From visiting with new friends, we went to the Phoenix Organic B&B on a road in between nowhere and then some. It is a very interesting blast into the past and feels much more like a hostel than a B&B. The walls and all available surfaces are covered with eclectic items from Lorna’s (one of the owners along with her husband) travels from all over the world, but a definite Indian influence for sure. We checked in and laid down on our very uncomfortable beds. Then, we thought, we would have dinner early and went back downstairs and had salads, coconut curried vegetables and rice, and a bottle of wine. It was nice to be able to eat and drink organic, with the vegetables being local as well. We brought Lorna our very wet and muddy clothes as she had offered to wash them for us. Afterwards, we went back to our room, where I spent the night mostly tossing and turning trying to find a way to sleep that didn’t hurt my back. The next morning we had tea, toast, and juice and headed out for our next adventure.
Our first stop was to drop off the washed laundry to be dried in a town about 15 kilometers away as the normal way of drying outside was not going to work with so much rain. In Ireland, many people hang their clothes outside to dry, but literally run in and out bringing the clothes on the line and off whenever there are moments of no rain and it usually takes at least two full days for clothes to dry which we did not have time for. Then from there we went to the Organic Store (it’s actual name) in Milltown. The coolest thing ever about this store was that it was in an old church! It is quite possibly the best use of a church for me that I have ever seen. It was wonderfully stocked with quite a bit of local produce as well as organic produce from further away, and to top it off, the most divine coconut, chocolate bars! In Ireland there are so many old churches and buildings that some end up getting used for other things. In Dublin, I had seen an old fort turned into 6 dance clubs, and now here, an old church turned into an organic store. What an interesting mix of the old and the new.
We, then, went around the Ring of Kerry, following the Ocean and through mountains, and finally through Killarney National Park. Of course, there was the ever-present fog and rain with scattered sun. We stopped along the Atlantic Ocean, dipped our feet into the very cold water and then walked along the beach. I found a green stone in the shape of a heart on the beach which was such a great treasure to find! Killarney National Park is beautiful. It has ancient Oakwoods, beautiful lakes, huge mountains (for Ireland) and grand vistas. It, also, has one of the last wild herds of native Red Deer, but in my journey, I never saw one. Nevertheless, it made me happy to know they are there and protected. We walked a trail up to and past the Torc waterfall. It was beautiful but lots of tourists and lots of trash. I picked up quite a bit of trash, but it was everywhere, and there was no receptacles to put it in around the area, so we packed it out. From there, we went and picked up our now dried laundry, and then headed back to the Organic Store because we ate all the delicious produce for lunch, and I realized I wanted to go back and get enough to make lunch for the next day. Plus, the coconut chocolate bars were calling my name! I swear I could hear them, and who am I to resist delicious, organic coconut chocolate bars?
Before heading back to the Phoenix Organic B&B, we stopped in Killarney for dinner. We went to the restaurant Stone Chat that was recommended in the Lonely Planet Guide for having some good vegetarian options, and it is right! When we walked in, we realized that their vegaetarian options were more for lunch and they didn’t have many options for dinner. We asked the waitress who came up to us if she thought they could make something for us. She was very friendly and said that she felt they could totally accomodate us, but she just wanted to check with the chef and make sure. She returned saying the chef was very happy to make us a vegan dinner. She then proceeded to make recommendations for us which sounded good to us, so we said yes. It turned our her recommendations and the chef’s cooking were both superb. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, the seasoning as well. They were so happy to help us and, we were so thrilled and appreciative with the results. From the delicious dinner, we headed back to Dingle Peninsula to the B&B. As had been the case for numerous nights, I could not sleep, so I eventually gave up and went downstairs to see if they had anything out that I could munch on to hopefully help me sleep. I have learned that sometimes when I can’t sleep, if I have a bite to eat, particularly something with protein, I can oftentimes fall asleep. It was very late, and yet when I went downstairs, Lorna was up, and I told her about my predicament. She was incredibly kind and helpful and got me some homemade spelt bread with tahini. We then stayed up chatting for quite a while which was quite lovely. Then she shared a wonderful story with me that she had written about her life which was fascinating. She has traveled all over the world, studying dance, exploring, and then brought all she has learned to her life with her family in what is now the Phoenix Organic. It started out as a place she and her husband bought, where they lived out of a trailer and a small wooden caravan for years while they fixed up the old barn on the land and started an organic garden. Then, they moved into the barn and started a cafe to help ends meet. The cafe was such a success and friends from afar started coming and spending the night that they were convinced to start a B&B and the Phoenix Organic was born from the ashes of a former dilapidated piece of land and barn. We awoke the next morning, had a delicious breakfast, and headed on our way to Kilkenny, our bellies full of yummy organic goodness and our hearts full of joy.