Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ireland Day Eight -- Muckross Estate

Today, we made our way down to Killarney, traveling the shorter route over the Killimer ferry to Tarbert. The boys and I enjoyed the ferry ride immensely, and it did shave a great deal of boring drive time off the day. Plus we got a very quick glimpse of a bottlenose dolphin in the River Shannon.

By early afternoon, we had arrived in Killarney, and drove straight away to Muckross Estate. Muckross is a rather famous aristocratic home that resembles many of the opulent palaces in continental Europe. Our tour guide, Sinéad, was very knowledgeable, and true to form, the boys instantly monopolized her and stuck to her heels like little ducklings. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside the estate house, but it was grand, let me tell you.

The home once played host to Queen Victoria, a visit that took six years in the making, saw the construction of several major pieces of hand-carved furniture, lasted only two days, and left the family entirely bankrupt in the end. The family actually had to sell the home and move because of the Queen's visit. (I'm thinking I'd have politely declined.)

After the manor house, we visited the Muckross Traditional Farm. This was the secret jewel of this estate. Muckross run this as a real working farm, and when we visited, there were farmers really milking cows (you can't fake that with animatronics!), pigs really stinking, and goats on the loose eating small trees. We totally muddied our shoes and pant legs, but really enjoyed the visit to the farm nonetheless.

Tomorrow, we will be doing more driving (surprise!) down to the Dingle Peninsula, where we hope to see some dolphins up close.

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