Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Journeying Onwards - Beara Holiday

A lot of walking has taken place since I last posted. I reckon my level of fitness has increased by well, a little bit. I never did manage to write up the posts I thought I'd have so much time to do but I'll give you a little glimpse of some of the lovely places we visited over our eight weeks in the Beara Peninsula, West Cork.

We spent our first week revisiting all our favourite places which included walking along scenic bohreens (the Irish for back road or lane), one of which leads from our holiday home to Allihies village and taking a lovely walk from behind the house up to where there were lots of sheep with their baby lambs and some beautiful doe-eyed cows, they too with their young ones. The weather during this time was so warm with constant sunshine that along with the breath-taking scenery you would be forgiven for thinking you were in any one of the mediterranean hot spots, not that I would have traded this for any of them.

During this first week we also found a house for sale which we immediately fell in love with. On and off over the past twenty five years we've been searching for our country home where we will eventually settle to live out our remaining years. This house welcomed us warmly. It had a feel to it that I've never felt in any other house we looked at before, like we belonged there. I'd begun to decide what colour we'd paint the outside, turquoise perhaps to compliment the blue-green sea which lay below and was accessed from the land surrounding the house, the sale of which was included in the price.
Week two was wonderfully exciting in that we had a visit from both sons and the fact that at one point we were all together of course made me deliriously happy. At the end of their stay I returned home with them for a few days to check that all was well with the house and give it a bit of an airing.

Four days in Dublin was all that was needed to tell me that, although I still love my fair city, I was aching to return to the quiet of the West Cork bohreens and sleepy country roads. During my Dublin stay one evening on my way home from visiting my youngest son I was awestruck by the beauty of one of our most famous streets, Merrion Square. The evening sunshine had provided a magnificant light in which to capture this great Georgian street at its finest. For a brief moment Dublin was tugging at my heart-strings.

The remaining weeks of our holiday were spent absorbing the beauty of the Beara countryside through long walks (many hours at a time) which usually ended with us visiting our local watering hole, O'Neill's Bar & Restaurant in Allihies village. There you'll be served the most delicious fresh cod/haddock and chips you'll find anywhere in Ireland. They do a good shandy into the bargain!

We made Wednesday our shopping day, so off we'd head for the weekly groceries into the nearest town which was Castletownbere, about a ten mile car journey. Back to the subject of food, Mama Mia Pizzeria in the Square, Castletownbere was my favourite place to get, guess what? fish and chips, the fish so fresh they were almost still hopping about as they didn't have far to travel from the sea across the road!

Half way through our stay we had the pleasure of having a lovely couple, friends from way back, visit us for a few days. As none of us had ever been to Dursey Island we decided this was as good a time as any. To make a long story short, it turned out that as our friends wanted to do the extremely long walk we decided they should go ahead as I knew I wouldn't be able for the very steep climb and would have only held them back. Hubby and I knew we could do the shorter walk at any time. Luckily our friends went ahead with the cable car trip as it was closed down a few days later due to a mechanical problem!
Our holiday would not have been complete without a visit to the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Retreat Centre, Garranes, Allihies. Over the years we have visited the Centre many times including attending retreats and just sometimes for nothing more than being in a quiet space. I can't begin to describe its sense of peace and tranquility but even as you enter the grounds a feeling of calm comes over you, you know you're in a sacred place. We've been there in sunshine and cloud but for me, it's when you sit in a meditative state in the quiet of the shrine room with the mist and stormy sea raging below the cliff top that you most feel its power.

During the two months of almost being cut off from civilization as we know it in Dublin I had the time to get to understand myself a bit better. Apart from discovering how physically unfit I am I realised I'm mentally stronger than I credited myself with. Maybe it comes with older age but I've a confidence in myself now I didn't have years ago. For instance, a simple thing like making important decisions has become easier and even if that entails deciding to move to the country, when the time comes, I think I'll be OK with severing my city connections. Of course I'll still be in touch with family and friends and have them visit as often as possible.

We didn't succeed in buying our beloved house but we're hoping that if property prices continue to fall then maybe we might be in with a chance. If it's meant to happen then it will.

Above images from top:

View from trail from Barness to Garnish.
Bohreen from holiday home to Allihies village.
Fuchsia bush along bohreen to Allihies village.
View from land of house for sale.
Merrion Square, Dublin.
O'Neill's Bar & Restaurant, Allihies village.
Mama Mia Pizzeria, The Square, Castletownbere, West Cork.
View towards Dursey Island.
Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Retreat Centre, Garranes, Allihies.
Sunset from our holiday home, Allihies.