Shannon to Killarney
We flew into Shannon airport, where we were met by our Australian friends
Steven and Yan, who had already picked up a hire car.
Steven had done most of the logistics — booking hotels and the
car — so this was a really cushy trip for me, since I usually do
all of that.
Strangely, we had to go through immigration on the way into Ireland
and our passports were stamped, but there was no immigration or passport
control on the return trip, either at Dublin or Heathrow (where there's
a special "UK and Ireland" departure/arrival area that seems to lack any
customs or border agency presence at all).
We started off going along the south shore of the Shannon estuary, but
when we realised how slow that would be — single lane roads with
passing places — we headed south to rejoin the larger N21.
We stopped for dinner in Abbeyfeale, which seemed a fairly mundane
little town. This was probably the worst meal of the trip, but was
still perfectly decent — my fish and chips was better than any
I've managed to find in Oxford.
We were staying in a guesthouse just north of Killarney, run by an
owner-manager who illustrated the Irish "gift of the gab": on arrival she
gave us a useful and extensive infodump on where to go and what to see.
(We also touched on the traumas of the Irish economy and overbuilding,
and she mentioned that bookings were down and that she was happy to
be able to pay the bills. The rather attractive guesthouse looked
custom-built and I hope she didn't owe too much for it.)
In the countryside there were immense numbers of new houses (built in
the last ten years), many of which didn't appear to be occupied. And in
the cities there were a lot of commercial and retail properties with To
Let signs and more that didn't have those but were unoccupied. Otherwise
there weren't obvious signs of the financial crisis and the Irish property crash.
Next: the Ring of Kerry
Up: Ireland: Munster + Dublin