The Burren. As the lady described it: The Burren in County Clare is one of Ireland's most amazing landscapes. Here, cool grey rock etched with crevices and cracks tumbles down to the wild blue Atlantic Ocean. The result is one of nature's most extraordinary phenomena: a huge rocky pavement dotted with rock formations, caves and fossils, as well as an incredible array of flowers, from native species to Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants. The limestone landscape of the Burren Formed millions of years ago beneath long-forgotten tropical seas.

When CH & I talked about taking this trip, I knew I wanted to stay away from most of the touristy places. I wanted to avoid running into tour buses and Americans who shouldn't be let out of the country because they don't know how to act. (Sorry, but it's true! I think Americans should have to take a class on how they're supposed to act when visiting another country. **off my soapbox**) I wanted to get out and meet the Irish and see the countryside. That's exactly what we did. One of MS' friends married an Irishman and lives outside of Dublin. I contacted her for suggestions and she gave me some good ones. One of the best suggestions she gave was Kilkee Cliffs. I saw Cliffs of Moher last time, and while they're pretty, I didn't need to see them again. She assured me that these cliffs are every bit as pretty/spectacular, even though they aren't as high. They reminded me of Cliffs of Moher, just without the crowds and the rails. Keep in mind that these pictures don't do the views justice.

The road stops at a parking lot (where we were) but there is a trail along these cliffs that you can walk.

The road from Kilkee to the Cliffs
There were a few memorials there for people who lost their lives. It was really windy so I can see how they could be blown over the cliff if they got too close. At one point, we were the only ones out there. My advice would be to skip Cliffs of Moher and head to Kilkee Cliffs. It's just an hour south of Cliffs of Moher and not touristy. Unless touristy is your thing, of course! We didn't stop in the town but it looked very cute and very busy. I'm sure in the summer it is one hoppin' sea town!

Kilkee Cliffs was crossed off the list! To get to Killarney we had a choice: go around the River Shannon or take the ferry and go across. During the last trip, our driver took the ferry. I asked "Galway Girl" (the young lady from the plane) which way would be faster and she said to definitely take the ferry. We sent my SIL M a picture from the ferry:

We were the first ones on the ferry

Driving off of the ferry

The sign as we came off the ferry
From what we've heard, Limerick can be a rough part of Ireland, so it's better to avoid it if possible. I'm glad I remembered the ferry. It gave CH a bit of a break from driving. After the ferry we took a National road all the way to our next campsite in Killarney.

If you want to know about that campground, visit Camping in Killarney on the camping blog.

An Ireland Adventure: County Galway

Now the fun begins! We picked up the van and headed out of 5:00 pm the day before a holiday (St. Patrick's Day). CH was driving a strange van with the gears on the left side, driving on the left side of the road, in a major city during rush hour. I was horrible at navigating through the roundabouts at first and we missed a turn. That led to driving through more streets in Dublin (but thank goodness it wasn't City Centre!) before we got on the motorway. It was strange to have the exits to the left. We originally planned to drive to our first campsite but that was before I realized we were picking up the van at 3:00 in the afternoon. Strange vehicle, strange road, dark; you get the picture. There are a couple of apps/websites to help someone find a place to park for the night. Mark at Bunk Campers made a call and found a place for us that was about halfway between Dublin and Clifden. He was told that as long as we went in and had a pint or two we were welcome to stay. 

When we got there the kitchen had just closed. We hadn't eaten dinner and didn't take the time to stop at a grocery store as we left Dublin. Sean, the barman, called a cab for us so we could go into town for dinner, only it never came. We ended up ordering something online and driving into town to pick it up. After we ate we went into the lodge's bar and ended up staying until 2:00 a.m. talking with Sean and Joe (a regular) & his wife. It was great listening to the stereotypical Irish banter between the 2 men! Joe is a tour bus driver so he had some great tips on places to visit along the Wild Atlantic Way. Before it was too late, there was another bus driver who gave us tips, too. We were blown away by how friendly everyone was. 

We woke up the next morning and hit the road. CH drove through Galway's traffic without incident as people made their way down to the City Centre for the parade and other festivities. On the flight over, there was a young woman from Galway sitting next to me. The last time I was in Ireland, Galway was my favorite place. We had an excellent chat & when she found out we were heading to Clifden, she told us about this place in Oughterard (to the west of Galway) that had fantastic coffee & pastries. We had no trouble finding Sullivan's. In fact, we stopped again the next day when we went by it on our way to Killarney. It lived up to the hype!

Sullivan's Country Grocer, Oughterard, County Galway

The cinnamon rolls are what they are famous for, but everything was delicious!

This was stop #2!
We left Oughterard just minutes before the parade began. Google Maps routed us down this 2 way road:

On our way to Clifden we saw some beautiful sights:

Sheep on the side of a mountain

This sheep made it to the top of a mountain
We made it to our first campground and the owners showed us around. We had a beautiful view from where we parked. It was really windy (and I thought it was cold!) but we were nice & toasty in our van.

Old vs. New(er): An old building sits next to a newer one.

That night we went into town. The owners of the campground suggested that we not stay out past 9:00 when things would start to get crazy and a little out of hand. We definitely took their advice. We ate dinner and tried to find a not-so-busy pub to get a drink. We met a man who made a suggestion but it was a bust. We were too early for music, although we were hoping it would start early on St. Patrick's Day.
Clifden is a cute little town 
My one complaint is that we didn't have more time in this area of Ireland. We hit the road the next day to Killarney, but we had a major stop to make on the way. 

More pictures of the Atlantic Ocean at the campground:

For more details on the campground, visit our camping blog, Flyin' the Coop.

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