Friday, June 20, 2008

19 Lúnasa, 2007—ag stealladh báistí

Weirdly, i didn't get a hangover the entire time i was there. ok, actually there was the one. but just one? i don't get it. probably mixed my drinks the night before.

on the sunday after the course was finally done it rained, of course. it didn't start out raining, but waited behind the hills to ambush me as soon as i was out and about.once i was far enough from warm dryness to really pour it on and make me suffer. weather is cruel. my pathetic raincoat, bought at sears about 8 years ago, more for show than for weather, didn't help much.

morning—breakfast. then straight out on the bike into the murky day, with the sky above simmering like a pot about to boil. part of me could feel the rain coming, the other part assured me it didn't matter. the little red dots on the map that marked all the interesting archeology were glowing like little holy grails, daring me to find them. connect the dots. that poor map was more water damaged than i was by the end of it, like a dollar bill that's left in your pocket through the wash, rinse and spin cycles.

my goal was to hit as many dúns, raths, ruins of whatever sort, as possible by lunchtime, then climb up Cruach Mhártháin (a mountain nearby) afterwards. i figured the bike trip wouldn't be too long. i took the Slea Head drive anti-clockwise and headed for Dun Caoin. Most of the sites i picked were off the main road, closer to the coast. Some of them were leave-your-bike-at-this-gate-and-walk-a-mile-through-this-field sorts of places. totally worth it though. some were marked by the “official gate”--sort of a modified turnstile. reminded me a bit of a toggle switch. you can't get a bike through, or really more than one person at a time, and i guess it prevents sheep and cows from getting in or out as well.

a particularly cool place i managed to get to was labeled “Ferriter's Castle” on the map. That's “Caisleán an Fhéirtéaraigh” in Irish. it was out on a headland stretching out sort of westish. I had a bit of trouble finding the road in. it was there on the map, but wasn't so easy to spot. i had to go down what looked like somebody's driveway to get to it. the road itself was ankle deep in mud, so i knocked on the door of the nearest house (still under construction) and asked could i leave my bike in their drive. they said yes, so i did and then footed it.

totally worth it. what a great place. deep cliff-faced coves on either side, water churning and grinding into the rock. private property signs prevented me from going out to the very end of the point, (well, a sense of respect did, i suppose) but the castle ruin was right there where the private land started. if i had tried to trespass, i'm sure the local sheep would have had something to say about it.

afterwards, as i rode the bike around some more, i realized i was on a marked trail, i think it's called the Dingle Way. I nearly fell into a puffhole. at least i think that's what you call them. the sea carves a cave into the cliff face, then the ground above gives way, sometimes creating a hole in the ground that goes down to sea level. i'm imagining the water rushing through to be jettisoned out the top like a geyser. voila! puffhole.

finally, it was time to have some lunch. there was a cafe on the main road, so i stopped. inevitably, someone who had taken the course walked in. a very actorly looking man with eyebrows like caterpillars and a voice like a foghorn. friendly, open face, and very curious about the american who could speak the Irish. we chatted for awhile as we ate. also saw this adorable cat.

(tangent--i got stung by nettle at some point too. here's a picture of what it looks like, so you can avoid it if you're ever in a country where it grows.)

well i had wanted to climb Cruach Mhártháin, but it was raining so hard by the time i left the cafe that i decided i'd settle for this attractive

lump of rock.

i was attracted by the line of boulders on the top that looked a lot like the broken teeth of a giant, and as i have a thing for teeth... i could see the Blasketts from there anyway. but the clouds came right down to my eye level, so visibility was pretty bad.

afterwards, i collected the bike from the roadside, took the surprisingly short ride back to Tigh Bhric, and asked Pól for something warm with whiskey in it. i took my drink and sat by the fire. there is NOTHING better than that sort of comfort after that sort of complete soaking wetness! This would be my last night at Tigh Bhric as well. The next day i'd be moving to the Goat Street Cafe for 2 nights.


Kelly said...

What an exciting journey. I enjoyed reading your blog

Jessica said...

nettle, the nightmare of my childhood! we have tons of it here in France! But's great in soup!!!
glad you finally got around to posting!!!

mark bodah said...

ooh, i bet THAT'S spicy! ;) actually i have heard that its good. must be something to prepare, though--wear leather gloves?

glad yer glad!