Wandering the Wild Atlantic Way

June 2, 2017:

This morning, we arose to glorious sunshine, just in time for our drive to the Atlantic coast. Ireland is blessed with the world’s longest defined coastal touring route, which is known as the Wild Atlantic Way. It begins just outside Kinsale, and then meanders its way to the northwest, and ends in the town of Muff (right outside Derry) on Lough Foyle, some 1500 miles away. Yesterday, we saw the beginning of the Way, along Old Head, but today, we are going drive along the Dingle Peninsula.

But first, on the way out of Killarney, we stopped in the small town of Aghadoe, which overlooks the town of Killarney and the lakes and forests of Killarney National Park. I think you will agree that it was a gorgeous view!

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In advance, I’ll apologize for the huge number of photos in this post, but the views are simply breathtaking on a day like today.  I can make you feel better by letting you know that Dermott let me have the co-pilot seat in the bus today, so I actually shot several hundred more pictures that I am sharing here! Everywhere we looked, the grass was emerald green, the wildflowers were in bloom and sheep and cattle (including their lambs and calves) were in almost every field. Not so amazing when you consider the Republic of Ireland is a country of about 4 1/2 million people,but there are 5 million sheep here, and over 8 million cattle.

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We first saw the  ocean (or at least the estuary to the ocean at a small town called Inch. where the Strand creates a beautiful beach. Dermott told us that people regularly surf here, but I couldn’t even imagine how cold it must be!

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The Wild Atlantic Way

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The beach at Inch Strand

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Shortly thereafter, we passed the town of Dingle, which is a picturesque small harbor town. For several years (since 1984), Dingle Harbor has been the home of a very friendly dolphin named Fungie.

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A few miles on, we passed some Iron Age stone forts.  I love the countryside here! The wild yellow irises were splendid, and fuschias which are not native, but really like it here!

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The Iron Age fort is the small grassy knoll behind the sheep

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The best part of the drive, though, was along Slea Head!  It was such a clear day that were could see not only out to the Blasket Islands offshore, but all to the Skellig Islands, where the most recent Star Wars movies were filmed.Dingle Penisula-58

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Blasket Islands
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Skellig Islands

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From there, we drove back to Dingle and enjoyed lunch in town.

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Three of our group (Mark, Jeff and Chuck) bravely decided to play golf at Tralee Golf Course. Our driver, Dermott, has told us that this is the hardest back 9 holes in all of Ireland. Just watching the wind blow across the course was enough to make your blood run cold. Jim wisely opted to return to Killarney with us and explore the town!

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Tralee Golf Clubhouse
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Jeff preparing to meet the whims of the Golf Gods
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View of Tralee Golfcourse from the Clubhouse
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Jim, thinking: “Thank God I’m not playing”

Here is the poem Chuck penned to commemorate the experience:

Ode to a Golf Ball in Ireland
By
Chuck Cascio

You were good to me
This is true
We played together elsewhere.
You landed on flat grounds
I found you in the woods
You buried yourself in sand
You wound your way home
I bathed you clean and watched you gleam.
But now, my trusted friend,
As I place you on your throne
Ireland’s cruel winds howl
The ocean laughs
And tiny raindrops splatter my face
Though the sun shines and
A canyon looms below,
Housing creatures that mock our effort,
And countless traps of sand surround our hoped-for destination,
We know the cruel fate that does await…
I will swing
You will fly
I will curse
You will curve
I will sigh
You will disappear
Drowned
Eaten
Lost
So I say to you, dear friend,
Thank you for your service
Your friendship
Your dimpled presence.
You will be missed
And now, go meet your destiny
One shared by thousands of other balls
Buried in the cemeteries Ireland calls golf courses.

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