Today was a free day, meaning we did not have anything in particular planned. Carson opted to hang at the Cahernane house (who can blame him?) while Jake, mom, and I went to tour the Muckross House. It was in great condition with a bunch of old furniture, amazing woodwork, paintings, and history. While we were there, they had misplaced the resident cat, Lord Percival, among the antique furniture, and a worker came by making meowing sounds. Also, as our guide showed us these standing little square screens in the parlor, we learned where the term “saving face” came from; back in the day, when ladies desired luminous pale skin, they would put wax on their face (which somehow led to paleness??). While sitting by the fire, they would place screens between their faces and the heat to prevent melting the wax, thus “saving face.” Who knew?
After our tour, we grabbed Carson and stopped for lunch at a lakeside hotel with a view of the mountains; it also had a small ruin in the backyard by the lake. Ruins in Ireland are apparently like McDonald’s in America: they are around every corner. We then were DYING for clean clothes, so we found a laundromat in downtown Killarney. Right next door, serendipitously for us nerds, was a small pub called “The Shire,” with a whole Lord of the Rings theme. So after putting in our laundry and shopping around a bit, we stopped in for a pint. They had specialty brews designed just for their pub, with names like “Gandalf’s Ale” and “Frodo’s Lager.” I had a hobbit-sized half pint of Frodo’s Lager, and it was one of the best beers I’ve ever had. The boys tried it and agreed. They had Gandalf’s Ale, which was similar to a Guinness but less creamy and with a different aftertaste; also delicious. But Frodo won the day.
We adjourned to the Cahernane house for coffee and relaxing (and blogging for me, as my constant struggle for time to blog and internet connection continued). Every day, as you may have noticed, we took pictures of some new feature of the Cahernane house and the sheep in the backyard. Carson had a sheep interaction where one sheep was outside the fence and panicked when he saw the approaching human, and promptly got his head stuck in the fence. Poor guy. For dinner and evening activities, we had booked tickets to a show called the “Spirit of Ireland” which features traditional Irish music and dance. We walked down the road to the Gleneagle hotel and conference center, where we ate our included meal in haste to try to get seats right at 8:30 before the 9 o’clock show. The lady at the front desk warned us the room fills up before the show, so we were panicked about not getting good seats to see the Irish spectacular. Mom and I walked in the room and she grabbed my arm and started dying laughing; there were maybe five people. We had no problem getting seats. The show turned out to be amazing, despite the emptiness; it turns out two tour buses couldn’t make it due to dinner running late, so the show usually does sell out and fill up. It just happened we were attending the anomaly. Maybe our lowered expectations caused us to really enjoy the show, but the dancers blew us away with their lively jig of whirring legs and tapping feet and still upper bodies. The floor of the stage literally shook sometimes as they stomped their steel toes shoes. There also was a boy that could not have been more than twelve years old, who moved his legs so fast it was a blur; he was apparently a two time world champion of dance. I believe it. The band and singers were amazing as well, with guitars, violins, flute, keyboard, accordions, and some Irish drum I’d never seen before. They played some songs we recognized, such as a few bars of Whiskey in the Jar. We clapped along and had a great time; the show was such a cultural experience, we absolutely loved it!