Ireland scenes: The Rock of Cashel and the Ring of Kerry
I've always had an interested in old buildings and structures that are in a ruinous state. As a kid I can remember driving past turn of the century barns and wondering who used them, what their life was like and where their story ended.
Ireland is a great place for that kind of wondering. Ruined castles dot the landscape from County Kerry to Donegal. In a drive from Kilkenny to the Rock of Cashel an old mill that was for sale was spotted along with a couple of ruined churches. Some don't have much history behind them, but it's easy to wonder about those who walked through their doors.
The Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary is one of those places. With its origins in the fifth century's it about as old as it gets. When you think of the oldest structure in central Oklahoma is less than 120 years old, it puts time into perspective. The buildings on the Rock date back to the 1100's and when you step inside their walls there's no mistaking you're in a place that has been the site of loads of history.
The Rock of Cashel has been the seat of kings and also as a monastery and church during its long history. Those days are over but it is a popular stop for those working their way west from Dublin.
The Ring of Kerry is usually one of those stops. This where Ireland's scenery begins to truly pop with endless coastline vistas on one side and mountains and rolling green hills on the other. The 180 km route is a favorite with tourists, especially giant buses filled with those too scared to drive on the left.
They usually begin or end (and sometimes both) their journey in Kenmare or Killarney. My wife and I left our hotel in Sneem and took the clockwise route. If you leave early enough you can avoid the unplanned fun of staring down a giant tour bus coming at you from the other way on what is usually a very narrow road.
The drive can be done in a day. Those more into Ireland might more time. It's easy to get caught up in unplanned stops along the way. We found an entry about Staigue Stone Fort in a guidebook we were using and took a detour that was well worth the hour it wiped out of our day.
At another stop we wandered out onto rocks at low tide only to discover the path back to our car was now covered by the cold waters of the Atlantic which required us to slip off our shoes, pull our pants up to our knees and wade through it.
Next stop: The Dingle Peninsula