At least that’s the way it seemed yesterday. Distance in Ireland is deceptive, and tourists always underestimate how long it will take to get from point A to point B. I know better, but still it took me all day to go just about 100 miles.
Partly that was because the roads are not conducive to speed, particularly on the Beara, but also because I had to keep stopping to take pictures! I kept telling myself I would not stop at every scenic beach, lake, house and rocky point, but the lure was too strong. Plus the weather was cooperative, with the sun peaking out from the clouds to shine alluringly on the water and hills. Oh Irish weather, such a tease.
The photographic highlight of the day was the miraculous juxtaposition of a rainbow and a stone circle along the Ring of Kerry. I learned the stone circle was Eightercua, with the tallest of the four stones standing nearly 9 feet tall. Driving in Ireland has its drawbacks, but being able to stop at sites like this is definitely a plus. Apologies to my friends who have already seen this picture on facebook.
I was also able to seek out a stone ring fort which was several miles down a narrow, winding road. But then, they’re all narrow, winding roads in these parts. Anyway, Loher stone fort, from the 9th century, was impressive and tourist-free. There aren’t many tourists about this time of year anyway, but places like this are definitely off the beaten path.
From there I pressed on the Beara Peninsula, with a stop in lovely Kenmare for lunch. I opted for the coast road on the Beara, and it wasn’t long before I questioned that judgement. The roads here are literally like poorly paved driveways. In some places they pass right through farms, with the house and barns so close to the sides that if a farmer stepped out on his porch with a cup of coffee a driver could take it right out of his hand. A passenger could get fresh milk for it from the cow on the other side.
The posted speed limits are insanely fast — 100 KM, or 60 MPH, on one lane roads. I managed to get up to 60 KM and felt like I was on a road rally. Plus you have to be ready to pull over onto the non-existent shoulder when another car (or truck) approaches. Somehow it works. I think Ireland has harnessed the ability for two solid objects to occupy the same space at the same time. It’s the only explanation.
Finally I arrived at my destination, the colorful village of Allihies, population 600. I’m the only guest at the Sea View B&B, a lovely small hotel-like accommodation run by the O’Sullivan family, who also run the store downstairs. The inn faces the sea, with views across the country. It’s just the balm I need after that drive!