Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a 170 kilometer circle of gorgeous views that starts and ends at Killarney. The first stop of the day was at the Kerry Bog Village, a recreation of a typical rural Irish village. The peat fires in many of the cottages blanketed the area with that wonderful peaty smell.

Also living in the village were some Kerry Bog Ponies, a tiny little work pony that was saved from extinction in the early part of the century. The Irish Wolf Hounds were almost as big as the ponies!

We had frequent stops to view the wonderful sights along the way, though of course the traditional Irish weather kept things from being quite as nice as they could have been.

Another stop was to see a sheep dog demonstration. Most people would be forgiven for thinking that this would be pretty boring, but it was actually very interesting. First we got a brief lecture on various species of sheep, including this multi-horned boy.

Then we got to see the sheep dogs herding the sheep, perfectly in-tuned to the orders of the shepherd. Even when the dogs are working beyond the reach of spoken orders, unique whistle orders can be used. The end result was, if the shepherd wants a specific sheep, or two, or six, he can manipulate the dogs into bringing that sheep down the mountain.

We even got a chance for a little bit of "beach time", though certainly you wouldn't want to go swimming! The areas we were traveling through were very rural, no dance clubs or shopping malls here, though I have to admit that I would almost be willing to take up sheep herding just so I could have these views every day.

After we arrived back in Killarney it was time to pack and make our good byes. The tour groups were heading back to the States, and I was heading to Rome...

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