The flight from Toronto is a blink. So fast I am astonished we are descending into Dublin Airport. An uneventful landing is always good. I am solo. There are three ways to get to Killarney. By train, by bus and if you happen to rent a car you can get there too of course. I ask someone at the ground transportation desk what makes sense and opt for the bus.
After finally locating the correct bus and asking at least twice to be sure I am heading in the right direction, I load my luggage and board. There’s a transfer and an hour wait about 15 minutes in. Luckily I have a great novel with me and the time passes despite the chill in the air. Eventually the bus for Killarney arrives. In total it is about $20 Canadian. Amazing,
Anticipating a four hour bus trip I settle in. The bus is full and I sit beside a stranger. He’s obviously a traveler and over the course of an hour we talk as he shows me his pictures from Rome. He’s just getting back. This is the one thing that I am immediately jealous of as a Canadian. Travel through and between the United Kingdom and Europe is simple and affordable. Not so in Canada. Expensive and challenging. I envy simple and affordable.
He disembarks at the University of Limerick. Stunning campus architecture captures my eye and it’s clear as we keep driving that this is a different world entirely. The state of travel through a glorious country I have never ever been to before. Slightly magical. Who has cities named Limerick? Charmed I read my book and doze off and wake maybe 30 minutes later. I double check and ask someone are we near the stop for Killarney. No not yet. It will be easily 6 p.m. before you notice Killarney.
The milk run this is. Never mind I barely notice. However the wifi doesn’t work here on the bus despite a sign saying it should. Off the grid so to speak and that’s okay, for a few hours. Out the window I see hills and green grass in the coolest odd shapes plots ever. More shades of green than you could ever imagine. Through a small town eventually that has a small airport and I realize we are finally close. It will be another hour before the bus stops near the main street of Killarney. Grabbing my luggage I exit. It has been easily 5 1/2 hours. Wifi is essential, but I walk for a bit soaking it all in.
Horses and carriages, bright colours and friendly people. Killarney is nothing if not instantly charming. People are friendlier than you ever anticipated. The food exceeds expectations. Tourism is important here. This is a village of 14,500 people unless it’s summer time and then the streets grow busier population swells to 16,500.
From the street, the first time you see it the main street shopping area of Killarney – High Street – is a work of art. All the colourful shops and restaurants, flanking a very pedestrian friendly street, are inviting. Colourful banners throughout the town welcome 600 plus travel bloggers to Killarney for TBEX, the Travel Bloggers Exchange. There are 2-3 of these conferences a year held in different areas of the world. One is always in North America and another is typically in Europe. This is my fourth TBEX.
Here in Killarney you can buy a beautiful Aran sweater at several stores. Visit Aran Sweater Market on College Street. Check out the sale section and take your time. These are the best Aran sweater prices in Ireland. The sweaters are magnificent and also conversation starters. Nothing screams Killarney like wearing an Aran sweater. After leaving Killarney for a media tour in Dublin a few people stopped me to take photos of my sweater. Trust me you will want one of these beautiful sweaters if you visit any time other than summer.
In Killarney, you will find dozens of restaurants and lovely bed and breakfast style accommodations. Of course there are inns too, motels and restaurants. For the first few days of my visit I am here attending a travel blogger’s conference called TBEX. The red carpet is rolled out and we feel at home quickly.
Three Killarney Restaurants/ Pubs Worth Visiting:
The Shire is hilarious. Gandalf may meet you out front and the Lord of the Rings theme continues throughout the pub. We couldn’t help but take pictures. The beverages are all named for characters in the Lord of the Rings.
Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder. Where to begin? This bar has the world’s largest collection of Irish whiskeys. The appetizers were exceptional and service was too. Sit at the bar. Engage the bartenders if you are a tourist. Ours was more than willing to walk us through the types of whiskeys and the merits and flavours of each. There are also special evenings there where you can explore whiskey tastings or wine tastings. Try the whiskey flights. MORE than worth it.
Quinlan’s Seafood Bar with fresh fish every day is a busy spot. It’s also a must visit at least once during your stay. There are several adorable candy shoppes along the streets in Killarney. Penney’s department store was a huge draw for me. I bought several souvenirs there for my girls and took them home.
The streets of Killarney feel safe and a cab is easy to find. One night I take a taxi from the INEC conference centre and the driver tells me he’s starting a blog. We strike up a conversation about writing and storytelling and the ride passes fast. Horse and carriage rides are offered in the city of Killarney to add to the quaint atmosphere.
Not only is Killarney a beautiful spot to visit, it’s the perfect spot to stay when you intend to explore the area through tours by car or bus. We took tours through The Ring Of Kerry and through Dingle. My travel companion also took one to the Beara Peninsula. You can also see the Gap of Dunlop from here. Each one is an easy affordable day tour option. We used Deros Tours for the Ring of Kerry Tour. Dingle was a TBEX tour. You can read more about that later this week.
If you want to drive while in Killarney note the many roundabouts and the difference driving when you are on the other side of the road. For the first few days I stayed with a good friend Margarita Ibbott who handled the driving competently. It was an adjustment but it is doable.
The drive to Killarney is long and winding, but the milk run is worth it. TBEX experience in Killarney was one of my favourites to date. Ireland in general exceeded my expectations in almost every way possible. Killarney’s charm is magical. Traveler’s of all ages will love it.