• Deborah Kade

Killarney, Ireland

Rain again during the night. After another delicious breakfast, we said goodbye to Ann and Tom Crosby and started out for Killarney. Took the car ferry again and saved ourselves at least 45 minutes travel time.

Weather forecast predicted rain but we had the "Luck of the Irish" on our side and only had a few quick passing showers along the way.

Took pictures while we traveled along the narrow roads. This is how Michael described the drive. "Drove over 300 KM today. Quite proud of myself. Now, before you start to wonder what the big deal is....

I am driving on the left side of the road with a right hand drive car; over roads that best can be described as cattle tracks. Irish roads are much like the US was in the 1950's with two lane narrow roads where it as almost impossible for two cars to pass each other."

We passed castle ruins

Barns constructed from corrugated metal

Small and large herds of cows grazing in fields

Hedges and walls along the narrow roads. Notice how the hedges are topped off.

Fields partitioned by hedges and small trees

We drove near the sea

We drove near snow capped hills

There were unique stone bridges.

Cute little cottages

It was such a very tight squeeze and these cars and trucks were traveling between 80 to 100 KM per hour. There were times I closed my eyes. Did that as I didn't want to distract Michael with my OMG's.

Daffodils are blossoming along the roadways

We are staying at the Crystal Springs Bed and Breakfast in Killarney. After we were shown our room, we were served a pot of tea, cake and cookies in the drawing room.

The breakfast room

Stream behind the B&B

Our room is named "The Stables". Many pictures and sculptures of horses. Glad we are not in "The Titanic" which is two doors down.

The hot water heater for the shower

Decided to do a little exploring around the area. First stop was Ross Castle

Ross Castle (Irish: Caisleán an Rois) is a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland. It is the ancestral home of the O'Donoghue clan, later associated with the Brownes of Killarney.

Ross Castle was built in the late 15th century by local ruling clan the O'Donoghues Mor (Ross), though ownership changed hands during the Second Desmond Rebellion of the 1580s to the MacCarthy Mór. He then leased the castle and the lands to Sir Valentine Browne, ancestor of the Earls of Kenmare. The castle was among the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads during the Irish Confederate Wars, and was only taken when artillery was brought by boat via the River Laune. Lord Muskerry (MacCarty) held the castle against Edmund Ludlow who marched to Ross with 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 horse; however, it was by water that he attacked the stronghold. The Irish had a prophecy that Ross could never be taken until a warship could swim on the lake, an unbelievable prospect.

Ross may all assault disdain

Till on Lough Lein strange ship shall sail.

The ships were built in Kinsale, brought by water to Killorglin and then dragged by oxen to Ross Castle. The sight of the ships unnerved the onlookers and the castle soon submitted.

At the end of the wars, the Brownes were able to show that their heir was too young to have taken part in the rebellion and they retained the lands. By about 1688, they had erected a mansion house near the castle, but their adherence to James II of England caused them to be exiled. The castle became a military barracks, which remained so until early in the 19th century. The Brownes did not return to live at Ross but built Kenmare House near Killarney.

There is a legend that O'Donoghue leaped or was sucked out of the window of the grand chamber at the top of the castle and disappeared into the waters of the lake along with his horse, his table and his library. It is said that O'Donoghue now lives in a great palace at the bottom of the lake where he keeps a close eye on everything that he sees.

We took the tour of the castle. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed on the tour.

Michael and I did learn some interesting information about the castle.

The castle is typical of strongholds of Irish chieftains built during the Middle Ages. The tower house had square bartizans on diagonally opposite corners and a thick end wall. The tower was originally surrounded by a square bawn defended by round corner towers on each end.

The structure is stacked and mortared stone with thick walls and providing five inner stories plus the roof.

The front entrance was a small anteroom secured by an iron grill or 'yett' at the outer wall. The yett could be closed from inside via a chain that could then be secured even if the front door was closed. This room provided small side access holes and a "murder-hole" above which allowed the defenders to attack anybody in the room.

The front door, on the inside of the anteroom, was constructed of two layers of thick Irish oak, one layer 90 degrees to the other with the boards riveted together. If the door was a single layer with the wood fibers going in a single direction, it would have been possible to split the door. The second cross layer prevented that. The door opened inward and was backed by two heavy beams fitted into the stone structure.

Windows at the lower levels were vertical thin slits preventing entrance into the structure but allowing persons inside to aim and fire arrows or guns at attackers. The windows on the top levels were larger to allow in light. It was felt that attackers would not be able to scale to those heights so larger windows were safe.

The spiral staircase, located in the front left corner, was built in a clockwise direction. Attackers, ascending up would have their sword in their right hand and would be impeded by the center structure of the staircase. Defenders, facing down, would have their swords swinging at the outer part of the staircase giving them an advantage.

In addition, the stairs were of uneven height to throw off an attacker's charge by interfering with his gait.

Clothes were hung in the bathroom because the ammonia smell from going to the toilet would kill lice and other bugs in the clothes.

The first floor was used for storage.

The second floor was a living space for the house attendants and guards. Straw was spread on the floor to sleep on. There was typically no furniture. Castle floors used to have three to four inches of straw. This was used for padding and warmth. Straw is also known as thresh so the lip around the door is called a threshold as it keeps in the straw. That is how we got the name "threshold".

The third floor was for food preparation and living and eating space for the house attendants and guards.

The fourth floor was the sleeping and living space for the chieftain and his family. The fourth floor had an arched stone roof supporting a stone floor of the fifth story as compared to the wood beam floors of the lower stories. The size of the bed was small. Looking at skeletons, people were only 1 inch shorter then. Back in those days, people slept sitting up. It helped them breathe better because of the smoke that would be in the room from the fireplace. The ceiling was made with intertwined willow branches that were a support for the stone arch and keystone. You can see the original intertwined branches.

The fifth floor was the great room where the chieftain ate and entertained. This room was also the last sanctuary as it had a stone floor as a fire break from fire in the lower floors. If you look at the high ceiling, the shape of it looks like the bottom of a boat.

The area around the castle

The bride wore blue rubber boots. The castle makes for a pretty backdrop.

You will soon be able to take boat rides along the lake.

Many shops and restaurants to explore

We ate dinner at The Flesk Restaurant.

Quite surprised to see these on the wall. Met a couple from Surprise, Arizona sitting at a table across the way. I think most of the people in the restaurant were Americans.

Michael and I both had the two course special. I started with the smoked salmon while Michael had the Caesar salad. Both of us decided on the spring roast of lamb with stuffing. The entree came with either mashed potatoes, French fries or baked potato. Yummy!!!!

Another great day comes to an end.

You hear music everywhere you go so I will end today's blog with the lyrics to "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral" which was sung quite often by Bing Crosby




Hush now, don't you cry




That's an Irish lullaby

Over in Killarney, many years ago

My mother sang a song to me in tones so soft and low

Just a simple little ditty in her good old Irish way

And I'd give the world if I could hear that song of hers today




Hush now, don't you cry




That's an Irish lullaby


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