Category: Ireland

St Patrick’s day 2018

We did another trip to Ireland in March. Other than for seeing friends, celebrating St Patrick’s day, playing music and tasting whiskeys, my own personal goal was to escape snow and ice, and finally see some colour. The winter was terribly long with snow almost all the time, and during winters like that I feel like a prisoner in my house, because going out is so inconvenient and unpleasant. And my entire being long to see something else than white and grey.

Only two weeks before our trip though, came storm Emma along with the Beast from the East. Snow in West Cork, snow all over Ireland, and lots of it too. Imagine my distress! But Ireland eventually went back to normal with green fields. When we arrived to Dublin on the 16th of March the weather was good with 7 degrees, and driving south we met temperatures even nicer than that – West Cork greeted us with around 12 C.

Sadly, a mini beast came by and on St Patrick’s day morning, we had 3-4 C.. freezing cold but I was at least happy to see this outside the cottage that we rented..

Yes, cold and dull weather, but green fields! Colour! If you knew how much I miss colour during the long Swedish winter. We rented this cottage in Ardfield outside Clonakilty, and I highly recommend it if you visit these areas, don’t want to spend your money on a fancy hotel, and don’t want to eat out all the time. The same couple (one of them a musician we know) also owns this one. Ardfield is a lovely little village and offers a pub, a post office and lovely areas to go for walks. It is also very close to the beautiful Galley Head, as you can see on this first photo that I took from just up the hill from the cottages (if I remember correctly now):

As I’ve stated before, I need more peace and quiet in my life, and I can’t wait to live closer to the nature and see wide open spaces. When I saw this road I had the feeling of being in paradise.

Most of St Patrick’s day was spent in our second hometown, Clonakilty.

This is my husband and our friend Dena, fiddler and one of the proud owners of O’Donovan’s hotel. She and the other people at the hotel does a lot of good things for the town, like different charity events, music events and more. And of course, it’s a lovely hotel and bar – old fashioned but lovely. They have a nice and lively music session every week, gigs, and the front bar has Clonakilty’s best whiskey collection (at least if we talk about pubs!). Not to mention that they also own a well equipped Off Licence shop, a wine bar, and the nice little pub An Teach Beag.

The St Patrick’s day parade marches through the main street of course and it promotes local businesses, schools, organisations, events, activities and more. It was absolutely freezing that day and I did NOT envy people in the parade who – at least some of them – needed to be out in t-shirts etc. Still, it is always a beautiful parade and it brings tears to my eyes every time I see it because it makes so clear how many good things are going on there. Clonakilty is a very lively and vibrant little town, where people help each other and there are loads of local activities and things that help keep the town alive and keep it a good place.

The last photo shows a West Cork Rapid Response vehicle. West Cork is large, and has many very remote areas. West Cork Rapid Response is a charity organisation with volontary emergency service staff, that partner with and support the HSE National Ambulance Service. They are equipped to provide critical care support and advanced life support, and serve all of West Cork. It’s a fantastic organisation that saves lives and makes a difference for people out in the community. They are emergency service staff who do this in their free time – nobody is paid for doing it. Read more about them here: About West Cork Rapid Response and if you want to support them, you can donate here.

Note that I’m not paid by anyone to write this post… I simply have a passion for West Cork and Clonakilty, and will write more about the town soon.

Galley Head

I’ve posted photos from some other heads in Ireland, so I’d better continue and post about another beautiful head, the Galley head.
I love the sea, and open spaces. Maybe because I grew up in an area with extensive forests, I don’t know, but I’ve always had such intense feelings of freedom when I find myself on plains or other areas where you can see far away. And when I’m at the sea, I can’t get enough of it. I love waves crashing towards rocks, dramatic landscape, or just the view of water, rocks, boats. I love the Irish coastline, maybe especially because the weather there is so rough that it doesn’t attract mass tourism to the beaches, other than wind surfers, photographers, bird watchers, people who generally love the outdoors, and similar. The beaches there are peaceful and relaxing to visit. When I get to these places, like the Slea head drive in Kerry, and whatever coastal spot in West Cork, I want to just sit down and stay there for the rest of my life.

Galley head is near Clonakilty and apart from the beauty, it’s now an interesting area also because the future whiskey distillery in Clonakilty is growing barley out there.
There’s the actual Galley Head, the point with the lighthouse, and there’s the beach nearby (I don’t remember if this is Red strand or Long strand, but I remember Red strand as much more rocky and rough. However, if you know this area, please enlighten me!), and a nice area around the cliffs close to the lighthouse where you can walk around and have picnics.

It was a lovely day when we went out there. A bit too cold and windy to stay for picnic or the likes, but still lovely.

If you ever think about what season is the best to visit Ireland, I’d say – all of them! But if you go in August, you’ll see these orange flowers grow everywhere.

You can’t near to the lighthouse because the area is closed, unless you rent a cottage there. But who cares, when there is this?

You can’t get much closer to paradise than this.. (well, that would be Sheep’s head peninsula). Actually, next time we go to Ireland we’re actually going to live in a cottage in Ardfield, on the way between Clonakilty and Galley head. I’m really looking forward to it!

Mizen Head

Crookhaven at the end of the Mizen peninsula in West Cork has historically been the first and last port of call for ships going between America and Northern Europe. It’s also the area where the first wireless oversea communication system was developed. You can read more about it here.

We’ve been there a few times, first in 2008, when we lived in West Cork, and then in – I think – 2012, which was a real bummer because when we arrived there the area was closed for renovating the bridge, and they would open the day after we were there.

So when we were over in August I wanted to visit Mizen Head to see the new bridge. That day, we could instead call it the “missing head” because it was a very cloudy and damp day, with a very thick fog out there. Still, it was fascinating. Fog gives a real drama to this kind of landscape.

Going out to, or from, the Mizen Head you pass this altar of Toormore, and some fantastic coastal views. I’m kind of obsessed by the sea.. as you’ve probably seen in other posts, and that you will see in following posts too.

It doesn’t get more grey than this, but the foggy weather gave a very dramatic feel when visiting the signal station. You could almost feel the solitude of the people who used to work there in the old days, or the people out at sea.
Next time though, I hope the weather will be a wee bit more clear so that you can actually see the sea as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kilcrohane

When I planned the trip to Ireland, I wanted us to be in Clonakilty for a week, but the hotel was fully booked for a few days. I then decided that we should go to stay somewhere where we’ve never been, so after some looking around, I found a bed & breakfast in a little village at the Sheep’s head peninsula, named Kilcrohane. We’ve been to the Sheep’s head peninsula a couple of times, but only to the Sheep’s head, never on the south side of the peninsula.

To arrive there you take a small road that takes you further and further up the hills, and away from houses and people. I LOVED that. For a long time I’ve been so stressed out, and I have so much going on most of the time that I never take the time to just relax my mind. Also, where we live there’s almost always wind, and sometimes even the wind causes me stress.
One day this past summer I was walking home after a night shift, and took a longer walk instead of waiting for the second bus. It was around 8 in the morning but everything was quiet. Very little traffic, very little people around, no wind, and I realised how much I miss silence and the sense of calm that comes with it. I understood that I need more of this in my life.

When we came to the road that leads to Kilcrohane, it was like coming to heaven. Just the two of us out there facing the hills and the sea.

There are some walking trails there but we’ll have to save them for another time, sadly. I could have stayed there forever.
Arriving to Kilcrohane then was like coming to “The Shire” (the Hobbit village), small and so incredibly pretty but still most things you need there, with a little shop where they sell all kinds of things, a fuel station, post office, a church, a b&b and a pub.

We had planned to go to Sheep’s head during the afternoon, but after arriving to Kilcrohane we both felt that there was no option – we didn’t want to leave the village. So we took a walk, first to the shop where they also had coffee, and almost everywhere in Ireland, also in the most remote places, you’ll be surprised if they don’t have an espresso machine. They also had some Jameson whiskey, which she served in VERY generous drams…

We took a walk down towards the sea because we had been told about a nice beach down there. It was a fantastic walk, so peaceful. And then the beach – I wanted to stay there forever, just sitting there listening to the sound of the waves. That’s what I call quality of life..

The pub had the usual stuff and it was said there would be a fiddler there later.

We had instruments with us, but when the fiddler never showed up we decided to go to check another pub we had seen in the village.

But just after we had left, the pub owner came running after us (she obviously saw we had instruments) and asked us to come back because the fiddler would be there soon. I liked that. That’s different than large busy pubs in big cities!

We really had a great time there and I’ll happily go back when I have the opportunity, Kilcrohane is a fabulous place.

Dingle peninsula

I hope I’ll ever get to see Dingle in sunshine. It hasn’t happened yet.. I still love it there though.

Being the whiskey geeks that we are, one important spot we wanted to find was Dick Mack’s pub. It’s famous for its whiskey selection, and I only heard about it recently. We found it, after some walking around and looking at the iPhone map..

So what should you take when they have EVERYTHING and a few more? I think it was here that I tasted the 25-year-old Bushmills (highly recommended!!).

Other than whiskey, the Dingle area has these kinds of things to offer:

Yes, the sun was shining for a while there! But at the time that we came back to Dingle, the weather was back to rain and fog. ๐Ÿ™