Driving the Beara

Trip Start Sep 10, 2009
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Trip End Oct 10, 2009


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Flag of Ireland  , County Kerry,
Saturday, October 3, 2009



Okay, we’re in Ireland, so it had to happen again. It rained last night, and the sky looked a bit gloomy this morning. Coupled with the wind, I was wondering how the day would turn out.

After breakfast, we drove west toward the end of the Beara Peninsula via the coast road. We could see across the bay to the Iveragh, or Ring of Kerry, and the weather there seemed much better. We passed some stone circles, but the rain had made the fields muddy, so we continued on.

One of our stops was to see the Hag of Beara, a rock formation that is supposed to resemble an old woman, and which legend says is a petrified woman who was caught after she stole the book of a saint. I saw no resemblance to anything other than a rock, but there were floral as well as monetary tributes there, so some believe in something.

We got caught up in a roadblock of sorts. A small herd of cows had taken over the road and the land along side it. We had nursing calves, lumbering cows, and a few randy bulls. The car in front of us finally got a little room to squeeze through, and we were soon able to follow. By then, we needed a break, so we stopped in a little bar for some tea and watched all the locals come in from a funeral. It looked like it was going to be quite a party, but the Beara called.

We followed the road to the end of the peninsula, or as far as we could go on land. There is a cable car that links the mainland with Dursey Island, so that the islanders and their livestock can get to and fro.  It has a broken door, however, so it was closed to tourists. Over 200 people live on the island, but there doesn’t seem to be much to recommend it other than its bird population.

We stopped in the town of Castletownbere, which is the major fishing port here. We had lunch at a small café, during which the rain started again, threatening our trip back over Healy Pass. I took a picture of MacCarthy’s Bar which is on the cover of a book by the same name before we left town.

By the time we reached the turn-off for Healy Pass, the rain was gone, and the sun had come out. We climbed, this time from south to north, saving the best part of the pass for last. On the way down, we passed a small waterfall that had been insignificant yesterday, but the recent rains had made it a somewhat worthwhile stop.

Back at the b&b, I took a nap while John read, then we got ready for church. Marian’s family was going into town for the 8:00 Mass because it was being said for her father. She told us to go to the little church around the corner because it was much nicer. She said the priest in town was “long-winded”, and we much preferred the 7:00 Mass time.

The Dawros church is a lovely little country church with a priest who is allergic to flowers (the arrangement on the altar had to be removed), and a kind heart. His message was simple, and we were so glad we went. The one thing we have learned is that the Irish say their prayers very quickly--we couldn’t keep up at times!

After Mass we drove into Kenmare and had dinner at Foley’s. We sat in the bar so we’d be near the trad music when it started. We had two tables of Americans next to us, so we talked with them and compared notes on our trips. Two of the women have been here longer than we have, and they’re leaving four days after we do.

Once the music started--right next to us--it was hard to maintain a conversations, so we sat and enjoyed the show. The music generally doesn’t start until 10:00 or 10:30 which, as anyone who knows us, is well past our bedtime. It’s well worth it, though, and our clocks are already discombobulated!

We came back around midnight, and we’re getting ready for another day!
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