Coming Home!

As many of you know, I’ve been travelling around Canada for the last few years. In less than a month I will be returning home to Ireland. It’s an exciting time for me and I can’t wait to get back to the hills, the sea, and the beauty of the people who call Beara their home.

The blog will be up and running with new photos and new stories in the next few week as my plane will be touching down in Eire some time during the last week of October, 2014.

I will be ready with camera and notebook in hand, and look forward to sharing my adventures with you.

Wishing you much love, peace, and happiness.

-Susanne

River to Glanmore Lake, Photo by Susanne Iles

 

Posted in Beara Peninsula, Bere Island, Ireland | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Bullig Bay Loop, Castletownbere, County Cork, Ireland

The weather was glorious yesterday so we decided to make our way to the beach. We chose the shoreline of the Bullig Bay Loop because it is within hiking distance of our home and the trail head is well groomed and easy to access. We started at the entrance to Dunboy Woods (near Dunboy Castle) and followed the path.

Parts of the trail are richly forested with ruins of guardhouses, watchtowers, and walled enclosures tucked here and there in the undergrowth. It will only be a matter of time before Nature reclaims it all.

The path winds easily down to Bullig Bay. It is so beautiful! There’s an accessible little island in the centre and the water is clean and clear. Large fish were lazily swimming around the floating kelp beds, their fins sparkling in the sunshine.

The beach is rocky so I would recommend sandals or water shoes if you plan to go for a swim. That being said, there are parts of the beach where the stones have been finally ground by the waves, making it more comfortable for walking barefoot or just stretching out in the sun.

Because the day was still beautiful we decided to take the long way home and continue on our journey around the Bullig Loop. The trail takes you through forest and then up to a well marked stile and farmer’s field. This is where things get a little tricky. Once through the stile you look up, way up a hill with a narrow pathway. It’s important to get your bearings here because, as you can see, the path is virtually invisible at first. The important thing to do is look for the trail marker. See it there? Way at the top? It looks like a little stick just right of centre. That’s the direction we needed to go.

Thankfully the path becomes very obvious in no time. (I wonder how old those walls are?)

Although this last leg of the Loop was a little steep it was totally worth the hike even though we’d already put in a full day at the beach. The views of the Ardnakinna Lighthouse on Bere Island were stunning. I’m hoping to get over there to explore the island before the end of summer. The history and magic of Bere Island is supposed to be breathtaking.

Before heading through the gate and back onto the road to our home we lingered a while at the top of the trail and soaked in the views of Castletownbere and Bere Island. It’s really a moving experience to feel the sun on your face, and the ocean breeze in your hair while listening to the seagulls calling and wheeling around the cliffs below.

When you come to the Beara Peninsula for a visit make sure you pack a picnic lunch and a camera. I can guarantee that you will be in no hurry to leave.

Have a great summer everyone!

Posted in Beach, Beara Peninsula, Bere Island, Birds, Castletown Berehaven, Castletownbere, Dunboy Castle, Historical Site, Ireland, Island, Puxley Manor, Ring of Beara, Shore Angling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Pulleen Harbour, A Hidden Jewel at the end of the Road

It’s so great to be back to the Ring of Beara Blog again. So many delays but I’m back on track. We’ve just moved house from beautiful Beal Na Lappa and its splendid vistas to a lovely, bigger home in equally beautiful Cahergarriff.  If truth be told, I don’t think that there is any place on the Beara Peninsula that isn’t beautiful.

Cahergarriff ( Caher: means stone fort or ring fort, Garriff: means rough) is but a stone’s throw from Dunboy Castle. The road to Pulleen Harbour is narrow but car worthy. It’s also a great place for an ambling stroll to take in the sights and the peace of the countryside.

Although the area looks untouched and barely populated, it’s amazing to think about the many lives that once graced the area. A quick visit to Archaeology.ie unveiled the remains of a stone fort, standing stones, beehive huts, and an ancient bridge leading to a long, disused road. At one time this little corner of the world was a hub of activity.

 I’m so tempted to peek into that window, aren’t you?

After passing some small farmsteads the land opens up into a boggy lake area embraced by the surrounding hills. I’m tempted to slip down to the lake later to see if I can photograph some of the bird life that visits the area. There’s a grouchy old heron that often scolds me as I go by. If  I capture him on film I will share the photos with you here.

Ah! Beautiful Pulleen Harbour. Isn’t it a jewel? No wonder so many scenes from the movie Ondine were filmed here. You can watch the trailer for the movie below to catch glimpses of Castletownbere and Pulleen. The movie was filmed entirely here, on the Beara Peninsula.

Isn’t the scenery so rugged and gorgeous? (and the landscape isn’t so bad either ;) ) After checking the archaeology maps more thoroughly I will go on a walkabout to see if I can find the standing stones, the huts or (fingers crossed) the stone fort itself. Stay tuned for more!

(…home again, home again, jiggity jig…..)

Posted in Beara Peninsula, Cahergarriff, Cahirgarriff, Castletown Berehaven, Castletownbere, County Cork, Historical Site, Ireland, Puleen Harbour, Pulleen Harbour, Ring Fort, Ring of Beara, Standing Stone, Stone Circle, Tomb, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

April Showers, Rainbows, Lambs and Flowers

The thing I love about Spring in Ireland is that it bursts forth in a flurry of romantic, spring-time cliches. Misty, soft, rain? Check. Rainbows? Check. Frolicking lambs? Check. Flowers? But of course….

Throw in a pheasant crowing at the crack of dawn and you know that Spring has definitely sprung!

Over the last several days I’ve been awakened by a mysterious sound. The noise was like a cross between a chicken clucking and a rooster changing his mind halfway between a crow and a chortle. An early morning glance out of a misty window revealed a beautiful male pheasant happily nibbling away at the grassy seed heads by the fence. In some mythologies the pheasant is a solar animal and a harbinger of spring. It was my hope that our friendly alarm clock was announcing some sunny weather to come.

Sure enough, the sun shone brightly and the misty storm clouds rolled away over the distant hills. The land is gently greening but I know that, with a few more days of sun, the hills will be lush with emerald grass and flowering golden gorse.

One thing I learned about taking photographs in Ireland is that you always want to keep your camera at the ready. A moment after taking a photo of the storm clouds rolling away under the advancing sun, a rainbow suddenly appeared in the view finder. (Given that the rainbow appeared right in our front yard, in hindsight I wonder if I should have put the camera down and gone seeking for that elusive pot of gold…?)

One of the most delightful things about this time of year is the arrival of the lambs. If you ever need to de-stress I honestly urge you to find a field of ewes and their babies on a sunny day and enjoy the view. There is something so uplifting about watching the little ones sleeping and playing in the grass, such a scene can’t help but put a smile on your face.

As I type this I see that the sun is still shining. I’m off to enjoy the fullness of the day before the soft mists roll in this evening. To my friends I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

“May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day. May songbirds serenade you every step along the way. May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue. And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.”

Happy Springtime Everyone!

 

 

Posted in Beal Na Lappa, Beara Peninsula, Castletown Berehaven, Castletownbere, County Cork, Ireland, Ring of Beara, Sheep! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Snow! Beara Wearing some Wintry Frosting

While the rest of Ireland has been digging themselves out for a week or more, the Beara peninsula has remained a little pocket of green. We happily enjoyed our bright skies and clear roads, until this morning that is.We woke up to a very white view out our front window this morning.  It adds a lovely, festive touch to the landscape, don’t you think?

 

 

Posted in Beal Na Lappa, Beara Peninsula, Castletown Berehaven, Castletownbere, County Cork, Ireland, Ring of Beara | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cuas Pier Caves, Near Ardgroom, County Cork, Ireland

 

One of the things that visitors to Ireland often comment about is how difficult it can be to find sacred sites, archaeological points of interest, or even special places in the local landscape. Many people remark on how surprised they are to see a wedge tomb in the middle of a farmer’s field, or a standing stone (menhir) near a gate beside a quiet road way. Very few of the special places have signs and those that do are often happened upon by chance.

Thankfully, slowly but surely, sign posts are popping up here and there to direct travelers to some of the jewels in Ireland’s crown. The government is finally beginning to understand that the things they take for granted, things that are part of their heritage and local colour, are actually respected and honoured by outsiders. It’s as if Ireland is a touchstone for those looking for a lost magic and mystery, or a sense of belonging that other places have lost over time.

One such jewel is a little place near Ardgroom, called the Cuas Pier Caves. It’s an unassuming little place at first glance: a small path, a couple of caves, and the sound of waves crashing against the stones. The magic of the place creeps into your bones the longer you stand and listen, the longer you allow the landscape to be absorbed by your senses.

The caves tunnel out from the shore to the open sea. One day I might venture into one of the caves when the tide goes out, but on this day I was happy enough to peer in and listen to the cacophony of drips and splashes, gurgles and murmurings arising from the darkness. There were a few times when the hair on our arms stood on end as we listened; we swore we could hear voices talking among themselves; once we were convinced we could hear a woman calling for someone and whispering earnestly. Nothing like a dark cave and the wild sea to fire up the imagination!

A pathway climbing up the hill affords splendid views of distant mountains, and interesting islands. The cliff views are magnificent. It was amazing watching multitudes of sea birds wheeling around the jagged rocks below us. The path is part of a longer walk known as the Pulleen Loop. I’ll be sure to explore Loop  in the summer time when the weather is better and the paths safer. ‘Til then I am off to explore Kilcatherine Cemetary, and pay a visit to the Hag of Beara (I personally don’t dare to call her a hag, in our house she is the Lady or the Cailleach).  From my home to yours I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season!

Would You Like to Learn More?  Here are some maps to help you on your travels…

Click on the map below to be taken to Google Maps: The inlet to the left of Dreenavogig is where you will find the caves.

Posted in Ardgroom, Beach, Beara Peninsula, Caves, County Cork, Ireland, Myth, Ring of Beara, Shore Angling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Glebe Graveyard, also known as Killaconenagh or Cill Achadh an Eanaigh

Travelling west, about a kilometre outside of Castletownbere, there is a small road on the right (across from the football pitch) with a sign that reads,” Cill Achadh an Eanaigh, Glebe Graveyard.” This by way meanders a couple of hundred years into the past until it reaches the Glebe Cemetery. Some of the inhabitants of this little graveyard have been interred there since the 1700’s.

Next door to the cemetery is the old rectory which is privately owned. It was once home to the remarkable Standish O’Grady. The small gate to the cemetery  is what you seek; going through the ivy clad entrance truly is like going back in time.

The place is cool, peaceful, and overgrown in places with trailing ivy and winding creepers. Some of the grave markers are so old they are little more than plain stones resting their worn heads on the green grass.

Some of the markers here are clustered together, leaning towards each other as if sharing secrets or stories.

There are so many names: Murphy, O’Sullivan, Burchill, Sullivan, Mealy, Fitzgerald, Sheehan…so many more.  Many of the surnames are those of local families who continue to live and thrive in Castletownbere as they have for generations before them, and hopefully with blessings well into the future.

Sadly there are names here that have been lost to time. The most poignant being those who were taken by the Great Famine. Just beyond the overgrown church ruins, on the north-west wall of the cemetery is a mass grave for famine victims. It’s heartbreaking to think of countless number of people who lived and loved on this beautiful peninsula, only to be buried anonymously due to overwhelming tragedy.

(the above picture is what is left of the little church on the property)

The Glebe Graveyard is a lovely, peaceful little place and well worth the visit, especially if you are seeking a connection to your roots when you come to visit Beara. Do take a moment to pause at the mass grave to let those buried there know they may have died anonymously, but have not been forgotten.

Suaimneas siorrai da n-anam.  May their souls have everlasting peace.


Posted in Beara Peninsula, Castletown Berehaven, Castletownbere, Cemetary, Church, County Cork, Famine, Glebe, Graveyard, Historical Site, Ireland, Killaconenagh, Mass Grave, Ring of Beara, Tomb | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments