Leaving the aroma filled rooms after our amazing Food Loving adventure at Ballymaloe Cookery School
for 2 hours of late night driving was not well planned out. All the day’s activities (from Cork to Blarney to Ballymaloe in fact) left us wiped out and in need of shelter and the warmth of our B&B, and WE GOT LOST on the final stretch of the directions to Muxnaw Lodge
because it was so late and dark and of course there was little or poor signage. I still don’t know how we found the B&B in the end, but I’m glad we did. I was almost losing my patience and all the delicious muffins in the world could not cheer me up from the stress of the delay. I was the captain afterall on this magic carpet ride and the planner of all these adventures, and getting lost had the ability to make me feel like a bit of a failure.
Thankfully when we did finally arrive to Kenmare in County Kerry, we were greeted by the sweetest older woman by the name of Hannah, who had the most calming and soothing energy. For all our apologies for being so late to check in and I’m sure our stress emanating from us upon our arrival, Hannah responded with a kind, “Oh never you mind Dear” & “Oh never mind that.”
She had also prepared us Hot Tea and fresh scones and bread to snack on before bed. It was so comforting, it was so sweet, it was So Very Irish.
The perfect late night check-in, and once again our spirits were lifted and we could rest easy this night.
A new day, day 6 in Ireland for us, we woke up in the lovely town, with gorgeous views of the Kenmare River from both our bedroom and the Breakfast Room. **Fun Fact** The Muxnaw Lodge, actually got its name for the Irish word Mucsnamh
, or the “swimming place of the pigs.” The Kenmare River actually narrowed here, allowing for wild pigs to swim through at this point. I don’t know about you, but this really paints a picture in my head of what this must have looked/felt like in olden days, wild piggies and all. Our breakfast was traditional: porridge, homemade scones & soda bread with homemade raspberry jam, and Coffee for momma and Tea for me. We also enjoyed the table with the window view. All in all, Muxnaw was both charm and elegance and I would recommend a stay here in a heartbeat.
Our host at Muxnaw, Hannah, chatted with us a bit after breakfast telling us about the B&B’s history, once a prominent Estate & seasonal home. But she also urged us to get on the road if we were going to drive most of the “Ring of Kerry.” She said we should skip the small town center in Kenmare and just get on the road where there would be plenty to see. So we did. If there was one thing we had learned thus far, it was to trust the advice of the locals. We said our goodbyes, bundled up, breathed in the fresh air and pulled out our directions for this Epic Scenic Drive. To give you an idea, here is a map of your typical drive on the Ring of Kerry. Kenmare lies at the south of the ring, and Killarney at the
northeast. Having visited Gorgeous Killarney
already we had a final destination of Dingle, the peninsula just above the Ring of Kerry, but believe me when I say we had nearly a full day of driving before settling there. The Ring of Kerry drive is coastal for most of the Southern drive. Passing through quaint little towns with unique names like Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen (we had no clue how to pronounce this one, it does not sound at all how it looks)
and Ballycarbery was quite fun. **Random note** while driving through some of these towns we would notice a Proud Sign declaring that we were entering a “TIDY TOWNS” awarded town. We wondered what exactly this meant, and the funniest thing was that nearly every new town we drove through was a “TIDY TOWN” (It must not be that competitive if they were all awarded, but I think small Irish towns take Tidiness seriously). Either way, we could not complain because we saw beautiful and tidy town after town, gorgeous landscapes, dreamy countrysides, and Open Seas on that drive
. . . It was one of my favorite drives of the whole trip (ahem**We didnt get lost).
We stopped whenever we felt compelled to check out a viewpoint. . .
or to photograph SHEEP! Yes finally we saw OVEJAS (en español/also called BORREGOS although you will have to Roll the “R” and roll that Tongue, that’s it you can do it Rrrrrrr) up close and we have the pictures to prove it. They aren’t the greatest or artsiest shots, more like hurry up and photograph them so that they don’t give us their backside shots, but I was content. They were so cute, fluffy, & free in the fields.
Having had that wish fulfilled, nothing could stop our HIGH this day. The pictures do not even do these landscapes justice. We were in absolute AWE! Not even the cold could stop us, and it was Fookin’ Freezin’.
It does not get more picturesque than this! These are definitely the green rolling hills and quaint towns of Ireland that I had imagined and dreamt about leading up to this trip.
I must say, one of the highlights has to be our exploration of The Forgotten Castle: Ballycarbery Castle. Forgotten? Why what do you mean? I mean just that, forgotten, not preserved. The Castle is not cared for. It has not been reconstructed in some way, shape or form to attract tourists, it just exists. There is a small sign in the town of Cahersiveen that tells you to turn off the main road to get to the Castle, but then you must follow some tiny signage down little roads and figure it out on your own. Which we did. We were determined. And this is why:
We had the entire Castle to ourselves, Not a soul to bother us. I was like a little child, giddy with curiosity. Can I climb up anywhere?
Can we stay here for a long time? Oh please oh please let’s stay here. It’s so nice. Imagine the history, the people that lived here in its era, when it was Grand. I was in a dream, residing in my very own Castle. But alas, it was so cold, and my momma who was my personal photographer this time around was frozen. We said our farewells, took some final pictures whilst driving away, and romanticized about this castle that would no longer be the Forgotten Castle. . . not to us anyways.
Back on the Road, we finished up the Ring of Kerry and headed up to Dingle
where we would have more adventures, more good eats, local ice cream and local beer. YES! Thank you Ireland!
If you want to see and read more about Irish Castles, check out some my other blog posts.
All photos taken JAN-FEB 2015- ARIANA DEL RÍO