Bothers, Boreens1, murk, mud, holy water and a bull.
I head out of Annacaul on the busy N86 before the way turns off onto smaller roads. It’s a cool, damp morning with cloud clinging to the hills.
I am soon coming down the road above Minard Castle which sits on a natural mound above a beach backed by a high ridge of smooth, sea-rolled rocks: a ‘storm beach’ of geological interest.2
I perch on one of the huge rocks to sketch the castle.
Close to the castle is a short track to ‘Tober Eoin’, The Well of John the Baptist. It’s a classic holy well, the clear water contained in a horseshoe shaped stone structure with a rag tree behind it festooned with offerings. I filter some holy water, drink some and fill my bottle.
Approaching Lispol, the weather deteriorates: wet with a chilling, blustery wind blowing from the north-west. The views dissolve into cloud.
I take a short detour to ‘Kate’s Corner’ café on the main road. A couple of old boys in gansies exchange greetings before going back to their discussions.
The rain sets in for the afternoon, not heavy but wet enough. After another long stretch of road the route turns off into fields across wet grass and then onto small boreens and tracks. It’s muddy; the slippy, sticky stuff laced with cow poo. Even the shorter road sections have been well travelled by cattle. One section is nothing but a stream of water and I am glad of my sturdy boots.
As I arrive at a farm gate and ladder stile, cattle are gathered. The cows part to let me through but behind them is a large bull with a ring though its nose. He’s rubbing his mucky behind against the stile and eyeing me darkly. I avert my gaze and climb quickly over the gate.
The muddy boreen turns into a grassy track that crosses the head of a small valley over a concrete bridge. Below is a cashel (stone-built ringfort); this area must be beautiful in better light but everything is dulled by the drizzle today.
Cresting a ridge, Dingle lies below at the end of a long straight road past several new housing developments. The town itself is busy as I look for my B&B. I won’t name it but it’s not the best by a long way and I don’t enjoy my stay there. Perhaps because of that plus general weariness, I don’t enjoy Dingle either. The town is packed and its old charm has been lost to rampant tourism. Dingle seems to me to have become a sad simulacrum of itself and the ‘Irishness’ it purveys is not real. I go to the ‘Holy Stone’3 and chat with a man who stops to tell me the stories about it. I like him and he cheers me up a little before I return to my B&B, trying not to look too closely at the carpets before I switch the light out.
About the route
View my route in Google Maps (The lower red section)
23km (14 miles) including detours in about 7 hours. Total ascent: 550m. Max elevation: 150m