Treasures of Ireland:
A Jaunty-Good Ride Through Killarney National Park
Story and photos by Tom Weber
no Lone Ranger, far from it. He wears no mask, doesn't carry a pair
of six-shooters around his waist and knows absolutely no one by the
name of Tonto. But, he does have a horse named Silver that pulls his
Meet John, one of the funniest jarveys
(drivers) in all of Killarney and one of three quick-witted local experts
anxiously waiting for the "band of merry media" 18
intrepid travel writers and photographers invited by Insight
Vacations (Insight) on its Treasures of Ireland journey
to clamber up into the back of their respective canopied jaunting
cars for a one-hour ride through picturesque Killarney National Park.
"Céad míle fáilte,"
(One-hundred-thousand welcomes) he says with a smile.
"Mind if I ride shotgun?" I ask.
Doffing his cap, John replies, "It
would be an honor," and quickly extends his hand to help me pull
myself up alongside.
"Better throw a rug over your lap,"
he warns me, "it might get a bit cold along the way."
"A rug?" I ask.
"Oh," he chuckles, "a blanket
Sans a "Hi-yo Silver!," we clippety-clop
down the street a short way until jovial John cracks a left, as they
say over here, and into the vast park we head.
Chatting and laughing as we go, John, a
jarvey his entire adult life just like the rest of the lads in his family,
points out that, "Killarney National Park covers approximately
26,000 acres and extends from the town limits all the way out to the
foot of the Macgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland's highest mountain range."
Considered to be the jewel in the crown
of Co. Kerry, Killarney National Park is a truly photogenic place filled
with spectacular natural beauty. Home to one of the most extensive oak
woodlands still in existence around Europe, the park encompasses mountains,
lakes, streams, waterfalls, small islands and flatlands, and boasts
a unique resident who's been living here since the end of the last Ice
Age: the endangered Irish Red Deer.
With an intricate network of walking,
hiking and cycling paths and trails, visitors can spend days on
end exploring the Killarney National Park wilderness up one side
and down the other, and stop long enough to frame some of the
park's signature locales: Muckross House and Gardens, Ross Castle,
Killarney House, Knockreer House and Torc Waterfall.
Unfortunately, we're on the clock
with no time to spare as our group photo shoot awaits, so John
tugs on the reins, Silver finds a little extra in his giddyup
and our small caravan of jaunting cars heads back to the starting
In full view of the steeple of St.Mary's
Cathedral, one of the finest examples of 19th century Gothic Revival
architecture in the country, the "band of merry media" strikes
a pose in front of the lens. The local contracted photographer cries
out, "Say cheese!," but he's trumped by someone off to the
side, probably Jarvey John, who yells, "Say Killarney!"
For complete information on Insight's 100+
premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures
of Ireland itinerary where a jaunting car ride awaits, just click
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you in about an hour when we'll nestle
back into our business class-legroom seats and take off on a scenic
drive around the Ring of Kerry heaven on earth
stopping often along the way for photo-ops and hot-buttered scones smothered
in homemade jam.
at Killarney; The
Rock of Cashel; The
Kilkenny Way; A
Donnybrook of a Feast; Dublin
and the Book of Kells; Treasures
of Ireland: Prologue