It is growing increasingly difficult to decide which town we will be moving to when we come back to Ireland. We are moderately sure it will not be Dublin or Cork, and almost certain it will not be Galway... But between Westport, Connemara, Doolin, Kinsale, Clonakilty, Bantry, and now Kenmare, every town we come to provides a hundred new reasons to stay, as if we needed them. If we had a month to tour the five south-western penisulas, and $500 a day to spend doing so, the money would be sufficient, but the time would not. Next time we come out here, I would like to rent a house (as would Erika, I know) and spend at least three weeks taking day trips out to tour every penisula, and being able to stop whenever we wanted.
The air was crisp, though by no means frigid, as we walked the streets of Kinsale this morning, soaking up it's seaside charm, letting the welcome sunlight melt the cares away as it melted the night's residual snow from it's few remaining shady foot holds.
One day proving to be at least two too few, we did not leave til 11:30, if it was even that early. Having told the lady at Rivervill House in Kenmare, we'd be in around 4:30, and then leaving so late, meant only one short detour, and very few stops... which did not exactly fit the schedule I had in mind. My schedule started earlier, had a little less walking around Kinsale, and included the Ring of Beara, and the great Blasket Island. Due to weather, all sailing to the island was closed... Not that it matters, since we left too late to make it out to the peninsula. The good thing is that we're giving ourselves things to do on our next trip out here. We will have to do Beara, and Healy Pass, and Blasket Island when we return or move here. From what I've heard about the island, nobody lives there anymore, but the town remains. It was once the home of a village of incredible story tellers who only spoke Gaelic. When a couple of guys came over from the main land and helped them translate and record all of their stories in English, they almost instantly became the people group with the densest population of published authors in the world. I cannot personally vouch for the quality of any of the stories, or the writing, but regardless, that's pretty impressive.
Along the drive up to Kenmare, though we didn't take "the most beautiful drive in Ireland" (as the Welshman at The Old Presbetery Bed &Breakfast called the Beara peninsula), we did take in our fair share of beauty. We even stopped off to see Drombeg stone circle. The portal stones (essentially the entryway) stand almost as high as my shoulders, with the stones decreasing in height on both sides until they get to the low point, opposite the portal stones, where a wide flat stone stands to about the bottom of my rib cage. The two bowls carved into the top of this stone lead historians and archeologists to believe this circle to have been of Druidic ritualistic and sacrificial use, and the bones of a small boy, found in the earth inside the ring, seem to confirm this speculation.
About thirty yards distant, in the same field, sit the foundations of two small huts. One is a typical circular stone hut, with nothing unusual or extraordinary about it. The other, just down hill of the first, has it's floor dug almost two feet down into the turf, and a stone hearth raised up on the uphill side. Where the small stream that crosses the boggy field trickles up to the hut and across the floor, there is a trough cut, leading into a two foot by three foot rectangular stone basin, dug deeper into the floor. The plaque on site says this would have been used for cooking, brewing, and bathing (though not at the same time). The basin would be filled with about 27 gallons of water, while rocks were being placed on the hearth to heat up. When the rocks glowed red, they would be moved into the water and, after about 20 minutes, would bring the water to a boil... Keeping it hot for about three hours. Then they could remove the block from the downhill side and all of the water would flow back through a trough into the stream.
We did make it to Riverville House in Kenmare, though we were about 45 minutes late. It's a cute house, and Margaret is very kind. Kenmare, with it's two organic grocery's, weekly farmers market, and two vegetarian cafes, might be where we have to move, if we want my family to visit or join us. Maybe we could buy a large house here and start a Bed & Breakfast/Brew pub with +Benjamin Englesmith and +Jaason Englesmith that would feature standard Irish pub and B&B fare, as well as vegetarian and vegan versions.