The Beara Peninsula

May 29, 2013

It is possible to have an entire day in Ireland without rain.  How lucky we were that this was the day.  We did decide on the Beara Peninsula and shortly after breakfast we set out.  The views are so beautiful in Ireland but so hard to capture.  There are times when you see layers of mountain ranges reaching back toward the west but the camera just does them no justice.Beara bottom

The Beara Peninsula is much larger than Sheep’s Head Peninsula and does require an entire day of attention.  It is not usually traveled by tour buses and the rugged beauty may not be what one normally associates with Ireland.  There are few patchworks of Ireland’s renowned greenery.  Bantry Bay was lovely this morning and we did spot several seals basking in the morning sunshine.  The fish farms are very evident in many of the bays in Ireland and fresh seafood is readily available.  As we made our way into the Beara the rock formations were quite striking.  This peninsula is quite unlike the Iveragh (Ring of Kerry) or Dingle Peninsulas. rock formation Beara Peninsula

Within about 10 kilometers Hungry Hill mountain top became the feature of the landscape.  Always looking for a lesser known angle or view; and quite frankly just very curious; we took off down a narrow road over a hillside.  We drove a long way searching for whatever was at the end of the road.  There were some lovely views of Hungry Hill, some cows, a ship in Bantry Bay; but beyond that just a slight scattering of farms or houses.  At the very end of the road was a “no dumping” sign that was obviously not well heeded.Hungry Hill Beara

As we wound into Castletownbere we began to search for signs to a stone circle in the area.  We spotted signage for “ancient settlement” and thought perhaps this was what we were after.  It was not.  After much winding and turning and gear shifting; once we got to the site there was literally nothing we could see that set it apart from the sheep pasture on the other side of the fence.  Back into town we went.

Derreenataggart Stone Circle2At last as we were departing Castletownbere there was at last a sign to the stone circle.  It’s the Derreenataggart Stone Circle and it was worth finding.  As we pulled into a very small parking spot (2 cars max and then blocking a farmer’s access to his field) I spotted a rag tree.  In Ireland, hanging a piece of cloth on a tree (usually a hawthorn tree) was a way to minimize troubles, promote healing, or just bring good fortune.  I had promised a sweet friend whose animal children are suffering that if I found a rag tree I would tie her worries there to be relieved.

First Bill and I explored the Stone Circle.  It is delightful that many of these sites are actually on private property and that the owners allow visitors.  There is usually some type of gate that visitors are to close upon leaving so as not to allow the sheep or cows escape.  We played here for a while before heading back to the car as the next visitors pulled in.  Then began the search for a rag for the rag tree.  I had sprung a hole in the toe of my sock so decided that would be the basis of our offering.  With a few tugs a nice little strip of cloth was pulled away and tied on the tree.  I hope that if nothing more my friend will know that I am thinking of her at this place.Worry Tree2

We headed out to find the tip of the Beara Peninsula and Dursey Island.  There is a cable car that connects the island with the peninsula and we were hoping to ride it across.  It’s licensed to carry either 6 people or 3 people and one cow over at a time.  We spotted some lovely scenery and I pulled over for Bill to capture a photo.  I immediately overheard him saying, “Hi buddy!”  I thought perhaps he was talking to some sheep or maybe a cow until a border collie started to climb into the rental car!  Apparently, he’d had enough of sheep and was looking for a ride.  He reminded me of a border collie I once owned for a very brief period of time; he had a blue eye and a brown eye.  I scratched his head until Bill informed him it was time to go.  The dogs of Ireland like me I guess.hitch hiker on the Beara

We arrived at the Dursey cable car about 45 minutes before it was scheduled to make some runs over and back.  It is quite a scary looking proposal.  The winds were absolutely fierce and we were very cold in spite of the sunshine.  We decided for an “over and back” ride.  The only “conductor” of this thing is a guy who sits in the building on one side and proclaims who rides with whom.  You load yourselves on and off; and lock the door once inside.  All very high tech – not!  It was a delightful ride over and back. cable car crossing Several of the folks we road with lived on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula.  I told them I was very curious about what the inhabitants there did for a living, to which the lady (much younger than me) replied, “We are fortunate.  We gave up work.”  I see.  The people waiting on the other side were quite disappointed that our entire car was doing the over-and-back route.  I felt mildly guilty since they looked so cold.  It would have been wonderful to have tramped around on the island had it not been so cold.  I was chilled to the bone.cable car over to Dursey Island

Dursey cable carWe completed our tour of the Beara and then stopped in Kenmare for some refreshment.  We always try to find establishments that look just a wee bit seedy; or at least not prettied up for tourist.  We found Murphy’s.  We had some delightful and some indistinguishable conversation with the local patrons.  There was a fine gent there who was very knowledgeable in the Irish language.  He wrote out my name for me in Irish; “Ceallaigh”.  Apparently there are no letter “Ks” in Irish.  In fact, there are only 18 letters I think.  Another older man was seated at the corner.  He was dressed in a modest suit and mumbled constantly.  Only rarely could I make out a word he said.  He was obviously a fan of Guinness.  The Irish teacher left about the same time that another fellow came in.  He was very friendly and insisted that we also visit the stone circle of Kenmare.  I thought I’d distract him by bringing up Tom Crean; a famous Irish seaman who was on the Shingleton Expedition to Antarctica.  Argh!  Now we also had to visit the home of Tom Crean’s great-niece just down the road and on the corner!Along the Beara Peninsula

As it turns out we both benefitted from the walk to the stone circle.  We were in need of exercise and the Bulmer’s I had ordered turned out to be much larger than I’d imagined.  It was good to follow that up with some fresh air and exercise.  We left Kenmare and returned to Bantry where we had a delicious meal at the Bantry Inn’s restaurant, the Wheelhouse. Bill and Kelly Kenmare stone circle


Tomorrow – to where my soul feels most at home; Dingle!

(P.S.  I usually load more pictures than what I fit into the narrative so be sure to check out the picture links!  We are enjoying hearing from you.)


Beara bottom
Beara top1
Bill and Kelly Kenmare stone circle
Bill holding up the stones


May 30, 2013
I'm enjoying your trip!!! My office reads it with me every morning I arraive at work and the ladies I work with are in my office with in 5 min asking where did Kelly and Bill go yesterday?? Its a delight to all of us!
Taimi Megivern:
May 30, 2013
Ceallaigh, thank you for sharing the lovely stories of your trip. It is thoroughly delightful to read, see the beautiful pictures and 'follow along' with you in spirit. You're teaching us so much! Thanks again!
Jacqui Cantu:
May 30, 2013
I'm glad you guys are having fun. I'm really enjoying the stories. Don't know how you have the time to write and download. Have fun in Dingle. I'm tempted to make a joke, but I think I'll leave it alone.
May 31, 2013
As life goes, I guess I am reading your blog backwards-ish...this is the first entry I have sat down to read. I am wildly enthralled, my dear, dear friend, by EVERYTHING. But today... thanks for the tree. Needed that! Thank you so much. LOVE the stone circle and the story with it. Want to have beer with those locals.
Love, love, love
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