Follow me on my Irish adventures as I dish the best places to visit and eat in Ireland, from the best fish n’ chips to the best farmer’s market to the best ice cream!
Be sure to start my Ireland adventures series from the beginning with Part I where we left off in Galway. From Galway, I took the Bus Eireann to Killarney. Killarney was the only place in Ireland where I spent two nights. There was just way too much to see in one week! But I wanted to spend more time in Killarney because it’s home to Killarney National Park, the Gap of Dunloe, and the Ring of Kerry. Lots to see. I stayed at The Killaran House in Killarney which was a 5 minute walk to the main part of town. It was updated, a little more modern, and had delicious breakfasts (yes, multiple scones were involved).
They even had vegetarian versions of the traditional Irish breakfast (which usually includes sausage and puddings – no not the delicious kind). My veg-friendly version included roasted tomatoes and mushrooms and baked beans with eggs. Delish!
And don’t get me started on their porridge with roasted berries, including red currants! Yum.
The day I arrived to Killarney it was grey and misty so I decided to explore the city center and save the national park exploring until the following day. Since it was chilly and I didn’t pack that well for the weather (only one sweater and no raincoat), I was in the mood for some hot seafood chowder. I went to Killarney’s iconic fish n’ chips spot, Quinlan’s, for a bowl of their seafood chowder and a slice of brown bread. Let’s stop for a moment here and talk about the brown bread in Ireland. It’s everywhere. It’s the bread they give you in the morning. The bread they serve you at dinner. And apparently the bread they give you alongside a bowl of soup. And it’s AMAZING. Brown bread contains no yeast, requires no kneading and waiting; it simply rises via the buttermilk and baking soda, making it a quick, easy bread to make at home. It’s also made with whole-wheat flour, making it nutritious and chock full of fiber. #bringbrownbreadtothestates
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For dinner in a pub atmosphere in Killarney, head to Murphy’s Pub. Order a Murphy’s stout so you can say you drank a Murphy’s at Murphy’s. And then get the fresh Kerry mussels that swim in an broth of white wine, garlic, parsley, and cream. I’m usually not the biggest mussels fan but man, oh, man were these tasty! Kerry mussels are much smaller than the ones we have in the U.S. and I much preferred the smaller size. Plus, I concluded that anything tastes much better when soaking in cream :). Come for the mussels. Stay for the music. They have live music every night. It was decent but not my favorite place for music in Killarney. For the best trad (live music), check out O’Connors. You might even see an Irish jig or two if you’re lucky.
The next day in Killarney was beautiful. Sunny and blue skies. And all the sudden I looked around and realized holy crap this place is surrounded by beautiful mountains. I couldn’t see them at all the day before with the fog! I was pretty ambitious for my second day. I wanted to fit in A LOT. And I did. 40+ miles biked later…
Killaran House had bikes for guests to use so I grabbed one of their bikes and went on my way. I rode to Killarney National Park to see Ross Castle, which was built in the 15th century and sits on the edge of Lough Leane Lake.
I then took a boat ride/tour through the three lakes of Killarney National Park to the Gap of Dunloe. There’s me waiting for the boat! I was able to bring my bike on the boat too so that I could bike through the Gap and back to Killarney.
I mentioned in my last post that biking through the Gap of Dunloe was my #1 favorite experience in Ireland (#2 was the night at Tig Coili pub listening to trad). The Gap is a narrow mountain pass between Purple Mountain and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in County Kerry with a narrow winding road through, about 7 miles from start to finish. The narrow, winding road makes it difficult for cars to drive through and they advise against driving (although some people still do) but most bike, walk, or take a horse-drawn carriage through. I would never drive through this place. You need to soak up every second outside. And do a few yoga poses in-between. I was lucky enough to meet a couple girls traveling through and we biked part of The Gap together and snapped pics of each other :). I should mention before you can even see the Gap, you need to make your way up a very steep hill. If you’re biking, you’ll have to hop off and walk the bike up it. But once you make it to the top, you get this view.
the Gap includes 5 different lakes, all of which are beautiful in their own way.
I took a moment here to sit on a rock, rest, eat a protein bar and hydrate while taking in this view. I even meditated here for a little bit. I really never wanted to leave. It was THE MOST beautiful place I’ve seen in my life to date.
The only people that live in the Gap are sheepherders and the sheep in Ireland are so darn cute.
Add this to the list of shit you don’t think will ever happen to you in Ireland: you get trampled by a stampede of sheep. Ok, I didn’t get trampled but I did have a stampede of sheep happen right before my eyes. As I passed by a sheep farm, I stopped to watch the sheep herder yell commands in Gaelic to his shepherd dogs to herd the sheep. It was really neat to watch. Until I heard the gates open and the stomping of 30+ sheep. Before I knew what was happening I saw this huge herd racing toward me and then past me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I actually got in on video and sent it to Steve. I’m hoping he still has the copy.
Another one of the lakes you’ll pass.
If you do the boat/bike tour, know that you can’t get the boat back to Killarney (I made that poor assumption) and you’ll either need to book a bus back or bike the 15 miles back. 15 miles seemed daunting to me but it didn’t feel like that long of a ride. Maybe it’s because I was looking at beautiful mountain tops, fields of green, sheep, horses, and cows along the way. Or maybe I was just so high on life from biking by myself around this beautiful country that I really didn’t care how long I biked for.
Well that life high can only last so long before you body begins to catch up with you, Not only did I bike back to Killarney, I then biked back to the park and Ross Castle (to get more pics), and then biked through the park in the wrong direction, finally turned around to have to bike another 5 miles to a different section of the park to see Muckross House and Torq Waterfall. At this point, my body started to ache and I was starving. My plan was to eat at the cafe at Muckross House when I got there but my wrong turn cost me some time and I ended up getting there after close. Now I was hangry and hurting. Not a good combo. So I laid down in the grass in front of Muckross and ate my other protein bar and drank a TON of water.
And on my way back from Muckross, I came across this field of yellow flowers with a herd of black cows. The contrast was pretty beautiful. One of my favorite things about Ireland was seeing all the animals being free to roam their fields and leisurely eat grass.
Despite my valiant efforts to make it to Torq waterfall, my legs just couldn’t do it after Muckross so I biked another 5 miles back to my B&B. Quickly showered and headed into the city for dinner. I was ravenous at this point. When the host told me it was going to be a 30 minute wait, I started walking around aimlessly, stomach growling, until I passed Murphy’s Ice Cream and had a brilliant idea. Dessert before dinner!
Murphy’s is a must-stop in Ireland and they have shops in Killarney, Dublin, and their original shop is in Dingle. Their milk comes from Kerry cows and they use the real deal for their ice cream: milk, cream, eggs and sugar. No colorings, flavorings, powders. They even make their own sea salt from Dingle sea water and…wait for it…they distill Dingle rain water to make their sorbets. You can’t make this shit up, people. And their dedication to their craft shows in their product. I don’t eat ice cream often because it upsets my stomach but this ice cream was the creamiest, most delicious ice cream I’d had in a very long time. And the kicker, I didn’t feel sick after eating it. This double scoop action was their Irish Coffee (made with real Irish whiskey) and Caramel Honeycomb. Oh. Yes.
Tell me, have you ever been to Killarney? Ever tried brown bread?
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