I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ireland's South Pole

A good puzzle would be to cross Ireland without passing a pub. JAMES JOYCE Ulysses

There's so much to see and do in the Killarney National Park that I wish we could have stayed longer. Though we did have a very enjoyable guided tour of the Victorian, mock-Tudor pile, Muckross House. And we did take a leisurely stroll - dodging the sharp rain showers - round the Muckcross Traditional Farms.




These limewashed cottages - with thatched and tin roofs, and bicycles outside the door - look organic, but actually they're not. They were put up comparatively recently as part of a rural, open-air museum. Now, I've nothing against this, though I did find it a shame that few traditional Irish cottages seem to remain in the landscape.They've been replaced by the ubiquitous modern bungalow.




After a peek into the Mucros Weaving Workshop (the woven shawls and scarves and sweaters are just fantastic) we reluctantly left the Lakes of Killarney and inched our way along the southern shore of the Dingle Peninsula to Inch Strand. It was here that David Lean shot the beach scenes for Ryan's Daughter. And it was here too that the weather took an even more ferocious turn for the worse. The Slieve Mish mountains retreated into a Celtic mist ...




... and we retired to the South Pole Inn at Annascaul. This used to be the pub of local boy Tom Crean (1877 - 1938), seaman and Antarctic explorer. He took part in three of the four major expeditions to the Antarctic, including Ernest Shackleton's Endurance and Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition, which ended tragically in Scott's death. The pub walls are covered in shivery memorabilia ...




We stopped the night at an English couple's B&B near Dingle. They said they'd never known rain so heavy in years. We wanted to drive to Slea Head, but the road was flooded and impassable. So we fled once more to a bar, where we heard the fine ladies of Dingle town sing Gaelic airs and ballads so authentically, so musically, so beautifully, that we almost cried into our pints of Guinness ...

Chasing a glimpse of sun we rushed north and crossed the river Shannon by ferry ...




 ... and entered the most green and pleasant county of Clare. I prayed at this Marian shrine for good weather to accompany me on my eagerly awaited pilgrimage up Ireland's sacred mountain, Croagh Patrick ...


9 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

Lovely! We really liked the Dingle peninsula, particularly the road over Conor Pass from Dingle to Castlegregory where we stayed for a couple of days. I'm loving your account of the trip to Ireland; it brings back the memories.

Gail said...

Hi-
your pictures of your journeys are so beautiful. Who needs National Geographic - I/we have YOU!! :-)
Love Gail
peace......

ds said...

Gorgeous. We made it to Killarney but sadly had no time for further exploration. Your pictures and descriptions bring everything back (and have me plotting another trip, with a different itinerary). Thank you.

pilgrimpace said...

Thanks for taking us on this journey - I'm looking forward to Croagh Patrick (and have a real thing for wayside Madonnas - there will be a blog post about this sometime)

Andy

George said...

Great photos and insights, Robert. Perhaps this is your next career — travel essayist. You have the ability to get into the soul of a place, which is the key to good travel essays.

Ruth said...

I bought scarves for my daughter and me at that shop.

am said...

I especially enjoyed seeing the lovely photographs from Killarney because my German grandfather on my mother's side visited Killarney in April of 1919 after returning from WWI where he served in France as a doctor. I have a letter he wrote to my grandmother where he writes about Dunloe Pass and a 5-mile walk through the mountains and riding in a jaunting car and seeing a view of the Black Valley. He says they went on a rowboat out to the Isle of Innisfallen where they visited the ruins of the abbey there. The stationery says O'Sullivan's Hotel, Muckross, Killarney. He mentions that there was good trout and salmon fishing but that they didn't have time to stop for it. My grandfather was almost 50 years old in 1919. It was my grandmother's side of the family who came to Quebec from Waterford in the 1800's.

Where was the photo in your new heading taken?

The Solitary Walker said...

Dan - I wish I'd seen the Dingle in more clement weather. Never mind ...

Gail, why thanks!

ds - thanks for your comments, and thanks for following ... will check out your own blog soonest ...

George, you really are too kind. Every time I read a real and talented travel writer, it fills me with despair at my own inadequacies!

Ruth - and yes, we bought a black, white and grey pashmina and scarf for Carmen's mum, and Carmen bought a scarf for herself. Exquisitely woven, and so, so light to wear. Myself, I bought a goblet of Mullingar pewter - because it reminded me, imaginatively, of the legendary cup of the Holy Grail ...

am - that was such a wonderful piece of family history! I did so appreciate you writing this. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

The photo is of Fishguard Harbour in Wales.

The Solitary Walker said...

Sorry, Andy, missed you out - I love wayside shrines, as you know from some of my Camino postings. Croagh Patrick was marvellous - and the sun shone too ...