Day Seventeen (July 15th):

The day began a bit on the grey side and while the clouds lingered and a few desperately needed raindrops fell, the day was mostly clear. We got started in the small town of Kenmare. Now, Kenmare is a very special place to the ILE staff. Not only is it a gorgeous wee town full of brightly painted storefronts and front gardens, but Kenmare is also home to a stone circle. The circle is surrounded by fairy trees where wishes can be tied.

We walked through the heart of the town only a few minutes to reach the circle, but we got a little stalled on our way by the pasture next to it. It was full of some particularly fluffy sheep and the students decided to have a little fun. We divided into two groups on either end of the fence and tried to summon the sheep to either end. Sheepishly, we moved on after a few fruitless minutes.

Inside the stone circle, Brian told us a bit of the history of the circle and of the ancient Celtic religion. It was so satisfying to see the students who attended my workshop on mythology catch my eye and grin. The group of us then ringed the circle — ignoring the side-eyes and raised eyebrows of the other visitors — and joined hands. All of the counselors were visited by a solemn and sacred power that required us to give students special “earth names”. Stunning examples of these names include “Slanty Rain”; “Aurora Stardust”; and “Fern.”

After that little interlude, we headed to Cromwell’s (*queue spitting noise*) Bridge after trekking through the gorgeous streets in a light drizzle. There were several dogs that students stopped to pet as well, which was delightful.

After the bridge, students had freetime in Kenmare to eat or grab lunch. Once finished, we boarded the bus to do a partial tour of the Ring of Kerry! The views were incredible and students had a blast on the bus ride through the craggy areas. The ILE playlist included hits from our favorite bands like ABBA, Toto and Michael Jackson.

We passed Moll’s Gap and Ladies View, stopping at as many places as we could for pictures. The drizzle had thankfully cleared by the time we hiked up to see Torc Waterfall. The local legend behind the waterfall goes that Fionn mac Cool was hired to deal with a man who could shape shift into a boar (or a torc, in Gaelic) and during the battle, Torc lake was created. The trees and the dappling of the light on the rushing water was gorgeous.

On our way back, we stopped briefly at Muckross House for a photo opportunity. Then we headed on to Ross Castle where we had a bit more time to admire the swans in the river and explore the ruins. We also paused on our way back into Killarney to view the lakes.

Once again safely ensconced at the Gleneagle, students had free time to cook dinner or go into town. Kennedy, Clare and Paige decided to head to the movies while others hung out in each other’s apartments. Tomorrow will be another amazing day.