UK & Ireland day 15

Today we toured the Ring of Kerry, which is a 120 miles of spectacular mountains, valleys and lakes. Actually, spectacular doesn’t really do this part of the world justice. Our first stop of the day was a brief photo stop in the hills above Killarney, where I took these pics:

Our first official stop of the day was the small town of Killorglin, the town where they hold the puck fair, one of Ireland’s oldest (and strangest) fairs. Every year towns folk go up into the mountains and catch a wild goat. This goat is brought back to the town and the Queen of Puck Fair (a girl from the local primary school) crowns the goat “King Puck”. The goat is then put into a small cage on a high stand in the middle of the town (it’s well fed and watered). From this moment on the fair has started–there’s singing and dancing, but mainly there’s drinking. According to our driver, the celebration came from when a local goat herder overheard the plans of an invading force to over run Killorglin, and he herded all the wild goats down the mountains to warn the towns folk trouble was coming. This allowed them to prepare and eventually defeat their enemies. Ever since then, the goats have been celebrated (although it seems to me they should be celebrating the herder not the goat!) Anyways, here’s some pics (the first one is a statue of puk, the next a pic of the river that skirts the town):

Then it was back on the road and some more amazing scenery:

Our next stop was the Leacanabuile Stone Fort, which was one of the most complete stone forts in the area. Here’s some pics (both of the fort, and the view from the fort):

then it was on to our lunch stop in Waterville. I indulged in some fish and chips (what else could I eat in a fishing village next to the beach?) and we headed down to the beach to eat them (and were not bothered by seagulls! Amazing). Here’s some pics:

Waterville is also the town where Charlie Chaplin much time holidaying, and they have a statue set up here in his honour:

then it was up into the mountains again, where the weather began closing in and it got as foggy as hell (which was probably just as well for the more nervous amongst us—the roads were narrow and the drop down the side of the mountain was quite awesome!)

here’s some pics of the more non-foggy views:

then it was on to the Muckross Mansion and traditional farms. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go through the mansion itself (we got there latish), but we did manage a tour through the traditional farms. The actually had a range of farms set up–a small size farm, a labourer’s cottage, a medium size farm and a large farm. The difference between the small and large farms was quite stark (I know which one I’d rather be in!). Here’s some pics:

small farm (the first one doesn’t actually show much of the house, but I took it just because it looked good)

Worker’s cottage

Medium farm

Large farm

We had some spare time, so we walked around the outside of the mansion. I would have loved to have toured inside, but I guess I’ll just have to come back :)

Sadly, tomorrow is our last full day in Ireland, but we are at least going to see Bunratty Castle.
Can’t wait!