After seeing Ireland at sea level and underground, it only made sense to go up! Chartering a plane would have been awesome to shoot from but probably cost more than a sandwich. So, with a sandwich in hand I aimed for the top of Carrauntoohil instead. Carrauntoohil is the tallest peak in Ireland and on a clear day gives you an impressive panoramic vista in all directions.

Being in a land locked part of Canada I had to explore almost every pier I found. Some I really should have walked first before driving but there was a road so… Annnd don't screw up the clutch. I was a little worried if it was going to make it back up. Thankfully I was able to Austin Powers around at the end of the pier itself.

The view itself from the pier was pleasant. The waves crashed on the rocks surrounding the pier providing a bit of a wave break.

Speaking with a couple folks at the pub last night they suggested heading up Connor Pass as it is a quick drive with a terrific view. It was on my way so why not! No one really has winter tires in Ireland so there are warnings that the mountain pass was prone to icing in colder temperatures. The view itself was actually very pleasant. Being a pass, you were provided with a panoramic view in both directions. It is worth the detour if you are in the area.

Carrauntoohil could be spotted in the distance hidden away under the clouds. According to the gas station attendant it’s rarely ever a clear view of the summit and the weather constantly changes.

Over the years, there have been a large amount of deaths on Carrauntoohil, mostly attributed to poor navigational planning or being inadequately prepared. The parking lot you start off in has numerous plaques on the wall remembering those who have lost their lives. I made sure to pet the friendly goat upon arrival!

Now the plan was to do the loop I wanted in a counter clockwise direction as it made the descent easier. After walking and chatting to some of the other folks on the trail I missed my turn off by a long shot and was headed up the Devils Ladder.

Ideally I was planning to avoid this route as it’s filled with large boulders and is very heavily eroded resulting in hikers higher up letting go dangerously sized rocks. I was also missing the scrambling ascent of O’Sheas Gully which I wanted to experience. I found a couple guides leading some tourists and asked them what it would be like doing it clockwise… Both advised against it due to the constant rain and slick rock on the way down the gully. Sounded like a bummer but I still had my doubts.

The boulders look small in the photo but if you spot the person at the bottom of frame it gives you a good indication of their actual size! Beefy rocks. Unsurprisingly the weather didn’t hold for long and before even starting on the Ladder the wind started to pick up again and the heavens opened up.

Thankfully after a quick and heavy down pour the clouds blew away and it was clear skies to the summit!

Once near the top I found a man with a beard. Now for the month leading up to this point… guys with beards have not steered me wrong. He just went up the gully and while he stopped at the rain storm, he said it was do-able going down, just be careful. One guy with a beard basically is equal to the four guys without beards. At this point I was convinced of heading down the gully.

Alas! The summit of Carrauntoohil. The weather actually cleared up and besides some wind and distance clouds, it was great! A five meter (16 foot) steel cross was placed on the summit in 1976 and lasted until November 2014 when some vandals cut it down. No one knows who did it or why. It would not have been an easy feat as the steel is very thick. It was subsequently re-erected later the same month.

Part of the descent takes you down to a nice little lake tucked away which feeds the waterfall you see while hiking the approach to Carrauntoohil. Even with the rain it was actually a pretty good descent. There were a few hands on scrambles and a couple down climbs but nothing crazy that isn't common here. Beard man was right! Glad I listened to him as it made for a considerably better day.

A few folks I met at the summit oddly enough saved the day once I got back to the car. Always make sure you turn off your headlights when parked or else you’ll end up with a flat battery. Lesson learned.

St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney, Co. Kerry, was erected in 1842 and was considered to be one of the most important Gothic Revival churches of the nineteenth century in Ireland.

The interior of St Mary’s Cathedral is adorned with huge glass murals that grace the sweeping windows.

Ross Castle, just a little south of Killarney, was built in the late 15th century as a tower house. The castle was one of the last to surrender during the Irish Confederate wars. They held off over 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 horses. It wasn’t until artillery was brought in by boat that the castle soon saw its fate.

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