I set off up the hill passing ‘Hillcrest’ on a misty day. On the old green road to Kilcrohane, cloud caps the summits of Roskerrig, Seefin and Peekeen with fingers of haze feeling their way down their slopes, the cloud-base occasionally lifting to reveal patches of blue.
Below me Dunmanus bay is still, sunlight breaking through cloud over the Mizen casting patches of glistening silver on the grey-green sea.
The old road has a special fascination for me. It resonates with echoes of the past as it heads straight over the lower slopes of the hills, avoiding the twists and turns of the new road closer to the coast. At a dip in the track a stream tumbles down through a fault in the peninsular, flowing under a little clapper bridge next to a wind-bent hawthorn. It is a ‘thin’ place where different timescales of rock, water, nature and generations of footfall are overwritten – a palimpsest of time.
I leave the old road over a stone stile to pass the ‘Well of the Poets’, cross the new road at Dromnea and head over the rise past the ‘Bardic School’ to descend to Farranamanagh.
Over the stone bridge the lake is still, reflecting the hills and four white swans, up-tails all. I sit in a rocky cove to eat my lunch, watching the tide rising. Not rising enough to block my way I begin a balancing act across the rounded rocks and pebbles of the sea shore to emerge onto the quay below Kilcrohane where a lone swimmer is huddled in a dry-robe.
The ruined church of St Crohane has been restored since I was last here, still roofless ruin but with its fallen walls rebuilt with the original stones and the ivy removed.
The village is quiet and I realise that sore knees and aching hips are not going to get me home easily so I call Herself for a lift. She is in Schull so I have an hour or so to kill. I head back down to Farranamanagh on the Sheep’s Head Way past the sweat-house that is now, sadly, overlooked by a site for a new house.
Back by the lake, I sit on the stone bridge and cool my feet and legs in the icy-cold water of the stream that joins the lake to the sea to wait for my lift home.
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