Friday, October 2, 2015

Cliffs, a river and roses

Just down the road from the Cliffs of Moher is the lovely little seaside village of Kilkee.  

Because we'd visited the Cliffs of Moher the previous afternoon, we had time for an unscheduled stop to the Cliffs of Kilkee.  And these I loved.  

They are not as high as the tourist attraction up the road, maybe not quite as dramatic but they are certainly every bit as beautiful.  No crowds, just the locals out exercising themselves and their dogs.  School holiday time and warm(ish) weather attracted children to the tidal rocks along the river entrance.

There's a path rising gently to the higher ground.

No fences or barriers, no signs.   How refreshing to rely on common sense.

The more intrepid could venture down to the beach.


At one end of the path there were even a few cows.  No fence for them either which did surprise me.  The ground close to the road was slightly elevated and somehow they got the message.  Mind you, they were certainly well fed and wouldn't need to go wandering in search of greener pastures.

A little later we had to farewell our tour guide, Sean as he'd reached the limit of hours he's permitted to drive by law.  I'd loved his historical stories and legends and his gentle sense of humour.  Our new guide, Henry took us onto the ferry to cross the River Shannon, another of the places that had been high on my Irish Bucklet List.  My father's family came from Shannon.

Henry explained that usually the tour would take in a stop in Tralee but because the traffic in the town was a bit hectic (as it was approaching the climax of the Rose of Tralee competition), we'd just be making a quick stop at the rose gardens to allow for a comfort stop.  We had our first glimpse of Henry's humour, he referred to the Rose of Tralee quest as a Lovely Girl competition.  This was how the TV series Father Ted parodied the festival. The park was a hive of activity with workmen erecting marques and in general preparing for the festival. The competition is based on the love song The Rose of Tralee, the words of which are displayed on glass panels in the park, along with the names of all the winners in the past 56 years that the comp has been taking place.

Originally the contestants were Irish girls but it is now open to girls of Irish ancestry from all over the world.  The winner is the woman deemed to best match the attributes relayed in the song: "lovely and fair". She is selected based on her personality and should be a good role model for the festival and for Ireland during her travels around the world. There is no swimwear section in the contest and the contestants are not judged on their appearances but on their personality and suitability to serve as ambassadors for the festival.

It's not surprising the song is song of lost love, it is gentle and mournful.  It tells of a young man's love for  Mary O'Connor, his maid. When William first saw Mary he fell in love with her, but because of the difference in social class between the two families their love affair was discouraged. William emigrated, and some years later returned to Tralee only to find Mary had died of tuberculosis. He was heart broken and expressed his love for her in the words of the song.

I knew there was a rose named The Rose of Tralee and had in my head that it is yellow.  I'm sure it would have had a prominent place in the gardens but had no time to search for it, so just took a photo of a yellow rose to remind me.  Turns out it was bred by Sam McGredy, an internationally renowned rose grower.  Sam McGredy IV moved the family rose growing operations to New Zealand in 1974 to escape The Troubles in Ireland.

As we approached Dingle, Henry told us of the many attractions of the town.  Wherever we stayed check in was quick and easy, all the hotels obviously appreciated the Vagabond group's custom.  On night 6, when we were staying in a hotel the tour hadn't used before because of a noisy festival taking place where they usually stopped and by which time we had come to expect first class efficiency, I was startled to enter a room which was already occupied. The mistake was easily rectified and gave me reason to stop and chat with the couple I'd disturbed. Anything that introduces me to the locals of the land can't be bad!

In Dingle our hotel was right on the waterfront (with an icecream shop on either side, what more could one ask for).  I'd already spotted Murphy's icecream van outside the town and Henry had recommended the gin and sea-salt.  First class, locally made gin, of course.

Who wouldn't be tempted outside for an evening stroll by that view?  Ice-cream in hand, a mild evening.  My idea of heaven. 

I thought I was starting to feel a little better. I had a light meal, put my head down early and set the alarm for 9 pm, thinking I'd then go out and catch some of the traditional Irish music that would be happening.  I got as far as getting dressed and going out but the crowd at the bar and the noise sent me scurrying back to my bed.  The music would have to wait for another night.


  1. Your days are full of discovery and take lots of energy.

  2. The ever changing scenery has done wonders for the quality of the pictures. Your camera like Ireland.

  3. You saw parts of Ireland that I had missed and parts of Ireland that I had not. This is a nice memory turn.

  4. what a beautiful place! I have irish ancestry so Ireland is definitely one place I want to visit at some point.

  5. Certainly a place I long to visit.

  6. So nice to find a lovely place the locals love that isn't so crowded!

  7. How lovely to visit a place that isn't over run by tourists. I love those rocky islands.


I love to know who's visiting. Leave me a sign!