The initial impression of Killarney was that of a small quiet town that had adapted to tourism over time. Its residents still held the friendly Irish charm, often taking interest in our holiday and asking questions about where we were from, always with a smile. A US equivalent could be that of a place such as Breckenridge, Colorado. Many visitors use Killarney as a jumping point to tour different smaller towns and bays throughout southwestern Ireland.
Our time in Killarney was special. Sharing the road is one of the best parts of any journey. This time was especially cherished. Hannah and I originally met in 2016 at our friends Kris and Caylin’s wedding in Houston, Texas. Three years later, they were visiting Ireland with Caylin’s parents. Luckily, they were located just about 40 minutes away in Kenmare, Ireland. We spent an evening together having a wonderful dinner seated above the main street of Killarney. While eating my perfectly battered fish and crisped chips, a faint sound of bagpipes mixed with moments of laughter around the table and hours of catching up. We walked the town after and listened briefly to a local cover band perform some country music. Our Airbnb hosts later informed us that country music is quite popular in Ireland.
The following day we joined our friends on a tour of the Ring of Kerry. The start was a bit unexpected. We checked in early, hoping to get great seats, however the bus had already picked up almost a full busload in a previous city. Due to this, Hannah and I settled into seats at the very back of the bus. Thankfully, we had good company as Caylin’s parents, Scott and Eilleen, settled in next to us. The tour was filled with endless sprawling hills of green foilage and clusters of grey rock. Our tour guide spouted the history of Ireland through the speakers, and we stopped every so often at scenic points, bays, and small towns. He told us that Ireland contains over 30,000 ruins of castles throughout. Along our tour, we passed several dilapidated stone frames nestled along the hills and valleys.
After a full day of jostling back and forth on the winding switchbacks, we all agreed a drink was in order. The group made its way over to O’Connor’s Pub along a side street in Killarney. We shared several pints and great conversation followed by delicious pub fare. It was wonderful to explore County Kerry in some part with special friends from home. It was one of the moments of our trip that will always stick out as a favorite.
Our final bits of time here entailed hiking through Killarney National Park. Long winding paths bore horse drawn carriages as visitors took in the sweeping views of green pastures and thick forest. We stopped about halfway through the day to take in the sun with lunch and a book outside of Ross Castle. We then hoofed it all the way to the southern tip of Ross Island. Half a dozen or so other walkers could be found among the trails, but it was quiet and serene. With tired legs and lungs full of fresh Irish air, we headed home to our Airbnb for a pleasant night’s sleep before our next great adventure.