An April 2003 trip
to County Kerry by Shaken_Bake
Quote: My mother had been doing genealogical research on her Irish ancestors. For her 70th birthday, my sister and I, each with our daughter (hers, age 13; mine, 6) took her to western Ireland (mainly Kerry and Galway) to explore our family roots. It was simply "luffly!"
We were immediately impressed by the grounds of the Grove Lodge. It is situated high on a riverbank, with a magnificent view of the Magillicuddy Reeks, the highest mountains in Ireland. The flowers on the patio and grounds were in full bloom. We were warmly greeted by the day manager and her daughter, who quickly made friends with our young girls. We had two rooms, each of which was small and clean but well furnished. Our room had a sliding door onto the patio. It turns out that we were the only guests for the 3 nights we stayed at the lodge. The next day, we met the owner, Delia Foley, a delightful and talkative woman. We were well fed at breakfast and even ventured to try the "black pudding." (I asked what exactly that was, given American pudding was a dessert; the answer was, "Well, it's a... pudding!" Turns out it was akin to black sausage guts - not too tasty!) Much to the girls' delight, the hotel was home to many pets, including a very friendly golden retriever and two kittens named Whiskey and Brandy! The town was about 1 mile away on a narrow, busy road and up a steep hill, so although it was advertised that guests could walk into town, we chose to drive there for dinner or shopping.
We found The Grove Lodge to be the perfect B&B for our family. If you’re looking for a location near both the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, Killorglin and the Grove Lodge are good choices.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 7, 2005
The Grove Lodge
Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland
353 (0)66 9761157
The first thing you notice in this restored sea captain’s house is the artwork. The Keoghs have a very eclectic collection of paintings and sculpture and have decorated the rooms and the common areas with large, colorful pieces. The building itself was painstakingly restored and now boasts hardwood throughout, with sturdy and comfortable furniture. The rooms were of varying sizes, with tiny bathrooms tucked away into what were once closet areas. The facility was as clean as I’ve ever stayed in. There is a small garden area in the rear complete with friendly cats and dogs. The center of Galway was only about a mile away, an easy stroll for shopping and restaurants. The Keoghs also have taken great effort to give guests a lot of information on what to see in the area, including handouts of suggested driving routes in the nearby area.
The breakfast was glorious and included homemade baked goods, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and oatmeal upon request. One afternoon, we were offered wine in the living room by Mark, who chatted with us at length about what it took to restore the building and turn it into a showpiece B&B. He was particularly helpful in getting us a hubcap to replace one lost during the trip. His friend, the garage owner, gave us a used for at no charge, saving us a lot of money and hassle!
I can’t say enough about what a wonderful place the Norman Villa is. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again or recommend it to anyone traveling to Galway.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 11, 2005
86 Lower Salthill
Attraction | "Drive Through Connemara & Ferry to Aran Islands"
We ate lunch in a pub, talking to some locals who were eager to tell us what they thought of America and politics. They are a thoughtful, curious people, and we enjoyed these encounters. The friendliness of the Irish people is certainly not hype - it’s just the way they are.
We hurried to the port to go to Inishmore. Unfortunately, the road signs were scarce. We missed the turnoff and frantically searched for the way. After a few anxious moments; we found the dock and made the ferry with minutes to spare. The ship was clean, modern, and high-speed, holding a capacity of several hundred people. The sky cleared rapidly and was bright blue when we docked.
We decided to hire a horse-cart and found a driver that could take all five of us. Brendan and his horse Rosie became our guides for the next hour. We clopped slowly through town and towards the ocean. The houses were neat and colorful, as is common in western Ireland; some still had thatched roofs, and often there were brightly plumed chickens running around the yards. Brendan told of us of life on the island where he grew up, how English was his second language after "Irish" (This part of Ireland is a "Gaeltacht" area, where Gaelic is being preserved), and how life has changed here with the influx of tourists. We toured an 11th-century cemetery, with the remains of a tiny stone church. We also took a walk to the edge of cliff overlooking Galway Bay, the waters unusually calm on this bright day.
When we returned to the town, we strolled through the shops selling handmade knit wear. The patterns were particularly intricate, and many of the local women could produce a sweater in just days!
We had unexpected excitement on the return ferry. I spied an Irish coastguard helicopter following closely behind us and went to see what was going on as it hovered very close above us. To my surprise, a coastguardsman lowered himself to the deck of the boat, while we continued traveling at high speed! The captain conferred with the guardsman, then allowed himself to be hooked up to the harness and winched aboard the helicopter! The passengers were all excitedly chatting about this event; we Americans speculated on whether there was terrorist threat involved! The captain shortly returned and the helicopter sped away. After docking, he greeted the departing passengers and explained that it was just a training exercise. I asked if they charged extra for the entertainment, but he just laughed.
We drove more slowly back to Galway, pleased that our day had been so memorable.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 9, 2005
Connemara & Ferry to Aran Islands
Connemara and Inishmore
We first stopped at the beach at Inch, a spit of sand extending out into Dingle Bay. We walked barefoot, enjoying the cool sand in our toes. There were beautiful views of the high mountains in the distance and the farm fields in the foreground. We proceeded west, on the country road, closely bordered by unique stone walls. We were glad not to have to fight the summer tourist traffic; it was nerve-wracking enough passing huge trucks and busses traveling much faster than we were on the extremely narrow road! The sheep were everywhere, covering the steep green fields with black and white blobs!
We spied signs for the beach where parts of the movie Ryan’s Daughter were filmed. We parked on a sheer hill and walked down a path. An incredibly beautiful cove was below us, surrounded by cliffs. The waves crashed up on a small sandy beach. I did remember the scene from the movie; it was as stunning a location as I’ve seen.
We drove to Dingle Town for lunch. It’s a picturesque place, on the harbor, with very colorful shops and buildings. We didn’t have time to take the boat to see Fungi, the famous harbor dolphin, but his presence is all around the town, with plenty of dolphin memorabilia available. We had our usual lunch of Irish stew and Guinness in a small pub. I love how we always were served mashed potatoes with our stew, although there were also potatoes in it! I know I must be Irish, because I didn’t mind!
We took a leisurely drive back towards the mainland, heading to the city of Tralee, home of the famous song "The Rose of Tralee." I know the tune, but I’m not exactly sure what happened to Rose… if it’s an Irish song, it’s sure to have ended badly! We happened upon what looked like a nice restaurant, Kirby’s Brogue Inn. We were warmly greeted and sat in a large booth upstairs. The owner, a quintessential Irishman with snow white hair and an accent I never tire of hearing, came to talk to us. There was a reception room filled with women next to us. Apparently, they were part of a local golf association and were having their awards banquet. One woman stood up and sang an old song in the most beautiful voice; we were spellbound. The owner brought us in and introduced us; we were all applauded as if we were visiting dignitaries!
It was another perfect day in Ireland for us!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 17, 2005