Part Three – Lost and Found
Leaving Thomastown we decided to take a slower, cross-country route to our next destination in the furthest reaches of West Cork. We passed through Carrick-on-Suir and then along the beautiful Comeragh Mountains to Dungarven. The town has a picturesque harbour area with plenty of bars and restaurants so we will probably explore it more when we return to Rosslare.
Staying on the coast the N25 takes you through the town of Youghal – pronounced like the American Y’ALL. We headed up into the hill above the town as we had read that Youghal Golf Club had a good bistro. It was certainly an impressive view as we ate our lunch, watching a couple of squalls on the horizon.
There is a lovely beach outside the town where we sat taking in a little sun before racing the rain on our way to Cork. We had a long journey ahead of us to the far south west of Ireland so bypassed Cork itself. We’ll unCork the city later in the trip.
We headed due west until the town of Macroom before branching off through Dunmanway and thence to Skibbereen. Our host Maire had sent detailed instructions on how to get to our ‘traditional farmhouse’ which, she said, was 5 minutes from town. Unfortunately, her directions assumed we were coming from along the coast not down the interior. We got lucky and found Marsh Road but then Maire’s directions were not exactly clear and we ended up going along what appeared to be a farm track with grass growing down the middle. We tried entering the post code and our sat nav sent us along an increasingly narrow and overgrown road with no farmhouse in sight and were now thoroughly lost.
We backtracked as best we could and ended up in Skibbereen so tried again and failed for a second time (though later on we were to discover that we were within a gnat’s whisker of our destination). By now we were getting tired and thirsty so high tailed it into Skibbereen to stock up on food and have a coffee. The third time we followed Maire’s directions implicitly, even when they appeared to lead us into the middle of nowhere, and eventually reached a house that bore the name Kealig. We had found it!
The farmhouse really is in the middle of almost nowhere, is absolutely quiet, apart from moo-ing cows, and with lovely views but the struggle to get there had us both frazzled. But the sun was shining and a G&T followed by supper outside in the garden soon put us to right.
Skibbereen is a small town full of coffee shops, bars, food shops, bookstores and a variety of other stores. It also boasts one rapid EV charger which for us is an essential facility. Although not on the coast itself the sea is not far away and we made a short drive to the village of Baltimore. Here you can take a walk out to the Beacon, set high above Baltimore Harbour.
It’s a slightly bizarre looking bullet shaped structure painted white and completed in 1849. The walk up to it is not very strenuous but the views from the top are quite gorgeous. The beacon is known locally as Lot’s Wife, a reference to the biblical story of the unfortunate wife of Lot being turned into a pillar of salt when she dared to look back at Sodom as her family were fleeing it. An early example of misogyny, if you ask me.
Baltimore has a long history being established in 1607. But probably the most notable event in its long history is referred to as the Sack of Baltimore. On the night of 20 June 1631 a group of pirates captured 100 townfolk, men, women and children, sailed them to Algiers and sold them as slaves, the only such attack on Irish soil.
From the harbour in Baltimore you can take a short ferry ride to the neighbouring island of Sherkin, which sounds the ideal place to laze around on. We would have made the trip if we had bothered to check the timetable beforehand but discovered that we would have to wait several hours for the next one and have only a little time on the island so we passed up on this.
It is also possible to travel to Irelands most southerly island of Cape Clear from Baltimore. It’s supposed to be a great journey but one we would have to come back for.
Returning home we visited Lough Hyne, Ireland’s first marine nature reserve and a unique salt water lake. Further along the coast is the interesting settlement of Union Hall on the west side of Glandore Harbour. It has an active fishing fleet and we were able to buy some superbly fresh hake for our evening meal. In Ireland you still seem to be able to go to small harbours and find fish for sale, something we seem to have largely lost in the UK.
3 thoughts on “Ireland unCorked”
Reading your blog and seeing the pictures makes me wish I’d spent more time travelling while working there. Next time maybe!
Hi Graham. We are now in West Cork. The weather has been very mixed but it looks like clearing up a bit for our last week. Hope you, Rose and George are well.
Didn’t venture outside of the city sadly but I do remember it rained a lot! Yes we are all good thank you, you both look well, hope everyone else is as well?