I decided to ride shot gun. Call me a masochist, I guess. Though I didn’t have it as bad as some of the folks on the road. We were in a bus, which made passing us all the more daunting to smaller vehicles like the red car below. This photo was snapped right off a curve at a particularly hairy part of the road.
The house was built for Henry Arthur Herbert – an Irish land owner and member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. -- and his wife, painter Mary Balfour Herbert. It was the fourth house built at Muckross for successive generations of the Herberts who’d held the land for close to two hundred years. It took four years to build and was completed in 1843.
Now I could go on about the rooms – the beautiful furniture, the stunning views, that incredible lake – but I won’t, primarily due to the fact I couldn't take any photos. But I do have an interesting story about Queen Victoria’s visit to the place in 1861.
The Herbert family found out about the queen’s impending visit five years beforehand. Thank goodness, because there were a lot of elaborate preparations that had to be carried out. As it says on the Muckross website, “Tapestries, mirrors, Persian carpets, silverware, musical instruments, linen, china and servants uniforms, are all said to have been specially commissioned for the occasion. The curtains, which still hang in the Dining Room of Muckross House, were specially woven, probably in Paris, for the occasion.”
She was given three rooms – all downstairs because she was deathly afraid of a fire breaking out so she had to stay on the ground floor. Get a load of this description found in the Kerry Evening Post's August 28th, 1891 issue:
“An entire section of the mansion has been set apart for the royal family, so that all their apartments communicate without the necessity of passing into the corridors to be used by other occupants of the house. The Queen will live here in privacy, and from the windows of her rooms she can walk into delightful grounds, which will be kept private during her stay at Muckross.”
Well, la tee dah.
The kicker: This was all for a two-day stay. You heard me -- two frickin' days -- but these types of trips were common, with a king or queen’s visit often draining the host family’s finances. To say thank you, Queen Victoria did give Mrs. Herbert and her two daughters beautiful bracelets, which kind of sort of makes up for all the money and time they had to spend preparing for her visit.
Only it doesn't.
When we were finished we drove back to Dingle, where most of had dinner then hiked around. But not my husband, Rick, and our son, Joe, who is crazy about Dolphins. And Dingle has a dolphin. His name is Fungi and he’s lived in Dingle Bay since 1983.
When we were researching our trip Joe said, "I don't care what we do as long as I see that dolphin." So as soon as we got home, the two of them got on a boat ride in search of Fungie. And they found him. And Fungi acted like a rock star -- swimming along the boat, jumping around, etc. Mission fulfilled.
The Animals of Ireland
Okay, though the first creature I’m about to talk about isn’t really an animal, I thought you’d find it interesting to know that in Ireland there are no mosquitoes. You heard me. Zip. Zero. Nada. They do have gnats that can get in your face, as well as bees, wasps and little ants that bite. I saw none of those but Martin assured us they exist. As for animals, the most dangerous one in Ireland is the fox. They used to have bears but they died out long ago. They don’t even have wolves. The greatest chance you have of getting hurt by an animal is if you approach a guard dog the wrong way.
They do have deer who, like those in America, will do that crazy “jump out in front of your car” thing along the road. Luckily, you’re much more likely to come across sheep. Unlike deer, they will not jump out in front of you unless they’ve just given birth, in which case their behavior becomes a little erratic. Now just because a sheep won’t jump out at you doesn’t mean they won’t use the road. On more than one occasion, we had to wait for sheep to cross the road before we could move on though, happily or sadly, we didn’t have to wait long. (I said “sadly” because I was desperately hoping to have one of those experiences where I could tell my friends while shaking my head in mock weariness, “Yep! It was just like the movies. The sheep took forever to move!”) But I did see some long enough to get a few good pics. Here are a couple:
By the way, did you notice the painted marks on the sheep? Painting sheep is one of the ways that farmers mark their ownership. Different farms have different colors or marks. But paint is used another way, too, and it's a little more embarrassing to explain, but I'll try to do it as best I can. Ewes that that have been mounted are painted a certain color so farmers know if they’ve been mated or not. After a few weeks, ewes they are re-mated for some reason are painted with a second, different color. That way farmers know which ewes will give birth later in the year.
And that all she wrote (or I wrote) for this post. I'll be back soon with Day 5. I hope you're enjoying reading as much as I'm enjoying writing this. If not, come back in a couple of weeks. Just sayin'. :)