Late on Thursday morning (Katie and Mom generously let me sleep in a bit!), just before we left for the day, I met our host, Chris, and introduced Mom and Katie to him. We had decided that we wanted to each see one main thing on/near the peninsula. For Mom it was the Garnish Island gardens. For Katie it was seals. For me it was Healy Pass. We proceeded to spend the rest of the day in the car, with the first part of our adventure taking us through the tunnels on the N71 between Glengarriff and Kenmare.
The weather was beautiful and just south of Kenmare we turned onto R571 to drive the Beara loop. Before long, we spotted a sign for the Uragh Stone Circle and, since Katie had expressed interest in seeing one if possible, we turned off the main loop onto (guess what?) a smaller road. It was a wonderful, winding drive further south into the peninsula, and shortly before we arrived at the stone circle area, we had to share a wide spot in the road with an oncoming car. The woman driving the other vehicle was really friendly, and we sat there for a few minutes conversing. I was happy that Mom and Katie were able to witness what I’ve seen in this amazing country for the past 8 months: the open and friendly attitude of the Irish!
We eventually arrived at the car park for the stone circle, after opening a livestock gate and driving across a bridge without rails (ok, it was a narrow slab of concrete balanced on supports on either side of the creek bank). As it turned out, getting to the stone circle involved a hike uphill along a winding dirt path. Mom didn’t feel like tackling the hill, so Katie and I walked up. Behind us was a gorgeous vista of lakes and hills, and when we reached the top of the hill an older couple was sitting on some large rocks enjoying a picnic lunch. They had the right idea! What a view! The view behind the stone circle wasn’t too shabby, either! It was a good test of my tender foot, and I paid for it later that night, but the climb and views were well worth it.
We had to return the way we arrived, and once we were back on R571 we continued on to our next intentional destination (nothing was really planned), the colorful village of Eyeries (pronounced eye-rees). We all enjoyed seeing the many colors (video), as well as our gps fail that resulted in a happy accident of taking a coastal, back way into the village! From Eyeries we continued along the loop (video) to the tip of the peninsula, from which we hoped to take the cable car across to Dursey Island. It was very windy and I was looking forward to what kind of experience we would have swinging above the sea in the cable car! Sadly, though, the cable car was undergoing maintenance (go figure: the 1 week a year they do the maintenance!), so we took a few quick selfies in the wind and got back in the car.
By that time we were starting to get hungry for something beyond the fruit and small snacks we had with us. As we approached the town of Castletownbere, we saw a sign for a seaside cafe and agreed it sounded good. We turned onto a winding, gravel road and soon found ourselves at…a Buddhist retreat. We found the cafe and realized it was mostly a coffee/tea and biscuits place, so we quietly and peacefully (haha) departed. Once in Castletownbere, we looked at a few places before choosing Jack Patrick’s, where we enjoyed a nice early dinner, followed by some of the best sticky toffee pudding I’ve had yet! So good!
We continued to drive, making our way to Adrigole, where we took R574 up and just across Healy Pass (video). It was stellar! We drove part of the way down the other side before reversing and making our way back to Glengarriff and our Airbnb. It was about 8:30pm at that point, and the light was just getting perfect (it stays light until 11pm or so), so I begged Katie and Mom to go a little longer and check out the ruins of Carriganass Castle in the next village, Kealkill. Fortunately, they were up for it, and we spent a little while photographing and exploring the castle (a video, and another video), before I found another small road to explore (yes!).
We were well into this road, which kept getting narrower and narrower and narrower until ferns and other plants were beginning to brush against the sides of the car. The road surface was now gravel and the potholes were getting HUGE! I began to think that doing some damage to the car might be possible, so I decided to back up about 10 feet to a “wide spot” in the road (maybe an additional 12 inches or so at a makeshift ladder for hikers to cross the wall lining the road. I was sure I could do a 180, even if it meant making a 10-point turn. Mom wasn’t convinced, but she kindly got out to let me know when I was getting close to dropping a wheel into the 2-foot trench on either side of the road. After jockeying the Fiesta for a few moments, we were pointed back in the direction we had come from. Afterward, Mom regretted not taking a photo of it, particularly with Granny F-P! As it turns out, we were driving on a walking route, so not a real road at all (video)!
After 9 hours of car time, we all were ready for some rest, so we made our way back to the apartment. I needed to talk to Tim, but the internet kept going in and out, so I drove a few miles to the Texaco station where I could get mobile service.