Gap of Dunloe · Killarney · Ross Castle

Ireland: Killarney – Gap of Dunloe and Ross Castle

Much like Dublin, there were a lot of tours to be had in Killarney, whether it’s a whole day, or less. One of the oldest tours were took was The Gap of Dunloe. I wish I knew the significance of this tour, but I don’t. What I do know is, this tour really exposes you to the scenic views in this place- for long hours.

Hills, lake and grass

The tour starts by either bikes, carriage ride, or hiking it up the mountains. Once again, we took the horses, and oh how pleasant that was. No matter how romantic those carriage rides look like in historical drama, let me tell you, long hours in a carriage is uncomfortable and smelly! I can’t get past the smell! But anyway, we stuck through it for all 7 miles of it, and again, the smell of nature and the cool wind made it one of the best tours I’ve been on. Seeing the landscapes made me think of the epic fantasy books I’ve read, or the movies I’ve watched.

Waiting for the boats

After reaching the end point, a boat took us back round and dropped us off at Ross Castle.

Ross Castle

I had my heart set on this place from the first time I read about it (our hosts’ “hot spot” recommendations in Killarney). I thought it would be similar to Muckross House, but it was so amazingly different for a few reasons.

Time

Ross Castle

First of all, Ross Castle is a bit older than Muckross. The castle is more of a “stronghold” than an actual castle. Strongholds were more common during medieval era (1500s), and its purpose other than sheltering the Chieftain’s family, was to defend the people of the house (and their massive clan). Not only was it built strategically well; with a view of the landscape at the front, and the lake behind them made the perfect defense (until an opponent managed to get a ship on there. The soldiers surrendered just at the sight of it, but that’s later).

You’d think that was enough, but oh no! The WHOLE house on the inside is dedicated to thwarting enemies. How you ask?

Stumbling Steps

This lethal interior structure is actually a normal spiral staircase, but with uneven steps. Say enemies were lucky enough to break into the castle, even if they rushed up the stairs, they wouldn’t be able to keep their footing, and if they did, down the steps they go. Even walking up those stairs (and down) was terrifying.

Funnily, all the guests, and the occupying clan also had to use it, but one wonders how they survived walking down after being served wine at one of the banquets.

See the long narrow holes?
Muskets! 

Spiked Doors

That’s right. Spiked doors. The spikes would be on the outside of the door, and if the clan shut themselves off in a room, the opposing army will have one hell of a time trying to force the door open.

Musket Holes

Clever trick this one– even when the castle soldiers are holed in behind their doors or walls, there are musket holes in the wall. In the room, it’s a square opening that narrows inward and leaves enough space for a bullet to go through, but not the other way around because the enemy can’t take proper aim.

Living Quarters

The description of how these people lived put me off medieval times for good! Mostly, servants were put in a small room– at most 20 people. How they fit in there is beyond me. And it’s not only the servants.

The chief of the clan and his wife share a whole room with their children, and possibly other servants. Which is uncomfortable.

For bathrooms, they had a small ledge where they can do their business; think of it like a hole, but on the second floor. At the bottom, one lucky servant gets to clean the dump area, leaving a few waste products because…

The view from the castle

The Cleaning…

Ah, yes. Apparently, if waste is left long enough, it becomes ammonia, which they wanted for cleaning– so they’d hang their sheets close to that ledge where business is made, for the air to come back up through the vent, and supposedly “clean” the sheets.

Aren’t you all glad we lived in this day and age?

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