my friend, Sue Kahne said she and her husband, Wally,
were going on a riding vacation through Ireland, my husband
Joe Faso and I asked if we could tag along.
to Ireland went without a hitch. After a delay at
Shannon Airport, we were driven the 83 miles to O'Sullivan's
Killarney Riding Stable. We met our host and hostess
Doni and Noreen O'Sullivan. They went out of their
way to make our stay a pleasant one. We had a terrible
case of jet lag and spent Sunday walking the grounds in
a zombie-like state. We did notice that the barns
are concrete inside and out. Although the horses stand
on concrete, Doni says they don't have leg problems.
The horses are fed 'nuts' (pellets). When a horse
gets back from a week long trip, he's rested on pasture.
They are shod every week as they ride on narrow paved roads
and rocky paths. They don't have leg problems.
Their farrier is a "silver medalist." He and his brother
studied under their father who was a Master Farrier.
Our English saddles were custom made for each horse by a
craftsman in Limerick. Extremely comfortable, they
put them on the horses without a pad.
found us refreshed and ready to meet our horses.
Wally got a 12 year old, large, flea-bitten gray draft
horse called "Sheba." Hoe's horse was a small bay
called 2Folly". Sue's light Irish draft horse, "Fox"
was a sorrel. He was 20 years old, but the sweetest,
most energetic horse in the bunch. Mine was, also,
a flea-bitten gray draft horse named "Misty". She
liked to plow right ahead and put her ears back if the
other horses didn't agree. We met our guide, Les
Little, an extremely nice and personable man. For
28 years he was a steeplechase jockey, and won 128 of
his races. It's a rough life, but he loved it.
three hour ride took us through Killarney National Park.
Many of the trees are similar to ours and we were surprised
to see bird's nest ferns growing wild. The beautiful
copper beech tree has a leaf that is copper coloured in
the sun and green out of it. We rode by Ross Castle
that was destroyed by Cromwell in his purge through this
country. It is being rebuilt to hold medieval banquets.
We passed a thatched roofed cottage used in the movie
Ryan's Daughter. We saw MacGillycuddy's Reeks (a
mountain range), lakes, forests, ruins of abbeys and a
lovely waterfall. The people along the way were friendly
with beautiful rosy cheeks and nice smiles. We were
able to walk, trot and canter in this beautiful park.
we picked up our horses that had been trucked to Killorglin.
We rode from Killorglin through the Devil's Elbow with
views of Lake Caragh and across the Windy Gap Trail.
The only rain on our trip was a brief downpour on the
Windy Gap Trail. Farms with sheep and dairy cattle
dotted the trails. We stopped for lunch at about
2 o'clock. Lunch consisted of two sandwiches with
a single very thin slice of meat, one apple, a scone and
a can of soda pop. After lunch, we continued our
climb up the Windy Gap Trail. Sheep scurried out
of our way as we finally reached the top. We had
a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean and the
patchwork quilt fields that surrounded it. As we
came down the hill toward Glenbeigh, we could see the
fields were separated by the stone walls Ireland is famous
for. We stayed at the hundred year old Falcon Inn.
It has a labyrinth of rooms with bathrooms across the
hall. For dinner Sue and I had poached salmon, Wally
a steak, and Joe a pork cutlet.
morning Sue exchanged horses with Les, our guide.
It seems Fox loves the beach and gets a little rambunctious.
Guinness, a large black and white draft horse who formerly
pulled a gypsy's cart, was very laid back. Prancing
all the way to Rossbeigh Beach, Fox went flat out for
the next two miles. Misty tried to keep up with him, but
he was two fast for her. Joe followed on Folly,
then Wally on Sheba. Sue's horse cantered at such
a lovely pace she sat back and enjoyed the scenery. I
just held on till we stopped. After the beach, we
headed for the bogs. We walked our horses through,
as one false step and you're stuck. We had lunch
at beautiful Coomasaharn Lake surrounded by Horseshoe
Mountain. After lunch, we trekked back to Glenbeigh
for our last night at the Falcon Inn. Just a note
here to say we were all waiting for Wally to complain
he was sore as he doesn't ride much. He didn't.
I did. My legs felt like they were going to fall
off. We averaged 20 miles a day and post-trotted
for long stretches at a time.
our ride took us back up the mountain through Windy Gap
to Glencar. What is amazing is the stamina of the
horses. They trot up and down the mountains and
never seem to tire. We were surrounded by the ring
of Kerry with its mountains and lakes. The scenery
was constantly changing. We stayed at the 200 year
old "Glencar House". It is famous for trout and
salmon fishing. People come from all over the world
to try for the big one. The inn reminded me of the
inns used in the old murder mysteries.
we sadly left the lovely old inn and headed through the
Ballaghasheen Pass. Our destination was Waterville
24 miles away. We passed virgin bogs and 15 year
old pine forests. Flowers grow wild all over.
We way buttercups, fuscia, heather, wild cotton plants
(very small used for weaving), foxglove, St. Patrick's
Waterville, we stayed at the "Strand Hotel". Its
one of two hotels owned by Mick O'Dwyer, a famous football
player. The hotel overlooks Ballinskellig's Bay.
Sue and I traded horses for a gallop on Waterville Beach.
This time I had the lovely canter on guinness, and she
tore ahead on Misty. From the beach we headed toward
Hogg's Head. On the way we saw the rock the Druids
left and enjoyed the rocky coastline. We stopped
at the point closest to New York for our final lunch.
Then, sadly, headed back to Waterville. Our journey
was over, but along the way we had met very friendly people.
We would never forget their hospitality to four strangers
Killarney Riding Stables,