11 August 2011

The Meeting of the Waters, Killarney

We returned from Kerry last Friday. Along with the Poets Meet Painters launch and award ceremony, we managed to squeeze a lot in.
This is a postcard from 1917. The scene depicted is the Meeting of the Waters, near Killarney. I thought it would be interesting to see what it looks like today (and take a photo of course). We stopped off and took a short fifteen-minute walk or there about to the Meeting of the Waters (The Meeting of the Waters is the point where the Upper, Middle (Muckross lake) and Lower (Lough Leane) lakes meet).

It was like foggy memory. There was that recognition and déjà vu of an unexplainably familiar place but the knowledge that I had seen it in a picture and had just never seen it in person. Of course there was also relief that it looked, well, exactly the same. Sure there were changes, the bushes had grown somewhat in the intervening (almost) one hundred years. The boat that passed under the bridge was a motor boat with people hooked into orange life-vests, instead of the row boat on the postcard. There was the fact that the path was right in front of the toilets and the bridge had been "restored" in 2007. But overall there was definitely a sense of continuity.
Olive writes that they came under the bridge (Old Weir Bridge) during her trip on the lakes and had seen deer along the banks. I witnessed a boat making the same journey and I have stood in the National Park listening to the deer. Killarney and its surrounds have been inhabited for 4,000 years. In 1750 Viscount Kenmare built roads, boating facilities, and inns. Queen Victoria visited in 1861 with her entourage and the first Irish National Park was formed in 1932.

Killarney may have become a huge tumour of hotels and resorts since then but buried underneath its essence is still there. It has a long past that is still tangible. And it has a future.