Derrynane, located on the southwest coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, is the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell. the family purchased the house and parkland on which it sits through profits garnered from smuggling with France and Spain. the house is set on rather expansive grounds, with a view of the sea, and remarkably exotic gardens. our favorite were these six-foot tall fronds that looked like … I don’t know what, precisely. the flowers were also fantastic and multi-colored. on our way out, Nico plucked a bud off a bush and got a conspiratorial wink from a woman (leaving at the same time) who said she visits the gardens often and has, on occasion, plucked a flower or two for herself.

I wish I could capture the full sense of standing on the crest overlooking the beach at Derrynane, and then turning around to look back up at the grand manor house. despite being on such a heavily touristed route, and for receiving as many visitors a year as the place must, it felt remarkably isolated. perhaps it was because we reached the House a half an hour before it closed up for the day and there weren’t that many people about, or because we had to drive so far off the “main” road, along windy, single lane track that was my true introduction to driving in Ireland, but it did feel refreshingly off the beaten path.

Torc Waterfall

after lunch in Killarney, we decided to drive around the Ring of Kerry. this resulted in some very scary moments facing down oncoming coaches, but it also provided us with two spectacular destinations, the first of which was Torc Waterfall. the Owengarriff River flows through the Friar’s Glen from the “Devil’s Punch Bowl” and falls 18 metres. (the first picture is at the top of the falls; the second, at the bottom.) initially we didn’t intend to go all the way to the top, but it’s only 70 vertical feet and took us about 15 minutes to get to the top — very much worth the time effort.

the Kerry Way crosses across the top of the waterfall. there are signposted walks all over Ireland, and this is one of the longest at 215 kilometers. it roughly follows the driving route around the Ring of Kerry, and begins and ends in Killarney. we didn’t see anyone who looked like they were doing the hike, but we did our trek rather later in the day (about 3 pm)

another popular attraction near Muckross House (just down the road from the Torc Waterfall) are the “jaunting cars”, or horse-drawn buggies that will take you through the gardens of Muckross House and along this stretch of road. mostly, it was a lot of fun to say “hey, look, it’s a jaunting car.”