We had no idea of the beauty we would find, and the personality of the people as we drove along the Ring of Kerry drive route in southwest Ireland in our Dublin Airport hire car. Although we did not see too many leprechauns, we did encounter Postman Pat delivering mail in his green van after we missed our turning. When we asked directions he replied, “Well why should I be telling you the truth” in a broad Irish brogue with a dimpled smile.
The Farmer and the Tour Bus
On another occasion we were driving down a narrow lane and giving way at passing places when a huge tour bus coming the other way insisted we detour into a muddy field where we got stuck. The local farmer on a tractor would have none of this. He told the tour-bus driver, “I’ll be damned if I do same and I have all day not to do it in.” Then he unwrapped his sandwiches, uncorked his Guinness and sat down on a log to enjoy his lunch.
The bus driver had no option but to relent. After the farmer towed us from the muddy field we followed it as it reversed five miles down the narrow lane herded by the tractor, until it could safely turn and find another route. We both come from Irish stock – in fact our ancestors were near neighbours – and so we quite enjoyed the moment. Tour operators are still human beings!
The Ultimate Souvenir Shop
Our journey began in the town of Waterford where they make the famous crystal glassware. The showroom was a triple volume extravaganza of gleaming glass display cases overlooking a girl playing Chopin Nocturnes on a Steinway grand. To this day I swear our Old Brown Sherry tastes superior in the decanter we bought when we visited.
Meandering Ring of Kerry Drive Route in Ireland
From there, we proceeded along the Ring of Kerry drive route past alluring places with romantic-sounding names like Gap of Dunloe, Bog Village, Staigue Fort, Kenmare Lace, Moll’s Gap, The Blue Pool, Ogham Stones, Skellig Michael, Beehive Cells and Stone Pillars. All along the way we broke our meandering journey with Irish Stews and Collay and Cabbage, the latter being boiled bacon coated in bread crumbs and brown sugar, and washed down with draughts of local beer just perfect for the occasion.
Each night we stayed at a different Bed & Breakfast to share the prevailing culture and get closer to traditions. When we had time out hosts took us on short sorties on hiking trails, where we had visions of glorious nature the way the Creator had in mind.
The Pulling Power of Ireland
What more can I say of these lovely, loving people who just wish to reunite their Island and live in peace. I must admit bias. My Irish ancestor came to South Africa to teach the English a lesson in the Anglo Boer War, and my grandmother insisted her favourite sport was shooting heads of Redcoat drumsticks. As I write this, the thought comes back to me again. Why oh why can I not relax and let go. Was that my Irish grandfather I heard calling?