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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The peninsulas of the south west

Now where did I get to? It is quite hard to find places with internet access, but now I am in Kilrush in County Clare, having had the most fabulous experiences.

From Kenmare I set of towards the Iveragh Peninsula which includes the scenic route they call the Ring of Kerry. What exactly happened I will blame on the dreadful signposting over here! I'd been told to take "the second road on the right" which I did, but because the road sign at the road end I SHOULD have taken was not a name I recognised I kept straight on -
and ended up in the middle of nowhere faced by a gate with a herd of cows staring me in the face. I went to take a photo over the gate and leaning on it to photograph Madame Bovine, discovered - guess what? It had just been painted! Not a soul around for miles - and the gate had wet paint on it! I've got rid of it all now, but it took a bit of doing!
Nothing for it but to turn back - it had been a pretty drive anyway - past hedgerows of fuchsia with views of the hills - but eventually I found where I should have turned and at last I found myself on the right road. Why it didn't signpost the town the road led to I don't know. The sign had pointed to some small hamlet I passed through on route!


So round McGillycuddy's Reeks I drove - odd name for a mountain range! Don't know where it came from - and got fabulous views of Carrauntoohill, as I headed for Killorglin - or so I thought! No sign actually said Killorglin so I ended up driving west instead of north and then west along the coast and finally found myself at Waterville, actually not too far from where I had ultimately planned to get to.

I wanted to get to Valencia Island, so it was just a short drive back along the road I should have been on to the turn off to Port Magee where I found the hostel, and a nice pub to have tea at.

Next day my plan was to get a boat out to the Skellig Islands, two very craggy rocks about 8 miles out to sea. One is the second largest gannet colony in the world - the biggest is at North Berwick in Scotland - and the other was where some early Christian monks decided to build their retreat in the 6th or 7th century. Boy, was I lucky! I got the last place on the last boat to go out that day! It was the best 40 euros I could have spent! I could go daft showing you pictures of the birds and the wild flowers , not to mention the beehive stone huts clinging onto the rock about two thirds of the way up, but you will have to be content with a few pics or we'll be here all day.

There are 600 rocky steps that twist and turn up the face of the rock and everywhere you look there were puffins just sitting there watching you, quite content to have all these people wander through their territory. They are such comical little birds, smaller than I thought they'd be - I kind of imagined small hen size, but they were more like big chick size - with their colourful big beaks, and large reddy coloured feet that they fold up neatly behind them once they have taken off into the air!

They are not the bird world's best takers-off or landers. In fact they can really be quite clumsy!
So up the steep steps we climbed - not wanting to think about the coming back down - and eventually up ahead was the gateway to the monastery of stone huts. What a fascinating place to be, feeling like you were at the top of the world - which was probably how these long ago monks thought of the place, nearer to heaven! There was a small church and several terraces of huts, even a tiny raised burial ground, just wide enough for the bodies to lie full length across it.

It almost felt too as if you were in some South American country, somewhere that the Aztecs, or was it the Incas, might have built!


Could I go on and on about the place, but if you ever find yourself in this part of Ireland, you just HAVE to come out here - but bring a walking stick, and a hat! With all these seabirds flying around, it's inevitable that someone is going to get doo-doo'd on at some point. Coming back down those 600 steps was going to be pretty scary for me with my bad co-ordination but luckily a local girl out there for the first time ever, realised my plight and offered her help, all the way back down! That's where a walking pole would have helped enormously, but thanks to that lass if she ever by chance hits upon this blog!
Well, I still have masses more to show you, but I will jhave to stop for now. It's getting towards the time my parking time is up - and I don't want to risk getting a parking fine here! Everything is much dearer than at home thanks to the euro being pretty strong against our pound! More whenever! I'm off to the Irish music mecca tonight, a place called Doolin, which I last visited probably not far off 40 years ago. The music was fabulous! There are 3 hostels there now so I ho;e one of them has room for little old me!
Talk again soon!

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