Ireland Revisited – 2010

Ballydavid and Historic Brandon’s Creek

May 2 – 12, 2010

 

Part 1: Flights from Memphis to Shannon

Part 7:  Shopping in Town of Dingle

Part 2: Drive to Dingle on Southwest Coast

Part 8:  Beautiful Sights near Slea Head

Part 3: Holden Leather, Dingle Golf Links

Part 9:  Drive Over Connor Pass to Shannon

Part 4: Ballydavid, Historic Brandon’s Creek

Part 10: Shopping in Shannon, Flights Home

Part 5: Playing Golf at Cheann Sibeal

Link to 2003 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

Part 6: Slea Head Drive, Mulcahy Pottery

Link to 2002 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

 

- Updated June 14, 2010

 

Ten photos mainly taken by Betty Nolan are posted at www.kodakgallery.com in an album entitled “Ireland – 2010” under the account of Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com for instructions on how to access.

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

May 6, 2010 – Thursday - Drive to Ballydavid and Historic Brandon’s Creek on Dingle Peninsula

 

We arose at 7:45 a.m. after a good night’s sleep in our second-floor suite at the Dingle Skellig.

 


 

Betty Nolan by traditional Irish Curragh boat of hides stretched over wood frame

 

Our room overlooked a nicely planted courtyard and in the distance the fog-topped hills surrounding Dingle Bay. The weather forecast is promising, with a high of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. But this morning’s clouds are again darkly foreboding. It looks like a typical morning on Ireland’s southwestern coast.

 

We enjoyed another great buffet breakfast at the hotel’s Coast Guard Restaurant. I again had two poached eggs, several pieces of yummy Irish bacon (like a round tip of loin of Canadian bacon with a short, lean tail of American-style bacon), a bit of brown bread with Irish butter, small glass of tomato juice and fruit including a banana, two prunes and a slice of fresh cantaloupe.

 

After eating, I read the Irish Times, a daily oversized newspaper published in Ireland’s capitol of Dublin. It is full of news and opinion columns about Ireland and Great Britain but only has a small smattering of news from the United States. Betty’s reading is largely confined to paperback books brought from home. I’m currently reading W. E. B. Griffin’s rattling-good story about the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II entitled “In Danger’s Path.”

 

Our plan for the day is to wait until mid-morning (the Irish by and large are not early risers) and drive out the narrow roads of Dingle Peninsula to the tiny settlement of Ballydavid in hopes of seeing Sean and Fiona O’Connor at their locally renowned pub-fishing resort, “Tigh T.P’s.” It was named after his living father and founder, whose first time is Timothy and middle name is Paul.

 

We had enjoyed their hospitality at the bar and also in their seasonal restaurant on previous trips when we stayed at the old Wine Rock Inn several miles away. Now, the comfortable inn is closed under it new name of Smerwick Harbor Hotel, a victim of overbuilding a few years ago when the tourist travel market was declining.

 

Our rental KIA sports utility vehicle (SUV) continued to be a frustration. It had no instruction manual on how to operate the multiple controls mysteriously mounted on the turn-signal lever behind the steering wheel; Hertz failed to offer us a familiarization session when we rented it at the Shannon Airport.

 

Driving down a narrow road connecting to the slightly wider road at the intersection with the Smerwick Harbor turn, we recognized a walled, soccer field that was probably a hub of activity in season when area school children played. We somehow remembered what unmarked turn to take to get to the waterfront faced by the O’Connor’s pub. The concrete dock with boat ramp has been improved to provide for facilities and services for vacationing anglers, who fish for a variety of sports species including salmon and sea trout.

 

Regrettably, it was only late morning and the garishly painted Tigh T.P.’s pub at Ballydavid had not opened. We were told by men working on a nearby fishing boat that the pub usually didn’t open until late afternoon.

 

We drove around the somewhat familiar but narrow, paved lanes in the area to a famous defile in the coastline named “Brandon’s Creek.” A bronze statue embedded in a rock monument depicts the Irish St. Brendan in a tiny sailing vessel. It marks the traditional launch point in the craggy gap in the cliffs for his voyage centuries ago to the continent now known as North America. It was well before 1492, when Christopher Columbus was widely given credit for discovering the land.

 

Despite several visits to the place which sees little travel from the historically curious, I still don’t understand how the native Irish seem to use the names “Brendan” and “Brandon” almost interchangeably. Indeed, hundreds of religious pilgrims still climb the nearby Mt. Brandon, supposedly the highest peak in Ireland. Some do so in bloody, bare feet out of devotion to their St. Brendan, who comes close to equaling the reverence the Irish give St. Patrick.

 

We took a slightly different, back roads (really way, way back roads) route from the Ballydavid portion of the Dingle Peninsula to Ballyferriter and the home of the Louis Mulcahy Pottery operation. We again enjoyed looking at the displays of the beautiful lamps, pots and other artwork of the dozen or so craftsmen and craftswomen employed there, plus that of Mr. Mulcahy himself, described to us as being about age 70.

 

While there, we had as expected another delicious lunch of home-made tomato-basil soup made for them by a local cook with fresh tomatoes, basil and finely chopped bits of fresh carrots. The herbs and vegetables provide a naturally sweet taste. The soup was served with slices of Irish brown bread. Unfortunately, the snack bar’s microwave oven was out of order so I had to pass on trying a home-made piece of shepherd’s pie.

 

Betty found a hand-made, pottery lamp in a light green color she liked. I was pleased to purchase it for her – along with a matching, pottery wine chiller that can double as a large container for fresh flowers plus a reddish-and-black colored flower vase for our living room in Memphis. Mulcahy now installs on request an electric plug compatible with the American alternating current before shipping lamps at no extra charge. That service is an appreciated improvement from when we purchased another lamp for our living room seven years ago and had to arrange for Betty’s friend and co-worker Jim Burkeen to modify it. .

 

Mulcahy’s pottery work and that of his talented staff now attract buyers from around the world. It is on display at the homes of “rich and famous” plus many museums in the British Islands, Europe and U.S. Tall pots large enough for small adults to hide in - like in some of the stories of the Arabian Nights - sell for €1,800 Euros and up (about $2,400 U.S. at current exchange rates). Hand-crafted tea sets sell for €395 Euros and up.

 

The firm’s website is at http://www.louismulcahy.com. A sister business is operated by his wife, Lisbeth Mulcahy, in Dingle. She is a famed weaver and offers various fabric artworks for sale there.

 

Mulcahy has moved “in house” to the pottery complex on Slea Head Road near Clogher Strand (or beach) a studio which previously had been at nearby Ballyferriter. His artists hand paint various designs and colors on lampshades and other materials custom made for purchasers of pottery.

 

Being so nearby, Betty and I again drove down the narrow, now-unmarked paved lane to a small parking lot overlooking Clogher beach. It is truly one of the grandest sights of nature we’ve ever seen, with Atlantic roller waves crashing against the black cliffs and massive rocks. The ocean is framed with a sugar-white beach and offers brilliant water in shades of blue and green. The beauty of the overlook makes my ancestral Irish blood run warm. On this day the only other people we spotted was a couple sunbathing behind a cleft in the cliffs that are guarded by massive rocks.

 

To the inland, we could also see the distant Cheann Sibeal Golf Course and its cluster of white, vacation cottages and rental condos nestled among the rolling green hills.

 

Betty and I drove back on Slea Head Road towards Dingle. We stopped at a tiny “Siopa” (Gaelic for store) to purchase some Diet Cokes and a few supplies. We also stopped at an Exxon station to buy a half-tank of diesel fuel for the SUV, paying about $1.50 a liter (or $6 a gallon) for the fuel.

 

Once back at the Dingle Skellig Hotel, I enjoyed a quick glass of Harp Lager Beer along with a snack of carry-out Irish bacon on low-carb crackers. Betty walked into Dingle to do a little shopping while I had my customary afternoon nap.

 

That evening, we again enjoyed another wonderful dinner in the hotel’s Coast Guard restaurant, named for the emergency station on the bay-front edge of the property. I went for the fresh fish as usual, with a heavenly plate of grilled filets of sea bass and sea trout (has pink meat like salmon). Betty had a terrific serving of pan-fried veal, paired with Irish bacon in a rich, brown sauce. We shared a small platter of steamed broccoli, carrots and a tiny, stuffed potato (we only rarely eat that high-carb, starchy vegetable), followed by a single but scrumptious serving of sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce.

 

Later, we watched cable/satellite TV in our hotel suite and bathed in the huge, walk-in shower in our marble-lined bathroom. I retired at 10 p.m. I wanted to get a good night’s rest and sleep to prepare my nearly 67-year-old body to play 18 holes of golf for the first time in over 4 years of recuperation. That’s how long it took to recover from a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder and subsequent brain aneurysm.

 

Continue with Part 5, Playing Golf at Cheann Sibeal  /  Return to Nolan Travels Home Page