Bogged down in Ireland? For peat’s sake, why?



A tour bus has 4½ seats suitable for touring, and one of those belongs to the driver. That leaves 3½ seats for the tourists to scramble for. All of them are in the front row. From there you get an unobstructed view of the world coming toward you with its hands full of treasures. The half seat is the one in the front row directly behind the driver. You can still see quite a bit, just not directly ahead because directly ahead you see a head. All the seats that follow provide you with half a tour. If you do right-sided touring, you see the world right, but you can’t see what’s left. Conversely, if all you see is left, you don’t see things right.


Tuesday morning we ate an early breakfast in our Killarney hotel, filling up on butter-slathered scones, and  then hurried over to the tour bus stop to make sure we got the front seats. Our route: the Ring of Kerry, a 105-mile drive around the Iveragh Peninsula. Our direction: clockwise, the direction all tour buses take because buses can’t pass one another on the one-and-a-half-bus-wide roads.


Glenbeigh and the Kerry Bog Village Museum


Ireland has more bogs than just about any other country in Europe. Bogs are burial grounds for vegetation. Green things die, rain falls, oxygen chokes, drains plug, decay happens, decomposition doesn’t, and peat forms. Re-peat each century and you have yourself a bog. If you want to preserve a body, bury it in a bog. Of course, it helps if you bury it a few centuries ago. (Read about the amazing preservation properties of bogs and a recent find in an Irish bog at National Geographic online.)


Did turf-cutters get bogged down sometimes by having to repeat the same job all the time?


Close up of peat “bog logs”


But back to the Bog Village Museum in Glenbeigh. It consists of a small village founded by a turf-cutter (peat gatherer), Jeremiah Mulvihill. The six furnished buildings depict life in the early 1800s.


On route to our next stop, the driver gave us the option to stop at a sheep-herding exhibition. “The best five euros you’ll spend in Ireland,” he said. I raised my hand ”yes,” confident that all the others behind me would do the same. After all, each of us paid hundreds if not thousands of euros to travel to Ireland, and this was only five euros. A few pushy ones barked out “no,” and the rest, sheep-like, agreed, so we didn’t stop. I still snarl every time I think about it.


Along the way


The Atlantic Ocean crashes onto the beaches all along the western coast we traveled, and the MacGillycuddy Reeks (“black stacks” mountains) stand in the middle of the peninsula to watch. Carrantuohill mountain sees the most because it’s the tallest (about 3400 feet) in all of Ireland. I struggled to keep the views from taking away my breath, but lost.

Coastline on the Iveragh Peninsula


We returned to Killarney via Moll’s Gap named for Moll Kissame (a great last name for an Italian: What’s your name? Kiss-a-me), who ran a pub and quenched the thirst of travellers in the early 1800s. She also put the shine in the moon, if you get my drift, with her homemade, unauthorized whiskey. She definitely left a gap when she died. A tourist shop now stands in place of her pub.


Mind the Gap; Moll did.


Ladies View

We stopped once more before returning to Killarney at Ladies View, a scenic spot providing a panoramic view of the Killarney Lakes. Apparently it remained nameless until 1861 when Queen Victoria, then sovereign of all of Ireland, visited the lakes with her ladies-in-waiting.

Irish coffee picture courtesy of my iPhone


We didn’t find any four-leaved clover on the tour, but we found shamrocks in some Irish coffee. I drifted off that night under moonshine, wondering if Moll served that kind of coffee to her customers.


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Next installment: The end is near!

33 thoughts on “Bogged down in Ireland? For peat’s sake, why?

  1. Did you get to smell the peat fires in any of the buildings you visited? A very unique scent. Loved those scones! We did the Dingle peninsula instead of Kerry. Loved it. I would be mad, too, if no one wanted to see the sheep.

    • None of the buildings had a fire going. I heart it’s a nice smell.

      I ate lots of scones on vacation, so now I have to eat more carefully.

      I really couldn’t believe people would choose not to see sheepherding.

  2. The only sheepherding exhibition I’ve ever seen was in the film BABE, and it was astonishing. I can’t believe either than nobody but you wanted to see it.
    Thanks for all this–I’m having a wonderful time!

    • There were a few other people that wanted to see the exhibition, but the majority ruled. If I ever go to Ireland again, I will plan to see sheepherding.

      So glad you’re enjoying the posts.

  3. Popping in and out of your delightful blog …. enjoying each segment as if i were right there beside you instead of splayed on my bed clutching my stomach and cursing the horrible Flagyl I’ve been condemned to for 10 miserable days. Thank God … and than YOU for these wonderful moments of sheer pleasure when I’m transported to one of your side trips.

    I’m enjoying your vacation so much … and you describe things so very very well that for a few moments I’m on vacation too …..

  4. I love your travel posts!

    Can I also say that upon reading ‘ladies view’ I thought you are talking about the shape of the lake and actually saw lady parts? =/

    Freud would be jumping up and down in his grave right now, trying to tell us that I have some weird lake fetish. I don’t!

  5. I love the pictures in this post. I smiled when I saw the photos of Moll’s Gap as they brought back memories of a trip to Kerry a few years ago. I have enjoyed reading about your holiday so I am sad to hear it ‘the end is near’

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