From the stunning scenery, to wildlife, to the solid chocolate Easter eggs, the Kingdom (and of course my home county) of Kerry, in my humble opinion, was definitely one of the best counties in Ireland to grow up in.
Here's my list of the best reasons why Kerry is the Kingdom of Ireland.
1. The glorious scenery.
What's great about growing up in the southwest is that you really couldn't get sick of the scenery – there's just too much beauty to behold.
Seriously, if you haven't gone through Conor Pass, hopped on the Blasket Islands or visited Skellig Mhicíl – you're missing out.
What other county has this kind of scenery??
2. Breathing in the fresh air.
There's nothing more heavenly than Kerry's fresh air, especially if you are a kid running around. Definitely better than breathing in fumes from Dublin Bus!
3. Having very long names bordering on ridiculous.
'How're ya Seán Mac an tSíthigh!' need I say more?
The long names are particularly mad in the Gaeltacht where loads of people add the 'wife of', 'son of' or 'daughter of' in Irish to their names.
4. Going around regularly in wellies didn't look silly.
Believe me on this one – in the southwest when it rained, it poured out of the heavens. Where I lived your feet had to stay in wellies to stay any bit dry.
5. Bad weather didn't mean you had to stay inside.
It just meant more time to explore. If there's one thing that Kerry people were born to do it was to withstand the weather. Sure I was out exploring in the wind, rain, sleet and snow.
6. Fungi the Dolphin.
He's the invincible dolphin who lives on and on.
Apparently he's been in Dingle Bay for 30 odd years now...Apparently.
7. Giving directions to tourists that they really wouldn't understand.
'Go down there now to the left, mind the junction, then follow the way round 'til you reach the blue house and you're away there...'
8. Using phrases that no one really understands.
This includes putting more of a stress on some words too.
For example: “I'll be cráite by the lot of ya!”
In other words, “I'll be driven demented”
Also “Bah”, not to be confused with Cork's 'baai'. This is Kerry slang for “boy”.
9. Living less than half an hour away from a beach.
Can't beat it. Pretty much every beach in Kerry is within reasonable driving distance and they're proper beaches too, with rock pools and places to explore none of this pebble-only nonsense.
10. Running down sand dunes.
A trip to the beach also meant getting the chance to run down the dunes – Banna Beach and Glenbeigh were particularly fantastic for sand dune shenanigans!
Much better than the sand dunes in the Rebel county (Cork).
11. Having the best ice cream (fact).
Easily the best ice cream in Ireland. Murphy's in Dingle has an amazing selection that any child would love. The best treat growing up! Not only that, but we Kerry folk know how to make a decent '99' icecream cone.
12. Getting solid chocolate eggs from Skelligs for Easter.
Yes they exist!
As a special treat, my Mam would go out and buy a solid chocolate Easter egg that weighed a kilo – Kerry chocolate I might add!
13. The Rose of Tralee.
Everybody now, “the pale moon was rising!”
The annual Rose of Tralee festival not only brought together people from across the county but lots of money to the community too, keeping the town alive and kicking!
14. Taking pride in your school band.
Going to school in Kerry meant taking up an instrument for your school band. And boy, did we take pride in that.
On St Patrick's Day, dressed in our uniforms, we'd head out in the parade with the full intention to win that coveted band prize from the local council.
'Fáinne Geal an Lae' was a particular favourite to play.
15. Heading to the Junior Cert disco.
And it was a foam disco!
The Junior Cert disco was the place where you'd almost be guaranteed to get a kiss (or two)... The start of your Coppers days.
16. Collecting Grandad from the local.
One of the old time favorite Teach Tabhairnes in Tralee was Quinlans pub – a real old school place – normally where my grandad would have been having the craic with friends.
Sure, where else would you get a great sense of community?
17. Everyone being up for a sing-song.
Whether it was in the pub, someone's house, at a trad session, on the school bus or even at a wake, we were mad for a sing-song in Kerry.
We're the kings of the trad sessions.
18. Ballyferriter races on the beach.
Braving the elements just to see a group of horses galloping across the beach?
19. The Sam Maguire being brought to your school.
I can't count the times that good old Sam was brought to visit everyone in my primary and secondary school. Year after year Sam would come back to its real home.
20. And finally... indulging in county pride.
As a Kerry child you were immediately a loyal fan of the GAA and immediately a rival of Cork.
If Kerry's in an All-Ireland final then about three-quarters of those tickets to Croke Park are going to be bought by the supporters – especially if the match is against Cork or Dublin.
No matter where you are in the world, as a loyal Kerry supporter you'll stay true to your county. The best fans.