Beautiful Sights near Slea Head
May 2 – 12, 2010
- Updated June 14, 2010
Ten photos mainly
taken by Betty Nolan are posted at www.kodakgallery.com
in an album entitled “
By LEWIS NOLAN
May 10, 2010 – Monday
– Driving to Beautiful Sights on
Our plans were scrubbed by brisk winds in the
Lewis Nolan by Gallarus Oratory, made in 7th or 8th Century by early Christians in Ireland
The information we had gotten yesterday at the harbor vendor
promised that we would see a good variety of marine life, seabirds and other
sights. We would also have distant views of the historic
However, strong winds around coastal waters on this otherwise beautiful day persuaded the boat operators to call off that day’s early afternoon excursion.
We had arisen just after 8 a.m. at the Dingle Skellig Hotel and had another very fine buffet breakfast. For me it consisted of the usual poached eggs, slices of Irish bacon, brown bread with butter, tomato juice, two dried prunes, a banana and delicious slices of fresh cantaloupe. After eating in the Coast Guard Restaurant, I took a short nap then dressed in warm clothing for the planned boat ride.
After reporting to the boat concession at
Nonetheless, we were determined to take advantage of the
generally fine weather on the
With the freshness in our memories of the incredible beauty of the Irish coastline we had sampled by our drives earlier in the week on the Slea Head Road, we decided to have another round of driving and stopping at some of the ancient historical sights of the Celts and the Iron Age.
Heading out of Dingle in the proper, clockwise direction, we
drove towards the coast
We passed by the very old Dunbeg Fort and nearby Beehive Huts, where early Christian monks lived solitary lives of prayer and denial of most of the comforts of life. Their stacked rocks formed primitive shelters from the weather that resembled spiraling hornet nests sometimes found in trees. We drove by – but did not stop – a two-story farmhouse with a fantastic view of the sea. We had visited with the old woman who owned the house and steeply slanted farmland that falls to the sea on our 2003 visit.
Her name was Mrs. Mara O’Houlihan and she had told us with delight about how parts of the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman movie, “Far and Away,” had been filmed on her land. The widow told us she and other area residents had bit parts in the movie. We confirmed her assertion later by re-viewing the movie when home and seeing her in a funeral scene, clad in 19th Century mourning clothes.
We stopped on wide, pull-out spaces in the roadway cut into cliffs every few miles to take more pictures of the breath-taking scenery of the sea far below.
We drove past Slea Head (a
headland named because of its resemblance to the back side of a gigantic,
horse-drawn sleigh) and noted the now-closed, gravel road built by
We stopped for another delicious lunch at Mulcahy Pottery and greatly enjoyed their tomato-bisque soup made by a neighbor. The snack bar hostess, “Trish,” recognized us from our visit earlier in the week and was wonderfully gracious - as the Irish always are in such places.
We drove a few further miles up the coast to a regional
museum in Ballyferriter that celebrates the Celtic
history of the area. We had toured its small collection on a previous visit.
But we found that on this day it was closed, despite signage to the contrary
that says it is open 7 days a week during the season. We did go inside the
town’s Roman Catholic Church, where the front door is open even though there
was nobody inside. We picked up a few brochures and religious handouts written
in the traditional Irish language of Gaelic, the long-established native tongue
in this section of
Many of the road signs are all in Gaelic and a great many
teenagers are sent to this part of
We returned to the historic Gallarus
Oratory in search of better directions to the ancient Christian Church of Kilmalkedar. We remembered it as being nearby but on an
unmarked, narrow road. It took another two stops for directions, but we got
there just as a light rain started falling. Thankfully, it was the only rain we
encountered that got in the way of our touring the
Kilmalkedar – with four sturdy walls but missing the roof - was made in the 12th Century of carefully placed slabs of mortared stone. Surrounding it is an ancient graveyard still in use. Two men employed by government were clearing the land of overgrown grasses and shrubs.
We noticed a chest-high, very old stone that was inscribed
with the mostly forgotten Ogham Irish alphabet. It
reinforces our finding - arrived at while combing old cemeteries around Ballinasloe in
We proceeded on to the town of
But we are both grown up and realize that we have the maturity and resources to deal with any flight cancellations as best as we can. We have the comfort and confidence that comes from having good health, lots of time on our hands, nothing urgent awaiting us at home and the standby, emergency finances to handle just about any situation.
But after more than a week in beautiful
Our last dinner at the Dingle Skellig
Hotel was again wonderful. Our friend Liz Daly, who with husband Sean runs the
Dingle Crystal company in town, joined us at the hotel for a great dinner. Sean
was running late on returning from business and family matters at
Aided by Liz’ great company, we had a delightful meal of freshly caught salmon, served with broiled asparagus. For dessert, Liz went for the delicious sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce Betty and I had enjoyed previously. We split the Coast Guard Restaurant’s fantastically good crème brulee.
Of course we invited Liz to join us at some future time in