You Can’t Miss It

Within our first week living in Dublin we had begun to identify the tendency of the Irish to grossly underestimate distances and overestimate the ease with which one not familiar with the territory will recognize his desired destination. But it was our recent trip to County Kerry that we confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are certain times you cannot trust an Irishman no matter how personable, friendly and sincere he may seem. It is not because he is lying or purposely trying to deceive you. It is because he honestly believes what he’s telling you when he says:

It’s just a short 15 minute walk (when it is actually a 45 minute walk)

There is only one path (when there are multiple directions one may go)

You can’t miss it (when you can and most certainly will)

Having said that, one thing the Irish are is punctual. If you are on a tour, as we were in the areas surrounding Killarney, and your tour guide tells you that the bus/boat/(insert vehicle type here) will leave at “approximately tree turty,” he means that the bus will leave at exactly “tree-turty” with or without you on it.

Many tourists learn this the hard way we came to find out, thankfully, through conversation only and not experience. And through this conversation we emerged with a dreadful fear of being left behind. So, we took care to be sure and always allow ourselves enough time to reach any designated departure site.

While staying in Killarney in County Kerry, we planned a half day trip to walk through the Gap of Dunloe (a scenic mountain pass carved by glaciers) and then take a boat ride across the three Lakes of Killarney and a short bus ride back into town. The first bus was to pick us up between 10 and 10:20 on Easter Sunday morning. (Note: Time is on a 24 hour clock in Ireland, so no need to designate a.m. or p.m.)

We awoke at 8:50 and were in the midst of getting ready when the phone rang in our room at the Old Weir Lodge about 9:17. Come to find out from the front desk that if we were planning on doing the Gap of Dunloe tour our coach was here for us. But it isn’t supposed to be here until at least 10. Yes, and it is now 10:17. The time changed last night or didn’t you know? Uh, no, we didn’t know as it won’t change in the States for another week and nobody in Ireland was talking about it the day before nor happened to mention it to us as along side the “be looking for the coach to pick you up at your hotel at approximately 10 in the morning.”

Bollocks! We scrambled to finish getting ready, throw our belongings into our bags and get out to the coach before it left without us, leaving my CD collection behind in our wake. Apologizing profusely to everyone on the bus as we piled on, we were on our way. As we pulled into our departure point for the walk through the Gap our bus driver kindly let us know that the only boat that would leave that day from the top of the Lakes would do so at approximately two fifteen. We had a solid 3 hours to walk 7.4 miles. Shouldn’t be a problem, we thought.

We decided it would be a good idea to check our plan with the locals who were renting out the horses and carriage rides. We considered riding horses, but they only had carriages available at the time so, in the end, we decided we’d rather walk. “Which path do we take?” “Oh, you’ll have no trouble finding it. There is only one path to the Lakes. You can’t miss it.” And a seed of doubt was planted.

We walked and walked and it was beautiful. Sheep roam the mountainside and don’t give you the time of day as you pass by. Small lakes lie interspersed among the rocky glacier carved mountainside and there is only one paved path to amble along. Only one path, that is, until we hit mile six and came across a fork in the road with signs pointing in all directions. The seed of doubt sprouts and begins to grow.

“Just one path,” they said. “You can’t miss it,” they said. At least there were signs. Unfortunately, there was a sign pointing us in either direction towards boat tours as seen here:

Now, which way would you go?

We thought the “Tangneys Boating Tours” sign looked much more official and prominent and this most likely was the big boat company for the tourists. Also, more signs were pointing toward the fork to the left. The time was 13:25. Choose correctly and we should make it to the boats with time to stop for a leisurely lunch before heading out. Choose incorrectly and risk missing the only boat out entirely and walking back the 7.4 miles we came through the Gap. To the left we went.

About a mile later, as the paved path turned into stone path into sheep and horse dung-laden dirt path, we determined we had gone the wrong way through the land of Dookey Hollow and should turn around before we wasted anymore time. We did just that and reached the fork at 13:45. We had “turty” minutes to reach the boats before . . . we’ll make it if we hurry.

We did make it with five minutes to scarf down a ham and cheese sandwich on thick white bread before jumping in the boat for a beautiful tour through the Lakes of Killarney.

2 Responses to “You Can’t Miss It”

  1. Carrie Howell Says:

    Hi_LAR-ious! I have toread this to my AP class. They will find it rahter amusing! Are your legs sore?

  2. JoyLuck Says:

    TSYBB! My right calf was killing for 2 days. Boy oh boy!

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