Get out there, be a tourist

DON’T use the weather as an excuse. Get out there, says Donal Hickey

There are probably more people enjoying the outdoors during the August bank holiday than at any other time. At the time of writing, the forecast is for sunshine and showers. Bring rain gear and, if necessary, suitable footwear for Ireland is there to be enjoyed whatever the weather. And the countryside is even more beautiful after rain.

Sometimes it’s good to imagine yourself a tourist in familiar place and to try to look at things through a visitor’s eyes. Long-time personal favourites are West Cork and Kerry, with the Burren and Clare also right up there.

The other day, I took off around the Ring of Kerry where roadside ditches are all aglow with montbretia, fuschia, foxglove and 100 other plants of summer. Unfortunately, that pest, Japanese knotweed, is also widespread and can even be seen in Caherciveen town.

A plan to build a greenway on a disused railway line between Glenbeigh and Renard — a route overlooking Dingle Bay — is causing controversy locally. Signs have been put up stating “cycleway yes, CPO no”, clearly outlining objections to moves to compulsorily purchase land to make way for the greenway.

Hopefully, agreement can be reached on what would be a tremendous asset and an economic lifeline for an area starved of employment.

In Waterville, tourists seemed to be more interested in getting their photographs taken beside statues of Mick O’Dwyer and Charlie Chaplin than walking the seashore. Further on, the beach at Derrynane was lively with lots of families and children.

Next stop was Carroll’s Cove, packed with caravans and where the sight of dolphins flipping about was exciting visitors. However, locals didn’t seem surprised, telling us that not only do they regularly see dolphins, they also have basking sharks and various species of whales at certain times.

Soon, we were looking across Kenmare Bay at the similarly lush Beara Peninsula. Again, there’s the almost irresistible lure of water and boats to meet demands. Pat and Sally Borst, for instance, have launched new fishing and scenic tours out of Kilmackillogue Harbour. Pat is skipper of the boat, The Rosa, rebuilt from an old Newfoundland fishing craft by their son, Jason. Sea trips are also available in Castletownbere.

The Beara Peninsula is dotted with lovely, picture postcard villages such as Lauragh, Ardgroom, Eyeries and Allihies. There’s the lure of the Caha mountains and Hungry Hill, as well as diving, fishing, nature and archaeological remains. Not forgetting, of course, Glengarriff, and Garinish Island, with chatty boatmen, seals lazing on the rocks and the chance of spotting a sea eagle.

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