Inch Beach, Dingle…
It was the final day in Ireland and we had a late flight home so we debated how best to make the most of our final moments. We decided to drive the Ring of Kerry. On account of the engine management warning lights blinking away this might have been rather rash but we decided to go ahead regardless.
It was a shame to leave the Dingle Skellig Hotel but as we loaded the bags into the car I made a mental note to add it to my ‘places I must return to one day’ list and then we left the car park and drove east.
After a while we came to a place called Inch beach, a spit of perfect sand that intrudes five kilometres into Dingle Bay and really looks for all the world as though it shouldn’t really be there at all – an expanse of perfect caramel land stretching south and defying the Atlantic Ocean to devour it. We parked the car at a glorious look out point and although we didn’t stop long enough to go down to the sea I was happy to elevate it straight away into my list of top ten beaches and to the ‘places I must return to one day’ list.
After Inch Beach we left the Dingle Peninsula and started west again and at the town of Killorglin began the one hundred and ten mile circular route around the Ring of Kerry.
Driving The Ring of Kerry…
Almost immediately I began to wonder if we had made the right decision because one hundred and ten miles is a long way and after only a short while it became rather tedious and awfully slow going as we drove for long distances staring at the back end of a coach full of pensioners taking the day trip from Killarney. All along the northern route there were no sea views as I had imagined there would be and the road remained stubbornly inland wedged in between the scenery of the coast and the majesty of the mountains but enjoying neither.
After an hour or so it was obvious that the Ring of Kerry is something that you really need to take your time over and the one day version is not the best one. Eventually we arrived at the most westerly point and we could see over Valentia Island which is famous for having the first transatlantic cable station built in 1866 and then the road turned south to Waterville where for some reason Charlie Chaplin used to like to spend some holiday time and there is a statue on the sea front to prove it!
We thought that we might stop for a while in Waterville but it wasn’t especially thrilling and it was clogged up with tour buses making their lunch time break so we passed through and carried on.
Immediately the scenery improved as we climbed several hundred metres from sea level through mountain passes and winding roads until we reached Skelligs viewing point with expansive views in all directions and a coach park.
Skelligs View Car Park, Kerry…
It has to be said that this was a really odd place. It seems that wherever coaches stop in Ireland an unusual ensemble of strange people and entertainers beam down from out of space and put out a collection tin. In this windy remote place the oddest of all was a sort of farmer chap who looked as though he hadn’t washed his hands or combed his hair for several years who sat on two battered sofa cushions and invited people to have their photograph taken with a litter of kittens barely old enough to be away from their mother and then some lambs who looked to me to be highly sedated. I think the chap was highly sedated as well, probably on Guinness!
But he actually seemed positively normal next to the man a badly out of tune accordion and kicking a piece of metal plate in some sort of unholy row that I can only imagine was designed to scare witches away.
Walking back to the car in a state of dazed amusement I decided to take his picture but he saw me raise the camera and he was not very happy about it. Perhaps he thought the camera would steal his soul but on reflection I think it was because I hadn’t put any money in the tin. “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me” he yelled, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”. I took the picture and gave a jolly wave but he wasn’t going to be that easily placated, “Don’t point that feckin’ thing at me”, “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”.
Now I suffer from a real fear of dogs and a paranoia of being mauled to a canine death and normally a threat like that would turn by backbone to jelly. The British Geological Survey Team in Edinburgh measures earthquake activity in the UK and has been known to sometimes get confused by the seismic activity created by my violent shaking when faced by a dog and has issued a false earthquake event alert.
On this occasion however I didn’t think I had a lot to fear from an obviously shagged out old collie that was wearing a flat cap tied to its head and whose best people attacking days were a long way behind it. The poor thing could hardly stand up let alone chase anyone that it was set upon so I gave another cheery wave and dawdled defiantly back to the car. I was supremely confident that I could make the five metres to the door faster than it could cover the fifty metres or so to get to me.
Back in the car I suddenly worried that this might be the time that the engine would blow up and I might be in a spot of bother after all but thankfully it fired into life and I deliberately drove slowly past him and gave him a another cheeky wave as he continued to make his pointless threat – “I’ll set the dog on yer, I’ll set the dog on yer”. What was it going to do – bite the tyres? Anyway, there was no warning light on the dashboard about geriatric dog attacks so we just laughed and carried on to the exit.