The following is an except from my trip journal during my 11 days in Ireland.
30 May 2009 15:00
Right now I’m on the flight to JFK. We’re over the Atlantic Ocean, west of Ireland. Judging by the in-flight map, we won’t get a view of Iceland as our route is too far South.
We had a great last day on the Trek yesterday. After breakfast we assembled once again and followed Tim out in search of adventure. The morning was spent with quick stops at a variety of sights and archaeological locations. Tim says there are over 2000 known sites, but many more likely exist.
Our first stop was at the former house of Viscount. Now it an all female boarding school. However, it has several Ogham stones, the earliest written form of Irish. It was interesting to see the old script.
The next stop was a a bluff overlooking the sea. It was a nice short hike, but with great views, including an island that looks like a sleeping giant. The best view of that island came a bit earlier as we went over a pass.
It was fairly breezy on the bluff and we got to watch the gulls playing. Several people also got to chase their hats around!
We then made a quick stop down the road at a pier made famous by a photograph of sheep all over the dock.
Yesterday featured a lot of archaeological and historical sights. With this theme, we visited an old chapel on the pilgrim’s route to Mount Brendan. It is the only remaining building of its type which is totally intact. I believe it is called a Corpal Structure, mortraless construction which is effective at keeping rain out. This particular one would have been a place for pilgrims to stop and say prayers on their 18 km trek to Mount Brandon. We spent a bit of time looking around before leaving to have lunch.
Our lunch location was quite cool: a partially reconstructed ring fort! Wall had been built inside the main outer wall where buildings were likely located. It was up on the side of a hill and so also afforded a great view.
After lunch we went to the ruins of a nearby church. Its architecture resembled that of Cormac’s Chapel at the Rock of Cashel. While not dedicated to St Brendan, the church had what appeared to be an image of a boat on one of the outer walls, probably a nod to St. Brendan. Tim also showed us a sundial in the cemetery area.
Next up was the last hike of the trip. We did a several mile trip up a bluff overlooking the ocean. As with earlier in the day, the wind was blowing a good bit. The views were fantastic though. We found sea shells on top of a cliff about 30m above the ocean. Gulls would bring their catches up here to eat.
There was a nice cloud over Mount Brandon, shaped by the winds blowing on top of the mountain. We also see the three sisters behind us in the distance.
When we reached the highest point on the hike were were treated with the ruins of a Napoleonic watchtower. It had been built by the English to be sure Napoleon didn’t invade Ireland. We stayed around the ruins for a bit to enjoy the views and a piece of chocolate. The descent to the bus was fairly quick.
The final scenic stop of the trip was St. Brendan’s creek. This is the site of his departure on a voyage in which he is supposed to have discovered North America. It would have happened in the early 6th century. His trip was attempted by someone in the 1970s. The successfully replicated his route (with a replica of a possible ship), indicating that the journey was plausible.
We then had our last group dinner in Dingletown. My family and I walked around the town a bit, seeing some of the fishing boats in the harbor. At 22:30, we had the last group event: a slideshow of the trip. It was cool to see some of Tim’s pictures and remember the things we’d done on the trip.. 10 days of fun and adventure in Ireland.
All of the pictures from Day 9 are available here: Ireland Day 9: Dingle Peninsula on flickr