He’s no Lone Ranger. Far from it. He wears no mask, doesn’t carry a pair of six-shooters around his waist and knows no one by the name of Tonto. But, he does have a horse called Silver that pulls his jaunting car.
Meet John, one of the funniest jarveys (drivers) in all of Killarney and one of three quick-witted local experts anxiously waiting for the “band of merry media” — 18 intrepid travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to document a portion of its Treasures of Ireland journey — to clamber up into the back of their respective canopied jaunting cars for a one-hour ride through picturesque Killarney National Park.
“Céad míle fáilte,” (One-hundred-thousand welcomes) he says with a smile.
Doffing his cap, he replies, “It would be an honor,” and quickly extends his hand to help me pull myself up alongside.
“Better throw a rug over your lap,” John warns me, “it might get a bit cold along the way.”
“A rug?” I ask.
“Oh,” he chuckles, “a blanket then.”
Sans a “Hi-yo Silver!,” we clippety-clop down the street a short way until jovial John cracks a left, as they say over here, and into the vast park we head.
Chatting and laughing as we go, John, a jarvey his entire adult life like the rest of the lads in his family, points out that, “Killarney National Park covers approximately 26,000 acres and extends from the town limits all the way out to the foot of the Macgillycuddy Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range.”
Considered to be the jewel in the crown of Co. Kerry, Killarney National Park is a truly photogenic place filled with spectacular natural beauty. Home to one of the most extensive oak woodlands still in existence around Europe, the park encompasses mountains, lakes, streams, waterfalls, small islands and flatlands, and boasts a unique resident who’s been living here since the end of the last Ice Age: the endangered Irish Red Deer.
With an intricate network of walking, hiking and cycling paths and trails, visitors can spend days on end exploring the Killarney National Park wilderness up one side and down the other, and stop long enough to frame some of the park’s signature locales: Muckross House and Gardens, Ross Castle, Killarney House, Knockreer House and Torc Waterfall.
Unfortunately, we’re on the clock with no time to spare as our group photo awaits, so John tugs on the reins, Silver finds a little extra in his giddyup and our small caravan of jaunting cars heads back to the starting point.
In full view of the steeple of St.Mary’s Cathedral, one of the finest examples of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture in the country, the “band of merry media” strikes a pose in front of the lens.
The local contracted photographer cries out, “Say cheese!,” but he’s trumped by someone off to the side, probably John, our jarvey, who yells out, “Say Killarney!”
For complete information on Insight’s 100+ premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures of Ireland itinerary where a jaunting car ride awaits, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you in a bit when we nestle into our business-class legroom seats and take off on a scenic drive around the Ring of Kerry — heaven on earth — stopping often along the way for photo-ops and hot-buttered scones smothered in homemade jam.
©The Palladian Traveler