Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kerry and Dingle

So there we were, minding our own business, driving along the A591 out toward Mizen Head at the end of the peninsula, stopping to admire the bay, when, off to the left, unheralded on road or map, appears this absolutely perfect-specimen dolmen...the place is littered with them

And then, a few miles on, right out in the bay, at low tide, are these standing stones, perhaps part of a circle (as in Brittany's Morbihan)

Off Mizen Head

Another possible flip; great, great view-shed on Dunmanus Bay

The Staigue stone fort, Kerry Ring, on the Iveragh Peninsula; 4th century AD, pre-Christian; perhaps 40-50 meters in diameter, walls 4 meters high; fortified dwelling-place of a chieftain and his retinue

Staigue interior; note staircases

Staigue exterior and the barren mountains beyond, including Carrauntoohill, Ireland's highest, at 3,414 feet; I think I'll pass; a nearby range is the charmingly named "Macgillacuddy's Reeks"

Today (Thursday) we began our drives along Ireland's fabled western peninsulas, those granite fists jutting into and temporarily defying the Atlantic. From Skibbereen we drove to Mizen Head, skipped the Beara peninsula, then to Bantry and Bantry Bay (from which I have eaten hundreds of mussels), and then across two small mountain ranges to the Kerry Ring, around the Iveragh Peninsula. We got as far as Caherdaniel and are lodged at the Travelers' Rest hostel/B&B. We are the only people here tonight, the whole building to ourselves. For us, it's all about the weather.

This May's weather, in these parts, has been unusually cool, and wet too, with mostly afternoon showers. And very, very windy. We pitched our tent last night in Skibbereen in the rain and wind, but then it cleared and the night was relatively dry. As darkness approached tonight, it was raining again, torrents, with gale winds, and we just couldn't face another night roughing it. So we found the Travelers' Rest. We are in the commons room now, by ourselves, a peat fire (how cool is that?) burning in the fireplace, Vicki reading Edward Rutherford's (author of Sarum) Dublin, me blogging away, sipping Powers' whisky. Life is good, when warm and dry, and spiritual.

Life is not so good when driving these back-country Irish roads. They are two-lane and very narrow, some really one-lane. Our car is as small as anything on the road, and we often crowd the left/passenger margins when approached by tour buses, 18-wheelers, and worst, cement-mixers, all over the line (when there is a line). The Irish seem to hog the road until the last possible moment, moving over to avoid collision. The rental car agency warned that most damage on these narrow roads is on the left/passenger side...I understand why that is the case. Vicki is terrified most of the time, distracting herself by reprogramming the GPS. The GPS, Tom, has shown an unwelcome predilection for these country roads. More reprogramming is in order, especially before we start driving the bigger rig.

Speaking of which: yesterday came the welcome news that the Otello departed Brunswick on May 4, a day early, with the Grey Wanderer aboard. The scheduled arrival in Bremerhaven now is May 18. We so want to be in that camper!

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