Caha Mountains, Beara Peninsula, Kerry

“As I was going more than, the Cork and Kerry mountains…” goes the song Whiskey in the Jar. Even in the absence of a cash-counting Captain Farrell and a lovelorn highwayman, a journey above the Caha Mountains of the Beara Peninsula helps make for unforgettable recollections.

Taken from the July / August 2019 problem of Eire of the Welcomes journal. Subscribe to this bi-every month print journal listed here.

The Beara peninsula, which straddles the counties of Cork and Kerry, suffers relatively from middle child syndrome. The 3rd of the 5 excellent peninsulas of Ireland’s southwest, it is normally overshadowed by the celebrated Dingle Peninsula and, property to the famed Ring of Kerry, the Iveragh Peninsula. The two junior peninsulas to the south, Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head, rock a remote West Cork bohemian vibe. Beara is the shy, a little uncomfortable 1, neither Cork nor Kerry, neither touristy nor artsy and all the a lot more worthwhile for it.

Component of the dilemma for Beara is that receiving there is a obstacle. The journey both includes a extensive drive from Cork Town, bypassing plenty of amazing landscapes alongside the way or a hair-raising drive from Kerry, together serpentine streets climbing through either just one of two lonely passes above the Caha Mountains. Beara calls for website visitors make an work, and for all those brave adequate to deal with the route from the Kerry aspect and cross those storied mountains, the reward is a amazing check out of the two counties that make up Beara and the Atlantic Ocean that lashes its coast.

The Caha Pass

The Caha Pass.

The Caha Go.

The Caha go is probably the less difficult of the two routes from the Kerry facet. It backlinks the towns of Kenmare in Kerry to Glengarriff in Cork and it was pretty a feat of road making in its working day. It attributes two tunnels each of which ended up blasted out of the rock in the center of the 19th century and then hand-hewn. The mountain monitor was turned into a paved highway in the early 1900s by a Galway motor-enthusiast referred to as Richard Mecredy. But even today the tunnels are much too minimal for most tour buses to move via which lessens visitors alongside the route substantially in peak period. About 70 meters into the for a longer time tunnel is the border in between Kerry and Cork, no passport is essential. 

Even in summer months, this is a lonely street with just a couple of locals and the odd seek the services of vehicle about. It is all lush inexperienced slopes and mushy bog-land on the Kerry aspect modifying to the rougher and rockier ground at the peak and on into County Cork. On a cloudy day, the sense of isolation nearing the summit lends the space a spooky air. It is not hard to envision why, in historic occasions, Druids employed this position for ‘cursing’ purposes, even putting in a ‘cursing stone’ to want unwell on their enemies. It is also the most likely location for the song Whiskey in the Jar, about a highwayman who himself was robbed by Jenny, his wayward girl adore. Absent a paved road and the area gets to be even much more inhospitable, an great location for skulduggery. 

Sailing down from the summit into County Cork, the pale blue waters of Bantry Bay distribute as much as the horizon and, nestled in a thick wooded glen lies the village of Glengarriff. The moment residence to Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara, Glengarriff is a relaxed unpretentious spot, which has lengthy been a common holiday break town. The poet William Butler Yeats was a frequent visitor back again. Comprising not a lot more than a solitary road and a population of just 800 persons out of time, it’s effectively-stocked with lodges, hostels, dining establishments, cafés and, of class, pubs, most of which have new music in the evenings. As a base for checking out Beara, it’s excellent.

Garinish Island

Just a stone’s toss from Glengarriff’s major street, and surrounded by lush woodland, is the Blue Pool, a modest pure harbor formed where by river meets the sea of Bantry Bay. The Blue Pool is a verdant oasis, sheltered by the Caha Mountain range and bathed in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which originates in the Gulf of Mexico, generating a sub-tropical design and style local climate. Even more out on Bantry Bay lies Garinish Island, an extraordinary yard island that can take entire edge of the balmy ailments.

View of Bantry Bay.

See of Bantry Bay.

The ferry to Garinish leaves from Blue Pool and should consider significantly less than 20 minutes. But there’s Seal Island to admire to start with, or rather there is a cluster of basking rocks peeping over the water and generally topped by some very chilled Harbour seals who are not just employed to passing boats but relish any interest coming their way. There’s a colony of about 250 seals on the way to Garinish so it’s extremely hard not to seize various flapping in and out of the drinking water and frequently preening for the camera. 

The Irish identify for Garinish is Oileán na Chulinn which means island of holly so it’s possible it has prolonged been revered. To the historical Druids, the Holly was next only to the oak in terms of magical powers. 

The story of fashionable-day Garinish starts in 1910 when a Belfast businessman Annan Bryce bought the island from the British War place of work. Bryce and his spouse Violet, equally eager horticulturists, required their new island property to turn out to be a botanical paradise. They commissioned Harold Peto, at the time a primary architect and garden designer, to attract up ideas for a mansion and fashion all-around it a new Eden. The mansion was never built but the island backyard garden, which Peto and the Bryces produced, is actually heavenly. 

Surrounded by lapping sea, with the stony barren slopes of the Caha mountains in the length, the exquisite manicured natural beauty and prosperous eco-friendly hues of Garinish are preternatural. Crops, shrubs, and trees that need to in no way survive in the Irish weather encompass comfortable grassy paths that wind throughout the island via the ornately adorned terraced pond, a collection of viewing platforms more than the ocean, a walled back garden, a cautiously preserved Martello Tower. About each individual twist or change of the path is a new delight, whether it is an intricately carved statue or a collection of massive blossoms from an unfamiliar tree. Garinish has been thoroughly crafted to seduce the senses irrespective of the year with rhododendrons and azaleas dominating in spring and ceding to climbers and perennials as summer season sets in.

These days Garinish is managed by the Irish Business office of Public Works and capabilities a espresso shop and restrooms.

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The Healy Move

The Healy Pass.

The Healy Move.

It is been explained as 1 of Ireland’s greatest drives, and is absolutely as extraordinary as it is dangerous. The Healy Go runs from Adrigole Bridge in County Cork and winds its way about two of the best peaks of the Caha assortment in advance of descending to Lauragh Bridge in County Kerry. On a distinct day the scenery is magnificent. But fog and mist descend rapidly in these parts and, with a seemingly under no circumstances-ending series of hairpin bends climbing by way of desolate boggy marshland, caution is suggested.

The Healy Pass owes its existence to a person of the most heartbreaking periods of Irish record. In 1847, it was a single of the famine assignments on which the British governing administration insisted hungry people today should labor ahead of getting supplied with food items. Back again then it was a bridleway or horse using path recognised as Bealach Scairt, or Way of the Sheltered Caves, which suggests that laborers at least located places to get cover when climate problems deteriorated all through the performs.

It was upgraded in the early 1930s and renamed the Healy Move immediately after a Bantry-born politician who turned the initial Governor-Normal of the ‘free state’ of Eire, as the region was known immediately after the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921. Tim Michael Healy experienced at first been a member of the British parliament and a fierce supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party. But he famously led the heave in opposition to Parnell when the party leader’s prolonged-expression marriage with Catherine O’Shea came to mild. Catherine O’Shea was married if estranged from her spouse and Parnell’s affiliation with her brought about outrage the two in Victorian Britain and pious Eire. The tale goes that Parnell combating for his political lifetime questioned his parliamentary occasion colleagues: “Who is the grasp of the bash?”. Healy retorted. “Aye, but who is the mistress of the celebration?” 

Healy stepped down as an MP in the course of the typical election in December 1918, creating way for Sinn Féin to get his seat. He disappeared from political lifestyle, only to be requested back again by the newly minted Irish governing administration in 1922 to just take up the put up of Governor-Basic, successfully the British King’s consultant to the Irish condition, which even now pledged allegiance to the British monarchy. 

From the Cork aspect, the climb to the peak commences slowly but surely enough across open lavatory, in advance of an ever additional dizzying collection of twists and turns mark the ascent to more than 1,000 toes over sea amount. Along the street and dotted all through the normally empty marsh ground are area sheep. At the really major is a statue of Jesus on the cross, gazing down at the large and empty valley beneath. 

Cresting the summit marks the passage from Cork into Kerry and a shockingly dramatic improve of landscape. Rather of countless miles of barren bog, this aspect of the mountain is forested with a sequence of lakes in the valleys and the sea in the length. Descending even further and the hedgerow, meadows, and rather stone bridges total the sense of arriving not just in a different county but an completely diverse nation. 




If the Beara Peninsula has a money it is Castletownbere, or the Castle City of Beara as it is acknowledged in Irish. This is a bustling minor city and a occupied fishing port. Apart from a myriad of fish restaurants it also features some fantastic bars including McCarthy’s Bar created popular by the English author Pete McCarthy who wrote about it in the ideal-selling book McCarthy’s Bar. 

Taken from the July / August 2019 issue of Eire of the Welcomes journal. Subscribe to this bi-month-to-month print journal below.

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