Killarney & Galway, Ireland
We fell in love with Killarney as soon as we arrived, and it was all because of one street sign: free parking for all of December. After a year on the road, small surprises like this bring an immense amount of joy. The hostel we chose was right in the centre of town, which wasn’t hard as the town was tiny. It didn't take us long to navigate the handful of streets in the tourist area.
Once we had eaten dinner in a quiet restaurant, we couldn’t resist stopping at a pub called Danny Mann. It was supposedly a popular spot to hear traditional Irish music, but one man on stage playing the guitar to an audience of five wasn’t exactly our idea of a fun night out. Not long after arriving we headed for the exit. Around the corner was another pub with a three-piece band, upbeat tunes and a much more jovial atmosphere. I can’t say I’m the world's biggest Irish music fan but it was still an entertaining experience.
The following morning we explored Killarney on foot, however there didn't appear to be much to see. At the end of town was a huge cathedral, and we opted for a peek inside. The nave was cold and gloomy, but the wall behind the altar was lit up an eerie red colour, as though the devil was rising from the floor. Maybe it was supposed to be Christmas-themed; if so, they really could have done a better job. Across the road was a park with a short walk up a hill to a lookout point. Apparently there were views over Killarney National Park from here, yet all we could see was mist. That was the end of our tour of the town.
Jumping into the car, we went for a drive through the National Park that we couldn't see from above. First stop was Ross Castle, a crumbling shell set on an immense, swan-filled lake. Next, it was over to Muckross House, a decent-sized mansion set in an expansive estate. The manicured gardens seem to go forever and were lovely to wander through. Down the road was the fast-flowing Torc Waterfall, reached via a short walk through one of the greenest forests we had ever laid eyes on. Every tree and rock was covered in vibrant moss, and the entire area felt like it had been transported straight out of a movie set. Lastly, we drove up to “Ladies View”, where this time we were treated to a somewhat clearer outlook across the National Park. Although there were more sights to see, the weather was horrible (again) and we were done being cold and wet.
Two and half hours from Killarney was Galway, where we checked in to a hostel with an unbearably cramped room. We could hardly even open the door. I took it upon myself to carry out a few furniture rearrangements, making the room far more liveable. Sadly, nothing could shield us from the apple green walls and hot pink sheets.
Leaving the prison cell, we ventured out for a walk around the streets and found that the city was actually quite sizeable and fairly lively. We chose Italian for dinner then, despite all the entertainment options, decided to have an early night. Early didn't mean sober though. For Danny, this meant picking up a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey and kicking back in front of the TV (which was about a foot away from the bed). I never see him drink whiskey at home but apparently he feels obliged to do it here.
On the radio the next morning we heard that at this time last year the weather was -10ºC. Today was forecast to hit 11ºC. I'm really glad we weren't here 12 months ago.
Even though we were blessed with warmer weather, the misty rain didn't make our exploration of Galway any more comfortable. We located a couple of churches (both closed), a market containing a paltry three stalls and several unexciting canals. The main shopping streets were bright and colourful, but the lack of any pedestrians made the city feel uninviting. It wasn't long before we had made the rounds of the major sites and were back safe and warm in the car.