Above: 1910 | Below: 2007
The ‘now’ image here is a bit out of date, coaches are more modern now for the most part, but it does neatly illustrate the changes that have occurred for those touring Ireland by coach.
Both pictures were taken close to Killarney in Co Kerry, which has been probably the most popular tourist destination in Ireland for about 250 years. Not a bad record, no wonder they are so good at welcoming visitors!
For a good portion of that time coach tours around the Ring of Kerry have been an essential part of a visit to this region of Ireland. The mode of transport has certainly changed though, today you’ll be whisked around in the comfort of a modern air-conditioned coach, and are very unlikely to be stranded by the site of the road by a puncture, as were the unlucky visitors in the top photo.
The numbers visiting have increased a LOT over the years. However the roads have stayed the same width for long stretches. And that width is narrow. Sometimes very narrow indeed. And there are a lot of coaches navigating these narrow roads – hundreds leave Killarney daily at the height of the season.
Modern coaches are wide and take up a lot of road – it can be very alarming to see one suddenly looming around a bend on the road ahead when all that’s to your left is a high cliff.
If you’re in a car the thing to do is drive slow and be prepared to pull in as much as you can at any time. There is space to pass, even if it sometimes doesn’t seem like it.
Or go by coach, sit back and let the driver deal with it!
There are tips here about touring the Ring of Kerry which will also help.
At least you’ll have a roof over your head. These people setting of from Sligo in 1885 must surely have been praying for the rain to stay away. And the wind – you have to admire the optimism of the top hats!