Story and photos by Aefa Mulholland
Follow Out Traveler Aefa Mulholland and she explores Ireland's culture, cuisine, and quirks! Part four of four.
In Kenmare, founded 1670, enormous trucks lurched into traffic, eking through twisting streets of brightly painted shops, restaurants, and galleries. Outside town, cars with surfboards headed for County Clare’s choppy swells. To the north rose brooding MacGillycuddy's Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range.
Blue-dabbed sheep munched in impossibly green fields. Persimmon-orange spears of Montbrecia waved by roadsides under bursts of golden gorse. Scarlet rowan trees dotted steep slopes as the Lakes of Killarney came into view.
White-tailed sea eagles hovered overhead as Jen and I drove a dramatic section of the 105-mile Ring of Kerry into 25,000-acre Killarney National Park, home of lofty 3406-feet Carrauntoohil. We tackled a trail along the edge of Muckross Lake.
This was my kind of hike. Fifteen minutes’ amble and we stumbled upon Dinis Cottage, an 18th-century hunting lodge turned unlikely tearoom amid the trees. Over scones with jam and cream, we peered at the thick windowpanes. Spidery writing covered them. Ancient etchings recording hundreds of lovers’ names with dates back to 1898.
At the tip of its eponymous peninsula, Dingle, An Daingean in Irish, is famed for its music, its brightly colored pubs, and its slew of seafood eateries. We rushed from the old world charm of Benners Hotel on the town’s lively Main Street, past the cinema with its posters for the film of gay Dublin writer John Boyne’s “Boy In The Striped Pajamas” to the harbor, hoping the fishermen had had a good day.
At the dock sits a bright blue shack with butter yellow trim. Famed throughout Ireland for its chowder, Out of the Blue only opens when there’s a catch. We savored chowder, Cognac-flambéed scallops, chargrilled monkfish on green mango puree. It was a good day.