Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Deep-valley'd Desmond: Gougane Barra, Clonakilty, and Inchydoney Beach

Last night, I had a dream that I was home in the States and was telling everyone that my time here had flown by. In some ways, it does seem like this experience is quickly fleeting -- I've been here for over a month already. (Happy February!) But some days drag on and on, and I wonder why I'm sitting in my room when I have Ireland to explore.

Part of the problem (not that having down time is a problem, exactly...I'm just not used to it) is that travel, even within Ireland, is expensive (or "spendy" as my friend Kaitlin would say). It's not over-the-top, but when you travel every weekend, it adds up quickly. The other difficulty regarding travel is the transportation system. To get to Dublin from Cork, it takes almost twice as long on a bus as it would take in a car. But that's to be expected, I guess. And for an island nation the size of Indiana, they're pretty advanced. What's most frustrating is that there are nooks and crannies of this country that just aren't accessible by public transportation. One of those places is Gougane Barra.

St. Finbarr's Oratory
Yesterday, API Cork made its way to this beautiful section of land in West Cork. Gougane Barra (like "goo-gone") is a forest/lake area with seven different trails, lots of trickling waterfalls, and loads of sheep. It's situated in West Cork in a valley, so the views of the hills above it are lovely, even on a rainy day. St. Finbarr's Oratory (left) is there also. (As a disclaimer, the picture quality isn't that great. I was really worried about ruining my lens because it was SO wet so I didn't even try capturing things straight!)
Those of us who wanted to brave the rain did so for maybe 20 minutes and we were SOAKED by the time we got back to the bus. The temperature was great, though, so I was never freezing, just wet. I would love to find a way to get back there when the weather is nicer. Check out this poem that my parents unearthed -- and find my last name! The Irish version of Desmond means "South Munster," so the poet is talking about the region Gougane Barra is found in.

Here are two group shots - one from the forest park and one from Manning's Emporium, a little store we stopped at on our way to Clonakilty. We ate local cheeses and meats! I bought some fudge for myself and for my sister. Mine was gone before I went to bed last night -- oops.

Inchydoney Beach

We had some time in Clonakilty to walk around downtown. I loved the different colored houses. Check out my Picasa web album if you want to see a series of pictures of the doors -- very popular postcard material here in Ireland!

Hurricane winds, anyone?
After Clonakilty, we went to Inchydoney Beach (I love that name!) a few km from Clonakilty. The Titanic would've been seen from this beach in April 1912, after it had picked up passengers from Queenstown (Cobh). I was so excited to touch the Atlantic again and run around in flip-flops for a bit. But I've never experienced such powerful winds. Trying to climb up to the top of some dunes proved difficult in said flip-flops, but it was worth the great view. My friends and I filmed/laughed through a weather report with yours truly (alias Kathleen O'Connell) as host. We finished our trip with hot chocolate and tea by the sea.

On tap this week is loads of research for a paper that's due before I head to Paris (read this neat National Geographic article that my dad passed along!), a visit next weekend from my SMC roommate & friend Becca (I'm so excited to have a piece of home here!), and planning for future trips. I'll keep ya posted.

And now, I'm off to research the Roman attitude toward Christians pre-Constantine. I just have to remind myself that my reward for finishing this paper is PARIS (with three SMC friends, I might add)!