Kerry people just run rings around the willing tourists
Every summer for the past fifteen or so years, my sister and I and our families have holidayed in a rented house somewhere around the coast of Ireland. We all like messing around in the water.
In recent years we have been going to Kerry. This is because, though it pains me to admit this as a native of a neighbouring county, we feel Kerry and particularly the Iveragh Peninsula suits us well in terms of accessibility and attractions, both natural and man-made.
Not that there is anything too accessible about a near-five-hour journey from the Midlands. But we were determined to be on holidays from the time we got in the car; and the vibrant palate of red velvet fuchsia, orange montbretia waves, purple heather and loosestrife mixed with various coloured hydrangeas moderated the drive from Killarney.
I know the Ring of Kerry, which is now part of the Wild Atlantic way, trailed the likes of the neighbouring West Cork in the overall satisfaction ratings in the 2013 Holidaymaker survey - transport in the area was the Achilles heel, being rated among the lowest in the country. But I have no doubt that this 179km loop road will remain top of many visitors must-do list.
Tourism for the masses started to take off in this part of the country with the coming of the railways and the building of associated hotels, the first of which to be built in Ireland was the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney in 1854, while Queen Victoria stayed in Muckross in 1861.
Almost a century earlier Englishman Arthur Young had described the area as "the wildest and most romantic country I had anywhere seen."
Dramatic scenery tends not to be overly compatible with dramatic agricultural production and so, of necessity, some landowners in the area are firstly farmers of tourists rather than livestock. I think that the enthusiasm, pragmatism and foresight that they show towards tourism has ensured its longevity.
Kerry-men and women are a special breed of people when it comes to tourism. On an ordinary day they could sell ice to the Greenlanders. On a good one, they would make a decent stab at offloading smog to China. Who else would have the chutzpah to create an industry based on a road that would have been narrow even when trap cars were the common form of transport?