What a glorious day we had on Sheep’s Head Peninsula on July 16th last.
The sun shone all day, the wind stayed away, the views were amazing and we had record numbers on the mountains.
Our Moderate walk was 18km and began at 11.30am with a little coastline, stepping stones and an ancient Bardic school (see footnote). The walk looped along the Old Green Road between Kilcrohane and Ahakista. Onwards then to the Stone circle and onto the mountain.
Mutiny Averted on the Sheep’s Head
Covering both Baran and Seefin peaks, hunger pangs threatened mutiny. However our leaders, Aileen and Michael assured us that ‘the room with a view’ reserved for lunch would be worth the wait, and it was!
With views of Dunmanus Bay and the coast of USA (almost), the rest, food and chat was mighty.
It was so warm that it allowed for the option of staying put for an extra 20 minutes with the feet up while others did a round trip to Baran peak.
Baran Peak had some great vistas and a bit of craic with our resident photographer, Jennifer O’Sullivan.
An hour later, and all 31 Backpackers were on Seefin Peak with Bantry Bay to the north and Mount Gabriel and Cape Clear to the south. Further west the short walkers were completing a hike called the Peakeen Ridge Loop.
It was all downhill from there, past a ring fort, through farmland and back to the village of Kilcrohane for 5.45pm and a sundowner in Eileen’s Bar.
We won’t mention dinner, it was a disappointment and did not compare at all with the delicious meal we enjoyed there only ten days earlier on the recce walk.
Overall, a great day out with a bunch of happy walkers, some new and some veterans but all with the usual camaraderie and fun that makes the Backpackers so special.
This small cluster of drystone walled building is all that remains of a once internationally renowned Bardic School founded by the O Dalys, chief poets to the O Mahony clan and one of the most famous bardic clans in Ireland. Bards were responsible for learning and recounting the ‘accumulated lore of Irish history and legend’.
The school was so highly thought of that a King of Spain sent his sons to be educated here – sadly they drowned in the lake and are reputed to have been turned into swans. A student’s life was daunting and rigorous and Robin Flower in his book ‘Tradition’ gives a very good account of what daily life entailed. Students were set themes by the masters, literally placed in a darkened, silent room and expected to focus entirely on their poem. ‘The poem composed, lights were brought and they wrote it down and presented it to the masters for criticism.’