Day three in Ireland began in Kinsale and ended in Killarney. Our room at Harbour Hill Farm overlooked the gardens and we woke up to a gorgeous morning. It wasn’t long before the delicious smells of breakfast lured us out of bed. Cory tried the traditional full Irish breakfast (bacon, pork sausages, fried eggs, toast, tomato, white pudding and black pudding) and I ordered golden, crispy waffles with lots of maple syrup and fruit.
We chatted about our travel plans with some of the other guests, a couple from California and a group from Germany en route to the Rugby World Cup. Our hosts were incredibly kind and helpful, asking questions about our interests and suggesting local activities. Kinsale is a darling coastal fishing village and we loved experiencing its charms before saying goodbye and continuing our journey to Blarney Castle and Gardens.
Here we climbed 127 steps up the narrowest of staircases to the top of the castle battlements and did a backbend over a sheer drop to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. They say if you kiss the stone you’ll never again be lost for words! It was exhilarating to participate in this Irish tradition and see the incredible views of the grounds down below.
The magnificent Blarney gardens, rock close and castles were a definite highlight of our trip. We explored for several hours and ended our visit by stopping at a snack bar for hot chocolates and to try the popular Irish “99” ice cream cones. This turned out to be a good life decision.
From Blarney we made our way to Killarney, a little less than an hour and a half away. Killarney National Park is absolutely stunning. We first toured the Muckross House and Gardens and then hiked to Torc Waterfall at the base of Torc Mountain, where we were serenaded by a bagpipe player.
Next we walked to Muckross Lake and sat on the shore to rest and soak in all the beauty. We struck up an entertaining conversation with a native couple who had the friendly and enthusiastic nature of all the Irish people we met. They asked us several questions about South Carolina and thought it sounded so romantic because of the James Taylor song, “Carolina in My Mind.”
It was hard to leave the park but a local pub called Jarvey’s Rest called our names. We treated ourselves to hearty lamb stew, burgers and chips (fries), and finished the night with a sampler of Irish desserts, most of which I’ve never tasted. It was fabulous and the perfect reward after all our outdoor activity. The pub was packed with locals watching a rugby game, and we enjoyed people watching and hearing everyone cheer for the Irish team.
We spent the night at Friar’s Glen, which is within walking distance of Killarney National Park. Ireland has a phenomenal B&B culture and I loved each one we stayed in, but this was my favorite. The room and bathroom were so spacious, comfortable and well equipped. I wish I could end every day sitting in front of a fireplace, sipping tea while watching deer graze outside the window.