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Cragg Cave & Cahersiveen

July 6, 2007

Ballycarberry Castle

Originally uploaded by IrishFireside

corey says…Liam’s guests CJ & Laurie invited me to join them on their Ring of Kerry tour. Oddly, in all the years I’ve been going to Ireland, I’ve never just done the entire Ring of Kerry as a trip. It’s always been sections of it at a time.

CJ & Laurie are sisters who have stayed with Liam before, so I knew we were in for a very good time. Liam said his cheeks were already sore from all the laughing they had already been doing.

They had a late night at Jim O’ the Mill’s the evening before, so our plan to leave at around nine was squelched, but that didn’t matter; we weren’t on a strict time frame. We were on the road well before noon.

It wasn’t long before we were making up Limerick’s in the car, and tormenting Laurie about a fictitious murderer who was roving the Irish countryside dressed as a clown. Laurie has a terrible aversion to clowns, so even if she didn’t believe our story, she was miserable just thinking about them.

There was a bit of rain, so we decided to stop in at Cragg Cave along the way. It’s a nice stop and they have a huge play area for kids (It’s an extra admission to the play area, but the kids we saw were burning off a lot of energy). The formations in Cragg aren’t as dramatic as those in Mitchelstown, and the area they called the kitchen with formations that looked like a wine bottle, mushrooms, carrot, parsnip and pizza were a bit of a stretch, but all in all it was a very nice stop. Laurie & CJ found several things they enjoyed in the gift shop here. We even picked up a clown doll…which we hid from Laurie for the time being.

When we walked out of the cave, the sky had cleared and blue skies were above…just in time for us to enjoy the Iveragh Peninsula (aka the Ring of Kerry). Like most self-drive tourists, we did the tour anti-clockwise (counter-clockwise) to avoid getting stuck behind a bus going clockwise.

The views of Dingle Bay are quite wonderful here, and we decided to spend the night in Cahirsiveen. We like living dangerously and didn’t pre-book. We first tried Harbour Hill B&B which Michele Erdvig recommends in her book ( Irene couldn’t accommodate all four of us, so she recommended Iveragh Heights on the other end of town.

At only €25 a night, Iveragh Heights was quite a bargain. The double rooms were huge and the beds were firm. The place had been redecorated in the 80s, so it wasn’t as fancy as some of the newer B&Bs, but it was a decent place to lay our head for the night.

After we settled in, we went to O’Neill’s The Point. Liam had been there before and had a great meal and Michele Erdvig also recommends it, so it was a logical choice. It’s a seafood place and aside from the salad, there were no items on the menu for people like me who don’t enjoy much seafood. The server recommended I try the lightly battered hake because it was very mild. Excellent suggestion. I love it when a server knows how to cater to a guest’s tastes.

Then it was time to do a little exploring. We checked out the old barracks which houses the Historical Society. They were of course closed, but we followed the signs to Ballycarberry Castle. This was a very fun castle to climb around. Staircases, rooms and passages still remain, giving this castle a very high rating on the snoop around factor. The place is in ruin, so one must explore at their own risk…and the steep drops and risk of collapse make this place rather dangerous.

From there, we kept driving until we came upon Cahergall Stone fort. Another BIG winner. The fort has been restored and is by far the most amazing stone forts I’ve ever been too! I can’t express how great of a find this place is. The old terraced wall has been rebuilt and you can zigzag your way to the top. It’s extremely impressive! In the summer they have a music festival inside the fort and the wall…once used for protection, becomes an amphitheater.

As we walked back to the car, we witnessed a few horny cows in the field with us and the sheep were bahhing up a storm. We then drove around the corner and walked up to Leacanabuaile Stone Fort. This one hasn’t been restored, but there is a better outline of the interior structures. It also had two chambers built into the wall. Very interesting. From the top, we were able to look across to nearby Cahergall and see Ballycarberry Castle in the distance.

We continued to follow the road to the coast where we watched the sun set over the Skellig Islands. When we returned to town, we stopped for a drink at the Shebeen…unfortunately, it was the only night they didn’t have live music.

Before bedtime, CJ tucked the clown doll…now named Gristle…in Laurie’s bed. It was quite a scene when Laurie pulled back the covers. Let’s just say, some bodily functions went haywire at that moment. Goodness, these to are a lot of fun.

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