The county Killarney, the town of the same name and its national park are probably one of the most prototypically Irish places. You got it all: The soft green hills, the mountains, the old abbeys, castles and churches, the lakes. It’s beautiful. It’s also one of the oldest tourist attractions in Ireland, going all back to Queen Victoria and the invention of “trips” as such. One thing to do is to explore the “Gap of Dunloe”, a pass between the Purple Mountain and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. There’s different options on how to do that, nd I#ll list them worst to best.
Worst: By car. The road is narrow, there’s tons of other people on it, it’s 15 km, so the whole thing will be over in 30 minutes max and most of what you saw is people being angry with you.
Second worst: By jaunting car. Yes, this is probably very traditional and tons of local folks earn their money that way, but having horses run on asphalt all day is just cruelty to animals. You can actually see a dent in the middle of the road, worn down by horseshoes and you can imagine what this will do to the poor animals’ feet. It’s probably amazing for the people in the car and I think few people know enough about horses to understand why it#s not ok.
Bad: motorcycle. Horses, pedestrians, sheep, narrow roads, curves where you don’t see shit. Do I have to elaborate?
Good: bike. Now, I wouldn’t recommend going by regular bike if you are not very fit and good at biking, though there was one guy who passed us uphill and still had the breath to wish us a good day. But nowadays you can rent ebikes everywhere and there were lots of groups with little physical fitness who managed. I’d say that if you don’t have a lot of stamina, that’s probably the best option.
Equally good: on foot. That’s what we did. I’ll admit that we didn’t walk the whole Gap. As you can see below, the traditional hike starts at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, leads through the Gap, down to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. You can book a boat back to Killarney from there, but that’s little use if your car is back at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. We made it to the top of the Gap and then some hundred metres downhill for a nice view before we returned. Now, Wikipedia claims that this walk was just 6km and can be done in about an hour, but the author is lying. We’re neither athletes nor comatose sloths and sure, we did take breaks, but getting up to the Gap is quite some hillclimbing. The way down to Lord Brandon’s cottage is shorter, but we decided that going down there meant having to go up again, so we turned back and enjoyed the walk instead of being completely done. The whole trip was 17 km and took a bit more than 4 hours, with the way back being much easier as it was mostly downhill. So, enjoy the views!
More pics below the fold