Sunday, June 10, 2018

meeting the group...

Tuesday, another good looking weather day. We set off on our own to the Killarney Park again and take a different route. We only get lost a few times but find our way again within a few kms, no big deal. Beautiful scenery, interesting foliage, the odd deer and we are having a fine time. 
The hiking group of Comfortable Hiking Holidays, is arriving this afternoon and we are supposed to meet at 4 pm for an introduction and brief walk around town. Killarney is basically a small village of 15000 population and the hub of tourism in this area. It is full of restaurants, bars, pubs, shops and tour venues catering to vacationers. We do a quick, group walk over to the local Tesco so people can stock up on supplies for lunches and snacks for the hikes. Dinner is as a group at the Scotts Hotel. 

St Mary's Cathedral, Killarney
In total, we are 20 people, all Canadian, 5 married couples and 10 single ladies and one tour leader. Some of the ladies knew each other, came together and are rooming together but several came alone and took their chances on getting a suitable roommate, and so far everyone seems happy. Most of them have been on previous CCH trips.
Muckross House
Next morning, breakfast at the hotel, a big buffet of typical Irish breakfast, from black pudding, porridge, eggs and toast, hot and cold, quite good - the Irish soda bread is amazing! We hit the trail at 9:30, right out of the back entrance of the hotel and hike along the road about 3km to Ross Castle ruin, a brief look around. Then we get into two 12-man motor boats and get a lovely ride on Lough Lein over to an ancient abbey ruin on Innisfallen Island. Boat back and then hiked 4km to Muckross House, had lunch, hiked 5 km to Torc Waterfall. Bus took us back to Killarney. Went to dinner at Bricin (pronounced Brikeen) where we had a local delicacy, boxty which is a savoury, potato pancake with various fillings, like a chicken tarragon stew or vegetable ratatouille. Very good!
The restaurant has a retail shop on the street level, very good quality Irish knitwear, jewellery and art. I’ve been looking for a shawl pin and find just the thing, a Celtic cross in sterling silver. I had almost given up!

Before coming to Ireland, I did not realize there was an actual Irish language - I thought everyone just spoke English. Most of them do but the old Gaelic dialect has been revived and is now taught in the schools and all the signposts throughout this island are posted in both English and Irish. In some of the smaller country villages there are people who only speak the old language, now called Irish. 

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