A lovely drive through the Irish countryside from Galway to Killarney, with a stop in the picturesque little town of Adare. We didn't have much time for more than a quick walk through the Trinitarian Abbey, also known as the White Abbey because the monks who founded it in 1272 wore white garments. An interesting part of the abbey was the pigeon cote in the back, where those birds were raised, much as we raise chickens, to supply the monks with food. A quick breeze down the colourful main street, and we were back on the bus.
Once we got to Killarney, we quickly checked in to our cosy B&B, The Countess, then headed out to grab some food for our picnic lunch on our bike ride. Over to the bike rental place to be outfitted, then off we pedalled bound for Muckross House. This is a stately home on 13 000 acres on Muckross Lake, built in 1843 for the Hubert family. The house itself has been preserved as an example of late 19th century mansion, with furniture and artefacts from that period. In 1899 the estate was sold to a member of the Guinness family. It has outstandingly beautiful grounds as well as a lovely garden behind the house. While there eating our picnic lunch, I noticed two young men playing over on the grounds. Turned out they were practising their hurling skills. Hurling is an Irish game played a little like lacrosse, but with a stick more like a field hockey stick, called a hurley, and a ball, called the sliotar. These young men tried to explain the finer points, but I think I will have to Youtube it and watch a match. They were most keen to explain the game to me and demonstrate the skills required. I was kicking myself afterwards that I didn't ask them to let me have a go.
Back on the bikes, this time headed over to Muckross Abbey, which are the ruins of a Franciscan friary founded in the 15th century. The walls of the cloister and its associated buildings are in their original and complete state, including the tree that grows right in the middle of one of the rooms.
Back on the bikes - unfortunately Irv got a crappy one that the gears kept slipping on, so he along with two others of the group opted to turn theirs in and head back to the hotel. We continued on through Killarney National Park to Ross Castle, sitting on the side of Killarney's lower lake. It was built in the 15the century. Legend has it that O'Donoghue Mór the original builder, still sleeps under the loch and on the first morning in May, rises from the lake on his horse. If you catch a glimpse of him, you will have good luck for the rest of your life.
It was just delightful to cycle through the park and be among the greenery and trees. A little more nerve-wracking on the streets, but the motorists are very patient and courteous toward cyclists. Our biggest challenge was on the way back, when we had to ride along a narrow pathway that we shared with the jaunting cars (horse drawn carriages). As we were heading back, we noticed a couple of herds of the native red deer in a field.
Back to the bike shop to return our steeds, then off to the B&B to clean up before heading out to grab a quick bite. We ended up at Tatler Jack's and had a good meal, before heading back in time for Paul to drive some of us over to the Celtic Steps show at the racetrack.
This was an evening of Irish music and dancing, which was most entertaining. The musicians were fabulous and the dancers - wow! Can they move their feet!!! At one point they set up a table in the middle of the audience, at arm's length from where I was sitting, and one of the young men danced on top. He was amazingly quick on his feet! It was a fun evening much enjoyed by all of us who went.