Co-ordinates: 51° 44 ’ N – 09° 32’ W
Air temperature: 18° C
Wind: 10 km per hour
Pressure: 1023 hPa
Glengarriff is a picturesque small village nestled comfortably inside Bantry Bay. Comprised of only about 40 buildings or so, it was our jumping off place for today’s tour “A Taste of the Ring of Kerry”. After our Captain had tucked the Silver Explorer safely inside the bay at its anchorage and after breakfast, we headed to shore in Zodiacs to board buses and depart on our all-day tour.
The winding roads that led up through the Caha Mountains to Kenmare were beautiful and within minutes of our departure we already had stunning views from the coach window down onto the bay and our ship far below. Small houses were scattered around the landscape, sheep roamed pastures high in the hills, lakes dotted the valleys and the sun shone favorably on us to give us splendid views of this lovely area.
After passing through the town of Kenmare we came onto the famous “Ring of Kerry” road. Our first stop was at “Ladies View” – one of the best places for taking pictures of the beautiful lakes and valley that stretched out below us. The views of the steep hills, leafy forests and green valleys we drove through were lovely the entire day.
Further on was Muckross House – a stately Victorian mansion located within Killarney National Park. Our tour inside the house took us through many elaborately furnished rooms with elegant crystal chandeliers (from Waterford), a wonderful library full of lovely old books, and the downstairs quarters and working kitchens of the servants. Many windows throughout the house gave views out onto the stately and extensive gardens. The owners were visited by Queen Victoria of England in 1861 and even though she stayed for only two days in this beautiful house, the preparations for her visit had lasted 6 years!
Just after the house tour we stopped in the town for Killarney for lunch. This is one of the nicest towns in all of Ireland and after a delicious meal everyone had the chance to wander around the town at their leisure to do some shopping, simply admire the attractive shop-fronts, or explore the inside of a pub or two and taste more of the lovely Irish Guinness.
Then it was back onto the buses and the long drive back to Glengarriff and our awaiting ship. The sun was shining so brightly by afternoon that it was actually hot! To take advantage of this fine weather, our hotel department put on a surprise cocktail party for everyone outside on the stern deck. Instead of a Recap & Briefing we stood outside in the sun sipping drinks, discussing the day and admiring the lovely green landscape around us as the ship slowly sailed back out of Bantry Bay. A few seals and dolphins were spotted on the way, and then once again it was time to head inside to the dining room.