Nature, luxury and history can make for a memorable trip. I experienced them all in one day, on a pre-TBEX Ireland adventure. But you don’t have to be at a travel blogging conference to enjoy the the attractions of the Bay of Kenmare and the surrounding area in Ireland. Here’s how:
All Aboard the Seafari
From my home base in Killarney, it was a 45-minute drive along part of the famed Ring of Kerry to the pier in the charming town of Kenmare. That’s where Captain Mike was waiting to welcome our group of 20 travel bloggers — and one service dog — aboard the Seafari.
It was one of the few sunny days of my Ireland trip, and the light made for some lovely views of Kenmare Bay, the coastline and the wildlife. The basking seals enjoyed it, too. We remained as quiet and motionless as possible in the boat so as not to disturb their sunbathing. Extra layers — and a wee bit of rum-fortified Irish coffee — kept us warm.
Sheen Falls Luxury
Next stop was the elegant Sheen Falls Lodge, where we were treated to a tour and an elegant light lunch of finger sandwiches and champagne. The suites and cottages come with stunning views and a luxury price tag. Click here to read reviews of this dreamy Irish getaway.
After a glimpse of the high-life, we moved on to a humble cottage at the opposite end of the economic scale for a close-up look at local history.
Time Travel at Molly Gallivan’s Farm
From the moment Stephen and Frances O’Sullivan welcomed us into Molly Gallivan’s cottage, I felt like a time traveler. Frances pounded a lump of soda bread dough and prepared to bake it over a fire of smelly peat. Then Steven led us around the farm, with cute livestock competing for photo ops with ancient Druid calendar stones.
Most sobering were the ruins of a “famine cottage” where a family of 12 children perished during Ireland’s potato famine between 1845 and 1852. A similar tour of the property can be arranged for groups, and a self-guided visit is also available.
By making and selling moonshine, the widowed Molly kept her seven children alive. We tasted the authentic “poitin” (pronounced po-cheen) from the still. This eyewitness look at the hardships endured in the countryside haunted me as I traveled onward to Dublin and toured a replica of a famine ship that transported people from this part of the world to new lives in America. Fortunately for our group of bloggers, Kerry Coaches was waiting to whisk us back to reality with wifi on the bus!
Falconry and Sheepdogs
Terry’s Travel Tips
Also in Kenmare, an atmospheric stone circle that I visited on a rainy day. You’re on the honor system to pay an entry fee of 2 euros per person. The colorful towns of Kenmare and Killarney also make for a pleasant evening stroll.