Friday, July 14, 2006
Killarney is a city at the gateway to the Ring of Kerry and the Killarney National Park. There is a nice cathedral in the city with two fun sites that take up most of your day: Muckross House and Ross Castle.
Muckross House (bottom picture) can be toured and has extensive gardens. We enjoyed the outside as much as the inside. They grow Brazilian rhubarb that has enormous leaves. We had to stand Ian under a leaf to have perspective of the size!
Ross Castle was refurbished about 10 years. They have done a great job of putting it back together as it once may have been. Because of the burdonsome taxes levied upon the Irish by the English, the castle went into ruin during the early 1800's. They were given a roof tax (based on the square footage of the roof). If they didn't have the money, the roof was taken off. Without the roof, it did not take long for the castle to fall into ruin.
Innisfallen Island is the site of a 6th century monastery. Brian Buru, the first high king of Ireland, was educated here and the Innisfallen Annals were written during the 11th - 12th centuries. This is about a mile by boat from Ross Castle and is a beautiful little island.
The monastic sites were my favorite part of the trip. These Irish monks preserved the scriptures and ancient writings during a time when Europe could not read or write. I always try tp imagine what life was like within the monastery.