Ireland Part 4: Torc Mountain, Ross Castle, & Downtown Killarney
This was probably my favorite day. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs and oatmeal and juice boxes, we drove to the “upper car park” for for the Torc Mountain hike. Although there is no visitor’s center for Killarney with a map of the trails, a local put together this website which was extremely helpful in finding the trail! There was a little bit of confusion on which way to start on the trail, but once we went over the first bridge, we were all set.
The trail started off on Old Kenmare Road and after a couple of inclines we were in a vast open area where I became extremely annoying to Josh by saying, “It’s so pretty!” incessantly.
Then we hit the right hand turn where we headed up the mountain. The trail was a mix of “sleepers” (railroad ties covered in wire mesh) and rocks. It was actually pretty tame for a hike up a mountain, and I enjoyed stopping to take in the view quite a few times. We got every version of Irish weather on the way up – sun, wind, and rain.
There were quite a few people at the top, and we sat on some rocks to enjoy our snacks and the view of all the lakes. It was the windiest at the top, so we (I) got cold after just a few minutes. We took some photos and then headed down.
The sleepers were easy to walk down, but I’m a bit slow on the rocky paths. At one point this older lady passed us and continue to bounce down the rocky path like a mountain goat. She was so balanced!
It was easy to get back to the car once we were on Old Kenmare Road again, and then we drove to Muckross House, so I could go for a run. I explored a trail near the entrance which led me to to an open field and then down to a lake! It was beautiful. I also got to see the Muckross House from the lakeside, where it looks much more impressive.
After changing back into warmer clothes, we headed to Ross Castle for the tour.
The castle tour was very informative. Here are some of the fun facts we learned:
- The word loophole comes from the narrow windows that were called loops. They were designed to be easy to shoot arrows out of but difficult to shoot an arrow into
- The word threshold comes from the stone they would keep in front of doorways to keep the thresh covering the stone floor (to make it softer for sleeping) in the room and not have it track into the stairwell.
- Stairwells were spiraled up clockwise so defenders (going down the stairs) would be able to use their right hand and force the attackers (coming up the stairs) to use their left hand.
- You didn’t have to pay taxes on your home if it didn’t have a roof. At one point, the family moved out of the castle and into the mansion they built for themselves. To avoid paying double taxes, they burned the roof off the castle!
After the castle tour, we headed back to glamping for showers before dinner. I still can’t believe how great those showers were. Then we went into downtown for dinner. We walked around, perusing menus posted outside of the various restaurants and settled on Tatler Jack. I got a burger, and Josh got the beef stew (again!).
We walked around the downtown shops including a sweater market. There was a lot of cool stuff in there, but the sweaters were €70-€100! Murphy’s Ice Cream was another stop downtown, and it was good but too expensive for me to fully recommend.
We spent the rest of the evening playing cards on the porch before heading to bed!
Some other photos from the hike: