Still in Ireland – Cork, Killarney, and Galway

City Centre of Cork, seen from across the River

Cork, Ireland:

I’ve been on the move since I left Dublin, but I am still in Ireland, as it is certainly tough to leave!  As mentioned in my previous “Food and Drink” post, my first stop post-Dublin was to the vibrant and energetic city of Cork.  In regards to the various cities in the Republic of Ireland, Cork suffers a bit from the “Number 2” syndrome, in that it is constantly living in Dublin’s shadow — being that it is the second largest city.  The relationship between the two is not unlike that of Chicago and New York; however, as the larger city (Dublin in this case) prides itself on its history and tradition whereas the smaller city (Cork in this case) takes the cake when it comes to innovation, forward-thinking, and culture.

Another factor adding to the uniqueness of the city of Cork is that several rivers create what is essentially an island directly in the middle of the city.  This is known as the City Centre, and houses the majority of the pubs, restaurants, and shops.  Basically, if you want to get out and about in the city, this is where you go.  And as a side note, the infamous Blarney Castle and Blaney Stone are just outside of the city.  I chose to skip this portion of the country, however, as I had no intention of wading through the crowds, being hung upside down by my ankles, and kissing a stone that millions of others have kissed (and locals frequently urinate on, at least supposedly).

Shops and Restaurants, with St. Finbarre’s Cathedral in the distance

Another Street in the City Centre

Killarney, Ireland:

After a few days in Cork, I decided to catch another bus to the town of Killarney a few hours away.  As you’ll notice, I’m not actually posting any pictures of the city itself, as it is a bit too touristy for my tastes, but it does offer access to several points of interest nearby.  Just outside of town is the Killarney National Park, where there are a multitude of walking, hiking, and biking paths (“hill-walking” as they call it, is pretty much a national pastime here, at least judging by the number of trails traversing the country).

View from Killarney National Park

Another View of Killarney National Park

Ross Castle, within the park grounds

The other big draw to this part of Ireland is what is known as the Ring of Kerry.  Essentially, it is a 190-ish km loop around some of the more scenice vistas on the island.  You can certainly walk or hike the ring, but if you’re on a time-schedule, many bus tours are available.

(Another interesting note is that through the first 6 days of my trip, I didn’t meet a single other American, yet when taking this tour, I met a group of 4 from none other than Columbus, OH, several of which live just down the street from me.  Small World.)

View from the Ring of Kerry

Contrary to popular belief, the Irish do go to beaches

The Gap of Dunloe in the Distance

A shepherd herding his sheep

Stone Cairns – I must be on the right path

Galway, Ireland:

And after the scenic vistas in the Killarney regions, I caught another bus for my final destination in the Republic of Ireland: the city of Galway.  Essentially a college town (as students make up over 1/4 of the population), Galway has a more eccentric and bohemian feel to it, but is a great spot to take in some of the up-and-coming arts, music, and culture of the country.  It is the type of place that you’ll find populated by hippies and street performers, along with one of the most raucaus night life scenes.

The main drag in Galway

Fishing Boats in the Spanish Arch section of town

Besides the entertaining craic (basically meaning “talk and good times”) and the vibrant pub scene, Galway also affords easy access to an area of Ireland known as the Burren.  This is a barren, rocky region of limestone where rocky, cliffside vistas replace the usual green pastures and farmland.  Again, tours are easily available from anywhere in town:

Coastline in the Burren

The solitary rock had an intriguing aire about it

More coastline in the Burren

The tour of the Burren (and for many, all of Ireland) culminates with the dramatic Cliffs of Buren, offering views out to the Atlantic Ocean from over 700 feet sheer cliff faces.  Usually, the pictures would be a bit more dramatic than they are below, but as it has a tendancey to do in this country, there was a wee bit of rain.

Cliffs of Moher

Alternate view of the cliffs

The look-out tower, unfortunately it costs extra $$$ to go up

As you can see from this self-photo, it was quite a lovely day we had

Tomorrow morning, I’m finally leaving the Republic of Ireland, as I’ll be making my way towards Belfast in Northern Ireland, a separate region that technically belongs to the UK (though to say that this has been disputed is an understatement).  But before I left, as promised, I had to dive into a Full Irish Breakfast — the glorious union of fried eggs, 2 saugsage links, 2 rashers of bacon, black pudding, white pudding, toast (not pictured), and tomatoes for good measure.  I’ll be having my first heart attach in 5…4…3…

Cholesterol be damned…

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

11 Responses to “Still in Ireland – Cork, Killarney, and Galway”

  1. Amazing pictures of the coast. It looks like you’ve been all over. How have you been getting from place to place? Have you had to (or chosen to) walk a lot?

    • I’ve been taking buses from town to town, but once I hit the city, it is nothing but foot power the rest of the way. In point of fact, I’ve been walking so much that I’ve been having to take a day off every now and then as my knees and feet are starting to get sore.

  2. Andrew-what wonderful pictures and descriptions. I will be in Irland Sept 6-14 and I have learned so much from your posts. I will enjoy your journey!

    • Best of luck on your trip in a few weeks — I’m sure you’ll love it! And feel free to drop me an email if you have any more specific questions about what to see and what to do (though it is pretty hard to go wrong).

  3. I loved the cairns! Did you make one yourself before you left?
    Great pictures. Be safe.

  4. Keep being facey. Looks exactly as planned so far.

  5. Jack and I did visit Blarney Castle. But I doubt that you could have made it to the top. The spiral staircase getting there is very narrow and someone as tall as you would have had a rough time getting around all the twists and turns. But it was a very lovely view from the top. The Ring of Kerry was very beautiful. We lucked out and didn’t have any rain the whole time we were in the British Isles. Glad you are enjoying your trip.

    • I actually heard that I may have difficulty getting up there. Apparently, when most of these castles and sites were built hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago, they didn’t plan on having big 6’4″ guys hulking around all the time. Buses, Trains, and Planes aren’t exactly my friends, either, but that’s a side tangent…

  6. Hey Andrew!
    I think your were born to travel and write. Delightful reading and wonderful pictures! Would you be interested in being “Our Buddy Abroad” for 25 first graders? Thought we could track your travels as we “travel” the continents in our classroom. Would be fun to incorporate conversation through your writings when time allows. Let me know what you think and continue on with your fun journey.
    Jen Greenle

    • I’d love to be “Your Buddy Abroad!” My future plans are a bit uncertainly, however, as a rough schedule, I’ll be working my way East through mainland Europe over the next 2-3 months, and will then likely cut over to India and continue through Southeast Asia. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

  7. andrew I am loving your pictures and your comments. I did not know that my tall good looking grandson had so many talents. I cannot get over how you have adquired so many facts about Ireland in such a small amount of time. I am saving them all and again I am blown away by your ability to tell and catch by camera so much in so little time. GO ANDREW

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