Pushing the Boat Out

content writer KillarneyGiven how elderly I’ve been feeling since the Lakes of Killarney Marathon, there was something rather appropriate (if desperate) about heading to an island associated with everlasting youth. Inisfallen is the island you can see if you stand in front of Ross Castle; it is also believed to be the site of the mythical Tir na nOg (land of eternal youth) featured in Irish mythology.

To my shame, despite my claim to be a Killarney native and my double stint working in the local tourist office, I had never been to the island before last Saturday, so when the chance arose this weekend, I jumped (well, bobbed enthusiastically) at it. The fact that getting there would involve rowing proved particularly attractive, mainly because rowing is not running…

We headed out on a dull, grey, lifeless day, which as a newly anointed boating expert, I now know is perfect rowing weather. ¬†Whatever notions I had of gliding effortlessly across the water were soon forgotten, as I shunted the boat around by the copper mines ad Governor’s Rock on Ross Island and out into the open lake. Swans and ducks paid no attention to us, despite the crash of oars and frequent lurches in the wrong direction, and the lack of engine made the whole experience quite mesmerising. If it is possible to be mesmerised while you are sweating profusely…

Content writer KillarneyDespite my floundering, it didn’t take long to get to the island, which is really a rather beautiful nugget of cropped green spaces and leafy woodland clustered around the ruins of a monastery. The green areas are more chewed than manicured, the reason becoming obvious almost immediately: ¬†As soon as we landed and started out on the broad path that circles the island, the shadows began to move and, one by one, young Sitka deer emerged to feed. Like the swans and ducks out on the lake, they were not particularly interested in us either. Sometimes it’s great to be ignored.

Among the ruins is a little oratory with an arched Romanesque doorway. Inside, you’ll find the remains of a pillar bristling with coins, some of them are well darkened with age, but some are quite recent additions, with euros scattered among the 5-cent and 10-cent pieces. What is it with Irish heritage sites and coins? I really don’t get it.

We spent about half an hour on the island and then rowed back to shore, dodging the wake of the Lily of Killarney waterbus to make it back to Ross Castle intact. It’s definitely a more leisurely way to see Loch Lein than puffing around it three times, but the Dingle Marathon looms in September, so it’s back to grinding out the miles by foot…

 

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