Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland – May 1990

Map of the Ring of Kerry, today

While studying abroad in my junior year of college in 1990, I took an extra month after school let out to stay in Ireland. I was heavily into studying Irish folklore and music at the time, and I had one primary goal (with a lot of secondary ones): see green all the way to the horizon.

During my monthlong stay there, I spent a week bicycling around the ring of Kerry. I believe I started in Kenmare, went south and west, circled up to Cahersiveen, ended up at Lough Ross near Ross Castle (it’s over by Killarney National Park on the map below). I have notes somewhere since I was keeping a journal of my time in Ireland, and one day I’ll try adding them. But my primary memories remain these:

  1. I got a sunburn. I did! Nobody would believe that I got a sunburn in Ireland, but the fact is that southwest Ireland is relatively temperate, and I got lucky with a lot of sunny days.
  2. I went solo, so any pictures of me involve me setting a timer and racing into the shot. This is why there are few photos of me, and none up close apparently.
  3. This was in the days of actual film in your cameras and I was but a poor student (I stayed in hostels with one exception, took buses rather than trains). So there are criminally few photos of this particular adventure.
  4. I did meet a nice fellow named Robert from Northern Ireland, who had never been to this part of the island, and later I visited him up there. We had dinner at a nearby restaurant and it turned out he’d never eaten a lobster either. As someone from Maryland, this was unheard of, so I ensured he got one. He ate every bit — including the eyes!
  5. I fell ill around Cahersiveen and stayed one full day longer than planned in a B&B. There’s nothing more lonely than being on the other end of the world and not feeling well. Fortunately, it passed and I moved on.
  6. I could have done the trip in far less time. But why?
  7. Although it likely wasn’t all this way, the trip is this: Up, up, up, up, up, up, up, get off the bike because fucking hell, walk, walk, walk, try the bike, up up. Amazing view. Look at that town down there! Get on the bike. Down down down down down down down down down for so long you think you might break the sound barrier. Stay in valley town overnight. Start it all again the next day because you got yourself into this!
  8. Again, I am so sorry I took criminally few photos. But perhaps I will return soon and do better! Enjoy.