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Glengarriff - Mitchelstown (Beara peninsula)

Home -> Europe -> Ireland -> Travelogue Ireland -> 19 December 2002

Thursday 19 December, Glengarriff - Mitchelstown (Beara peninsula)

Eccles-hotel, GlengarriffAt breakfast we seem to be the only guests in the Eccles-hotel (one of the oldest hotels in Ireland, we read somewhere). When we look outside the sunny days seem to be over, but it is still dry.
Today, we want to drive through the Beara-peninsula. It is less well-known than Dingle and the Ring of Kerry, but also less touristic and that always attracts us. We follow the Beara Way from the southern side, a narrow winding track that soon leads us into the Caha Mountains.
Dolmen on BearaNot before long we see our first dolmen. We will see many more, this day, a clear sign this peninsula was already a popular place to live around 2000 BC. But we have to try hard to reach this one, since it stands on a mountain slope, and we have to walk for almost 2 kilometres through the meadows.
Healy Pass, BearaFrom Adrigole we take the road to the Healy Pass, full with hairpin bends and sometimes it is quite steep. It is a short, but fascinating trip through a totally waste area, the most desolate place we have seen until now in Ireland and very impressive.
On top of the pass (more than 300 metres high) the wind almost blows us off the road, but the views compensate for that.
Then we drive back, the same dangerous road to the south, to continue our way along the south coast. From Adrigole we turn to the east and now and then we pass through small villages. At Castletown we cross the peninsula to the northern side.
Eyeries EyeriesEyeries is a small and colourful village. These colours on the houses must be to compensate for the dreariness of the weather, but we have forgotten to ask the Irish themselves about it.
Standing Stone, BearaA short distance past the village stands a Standing Stone, another evidence of the early inhabitation of this peninsula. Several people have lived here as from 6000 BC. of which the Celts are probably the best known. They arrived around 500 BC. and imported the Iron Age to Ireland. The standing stones have been placed by their predecessrs, the Beakers (so-called after the beakers they made) who settled in Ireland around 2000 BC.
The Beara WaySometimes the Beara Way follows the normal narrow roads, but often it is not more than a very narrow path, but certainly worthwhile to follow because of the beauty of the landscape. At least, we enjoy it very much.
Kenmare River, Beara Kenmare River, BearaBetween Gortgariff and Ardgroom, on a northerly part bulging out Beara, we have beautiful panoramic views over the bay which is called the Kenmare River, although it really is a wide bay.
Stone circleIn an almost deserted valley, totally sheltered by the surrounding mountains, we encounter this stone circle. Well, the valley is not completely deserted since there is a house next to the stone circle. The place lies a few kilometres from the normal road and can only be reached via a narrow path.
It takes us quite some hours, driving through this magnificent region before we arrive at Kenmare. Contrary to what we read in our travel guides, we think Beara is the nicest peninsula we have seen in Ireland, even better than Dingle and the Ring of Kerry. We think it is the inhospitality of the land which attracts us, which is intensified by the gloomy sky, while we had lots of sun when driving through Dingle and the Ring of Kerry.
Time for lunch, but soup is not served. We talk a bit with an Englishman who lives here for many years now and on his advice I take a pint of beer for lunch, just like the Irish themselves often do. He tells us there are a lot of immigrants in this region, like for example almost 400 Dutch families.
Around 2 o'clock we drive on, with a feeling of regret, since we are leaving the west coast now, as if we are heading home again. And, of course, that has some truth in it, but we still have many days to go and we want to see as much from Ireland as possible. We leave also the mountains behind although the interior is still sloping and the land is obviously more cultivated than on the peninsulas. But, to our surprise, we don't come across many villages and towns.
MitchelstownAt the end of the afternoon we arrive at Mitchelstown. Again, many colourful houses here and we visit the market on the main square of the town. After arranging a room in a hotel we walk through the town and visit some pubs where we are friendly invited.
It is still early when we go to bed, since we are both quite tired. It was a long drive and our heads are filled with lots of impressions of everything we have seen today. It is only a pity the staff of the hotel doesn't seem to need any sleep: all night they are banging with doors, so many times we wake up, startled by the noise. But such things happen on holiday...


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