Ireland: Day 10 (County Kerry)

Day nine involved a nerve-wracking drive from Kinsale to Killarney, through the Killarney National Park (dodging every tour bus in the country) and down to Waterville, on the Ballinskelligs Bay in County Kerry. 

This picture, taken by my teenage navigator, shows you all you need to know about that drive:

After a sedative dinner, we took a walk around Waterville and learned about the town’s role in the laying of the transatlantic cable back in 1884. 

My Saturday morning run was shorter than usual and fairly uneventful–I managed three miles, beginning in the town center and following a narrow road along the cliffs. I just haven’t wanted to venture too far on unfamiliar roads to run more than a few miles. 

But the real workout came later. 

We drove from Waterville to Portmagee, stopping for photo ops at various points along the way–even with fog and clouds blanketing the area, it was incredibly beautiful. 

We visited the ruins of the 15th century-Ballinskellig Priory, stopped at a beach, drove narrow, one-lane curving roads, and ultimately crossed the bridge onto Valentia Island. There, we paid €2 to park the car–the 1.25-mile hike to the top of the cliffs (and conversations with cows) was free. 

Many of my pictures include Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl) in the background–that outcrop of rock first settled by Gaelic Christian monks sometime between the 6th and 8th centuries. They abandoned it in the 12th century, moving their settlement to the aforementioned Ballinskelligs Priory. It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996, and is probably most well-known outside County Kerry for its appearance in the last scene of The Force Awakens. I wanted to visit it before I learned of its Star Wars connection, but I have to admit this is another cool thing about it. We have plans to take a boat trip out there tomorrow, but these things are kind of unpredictable due to the weather. Fingers crossed. 

If we make it out there, climbing its 600+ steps will pretty much serve as my workout for the day. I may not be running my usual distances on this trip, but the number of steps I’ve climbed and hills I’ve ascended should count as a decent substitute.