Vagabond Wild Irish Rover Day 7 Kenmare to Skibbereen

Uragh Stone Circle

October 22, 2021

Last night before our carpet picnic, we walked around Kenmare where they were ready for Halloween.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago, mostly in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

Towns in Ireland are now embracing this tradition.

Saturday morning we wake up early. 5:30 a.m., and grab an early Full Irish breakfast at 8:30 then load up the van at 10 a.m. It's a rainy, raw day in Kenmare.

Our first stop today is a visit to the Uragh Stone Circle, a Bronze Age five-stone circle located near Gleninchaquin Park, County Kerry, Ireland.

You can almost feel the magic in the air and soil on this site.

From Wiki:
In County Cork and County Kerry (Cork-Kerry), there are 79 surviving stone circles. 

The typical Cork-Kerry stone circle contains a ring of large standing stones, symmetrically arranged in generally a northeast–southwest direction. 

The axial stone, is usually positioned directly opposite the stones marking the entrance to the circle.

The entrance stones are generally the tallest stones of the circle and the other orthostats decrease in height as they get closer to the axial stone. 

The axial stone is generally the shortest stone of the circle. The stone circle monuments may also have other stone alignments, cairns or enclosures nearby. All of the 5-stone circles in Cork-Kerry are D-shaped with the axial stone forming the line of the D.

We make a brief stop at Gleninchaquin Park but they want 6 Euros per person to get out of the van and walk around. We pass but not before I snap a few photos of the waterfall.

We drive through Healy Pass a mountain pass on the Beara Peninsula in the Caha Mountain range. It's a narrow winding road that must get really scary in the winter months. Check it out on Google Maps

We make our way into Castletown-Bearhaven. We're stopping at Breen's Lobster Bar for some lunch and to dry off a bit. Bébhinn will join us soon-she's shopping?? What??

I order their pan seared haddock-OMG is it ever delicious and hot-warming me up inside!

Next up is a visit to Puxley Mansion and Dunboy Castle ruins.

Dunboy Castle (Irish: Caisleán Dhún Baoi) is a ruined castle on the Beara Peninsula in south-west Ireland near the town of Castletownbere. 

It was a stronghold of the O'Sullivan Bere, a Gaelic clan leader and 'Chief of Dunboy', and was built to guard and defend the harbor of Berehaven. Its presence enabled O'Sullivan Bere to control the sea fisheries off the Irish coast and collect taxes from Irish and continental European fishing vessels sheltering in the haven. It was also a center for the import/export trade to and from the continent. 

Today, much of the castle is destroyed but the ruins are open to the public.

Dunboy Castle was the scene of the noted Siege of Dunboy in the summer of 1602 which ultimately led to its destruction and the breaking of the power of the O'Sullivan Bere. At that time Donal Cam O'Sullivan Bere was in rebellion against the English crown, and Elizabeth I had sent a 5000-strong army under the command of Sir George Carew to suppress the insurgents. Even with its small garrison of 143 men, Dunboy Castle was thought to be impregnable but following a fierce artillery bombardment the walls were smashed and after some desperate hand-to-hand fighting amid the rubble the defenders were finally overcome. The 58 survivors of the two-week siege were executed in the nearby market square.

Near the castle ruins stands Puxley Mansion, a 19th-century manor house. It was burnt by the IRA in 1920 in reprisal for the destruction of houses that harbored IRA men and weapons by the Crown Forces. 

While some restoration work was completed in the 2000s, funding issues halted plans to refurbish the mansion and open it as a hotel.

Bébhinn has a surprise for us, she's making us Irish coffee, well Irish Hot Chocolate-so that's why she was shopping before lunch.

She even has whipped cream for us.

Our hike today will be the Bullig Bay Loop. Here's a map of our route.

Parts of the trail are richly forested.

There's even a fairy house waiting for us to explore.

The trail takes you through forest and then up to a well marked trail through a farmer’s field. 

The views of the Ardnakinna Lighthouse on Bere Island were stunning, even in the rain and wind.

There are ruins of guardhouses, watchtowers, and walled enclosures tucked here and there in the undergrowth.

Soon the forest will reclaim these ruins.

We make a pub stop for a pint at MacCarthy's Bar in Castletownebere.

It started as a grocery store in the 1860s. Then they started selling Guinness and the rest is history.

And a rich history it is. The story of Dr Aidan MacCarthy's experiences while serving as an RAF medic in the Second World War are told in his book A Doctor's War (1979, 2nd editon 2005)

Not only did he survive Dunkirk and being held as a Japanese prisoner of war, he survived being torpedoed on a transport ship, and also the A-bomb explosion at Nagasaki in 1945.

He continued to serve in the medical branch of the RAF and in 1969 was appointed to command the RAF central medical establishment in London. He retired in 1972. Married in 1948, he had two daughters, one of whom now runs MacCarthy's Bar now. He lived until 1995.

We hop into the van and head toward West Cork. We'll be staying at the West Cork Hotel. (Usually Vagabond Tours stay at the Gouganne Barra Hotel but they may have been fully booked this weekend-bank holiday.)

We peel out of our wet clothes and take a hot shower. We're meeting the gang downstairs for our last dinner get-together. The summer veggie linguine was delicious.

We're sad that this is our last night on this adventure but we still have a full day ahead us tomorrow. We'll make a stop at Blarney Castle and some may kiss the Blarney Stone-not me. Then we'll visit the Rock of Cashel before heading back into Dublin.

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