Words can not describe the beauty of the Gap of Dunloe, and the sheer wondrousness of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (Irish: Na Cruacha Dubha, meaning “the black stacks”). The play of light over the peaks, with its sweep across valley and river…. the delightful ruins and sturdy bridges….. sheep that nary a glance do offer….. and quiet. Only the soft whisper of wind or the joyous song of bird. We spent the better part of a day exploring the Gap, which was, sadly, not enough. Having filled up on a hearty breakfast at our B&B, we parked half-way in at the abandoned “Inn” and hopped out ready for a day of scenery and excercise.
There is a cold stream dancing down from the heights, as it snakes its way through valley and under bridge. Under a lone Thorn tree, in the midst of a pasture by the stream, I found the remains of a ram. Hooves still attached, bloody wool scattered, horns atop its blank skeletal head.
Under the Black Stacks
in the Kingdom we found
the head of a Ram, long dead
bloody its last hours
drug under the Thorn,
to offer its life to the land

As the afternoon pressed on, and with our stomachs growling, we headed North toward Clare. We would stop for the night in my favorite town; Ennis! Along the way we popped into the Horseshoe Bar & Restaurant in Listowel, Kerry, for yummy food and the last half of the rugby. (we shared the most decadent and sinful of desserts….a Hot Belgian Waffle, with delicious caramel inside..YUM) We took the ferry from Kerry into Clare, which made another first for me. I’ve been on this exact ferry before but never when I was driving! I admit to being a little nervous as I inched the car onto the boat, especially since I was the first in our line!

We passed into the beautiful county Clare just as the sun was sinking into the deep, cold waters of the Atlantic….the Plain of Mag Mell before us. But the Honey Road was not ours that day. Instead, we set our sites on Ennis where we had to find accommodation. There were a few minutes of nerves, and near tears, when I discovered the cost of the hotel I wanted, but we found a nicely priced room at the Temple Gate, which is also in the town centre (a must!). We had a drink at Brogan’s and then walked down to the Old Ground for another while listening to the trad session. Next day I did a bit of shopping while we were in Ennis (which has two of my favorite boutiques EVER). I scored a cute dress and a skirt, and also found a little shop selling African fabrics. Rich Blue Peacock Feathers on vibrant orange, anyone?? We had to leave in time to make the ferry in county Galway because our next stop was the haunting island of Inis Mór.

My l.B. LOVES this island…I think she would probably love all three of the Aran Islands, but she’s only ever visited this one. Maybe on that upcoming summer trip (hint, hint) she can spend a day on each. We had spectacular weather! We biked from one end to the other (OH my sore butt!), explored monastic ruins and iron age forts. The sea lions were out sunbathing in their little spot, the birds were singing, the sun was warm on our faces (I even got a little colour!). We could not have asked for a better day! A little plug for the places we ate and slept. The Kilronan Hostel was clean, cheap, friendly and VERY convenient!

It was late when we boarded the ferry back to the BIG island (can’t really call it a mainland, can I?). Tired, happy, and already reminiscing on our grand adventures, we made the drive back east. There are memories to be made at every turn here, and new myths to weave into the old. But, isn’t that the way of life everywhere on our divine sphere?

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