Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wild Atlantic Adventure

They call it the "Wild Atlantic Way."  It's a route, filled with historic and stunning attractions which travelers can take through a portion of Ireland.

We took the Wild Atlantic Way yesterday through the Ring of Kerry in Southwestern Ireland.  We have been this route before but our destination took us to a World Heritage Site, known as Skellig Michael (steep rocks).

We learned that the jagged island and its smaller partner about an hour's boat ride out into the ocean has served at least three major purposes in its long existence:  a home to monks, a temporary home for thousands and thousands of birds to hatch their young and, most recently, the setting for action in the Star Wars movie series. 

We heard about the monks, 13 of them who lived on the island in about the 800s, reportedly living off from seagulls along with whatever gardens they could plant. We also heard several Star Wars filming anecdotes. 

And, we learned a lot about the current population of approximately 75,000 residents, mostly of the winged variety, although we did see some seals and met a couple men who work on the island, as naturalist and rock climbing expert.

I was most interested to see the puffins but soon learned that these unique birds are a bit on the shy side, so sightings had to be quick or we missed them.  I did manage to catch one photo, however.

Yesterday's bird watching was highlighted by the fact that it's not snow on them there jagged peaks of Michael and Little Skellig; it's birds---thousands of them, giving a sense of constant motion as they take off, land and cluster together on the rock ledges. 

The most prominent and largest species, hanging out especially on Little Skellig are called Gannets.  Their wing span averages two meters, and their technique for catching fish involves extreme dive bombing, leaving a huge spray as they hit the water to grab a fish.

David, our guide, told us the intensity of this descent into the water often leads to death or eventual blindness in the birds.

The sheer numbers of birds we saw yesterday could explain for what look like spots on many of my photos.  In this case, it's the birds cuz they were pretty much everywhere we looked.

Our boat ride gave us time to get briefly acquainted with other passengers, about a dozen, hailing from Russia, Italy, Canada, the United States and, of course, our skipper from Ireland. 

There was sea sickness but not among the Love's. With the rocking of the boat, Bill and I are thinkng that maybe our bracelets protected us from nausea.  We weren't going to take them off to see for sure. 

An Italian couple, Christine, a surgeon and Giovanni, a lawyer, did their best to enjoy the trip, but the nausea slowed them down.  Dave, the skipper, handed them some ginger, which did help. 

It was a fascinating experience.  I mentioned to Bill during the boat ride:  would you ever have dreamed we'd be doing anything like this?  Definitely a "pinch yourself" kind of day. 

I took other photos of continued geocaching activity along the way to our boat dock for the trip to the Skelligs.  

I was pretty amazed with the ultimate tourist trap at a hillside overlooking the beautiful farmland of the Ring of Kerry. 

Wanna make some money?  

Take your baby lamb, put your kittens in a bucket, bring along the bunny and a couple of young mutts, and you can set up a petting zoo.  Maybe just maybe someone will drop a coin in your hand.  

Or, if you can sing or play the accordian or sell your artwork or ice cream cones.  There's a place for you along a roadside in County Kerry to set up shop. 

It's definitely "turist" time in Ireland, and folks are doing their best to get a piece of the pie.  And, we're definitely some of the "turists" from around the world who are happy to contribute, especially with opportunities like yesterday's memorable boat trip to the Skelligs. 

Another great day.  Enjoy the photos.  Off to Clifden today. 

Cachers on the move.

Hurling, which combines the skills of baseball, hockey and lacrosse, is very popular in Ireland. It's aggressive and known as the fastest game on grass.

Sea sickness held 'em down but Giovanni and Christine made the best of a bad experience.

One of the Russian passengers

Our boat

By the end of the boat ride and after all of his volunteer assistance at steering the vessel and helping with other necessities, Skipper Dave had offered Bill a job as first mate.

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