This is the second of three articles on the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce’s trip to Ireland. Part one of the series appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of The Yadkin Ripple.
After a good breakfast, we started our day traveling to Muckross House and Gardens, located in the heart of Killarney National Park. Muckross House, built in the Tudor style in 1843, features 65 rooms, most of which have been restored. After being used as a residence and then a hunting lodge by the Guinness family, the house was purchased by the William Bowers Bourn family of California in 1911, and presented to their daughter Maud as a wedding present. The house became home to Maud and her husband Arthur Vincent, and they made their home there until her premature death in 1929. In 1932, Mr. Vincent with his parents-in-law donated the house and 11,000-acre estate to the Irish nation, and it became the first national park in the Republic of Ireland and formed the basis of present-day Killarney National Park. Upon viewing a portrait of William Bowers Bourn, one of our traveling party bears an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Bourn!
We continued exploring the Ring of Kerry, and stopped at the Red Fox Inn in Glenbeigh for delicious Irish coffee and a rest break. The cliff views of Dingle Bay were beautiful, and we stopped for lunch at The Lobster House in Waterville. Seafood chowder was the specialty! The town was a favorite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin and his family who first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over 10 years. There is a statue of him in the center of the village in his memory, and a Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival is held annually. We continued around the Ring of Kerry, making a stop at Molls Gap and Ladies View, overlooking the Lakes of Killarney. Then back to our hotel in Killarney and a group dinner at the hotel. Some of us ventured out to find some Murphy’s Ice Cream, handmade in Ireland only using milk from the rare Kerry cow — fantastic!
After breakfast, we left Killarney and headed to Tarbert, where we boarded a ferry to cross the River Shannon. After crossing the river and landing in County Clare, we headed along the coast past a beautiful golf course with castle remains along the fairways. We then arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, the most majestic seaside cliffs in Ireland. Photographs just do not capture the beauty and awe of the cliffs! Some of us walked along the seaside trail, while others explored O’Briens’s Tower, the visitor’s center and had lunch.
Leaving the cliffs, we traveled into the rolling hills of the Burren (or “large stones”), an area of cracked limestone pavements and isolated rocks. We stopped and viewed the Poulnabrone portal tomb, used for multiple burials 4,500 to 5,500 years ago! Continuing on to Limerick, we stopped at Bunratty Castle for a Medieval Banquet. We had an interesting experience while waiting to enter the banquet. The chamber had some great Indera Mills pullovers monogrammed with the chamber logo… and someone walked up to Gertrude Adams and asked if we were from North Carolina… and then asked if we knew Eddy Carter — who happens to be related to Gertrude! Seems that Wishon-Carter is building a home for the man’s family in Watauga County. It really is a small world!
The Medieval Banquet was great fun and very entertaining. Two of our travelers — Mark and Deborah Gentry — were crowned “Earl & His Lady,” who hosted the banquet. The evening started with mead and bread, then to the main hall for a three-course meal eaten with our fingers and a dagger, served by entertainers in period dress. During the meal, one of the guests is thrown into the dungeon for some nefarious act, and then has to sing for his supper to be released by the Earl. Great meal, followed by additional traditional entertainment, and a bagpiper playing as we departed. Then to our hotel in Limerick, the tallest hotel in Ireland, located right on the River Shannon.
We will be sharing the last of our visit to Ireland soon in The Yadkin Ripple!
Bobby Todd is the executive director of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce.