It may not be the edge of the world, but as they say, you can see it from here.
Portmagee is on the southern tip of the Iveragh Peninsula, better known as the Ring of Kerry, and the hopping off point for Skellig Michael. The monks who inhabited the austere, rocky island for 600 years truly did think they were on the edge of the world. The “New World” wasn’t even discovered until 200 years after they left the rock. From their lofty vantage hermitage, 714 feet above the crashing sea and 8 miles from the nearest land, the west held only vast ocean.
I won’t be going out to Skellig Michael this trip. (The blog header photo was taken on Skellig Michael last May when my partner and I made the pilgrimage.) I’m here to look at accommodations for my May tour. Hands down the best choice is the obvious one: The Moorings, directly across the street from the harbor where the boats gather to ferry passengers to the island. The owner showed me the room where the president of Ireland stays when she visits! There is also a pub and restaurant on site, so all the basic necessities of life are under one roof.
One of the drawbacks of driving alone is that you miss a lot of great photo ops. The best one yesterday, which I missed, was when I passed a slow moving tanker truck which was labeled, and I swear I’m not making this up, MOLASSES HAULER. Priceless.
As I neared Portmagee the sun came out and played across the hills in a way that seems uniquely Irish. I know, the sun shines everywhere, but somehow it’s ….different here.
I took advantage of the fine weather to drive over to Valentia Island, across a short bridge from Portmagee. Note: There is a ferry from Caherciveen, which stopped running for the winter on Sunday. Darn.
Valentia is a sleepy little island now, but it has several hefty claims to fame. It was the site of the first transatlantic cable crossing in 1865 and recently scientists found fossilized footprints of the first fish to come ashore, the tetrapod.
I drove out to the “fish footprint” site, and I have to say, it was pretty impressive. Once you knew what you were looking for, there they were: a “tetrapod trackway” of frozen tracks imbedded in what was once Devonian mud, estimated to be 350 to 370 million years old. Gives a whole new meaning to tracing your roots in Ireland!