Friday, November 5, 2010

4. Ireland 1975: The Kilarney Lakes and to Baltimore Co. Cork and the Freighter to Clear Island

Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland 1975
The sun on me here beside this lake is so luxurious. The country around Kilarney is blowing my mind and I think I'll spend a few days here and then move slowly along the coast to, where they say, "the next pub is in New York City."

I've heard fine things about the hostel at Cape Clear, Clear Island where I think I'll head sometime this week.

The next morning and I've cycled up into the hills to an area known as the Gap of Dunloe. It's a mountain pass and there is a clear, green river running through it. The cloud cover lifted by mid-morning and it is now clear, sunny and very hot.

One of the most beautiful things about this place is the absence of cars. It is accessible by bicycle or horse only. A sign where the road gets rough warns people to leave their cars behind. The road isn't all that bad but there's a thriving pony and buggy business among the farmers along the roadway. An Irish fellow at the hostel warned me that they would tell me that I couldn't bicycle up and would certainly need a pony but to pay them no mind. There must be 150 horses going up the trail. Small groups of them pass every 10 minutes or so.

There are very impressive mountains here and the river forms small lakes as it descends. There are no trees but moss and grass grow everywhere. Relatively recent rock slides give it a feeling of bareness. I can see clearly the bottom of this lake 35 feet from the shoreline. A fairly strange looking breed of sheep which may or may not be wild, graze freely throughout the valley.

The combination of the bicycle ride up here -- about 7 miles -- and a few hours in the sun lying on a big flat rock beside a cold, clear lake, give me a very good feeling of calm and peacefulness.

...And the most welcome return of my fountain pen. I have a rather severe sun burn. All across my back is stinging and my face feels like profound eternal embarrassment. I lied in that beautiful mountain valley for hours, had a swim and washed myself from head to toe for the first time in 2 weeks. I am in a very numb and very pleasant state. 

Cape Clear, Clear Island 1975
No boats leave this rocky little island until tomorrow at 9:00. A silent, isolated Atlantic coast farming community, a group of Irish girls studying the Irish language at a small school, the 20 or so people staying at the youth hostel. Some good hitch-hiking today and a walk through the most amazing mountains and the acquaintance of a very good, politically aware priest. A

Frightening drives at high speeds along the narrowest of roads and the company of a young woman from Wisconsin. Hot sun and a fine boat ride. The hostel at Cape Clear. Looking into the infinity of the Atlantic Ocean.

Youth Hostel, Cape Clear, Clear Island, Ireland 1975

And cold to the bone this morning. It's only yesterday that I left Kilarney but it seems like days. Will I stay another week? My money could be stretched but it would be very tight for a couple of days. Spending at the rate I am now, I will have some money to put towards a bicycle when I get home. Now that I'm here, I have a chance to lie about on this gorgeous Atlantic coast and just relax and soak up sun. Travelling is sometimes lonesome. I miss Myra. I have a lot of energy travelling can't handle. I want tools and equipment and process. There are areas of Ireland though that I would like to return to sometime: Donegal, the Conemaragh coast, Northern Ireland's north coast. The best way to tour Ireland would be to land at Shannon and head immediately to a hostel; spend the week cycling and drinking. Tour for a while, then take your adjusted paced off to Dublin for a few days