Not gonna lie, the weather on my summer trip to Scotland and Ireland was anything but summer-y. These places might scale lighter on the landmass size, but they have weather strong enough to punch you in the face. (The rain in Isle of Skye definitely felt like punches were being thrown.)
Rain, wind, fog, humidity, I felt it all. But there was this one day. This one day where the sun rose early and stayed late with nary a moody cloud in sight. And that was the day I took a train to Mallow in County Cork to get on a bus (yes, a dreaded tour bus) to drive around the Ring of Kerry. This was the Ireland I was waiting to see. Greener than green and full of breathtaking landscapes, smiling faces and cheery music. Bound by wild desire, here’s how I fell in love with the shinin’ ring of Éire…
Bays for days
The first stop on our journey was this spot called the Kilkeehagh Lookout, which had a bit of a tropical feel to it. Definitely not the colours you expect when standing at the 52nd parallel north.
Greener than green pastures
Ireland, where every green PANTONE colour in existence exists, naturally.
Sea to sky blues
The grey skies all cleared up and I put on my happy face.
All in a dogs day work
The highlight of the day was definitely watching this sheep farmer show us how he herds his flock by whistling. Each one of his whip-smart border collies has a distinct sound they listen for and we watched in awe as the farmer maneuvered his dogs by just whistling at them.
Cute story alert: One spectator asked the farmer, “Do your dogs have similar personalities?” His response was an emphatic “No.” He said one of the dogs is super schmoopy and wants all the pets and attention, the other just wants to look at sheep all day. While he was telling us this, the affection-seeking dog was sitting close to him, trying to cozy up, while the other dog was off near the sheep pen LITERALLY looking at all the sheep. Just staring at them. Dogs. Always funny, even at work.
This video shows how the farmer whistles to direct his dogs:
Herding like a pro. 🐑🐕💯 This sheep farmer showed us how he uses whistles to get his dogs to put the sheep exactly where he wants them. He has four dogs and different tunes for each one. Those dogs are amazingly smart. The sheep…not so much. (Also, that is not me sniffing like a cokehead in the vid. 😂) #sheepherding #ringofkerry #loveireland #kirstentravels
Shimmering waters and jolly musicians
What a view! The Coomatloukane pull-off is a lovely spot of light blues and washed out greens. The water shimmered like diamonds, while those rosy-cheeked Irish lasses played and smiled and made the whole experience delightful.
How deep is this valley?
This is Killarney National Park, the jewel in County Kerry’s crown. It was the first national park in Ireland, designated a UNESCO site and holds the largest covering of native forest remaining in the country. The afternoon light shining through the clouds gave extra depth to those valley views.
Sneem is a two scoops town
Our last stop of the day found us in the charming town of Sneem. That is Annie’s Homemade Ice Cream and it was the perfect treat to end the day with. I topped my cone off with a homemade flake. If you know what a flake is, I know you’re drooling right now.
Bougie trains ~ ooh-la-la ~
This was not our train. When we arrived back to the train station, this beauty was waiting to welcome its passengers back with fresh Bellinis and top notch service. It looks like the loveliest way to travel the Irish Isles and THE perfect setting for an Agatha Christie-style mystery. However, it costs approximately $15,000 per person for a seven day journey. Soooo, maybe not. It sure did look heavenly though.