Ireland 2009 Road Tour Day Four:

For the impatient, click the image to the right to proceed to a photo tour of Day Four of driving tour. We woke up in Killarney on day four, packed our gear, had breakfast and hit the road for another scenic drive. This days destination was ultimately Galway, with a quick diversion to the Dingle Peninsula. In many ways, this is probably one my favorite spots in Ireland. The terrain combines sandy beaches and rocky coastlines with amazing mountains and lush green fields. There are loads of ruins to explore and quaint towns to visit. It's very manageable in a half day visit, but on a future visit, I think I would prefer to spend a day or two there. Leaving Killarney, we picked up the R561 to the Dingle Peninsula. Along the way, we stopped at Inch Beach (probably not proper any longer since Ireland is on the metric system). It was a bit blustery, but it was a nice stop to stretch our legs and stare out at the Atlantic for a bit. We continued on towards Dingle Town (not sure if they call it that, but it seems to have a nice ring to it) where we picked up the Slea Head driving loop (the R569). The Slea Head loop hugs the southwest coastline with fantastic views of the Great Blasket Island and the Atlantic. We took advantage of a break in the rain and enjoyed the view before moving on to the ruins of Kilmalkedar Church. The last time we saw the ruins, it was the pretty well covered in scaffolding for renovation. All of that had been removed, and a nice sunny afternoon allowed us to get some great pictures. We touched our thumbs in the ogham stone (thus renewing our marriage vows) and looped back to Dingle Town for some lunch and light shopping. Leaving Dingle, we headed north up Spa Road to Connor Pass. The pass goes just east of Mt. Brandon, and has spectacular views looking north and south. We did not get a chance to drive this route the last time we visited, but I am glad we did this time.

The next stop was the town of Tarbert where we would catch a ferry across the Shannon river. The alternative is to drive all the way to Limerick, the location of the first bridge. This cuts down the travel time by 45 minutes, and allowed me to relax from driving for a short period of time. We picked up the N67 and headed north. I was originally going to drive through Ennis, but the torrential rains western Ireland was experiencing had closed the road from Ennis to Galway with heavy flooding. The only suitable route was N67 through the Burren. The downside is that this is a very narrow and twisting road, and with standing water in many areas, it added about an hour and half on to our travel time. By the time we got to Ballyvaghan, it was already dark and we were starting to see spotty flooding in some areas. We encountered a few areas of the road which were flooded over (standing water only, no movement), one of which caused me to stop in my tracks when I could not see the center line. We waited a few moments considering our options (the nearest detour was at least 20-30 miles) when a small van came in the other direction and made it through without issue. We drove our SUV through with fingers crossed and made it to the other side of the flooded roadway without incident. Shortly after, we found ourselves in Galway in heavy traffic. Even with the GPS, it was pretty much luck and Jens sharp eyes that landed us by our hotel. After checking in, we had a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant before unwinding for the evening. Finally being in Galway, I did have an opportunity to break out my Yaesu VX-7R handheld transceiver and keyed up a local repeater with IRLP connectivity. I dialed up the Fulton County repeater (K8LI) and spoke with a few of the guys over the radio (great geeky radio fun). One of the guys gave us an update on the sewer line replacement progress at our house, and as promised, I sent them all custom QSL cards with my temporary call sign EI/KD8KBU. Coming Up: Thanksgiving in Ireland and a drive through Connemara.