Holiday in Ireland/Tour Ireland by car – (Part 5)

Holiday in Ireland/Tour Ireland by car – (Part 5)

In part Part 4 of this Ireland blog set, I wrote about our time in Kenmare and visits that included Gleninchaquin Park, the Healy Pass, Dingle and Clogher Strand on the Dingle Peninsular.

This post sees us get to the end of our trip to Ireland with a drive out along the Ring of Beara, a visit to Allihies and it’s superb Copper Mines museum, a visit to the wonderful Gougane Barra forest park and a terrific few hours spent in Bantry.

Our accommodation at Millfield in Kenmare was delightful and had proven to be a very comfortable place to come back to after a day’s sightseeing and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you are looking to stay in that part of County Kerry.

It’s worth saying again

I said it in an earlier post but it really is worth saying again Gail and Dennis (our hosts) really have got the accommodation in Kenmare well sorted with absolutely everything you could possibly need during your stay.

Having such decent accommodation helped us wake each morning feeling refreshed and ready for another busy day.

Heading out on the Ring of Beara

The Ring of Beara is a route that runs on the Beara Peninsula and along the Atlantic Ocean in the Southwest of Ireland.

The Beara Peninsular is quite a contrast to the Dingle Peninsula as it’s much quieter, more rugged and seemingly less well known and popular with tourists. I’d say as well, that it’s less well known and less popular with tourists than the Ring of Kerry.

Parts of the Beara Peninsular really are wild and very rugged, in large parts it’s a pretty empty and sparsely populated place.

Exceptional landscape

The landscape is exceptional though and should definitely be on anyones places to visit list

Along our route and about 20 or so miles from Kenmare we arrived in the pretty village of Ardgroom in County Cork. It’s a small place and in addition to a number of residential buildings, it has a shop, post office, petrol station and a pub called The Village Inn. We stopped there briefly to take pictures, and although it’s nothing like as extensive, the buildings in Ardgroom were as bright and colourful as those in Dingle.

Ardgroom village picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

The road to Allihies

From Ardgroom we headed on along the R575 coast road that would lead us to the village of Alliies in County Cork. The coast road provides some sensational coastal views and provide the perfect opportunity to feel ‘away from it all’ in a place unspoilt by tourism and its associated over development. I’ve been down this way a couple of times now by both motorbike and car and it really is superb.

If you enjoy driving, riding a motorbike, cycling, walking or just enjoy unspoilt and wild coastal areas, then I really can’t recommend this area highly enough. The weather was damp and a little stormy at times whilst we there, which helped make for some moody views and backdrops for some of the photographs that we took.

On another day and with better weather there are plenty of places that would have been ideal to simply sit out and stare at the natural beauty of this coastline.

The road to Allihies picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

Allihies & the Copper Mines Museum

We called at the Allihies Copper Mines Museum and honestly it’s an absolute gem of a place and comes highly recommended from us. Allihies itself is another small village and is located at the western tip of the Beara Peninsular.

The row of houses, pub and shop are superbly colourful and not for the first time on this trip left us wondering and impressed about the skill levels of the ‘wall artists’ who decorate these buildings. It’s so much more than ‘just painting’ the outside of the house.

It’s a captivating story

The copper mine museum in Allihies tells the history of copper mining in the region. The mining which actually began in the Bronze Age and continued into the 20th century. The Museum is located in the old Methodist church, and it’s the same church that served the Cornish miners who were drafted in to work the copper mines in the 1800’s.

Although a small museum the story is well set out and we were really captivated by the story that is told there, it really is so well done. The explanations of the machines and techniques used are fascinating especially the quite extraordinary ‘Man Engine’  – a machine that was used to carry miners deep into the mines.

It’s one heck of a story and an added bonus was the decent museum cafe – I can heartily recommend the coffee and the generous slice of tasty lemon meringue!

Allihies & Museum picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

Allihies

Copper Mine Museum

Dursey Sound

After leaving the museum we thought we might as well head down to the most westerly tip of the peninsular at Dursey Sound. Dursey island, on the other side of the sound is accessed by Ireland’s only cable car.

When its operational the cable car operates at around 250 metres above the sea and normally takes about ten minutes to cross Dursey Sound. A cable car is used because the local tides can make travelling by boat somewhat hazardous!

We would have really liked to have been able to make the crossing as the small rugged island is home to thousands of seabirds. Unfortunately the cable car was out of service when we were there (which we were aware of before we went). In fact it’s been closed since April (the whole thing is being replaced) and is scheduled to re-open in November 2022.

After Dursey Sound we headed back to Kenmare and our accommodation, having had another really enjoyable day out.

Dursey Sound picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery with a few pictures from Dursey Sound along with one picture of another slightly dodgy single track road that we inadvertently ended up on.

Rainy day in Kenmare

The weather had been really good during our stay in Ireland. We had travelled with a pretty realistic expectation of what the weather might be like and on that basis we had a variety of coats, jackets, shoes and walking boots and so on. Although the forecast wasn’t looking great for the end of our stay we could have no complaints about the weather so far.

On the Wednesday before we headed for home, the weather was damp but mild and so we had a pretty lazy day, wandering into Kenmare, browsing the shops, a bit of ‘sheep whispering’ and buying a couple of things to take home for our grandchildren – chocolate shamrocks for the three oldest and a small green bus for the youngest, known for ever more as ‘the Irish bus’.

Having a lazy day meant we allowed ourselves the luxury of a very decent lunchtime pint of Guinness, before returning into town in the evening for another beer and bite to eat.

Kenmare picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

Gougane Barra forest park

Gail and Dennis had suggested that a visit to Gougane Barra was well worth doing. With time running out on our trip we were glad that we could take up this suggestion before we left for home. Not for the first time they were bang on with their recommendation. The forrest park at Gougane Barra is a beautiful and pretty tranquil area to walk and enjoy the natural beauty of that part of County Cork.

The forrest park covers almost 340 acres and is in a valley at the edge of the Sheehy mountains. I’m not one of these people who gets all mystical about places but … if you want to get out, get some fresh air, wander through pine forests and take in some incredible views then I can’t imagine you would be disappointed if you spent time here.

The entrance to the parkland is quite impressive. There is a very small island at the side of the lake and it’s the location where it is said that St. Finbarr, (the patron saint of Cork) established his Christian monastery as early as the 6th century.

As far as I am aware the name Barra (as in Gougane Barra) is a shortened/alternate version of the name Finbar. Additionally, the full meaning of the name Gougane Barra means ‘the rock-cleft of Barra‘.

Entrance to the forest park and St Finbarr’s oratory

The pictures below are at the entrance to the forest park and show the Oratory on the small island. In case you were wondering what an oratory is, it’s a place set aside for divine worship and for the convenience of a community or group of faithful folk who assemble there for worship. So it’s not quite a church but it is a place of worship.

I understand as well that the Oratory is available for weddings … I’m not planning another wedding myself but it really is quite a setting for a wedding isn’t it?

There are a number of different walking trails set out at Gougane Bara, so if you are visiting you can match these walks to your general level of fitness and/or how much time you want to spend there etc.

We did the 2.5km walk, it’s one that is marked as strenuous – although to be fair we didn’t find it especially strenuous. The walk takes you high up into the mountains and provides fantastic views, we absolutely loved our visit there.

Wonderfully quiet place

I don’t know how busy the place gets during the summer, but during our late September visit, it was wonderfully quiet and in fact we only saw one other couple who were walking the same trail as us.

We spoke with them as we were towards the end of our walk and heading back to our car. They were from Israel and were on what sounded like a pretty grand European tour, they had just a few more days left in Ireland before heading for a week or so in London, a place where they had both lived and worked some time ago.

Gougane Barra picture gallery

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

Bantry

After our delightful walk at Gougane Barra we decided, somewhat randomly, to head for the town of Bantry which was about a 30 minute or so drive away.

Not only is Bantry Bay the worlds third deepest natural Bay, with one of the longest inlets in south west Ireland, bordered on the north by Beara Peninsula, which separates Bantry Bay from Kenmare but apparently Bantry Bay is world famous over for its Bantry Bay Mussels.

The production of mussels is an important part of the history of Bantry and is due in part to the superbly clear waters in the bay and the well developed mariculutre (marine farming) in the area.

An unusual closure

We absolutely loved our visit to Bantry even though it was actually much quieter than normal due to the rather unusual closure of most of the shops and businesses in the town. It turned out that ESB Networks (the state owned electricity supply company) had issued an outage notification to almost 1,700 in the Bantry town area from 9am to 5pm on the Thursday we were there.

I don’t know the detail but apparently there was a need to replace a critical part of the infrastructure that had failed at the towns electricity sub station. The upshot for us was that it made for a very quiet town for us to wander around – but we did find a very decent cafe/takeaway that was open for sandwich and coffee.

A lovely town

Bantry seemed to be a lovely town and it’s certainly a place we would like to visit again. There’s loads of information about Bantry online – this link will take you to the Wikipedia page, which always seems to make a good place to start.

It was a Thursday when we were there, but I can imagine it’s a really busy and bustling place on a Friday when the market comes to town. Bantry Market is the largest market in County Cork and is held each week in Wolfe Tone square from 10am-2pm. Not only that but the market that takes place on the first Friday of the month is the largest and I believe that small animals and poultry are often for sale at this market … makes me want to head back there on a Friday to experience the hustle and bustle of the monthly market.

The Wolfe Tones

When I was writing this and realised the market was held in Wolfe Tone square it immediately tugged at some bit of random information in my head that made me think I had heard of a music band called The Wolfe Tones.

A quick Google search did indeed bring up The Wolfe Tones, and they are described as an Irish rebel music band.

You can check The Wolfe Tones out here. Having looked up The Wolfe Tones and following one bit of information to another… it turns out that Theobald Wolfe Tone was a leading Irish revolutionary figure born in 1763 … I really could read forever once I start to find things like this out. Isn’t it fascinating how so many things so often seem to tie together.

Bantry picture gallery

But we must move on and this picture gallery is almost the last one of the trip.

I had literally dozens and dozens more pictures that I could have included in any of the picture galleries including these from Bantry, although I have narrowed the pictures down there are still more than 30 pictures in this set from Bantry.

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery.

Behind the lens

Just a few pictures here of Pat behind the lens.

 

End of the trip and time for home

Our sailing from the Port of Dublin to the Port of Holyhead in Anglesey was booked for Saturday afternoon. The weather forecasts for Friday were beyond dismal and it looked set to be pretty stormy with heavy rain for much of the day. With that in mind, rather than sit in and look at the rain we moved our ferry booking forward by 24 hours and decided we would hit the road straight after breakfast on Friday morning.

One last recommendation from Gail …

There was one last recommendation that Gail had given to us and it was one we were keen to try. She had told us about a mobile fish and chip seller called Whartons and that was located less than three miles down the road and on the way to Templenoe. So on Thursday evening we checked it out.

I am happy to confirm that this was another fine piece of advice from Gail – my wife Pat had a portion of  chips with battered hake and I had a portion of chips with a battered sausage, we drove down the road opposite, parked near the water at Templenoe Pier and tucked into a very decent take away meal. All in all a decent end to a very decent time in Kenmare.

Hometime

The weather on Friday confirmed our decision to head for home 24 hours early was the right one.  We didn’t hang about and headed directly on the 230 mile journey to Dublin after breakfast.

Thankfully the weather brightened as we were waiting to board the Stena ferry and although the ships Captain had said winds were forecast strong to gale force, for the most part it was a pretty smooth and reasonable crossing across to Anglesey.

A brilliant time

Without doubt we had enjoyed a brilliant couple of weeks in Ireland. We stayed in three very different types of accommodation, and all were of a standard that we wouldn’t hesitate to use again or to recommend to others. Our hosts had been helpful, kind and flexible and there is literally nothing we would have changed apart from maybe spending a month or so in Ireland rather than the couple of weeks that we did.

I had been in Ireland a couple of times earlier in the year when I had travelled fairly extensively, initially in June and then again in July and I think those trips along with this one that Pat and I enjoyed together have really opened my eyes to what a wonderful country Ireland is to travel in and to explore. I’m sure that although we saw quite a lot, we only really scratched the surface of what Ireland has to offer.

Where next?

We enjoyed our time in Scotland earlier in the year when we stayed again in St Catherines in Argyl & Bute as well as the couple of holidays we had in Scotland last year and it’s a place we can’t wait to go back to, but there again having enjoyed Ireland so much, as well as European trips feeling more doable as we move on from the pandemic, then already it seems we have some hard choices to make when setting out our plans for 2023.

Homeward bound

Clicking any of the images will open a scrollable/clickable picture gallery

If you missed earlier parts of this set you can find them at the following links:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Thanks to Pat for proof reading, spell checking and typos and thank you for reading. If you notice any typo’s etc that have slipped through or you have any questions don’t hesitate to mail me. You can do that at rainycityblog@gmail.com

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