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Éire I Breathe

After my big day out to Sligo I decided to actually … do a whole lot of nothing. I slept late and then stayed around Dun Laoghaire, walked down to the harbour and toured myself around the pier. There was a lighthouse there that clearly used to be a defensible position as it had old artillery turrets. I also saw the location of possibly one of the oldest existing anemometers. It has been updated with a digital face so that passers by have an easier time reading it but it’s 120 years old and all that time it’s been collecting meteorological data.

I took a moment or two to climb over the pier and sat on the long sloping seawall that faced the sea. It was pleasant and quiet out there, the sound of the water lapping at stone, watching the boats toddle over towards the horizon or up towards the busier cities along the northern coast. It was chilly though so I didn’t stay long, instead opting to head back towards an open air market or fair that was taking place at the people’s park.

I had some Irish BBQ because … why not.

I also saw the rather incredible abandoned bath houses which look like some sort of post apocalyptic nightmare, but more amazing. They were painted pastel at one point but have since been covered over in graffiti. It’s still pretty neat. Supposedly they will be renovated but I don’t see anything out there being done yet. Upon some further internet research it appeared that maybe the reno was caught up in bureaucratic red tape…. figures.

After all that I went back to the hostel and napped all afternoon listening to the rain. I felt bad at the time spending so much down time in a foreign country but also I have to acknowledge at times that I have a disease and it’s okay to be tired and need sleep more than other people might. Tough, that.

I found that one of the things I was most fond of was sleeping with the window open at night, listening to the wind and the rain, the neighbors, and the town as I settled in and did homework or fell asleep in the dark.

The following day which was October 9th I took a 7am train down to Killarney from Dublin Heuston.

The trip was about 3 hours with a transfer in Mallow.

While the trip to Sligo was scenic in its own right, I found that the journey south to Killarney was even more so. Hills, rocky slopes… it was foggy and beautiful and when I got to Killarney I walked into the center of town and found a little bakery that hand made a full Irish breakfast for around 10 euros. I had to try it … even the blood sausage (didn’t like it actually but everything else was clutch).

I had them wrap up my bangers and toast and got a cab to Ross Castle. This was my first taxi on the trip and was very nice – expensive though which makes me glad that when I was in the city I was taking advantage of transit heavily.

While at Ross I took a boat tour on the lake and it was mostly empty but that was … okay. The driver took us all around Lough Leane and we saw the monastery on the island (900 years old) and it was filled with deer. That was oddly one of my favorite things about the entire boat ride…

Afterwards I took a walk through the woods to the abandoned copper mines by the lake, some were more recent but some sites dated back to the bronze age. Its really incredible to be standing there, look around, and realize that someone else stood right there, 3,000 years ago. The forest around Killarney was something entirely mythic and I wish my legs had held out just a little bit more. I sat on a bench in the woods and ate my leftovers, looking at the lake and the mountains.

When I hiked back to the castle I decided to do the interior tour. It’s been faithfully restored to its medieval condition and they let you climb the whole thing but no pictures. I learned a lot about castle life (not very glamorous as it turns out), about murder holes and toilets and rain gutters and how bad it all smelled. Also castles were so much smaller than you think or at least this one was.

Best of all though I met Cathy and Noel from Huntington Beach on the tour. They took me out for tea and we talked about how mad we are at US politics and how much fun we’ve had traveling. They told me where they were going, where they’d been…. I told them about The Adventure Zone (which I had been listening to this entire trip), and my siblings. They gave me a ride back into town but we had so much fun talking that we just drove in circles and laughed and chatted and held onto the moment a bit longer.

They told me to journal – write it all down to remember later. And that I would be what they remembered about that day.

When I hopped out they said, “safe travels, Julie – we love you!” I shouted back “I love you too!” and made my way back to Killarney village.

They were exactly the people I needed to meet on exactly the day that I needed to meet them. I can’t put my finger on what it was but they were so wonderful. My travel parents from California that I met in Killarney.

I got home late and I remember running through Dublin in the dark, the bridge and capital buildings lit up… catching a LUAS and jogging into the DART station just as a train rambled through.

Killarney was moody and beautiful, deeply haunted and peaceful all at once. I loved that place, just loved it. And just as I was who Noel and Cathy would remember about that day – they were what I took away from my travel to Killarney.

 

Author:

MSc in SciComm and Public Engagement, science communicator, equestrian, world traveler, PhD student

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