Our host at Riverville House B&B in Kenmare had called to make us a reservation for the ferry to Skellig Michael so we were up early to leave at 8 to catch the ferry. When we got to breakfast, we found out the swells were too large and the ferry would not be running. So disappointed. Skellig Michael was one of the things we most wanted to do while we were in Ireland. Since we were up, we decided to go on early and see if maybe the weather would improve.
To reach the ferry to Skellig Michael, you have to drive to the western most point of the Ring of Kerry to one of two towns: Ballinskellig or Portmagee. We had read several places it was best to be at the town of Waterville no later than 11 am to miss the tourist bus traffic on the skinny roads between Kenmare and Ballinskellig.
Do you see how straight up and down the bushes are at the side of the road? They are sheared off by the cars whizzing by (including ours)!!
Here are some views of the southern side of the Ring of Kerry:
We reached Waterville in time to stroll the beach and buy a postcard to send home to Kiyah (she’s the only one to get one as they were 60 cents each AND $1 to mail!). We visited a small cemetary overgrown with blackberry brambles (we ate quite a few blackberries during our stroll!) and then ate our lunch in the car during a rainstorm over looking the Atlantic Ocean:
We arrived in Ballinskelligs in the early afternoon and found our way to the ferry launch. We found it closed but there were 2 women sitting in a car who offered us the use of their phone to call about the possibility of going out to Skellig Michael. It was still too windy with large swells. The two women, Aylene and Collette were a lot of fun telling us stories of their lives in Ireland, their trips to the US, and the funniest being Aylene’s trip to one of the Aran Islands where she flew in and “landed in a wee bit of rabbit patch”! We were howling! We probably visited with them a good hour. You’ll notice their “ferry” is the size of a fishing boat (the white boat with the blue trim close to the pier). They only allow 12 people per boat out to the island and I suspect the ‘ferry’ is used as a fishing boat during the off season.
When the monks who lived on Skellig Michael starting around 400 AD abandoned the island, they settled in Ballinskelligs. The ruins we walked around were built in the 12th century. The tall crosses are much later than that – most dating in the 1700 and 1800’s.
We drove down a bit further around a point of land to a small beach where we could see Skellig Michael. It sits 8 kilometers from shore — so close and yet so far…
Our goal for the day was to stay in Portmagee where we could catch another ferry on Tuesday. We found this charming B&B where Mary, our host, was gracious and friendly and even washed a load of clothes for us and let us hang them on her clothesline out back! This is the view from her front porch and our bedroom window:
The cliffs and the 2 houses are on Valencia Island. Steve ran from our B&B down through the village of Portmagee and over the island past those 2 houses and back. I took a nap. Dinner in the local pub ended the day.
Tuesday morning broke sunny and beautiful, but we were once again disappointed to learn at breakfast that the ferry would not run to Skellig Michael because of large swells. They said they might be able to run on Thursday, but we didn’t want to sit in Portmagee for another 2 days waiting on a “maybe”. Skellig Michael may be the thing that draws us back to Ireland one day.
So onward we went driving up the north shore of the Kerry Penninsula. The water is the Bay of Dingle and the land you see across the water is the Dingle Pennisula:
We wanted to see as much scenery as possible so instead of using the Motorway (similar to our interstates) we chose to stick to the smaller coast roads and headed for the Shannon Ferry from Tarbert to Kilmer across the river Shannon. We drove over to the small town of Kilkee. We found a resort type town with a beautiful beach. We read that many Irish spend their holidays here. I will tell you the water is COLD!!!! and the wind was blowing and the temperature was in the 60’s – Steve and I were wearing blue jeans and our rain jackets:
We continued driving the coast road and decided to stay in Lahinch which the town just before reaching the Cliffs of Moher. We found a B&B that was an old farmhouse. The owner is the 4th generation to live in the house. It was clean and warm, but more run down than any other B&B we stayed in during the 2 weeks. Its best feature was the view from our window: