In the early winter of 2012, I spent nine days trudging from field to field and tower to tower in Southwest Ireland. My trip was based in the Mizen Peninsula in West Cork. Along the way, I visited Castledonovan, Toormore, attempted to have tea with Jeremy Irons at his Kilcoe Castle, got lost down beautiful country roads, scaled the walls to visit the ruins of Rossbrin Castle and Raheen Castle near Rineen. I also spent a fantastic day exploring the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. While there I visited Inch Beach, Minard Castle, the Dunbeg Promontory Fort, Coumeenoole Beach, Gallerus Oratory and Kilmalkedar Monastery. I finished my nine days in West Cork exploring an old estate and castle in Downeen near Rosscarbery, Coppinger's Court, the ancient Drombeg Stone Circle and braved the "lady of the lake" at Three Castle Head. Please join me on this fantastic tour of one of the most amazing places on earth.
"As Robert Frost Once Said..."
Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing my personal thoughts, practical ideas and historical facts about my most recent trip to West Cork. On this particular trip, I was by myself as I explored many sites in the West Cork area that over time have largely been forgotten. I also spent a very long day seeing Dingle. I will be telling the story using my words and photographs. I make no claims of being Mark Twain or Ansel Adams, but I will do my best to create an image that captures the magic of West Cork.
The title of this series is "Nine Days in the Mud." I know it's not a very original considering I was in Ireland for nine days in late November and early December but "Road to West Cork" sounded too Bing and Bob.
Planning for this trip started like most when I'm traveling without my wife and kids. I travel a great deal for work and adding that extra week away from the family is sometimes hard to reconcile in my mind. Shawn, my wife, keeps assuring me that it is fine. I grumble about feeling bad for leaving them "yet again" for the sake of "having fun." Ultimately, the cycle is broken, and I head to the Aer Lingus website to purchase my ticket. There's no turning back now. On the evening of November 25, I'm headed to Ireland!
With two days to spare, I decided to get my trip planned. I don't want to be over prepared! I grabbed my books, my ordinance maps and a cup of coffee. It was reminiscent of an old war movie with a grizzled general studying the map table determining his strategy. One book in particular was very helpful. It was written by Jack Roberts and is called "Exploring West Cork: The Guide to Discovering the Ancient, Sacred and Historic Sites of West Cork." The book details so many "lost" places in West Cork and gives a general idea of where they're located. From here, I would go to my collection of Ordnance Survey Ireland maps to find the exact location. I paged through the book marking places of interest and then marked them with color coded Post-its. My maps were painted with rainbows of Irish fun, and I was basking in the organized glow of the German part of my ancestry. With a plan in place, I was ready to go.
Before I end, I have to get something off my chest. This is a note (and the practical information portion of this program) for those of you who have never been to Ireland. ALL Irish tourist sites and brochures lie. Every one of them. Without exception. Scandalous words I know.
Here's my point before I'm taken out back and made to eat my words. You look at all this material, and what do you see? You see people in shirtsleeves enjoying the sites while basking in the sun. Oh sure, some of the photos have a bit of cloud cover and people wearing jackets. However, they never show the days, and there are lots of them, when it's extremely windy and raining sideways. Just once, I'd like to see a mass of miserable tourists huddled around a small fire attempting to raise their temperature to "pleasantly frozen." A lot of places in the world claim to have four seasons in one day. Ireland does this regularly, beautifully and without fanfare!
So. What did Robert Frost say?
From his poem "The Road Not Taken":
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Let's take that less traveled road. You never know who or what you'll meet.
Kilcoe Castle -- Jeremy Irons
Dunbeg Promontory Fort
Reask Monastic Site
Drombeg Stone Cirlce
Christmas tree Skibbereen
Three Castle Head
Track title: Lonely Wanderer
License Type: Standard License