Can you think of a country that you have wanted to visit for the last 20 years? For me, that country is Ireland, and I am grateful to have visited County Kerry, Killarney, Ireland, in May 2012. From the moment it was decided in early January that I would just go ahead and plan the trip, I thought about Ireland practically every day. Unbelievably, many people are not avid travelers and, especially Americans, many do not travel abroad frequently. When you limit yourself to staying in your country and perhaps visiting border countries, you miss out on a lot of what life has to offer. Let me tell you a few things about why I wanted to visit Ireland.
In the 1980s, when I was a fan of U2, I wanted to visit the country that the rock band hailed from. He was just a teenager at the time, so he fantasized about traveling to Ireland one day. Consequently, I started to pay more attention to the culture of Ireland, to the main news, to watch films with Irish themes and to adapt my hobby to some Irish actors. But before deciding to travel to Ireland, my fascination with England was so pervasive, that during the 15 years I have been vacationing in England, I have always flown past Ireland, often thinking, I will get there one day.
However, after my last trip to London in December 2011, which was my ninth trip, I thought it was time to do everything I could to make a trip to Ireland possible. I started looking into some local travel agents, but they weren’t helpful, and they were also overpriced and featured Irish places I didn’t want to go to at the time, and focused on large group tours. I knew that I wanted to visit the resort town of Killarney, which is located in the southwestern part of Ireland. And since I was going solo, I was better off making my own plans by using popular travel websites to look up flight and hotel information. I bought several different books on Killarney and the South West of Ireland to help me with my trip planning.
One very important thing to remember when it comes to making vacation plans is deciding when to visit. Due to work and university obligations, and for budgetary reasons, I decided that the end of May was the ideal time to go. I saved over €100 by booking a six night stay at the Killarney Court Hotel (May 24-31), instead of staying there for five nights a week later! Peak touring season begins June 1, and doing a simple pre-booking price check at area hotels confirmed that clearly. Another caveat when traveling to Killarney is that because it is such a popular holiday destination, you should book your hotel in advance. There is nothing more painful than being induced to book a vacation in a particular city and then being locked out of all the hotels in the city and having to book a hotel outside of the city where you need to rent a car to get to the city. No thanks, I’m decisive so I booked early. I stayed in a popular hotel, and it was a ten minute walk from the city center. This was perfect as it allowed me to walk for a short amount of time through a Killarney neighborhood and thus allowed me to truly enjoy local life.
I chose Killarney also because of the Killarney National Park and its beautiful walking trails. I spent a lot of time in the park enjoying views of beauty that I don’t see here at home or that I have seen in other places. I have also used Deros Tours for day trips to two key travel adventures – The Ring of Kerry and The Gap of Dunloe. Simply put, both of these tours are must-sees for visitors to Killarney. The Ring of Kerry is almost a full day tour that takes you in a circle of Co. Kerry and Dingle Bay, and it is absolutely beautiful. But my favorite was the Gap of Dunloe because, as a hiker, I could walk through a mountain valley and feel like the only human being around… until I saw a car or jaunting car go by with people in it. The scenic rocky mountain views are reminiscent of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings movies. Only the brave and strong walk the Gap of Dunloe, and I am one of them. As an avid photographer, the photos I took from these tours were fantastic! I will enlarge and frame them, and hope to sell some to local businesses, and maybe give one to my brother for his law firm.
Killarney people are lively and polite and the food was excellent too. I particularly enjoyed a delicious meal of duck and buffalo mozzarella at the West End House, presented by attentive staff. Killarney has been voted the cleanest city in Ireland, and it’s true, the city was spotless. I am lucky that I can travel, and that I travel to really beautiful cities, and they all stay with me and I always long to return to them. But there is something spiritual about my visit to Ireland. It is such a mystical, relaxed and beautifully green country that it invites you to visit it again and again. I had a chat with an American couple who were on their fourth visit to Killarney in seven years! That was proof to me of Killarney’s power to attract its visitors time and time again. I think about my trip to Killarney almost daily, and I can’t wait to visit again… It will be much sooner rather than later.
I look forward to traveling there again with a friend or two, just so I can enjoy the adventures and talk to someone along the way. I also want to go up to Dublin for a few days on my next trip. The convenience of Ireland is that all the big cities are connected by train or bus. And it’s common for travelers to Ireland to fly into the airport of their choice, stay in that city, and then take the bus or train to other cities. I flew Aer Lingus, a nice little plane, to Shannon airport. From there, I took two buses to get to Killarney. A car can be hired at the airport to drive to Killarney, but only if you are used to driving the British way. It sounds cumbersome, but the connections between the buses in Limerick give you plenty of time to change buses. So if you feel like visiting Ireland, there is no other place like it. And by the way, I added a few nights in London after Killarney. Some travel habits are hard to break.