Partway around the Ring of Beara

The morning we drove out to the Beara Peninsula the weather suddenly turned almost Californian. Maybe that’s why so much of the scenery reminded me of West Marin.

The coastal road could be generously described as a single lane, so the driving was not exactly relaxing, but most people are polite about pulling out to let oncoming traffic pass.

Although the towns of Eyeries and Allihies showed few signs of life, it was a relief to see some houses that didn’t look like they were all carved from the same stick of margarine.

Eventually we pulled into bustling Castletownbere and ate a lunch that seemed authentically local in its mediocrity, then headed up the Healy Pass, which straddles Cork and Kerry. The Cork side looks like this:

Then you pass by a giant plaster Jesus and arrive in Kerry:

You can see a lot of it from here.

When we got back to town there was still enough light to stroll through Reenagross Park and say hello to the joggers and dog walkers and dogs and birds.

I’m sure there’s a story behind this feature of the park, but I don’t know what it is.


Bishops and rooks redux

En route from Kilkenny to Kenmare we stopped for a look at the Rock of Cashel, also known as the Scaffolding of Cashel.

The cathedral complex occupies a commanding position on top of a hill, the better to anticipate the next siege of tour buses.

The resident crows are just biding their time, waiting for an appropriate moment to begin the counterattack.

The big draw at Cashel is Cormac’s Chapel; it contains rare and indecipherable remnants of frescoes and some interesting carvings.

In some respects Hore Abbey down the hill makes a more harmonious impression.

This area seems to have had bad luck with bishops. Cashel was the base of the infamous turncoat Miler McGrath, and the Benedictine monks at Hore were evicted when a different bishop had a dream that they were trying to kill him. He replaced them with Cistercians, who were of course ultimately replaced by hooded crows, now the most common order throughout Ireland’s historic monasteries.

After Cashel we intended to spend some time at the donkey sanctuary in north Cork, but we encountered a highway detour in the shape of a Celtic knot and by the time we got to the sanctuary it was chilly and damp and the donkeys seemed about as disgruntled as us, if cuter.