Last week it was my mother’s birthday. I took her to Ireland for a holiday. We based ourselves in a Killarney, a small town in the west of the country. It was a good base from which to explore the beautiful countryside. I had a hire car but was a bit nervous of driving on the narrow winding roads especially as the car was a manual. I learnt drive in a manual car but have driven an automatic for the last 100 years. Once I got used to the gears I was fine and I think I only turned the wind-screen wipers on a couple of times instead of the turning indicator. I left most other functions to the car. It decided when it was dark enough to turn on its own lights, locked doors and wiped wet windows. I never did find the switch for the lights.
The day we arrived the weather forecast for later in the week was for showers increasing to rain ‘heavy at times’and temperatures ‘disappointing for the time of the year’. So I decided to ‘do’the most famous drive of the area, the tourist trail known as The Ring of Kerry’in one day before the weather turned bad. The drive is approximately 179 kms long and passes through small villages like Waterville and Sneem, rugged mountains and wild coastline. The last part of the drive goes through Moll’s Gap in Killarney National Park with Ireland’s highest peaks, part of McGillicuddy Reeks – what a great name!
Within easy reach of Killarney is Muckross House. It is situated in the National Park and is a good place to visit when it’s raining. One of its claims to fame is the celebrated visit to the home by Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. The family had plenty of advance notice to get things ship-shape; six years notice in fact. That gave them time to have curtains woven in Belgium, Chinese hand-painted wallpaper hung, new outfits for all the servants and to generally empty the coffers. They spent so much money in an attempt to impress that they went bankrupt and after the Queen’s visit they had to sell the house. It was bought by one of the relatives, a member of the Guinness family. But the three rooms used by the Queen have been kept as they were. Here’s the view from HRH bedroom window.