The drive from Dublin to County Kerry is not bad at all, and Lee drives on the left like a pro. In about 4 hours we have crossed central Ireland and entered the western part of the country. Our directions to the Ballyseede Castle Hotel are pretty obscure so I call them just to be sure. "Sure, its the next left past the Earl of Desmond Hotel!" they say encouragingly. I plug coordinates into the gps for added certainty, and for the rest of this portion of the trip we get to hear "arriving at coordinates" whenever we come back to our hotel.
I'm delighted and downright thrilled to find out that yes we are really staying in a castle, actually a 17th century country house that was privately owned until the 1960's. It is absolutely beautiful inside and out, with beautiful furnishings, knights in armour on the staircase, stone lions at the entry, and miniature ponies and donkeys in the field.
We still have a couple of hours left this afternoon so we decide to drive over to the little town of Dingle where we admire wool sweaters and I buy a pretty scarf. We return to the hotel by way of Connor Pass, and the view is completely spectacular. A rainbow greets us at the top of the pass, how cool is that? We drive the rest of the way through flocks of sheep, rocky fields, peat bogs. Unfortunately the remains of the Celtic Tiger, Ireland's burst housing bubble, can be seen in the vestiges of abandoned spec houses everywhere we go. But beyond the empty new houses lining the roads are ancient fences made of stones and brush. The word beautiful seems inadequate but that's what it is, beautiful.
We have a fine dining meal in the castle that evening and then retire to the bar to try some Irish whiskey before bed. A perfect ending for a lovely day!