TRAVEL2IRELAND Discover the Extraordinary Issue #1, Spring, 2014
Castles are built… Riding to Omey Island Cnoc Suain –The Restful Hill The Doolin Cliff Walk Secrets of Scenic Slea Head The Power of Mizen Head Plus Valentia Island, Sneem, Culinary Finds and more.
Map of my route, starting at Shannon, heading north to Galway, Recess and Cleggan, then south to Mizen Head, east to Cork and north to Newmarket-onFergus and Shannon Airport. Map courtesy of Tourism Ireland www.ireland.com/wild-atlantic-way
Volume 1, Number 1 April, 2014 Greetings from the Editor-in-Chief The Wildest that Ireland has to offer
In our Togetherness, Castles are Built
Riding to Omey Island: An afternoon in Cleggan
Cnoc Suain-The Restful Hill
The Doolin Cliff Walk
A Visit to Valentia Island
Secrets of Scenic Slea Head
Exploring the Knot in Sneem
The Power of Mizen Head
The ‘Teardrop’ at Mizen Head
Plus: Hotels-Page 4, Foods-Page 18, Street Signs-Page 29 Front Cover Photo: Dingle Harbour, just as the sun is rising
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Will you come to the bower o’er the free boundless ocean Where the stupendous waves roll in thundering motion Where the mermaids are seen and the fierce tempest gathers To loved Erin the green, the dear land of our fathers Will you come, will you, will you, will you come to the bower? As for the “Secrets” of the Wild Atlantic Way, they are really dreams and aspirations of individuals that add real value to visitors exploring the coast and nearby towns. They include:
The Wildest that Ireland has to Offer When I was invited to spend a week in the country by Tourism Ireland, I was excited to return. In 2009 I flew into Belfast, explored the Antrim Coast, and then took a train to Cork, a bus to Ennis and then Galway, and finally a train to Dublin for our last four days. This two-week trip left lasting impressions of the scenery, music, people, food, shopping, walking and well, just about everything! On my trip in January 2014, my assignment was to travel part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal route that stretches from Belfast, around to Connemara, south to Mizen Head and on to Kinsale, just south of Cork. While the entire route is 2500 km, my portion would explore 1100 km. It didn’t take me long to understand that the “wild” part of the route not only referred to the wind and waters of the Atlantic, but also to the untamed energy of local entrepreneurs and visionaries along the way who, working with Tourism Ireland and other government agencies, made it all happen. One, out of many highlights of my trip was when I met Gerard Kennedy, the owner of the Moorings Guesthouse in the village of Portmagee. As we chatted over breakfast, he mentioned that he was a singer in a trad music group. In researching the Wild Atlantic Way, I found the folk song “Come to the Brower” which seemed to capture the power of the ocean so I asked Gerard if he knew the tune. He not only sang it but allowed me to record it. The tune stayed with me for the rest of the trip and still creeps into my mind when I think of ‘wild’ Ireland:
Discovering the hillside settlement of Cnoc Suain, a labour of love of Charlie Troy and Dearbhaill Standun in Spiddal. The estate walk with Noel at Ballynahinch Castle in Recess. Riding an Irish Cobh over the low tide land bridge to Omey Island with Siobhan of the Cleggan Riding Stables. Chatting and sharing ideas with Pat Sweeney, the visionary behind the walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. Conversing with Pat Buckley as he showed me the history and drama of Slea Head. Exploring Valentia Island with Gerard. Wandering around Sneem and Kenmare. Witnessing the awesome cliffs and waves at Mizen Head with Stephen O’Sullivan. Staying at the elegant Hayfield Manor in Cork Crossing ‘Falconry Lesson’ off my ‘must do’ list during my stay at Dromoland Castle.
Ireland has so much to offer and it’s my pleasure to show off some of the memories of my travel. For ideas to match your own dreams, contact www.tourismireland.com.
Aside from the two Castles mentioned, I enjoyed staying atâ€Ś 1) The House Hotel, Galway 2) Dingle Benners Hotel, Dingle 3) The Moorings Guesthouse, Portmagee (Thatâ€™s, Gerard Kennedy, the owner and folk singer) 4) The Brook Lane Hotel, Kenmare 5) The Hayfield Manor, Cork
In our togetherness, Castles are built There’s an Irish proverb that says “Trí na chéile a thógtar na cáisléain”, meaning “In our togetherness, castles are built”. The double meaning of the expression refers to teamwork and cooperation, as much as it relates to tourism in Ireland, where the combination of warm hospitality and amazing castle hotels elevate the travellers’ experience to a high level of satisfaction, enjoyment and comfort. On a recent trip to Ireland I stayed in castles on my first and last night—a perfect ‘comfort sandwich’. Each castle had its own unique personality and charm based on its history, location and the staff who work to make guest stays—and lifestyle dreams--as memorable as possible. After arriving at Shannon Airport, I drove to Recess for my night at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel and Estate. I checked into my room and immediately engaged in some Irish taste bud immersion, first with a crisp Guinness beer and followed by freshly baked soda bread, perfectly grilled scallops and tender, moist baked cod. Then it was time to explore the ambiance of the Castle: historic rooms, lush furniture and comfy quiet lounges to relax and reflect. The Ballynahinch Estate dates to the 16th Century
The Reception area, Dromoland Castle
when the O’Flaherty Clan ruled the area. The castle itself was built in 1756 by Richard Martin, a Member of Parliament and later, the founder of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In the early 20th Century, the castle was owned for a time by Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji (Ranji, for short), renowned as the Prince of Cricketers in Ireland. In the drizzle and darkness of the next morning, I met Noel my walking guide, for a two hour stroll along the paths, laneways, fields, mazes, rivers, and extraordinary views of the lake and the 12 Bens Mountains. We climbed over old gateways, stood on salmon fishing piers, and visited some of the old estate cottages. Noel explained the history of the Connemara area, a name that literally means ‘Hound or Dog Sons of the Sea’; referring to one of the early tribes who used the rugged, rocky coastline for smuggling. He also noted the remnant of a tower on the far side of the lake; recalling the exploits of Grace O’Malley, the infamous Pirate Queen who plundered ships in the area. The tour was fascinating and full of photographic opportunities.
The Thomas Martin Reading Room, Ballynahinch Castle
This article appeared in a different format in www.travelindustrytoday.com
Top: Ballynahinch Castle, Recess
Bottom: The Queen Anne Suite at Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus
After a tasty breakfast of grilled kippers and eggs, I had to depart. For those fortunate to stay longer, there are many outdoor activities to take in the country air, including salmon fishing, cycling, horseback riding, woodcock shooting and, not too far off at Roundstone Bay on the Atlantic Ocean, visitors can learn about lobster fishing from one of the Ballynahinch staff –an activity that is listed as one of the ‘secrets’ of the coastal drive known as the Wild Atlantic Way.
The two suits of armour in the reception area immediately established the theme for the Castle: regal, luxurious, historical and very friendly. I was taken up a flight of stairs marked “Private” to the Queen Anne Suite where I was humbled by the plush couches, wardrobes, 3 flat-screen televisions--each welcoming me by name, a kingsize bed with views of the golf course and lake, and a washroom equal to the size of my living room in Toronto.
For the next five days I visited different towns in the South West before heading north, past Shannon, to Newmarket-on-Fergus. On a cool and rainy day, I entered a gated area where, across a golf course (full of dedicated golfers), on the far side of the lake, sat Dromoland Castle. This area was the ancestral home of the O’Briens who were direct descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland in the 11th Century. The first castle was built in 1014. A second castle/house appeared in the early 18th Century and then the structure was rebuilt in 1963 with a castle/hotel design in mind.
With camera in hand, I wandered around the red carpeted, picture and portrait-filled corridors of the Castle. The bar, once the estate library, was warm and cozy, as was the lounge area. For lunch, I sat on a six-inch deep couch, sipping a glass of Pinot Noir and savouring six juicy fat Galway Bay oysters. At 3:00 pm, Jim Hennigar walked into the Castle lobby with Alice, a very curious Harris Hawk, perched on his arm. My Hawk Walk was about to begin.
The corridor leading to the dining lounge and the bar, Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus
Jim Hennigar with Alice, on my Hawk Walk
Ignoring the pouring rain, we walked into the woods of the estate and pretty soon I was given my own thick leather glove and shown the proper way to stand when a Hawk is about to land on my arm. Using a tiny morsel of meat as a lure, Alice flew from a branch and grabbed my glove in her talons with an inelegant thump. The next 90 minutes were a fascinating introduction to the world of Hawks and Falcons, their care, characteristics, eating habits and even some of their history. A ‘Falconet’, for instance, was the name chosen for a cannon used in the 15th century. The musket (gun) was named after the male sparrow hawk and the Toyota Tercel (automobile) takes its name from the male peregrine falcon. Throughout our conversation and walk, Alice would fly off into the trees and anxiously await the next piece of meat so she could swoop in for a bite. The Hawk Walk ended at a shelter housing a number of raptors. I was introduced to the goshawk, various falcons and several owls, before heading back to the castle to dry off and warm up. What an amazing way to spend an afternoon! For the record, Dromoland Castle also offers golf, fishing, cycling, clay shooting, archery, croquet, tennis, horseback riding, and has a fully appointed spa.
I stayed at some very fine hotels while in Ireland, but somehow the castle experience stood out as something special. In a way, I guess it appeals to our dreams of what it would be like to live in a castle with attentive service and delicious foods—and then to actually experience it. Perhaps for some of my generation, it appeals to the Disney stories we grew up with; a realization of the Prince and the Pauper and all the rags-to-riches imagineering to which we are all exposed from time to time. In the context of tourism, the theme of togetherness in building castles (or flying of hawks) unleashes dreams that many travellers embrace; a perfect complement to the very idea of travel and the ability to turn dreams and wishes into reality.
Riding to Omey Island: An Afternoon in Cleggan
Scenery in Cleggan Village
Cleggan lies on the Atlantic coast in Connemara, a district in the central west of Ireland. I drove through the area, stopping briefly in Barna Village and then visiting the reconstructed site of Cnoc Suain in Spiddal, before spending the night at Ballynahinch Castle in Recess. The next day I drove the short distance to Cleggan.
is a main street consisting of restaurants and a few shops, the entrance to the pier where boats depart for Galway, and a church, in front of which likes a marker to commemorate the Cleggan Bay Disaster of 1927 where 25 local fishermen lost their lives when a sudden gale arose at sea.
As if rehearsed, the people that I met in Connemara used the same words to describe the area. Charlie and Dearbhaill in Spiddal, Noel at Ballynahinch Castle and Noreen in Cleggan used almost the exact same words within the first few minutes or our meeting and conversation. “People come to Connemara for the scenery, the fresh air and the peace and quiet”. And one need only pull over to the side of the road for a photo stop, to marvel at the mountains, the fields or the lakes and to appreciate the quiet beauty of the area.
I visited Oliver’s Seafood, where Noreen Higgin greeted me and told me a bit more about the area known for its fresh air and fresh seafood. I had a bowl of the tasty chowder…so good and chock full of smoked salmon, haddock, crab, mussels, white fish and prawns.
Even though I made several such photo stops between Recess and Cleggan, it still only took forty minutes or so to arrive. Cleggan literally means ‘head’ or ‘skull’ and refers to the shape of the land on which it resides. There
Oliver’s Seafood in Cleggan
been entirely under water. We rode on the firm sand, trotting a bit through the water with only the sound the horses hooves and a flutter of wings as a flock of ducks and some black and white seagulls cleared a path for us.
Noreen Higgin at Oliver’s in Cleggan
The Cleggan Riding Stables are just a short distance away. My ‘guide’ for the afternoon was Siobhan and once my horseback riding level was determined (a bit more than beginner, a bit less than a confident intermediate), I was assigned to Henry, a very passive Irish Cobh. Equipped with helmet, and riding boots, I signed the “I think I know what I’m getting into” waiver, and then we headed off with Henry and me following Siobhan and Cathy, her Welsh Cobh. We clip-clopped on small meandering country roads past houses and school kids and were greeted by curious horses, braying donkeys and gawking cows, and after an hour, came to the land bridge leading to Omey Island. At this time of year (mid-January) the tide goes out at 10:30 am and does not come in again until 11:00 pm. It was now about 1:45 pm and the first car had just set out on the sea bed to cross over to the island. During high tide the car would have
Omey Island was the site of a monastery and settlement dating to the 6th century and founded by St. Feichin. The name Omey is derived from Gaelic and means ‘St. Feichin’s bed or seat’. We wandered on the beach, through the thick beds of seaweed and around some boulders but pretty well stayed near the shoreline, chatting about tourism and the attraction for many travellers to experience silence and reflection: just what a day of horseback riding way off the beaten track will accomplish. But all things must come to an end and as the sun started to set, we slowly headed back to the stables. I bade farewell to Henry and returned to my car, ready to exchange the serenity of Cleggan and the joy of riding to Omey on horseback, for the Friday night restaurants, pubs and trad music of Galway. Horseback riding in Cleggan is listed as one of the “Secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way”. With Galway only 90 minutes away, this is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon: slow, enjoyable, relaxing, great conversation, lots of photos and of course, the fresh air.
Siobhan on Cathy, as we return on the land bridge from Omey Island to the stables
Top: One of the stone cottages dating to 1691 at Cnoc Suain
Below: The Visionaries: Charlie Troy and Dearbhaill Standun
Cnoc Suain The Restful Hill
Cnoc Suain, pronounced ‘Kunnuk Soo-in’, literally means ‘restful hill’ in Gaelic/Irish. Celebrating the fresh air and the peace and quiet, Cnoc Suain is a cultural retreat located in a 17th century hill-village amidst 200 acres of Connemara wilderness. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Galway, just outside of the village of Spiddal. The thatched-roof cottages, dating back to 1691 were restored, stone-by-stone, and over the last 16 years Charlie Troy and his wife Dearbhaill Standun have instituted award-winning programs to re-awaken the knowledge of Gaelic- Irish culture. After a tour of the facilities with Charlie, Dearbhaill invited me to enjoy coffee and freshly baked scones, as she related that both she and Charlie have educational backgrounds that combine, music (Dearbhaill is an accomplished fiddler), entertainment, botany, geology (Charlie was a science teacher), horticulture and storytelling. They dreamed of creating an educational retreat that would provide guests with an unforgettable experience steeped in Gaelic culture. Visitors can attend day or overnight programs—as couples, families or groups—to explore the mystery of the bogs (complete with tales of the bog men), learn about herbs and participate in cooking lessons, enjoy literary evenings, musical adventures (learn to play
the tin whistle), traditional dancing, a Gaelic lesson…or simply walk in the wilderness and be transported back to the 17th Century.
The restoration of the stone work and thatching of the cottages was accomplished with the help of two Romanian workers who were just finishing a contract in the area. The cozy cottages now include modern conveniences including a kitchenette. This is yet another “Secret” of the Wild Atlantic Way! For more information, visit www.cnocsuain.com
Above: “The Devil’s Hole” where the rough waters blast in and out between the cliffs, as they have done for 300 million years. Below: Getting up close and personal with the Cliffs for an amazing perspective that only the trail can provide.
Pat Sweeney is the active ingredient in making the Cliffs come alive
The Doolin Cliff Walk: Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Walk
There are several ways to visit the iconic Cliffs of Moher, including coach tours and car rentals. But the most dramatic, meaningful, visual and experiential way to visit the Cliffs is to embark on The Doolin Cliff Walk -a 5 ½ km walking trail that begins at Gus O’Connor’s Pub in the village of Doolin, and ends at the Cliffs of Moher. And the best way to appreciate the walking trail is to walk it with the man who is primarily responsible for the trail’s existence: Pat Sweeney. Pat grew up in the area with his farm house overlooking the Cliffs. Today, the family B &B, “Doonagore Farmhouse”, named after a 15th Century Castle that once dominated the area, reflects Pat’s passionate perspective on the value of the Cliffs: their history, their meaning and the forces of nature that created them and changes them on a daily basis. Pat is the first to admit that this trail constitutes Irelands “Wild Atlantic Walk”. With Pat’s guidance, he and I walked the mostly gravel trail in January 2014. He had to convince 38 local farmers to allow the trail to pass through their property. The trail hugs the top of the Cliffs as they rise to 375 feet and then higher to 702 feet. We passed by an ancient bridge framing one of the O’Brien Castles in the background; a site that not too many visitors see, due to the prominent location of Brien’s Tower, a few kilometers away, at the highest point on the Cliffs.
Pat Sweeney knows every rock, stone, river and fence along the Burren Way (which is the more formal name for the path), as well as the history of the area. He noted the lines on the rocks 370+ feet below us and talked about the rock quarry that existed many years before. He indicated a flag stone with a hole lying near the path and explained that at one point in time it was used as an anchor to lower fishermen down the cliffs on ropes as well as a basket that was used to collect bird’s eggs. Pat further noted that 30,000 birds, nest in the cliffs including Atlantic Puffins, hawks, gulls and ravens and that the best way to hear the sounds of the Cliffs: waves, wind and bird calls, is to embark on the Doolin Cliff Walk. And on a sadder note, Pat brought me to the spot where a tattered Irish flag was flapping in the wind—a victim of the major storm that ripped through the area a few days before. The flag was placed as a memorial to those who came to the Cliffs to wave farewell to their loved ones who were sailing to North America from nearby Galway. And waving that white sheet of farewell was a heart breaking gesture as their relatives and friends would most likely never return to Ireland. Pat reminded me that the three colours of the flag carry with them the proud history of the land: Orange for William of Orange; White for Peace and Green for Ireland, Erin’s Land. One of the underlying themes of the walk—which did not take me long to appreciate, is the absolute value of local knowledge—hearing the stories and the history and learning about nature from someone who grew up in the area, but is also passionate about passing along the knowledge—not only to his three sons, in Pat’s case—but to guests that visit the area. This is a breathtaking, awesome walk with unbelievable scenery. This is one of those “Secrets” of the Wild Atlantic Way that is a pleasure to discover. Pat noted that his oldest client so far has been 88 years old, so it is definitely do-able for anyone who loves to walk, photograph, chat, listen to the waves crashing, and get up close and personal with the rugged beauty of nature. www.doolincliffwalk.com
1) Diagonal lines of the old rock quarry by the Cliffs of Moher 2) The Irish flag was ripped apart by a huge storm in January, 2014. It marks the site of the tearful farewell to those departing from nearby Galway and sailing to North America. 3) One of the river crossings on the Walk 4) The final ascent to the 702 foot level of the Cliffs
Culinary Stars 1)Grilled Scallops and 2)Kippers and Eggs at Ballynahinch Castle 3) Galway Bay Oysters at Seafood@Kirwanâ€™s Lane, Galway 4)Guinness Beer-served fresh and clean 5)Smoked Salmon and eggs at The House Hotel, Galway 6)A traditional Irish breakfast 7)The breakfast buffet at Dingle Benners Hotel 8)Murphyâ€™s Beer (my favourite) 9)A wonderful meal at the Brook Lane Hotel in Kenmare: Roast duck with mashed potatoes, squash and cabbage. It was so tasty/so amazing.
Valentia Island, off Portmagee, is linked to the mainland by both a bridge and a ferry service. This was the terminus of the transatlantic telegraph cable from Newfoundland, completed in 1866. There are walking trails leading to lookouts over the ocean, picturesque narrow roads, the slate quarry used in the construction of the British Houses of Parliament, a trail of dinosaur footprints, and the cafes and shops of Knightstown. Nearby is Little Skellig Island with its gannet and puffin populations, and Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a 6th century monastery is perched 160 meters above sea level.
Scenery on Valentia Islandâ€Śjust follow the signs and the narrow roads. The Maurice Oâ€™Neill bridge connects the island with the tiny fishing village of Portmagee
Old stone cottages on the Slea Head Drive
The Secrets of Dingle and Slea Head
Some of Dingleâ€™s 52 Pubs
After spending a day exploring the Doolin Cliff Walk, my schedule suggested that I take the Shannon Ferry from Killimer to Tarbert, and then continue on to Dingle. However this was the one day of my trip that the GPS decided to stop talking to me. So, holding the GPS in my left hand and the steering wheel in my right hand, I drove through the darkness of a late January afternoon, around some pretty hairy “S” turns and hairpin turns, and eventually arrived safe and sound in the town of Dingle. Michael, one of the staff at Dingle Benners Hotel not only parked my car for me, but figured out why the GPS had stopped talking. (Was it something I said to it?) I celebrated with a nice cold Murphy’s beer, so my day ended on a fairly positive note. After a very comfortable night at the hotel and a great breakfast buffet the next morning, I wandered through Dingle and down to the picturesque harbour—just as the sun was rising— to take in the scenery. This was to be the theme for the day as I soon discovered when I met Pat Buckley from Granter Chauffeur Drive, to explore the Slea Head Drive. I will say right off that Pat is very personable as well as serving as a font of knowledge about the area. It was a pleasure to spend the time with him, chatting, learning and taking in the incredible surroundings. Ho hum… yet another amazing day in Ireland! The name “Dingle” derives from the Irish “Daingean Uí Chúis”, which refers to the Fortress of the Hussey’s, a Flemish family that came to the area in the 13th Century. It’s a very
colourful town with craft shops, bakeries and roughly 52 bars, 10 of which feature trad(itional) music on various evenings of the week.
Next door to Dingle Benners Hotel is Foxy John’s Hardware Bar, where I dropped in for a pint. Pat Buckley, my guide, later explained that there are a few such bars in Ireland that serve a dual purpose: “You can buy rat poison on your right and Guinness on your left”
From Dingle we drove up to the Connor Pass Lookout for a view of the countryside and to learn a bit of the history of the area, before reversing direction toward Slea Head. In tourist season, the buses travel counterclockwise on the route (see map) and therefore many visitors travel clockwise to avoid the congestion. However in January, there were few tourists, so we followed the counter clockwise route, slowing down or stopping whenever we saw something that drew our attention. Here are just a few examples: Gaeltacht: (pronounced as ‘Gale Tact’) refers to a Gaelic Speaking area and on the Slea Head Drive, there are several such cultural pockets and lots of signs in both Gaelic and English.
Above: The St. Brendan Memorial Below: St. Brendanâ€™s departure point on the Slea Head Drive
Naomhog: literally, ‘little holy one’, also known as a Currach, is a traditional wood frame boat covered in felt or animal skins, and used for local as well as sea voyages. Speculation is that this was the type of boat used in the 5th century when St. Brendan made his voyage across the Atlantic to North America.
Louis Mulcahey’s Pottery: One of several pottery works in the area, Mulcahey still lives on site. There is a workshop where visitors can “turn a pot” (I made a rather large sake cup), a studio of finished works including of impressive Druid statues, a coffee shop with really tasty food and friendly staff to answer questions.
Pat Buckley explaining about Naomhogs
St. Brendan’s Creek: St. Brendan, the patron Saint of the Diocese of Kerry is said to have prayed and fasted for 40 days on nearby Mount Brendan along with 14 monks, before departing in 535 A.D. from St Brendan Creek, to spread the Gospel to North America. Tradition holds that it took 7 years to reach the West. St. Brendan died in Galway in 578 A.D. The voyage was re-created by Tim Severin and 4 colleagues in 1976. It took them 13 months to arrive in Newfoundland, proving that St. Brendan could very well have made the trip in a Naumhog.
Beach, where “Far and Away’ was filmed. The crashing waves and the wind were the backdrop for one of the scenes from the 1992 Ron Howard film starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.
Gallarus Oratory: This ‘room of prayer” was built in the 7th or 8 th century in the shape of an inverted boat—the only remaining perfect example in existence. The Fahan Bee Hive Huts: Possibly dating to the 12th Century, the five single-family huts (called Clochan) were interconnected. At one time there may have been over 400 clochan in the area after the Norman invaders forced farmers away from prosperous areas to marginal areas near Dingle.
Top: One the panoramic vistas of the Ocean along the Slea Head Drive Bottom: Ogham Stones dating to the 6 th to 9th Centuries, containing an early medieval alphabet of lines and crosses, used in writing the Old Irish language
Sneem is only one of many colourful towns you pass through on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is situated just west of Waterville (where you can see a tribute to Charlie Chaplin who vacationed there) and just east of Kenmare—another pleasant place to spend the evening and enjoy the shops, bars and harbour. Sneem, in Irish, means ‘the knot’; the theory being that when the Sneem River meets Kenmare Bay it forms a swirling knot of water. There is a sculpture park in Sneem, several coffee houses and bars, including Dan Murphy’s (below). Just park the car beside the park and spend some time wandering around, relaxing and gazing at the rush of the water.
The Power of Mizen Head Mizen Head, in the County of Cork, is the most southwesterly point of Ireland, and noted for its ultra-dramatic views of the Wild Atlantic crashing against the cliffs. At the very tip of the peninsula, there is a lookout, as well as a weather station, a lighthouse and a signal station that is now a museum. This is accessible by 99 steps leading from the mainland Visitor Centre to the Arched Bridge that spans some of the wild waves and offers great photographs. I was fortunate to meet with Sue Hill who owns the Heron’s Cove Bed & Breakfast in Goleen-about 5 km from Mizen Head. As the Development Officer for Mizen Head, she has been front and centre in promoting this tourist, historic, adventure, nature attraction as a perfect representation of what the Wild Atlantic Way is all about. Sue arranged for Stephen O’Sullivan, the Manager and a
former light keeper, to give me a personal tour of the Visitor Centre, the walkways, the museum and lookout areas, and I will say that it was breathtaking! This was the place where Guglielmo Marconi set up one of his first telegraph stations, and this is the ‘teardrop of land’ that was the last landfall seen by Irish emigrants to North America. The light of the Fastnet Lighthouse can be seen for 19 miles. For those sailing from America to Europe, this was the first landfall to be seen. As you wander the sometimes steep trails, it’s not only the vistas of the sea that mesmerize but also the wildlife (dolphins, whales, seals, sharks) and the birdlife (gannets, kittiwakes and choughs). Displays include life as a light keeper, shipwrecks, a weather station and the history of the area.
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Wandering the Streets in Kenmare and Dingle
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The kabuki influence is emphasized at Aomori’s Warasse Nebuta Festival Museum.
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Graffiti in Galway. Craic (‘crack’) refers to fun, conversation, good times and friendship.
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The Signal Station at Mizen Head