Leader: Tom Dowling

Ireland - Kerry Way

6 June to 17 June 2019

An 80 leaders walk

Photos Tom Dowling and Gerry Enright

Leaving Glenbeigh, heading towards Cahersiveen
(Photo Jacqui Hickson)

Tom first sees Caherciveen from Windy Gap
Photo Jacqui Hickson



Tom Dowling, Tim Dabbs, Libby Dabbs, Anne Butler, Jill Giles, Rob Gibson, Jayne Gibson, Linda Pracy, Betty Chow, Tony Hickson, Jacqui Hickson, Jenny Kelso, Katherine Gloor, Gerry Enright (Guide)

Walk description:

The walk starts in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland where you discover the beauty of the Wicklow Mountains. The tour then transfers south west to Killarney on the Ring of Kerry. Some of the highlights - Boat trip on the Lakes of Killarney - Muckross House & gardens - Black Valley - Sneem village - 12km boat trip to Skellig Michael to climb 220 metres to the peak where early christian monks lived and lately of Star Wars fame - Knocknadobar (Cnoc na dTobar in gaelic) is a national pilgrim path following the 'Stations of the Cross' to the mountain peak where a cross and altar stands. Map: Wicklow & Kerry


Going Home

Day 8 June 13: Glenbeigh to Caherciveen

We left the Glenbeigh Hotel to start our walk to my home town of Caherciveen. At the end of Glenbeigh village Gerry and I stopped the traffic to allow the group cross the busy road. The first car travelling south rolled their window down to talk to me. It was my brother-in-law Jack. What a coincidence. I knew then that I wasn’t far from home. After passing the little house near Rossbeigh Strand we headed up through the forest track towards Mountain Stage. As we crossed the ridge at top of Mountain Stage we had stunning views of the Dingle Peninsula down below. The excitement was building as we approached another of our Windy Gaps at the top of the ridge. I knew that my hometown of Caherciveen and the Iveragh Peninsula was through the Windy Gap. Gerry and I entertained the group with a rendition of the Rose of Tralee. We reached the Windy Gap and there ahead was Caherciveen splendid in a clear blue sky.

We made our way down from the ridge and approached Foilmore Church which was our arranged bus pick-up spot. It was also the church in which I married Bridie forty-three years ago. On the bus journey to Caherciveen we stopped for a moment outside the house where I was raised.

I had arrived home. It was a very special and nostalgic day.

Day 9 June 14: Skellig Rock

Whether boat trips to the Skelligs take place are totally dependent on the sea swell. After a 7am breakfast we could only wait for the all important phone call. At 7.40 am I got a call to say no landings permitted. There was disappointment all round. At 7.45 I received another call to say a late landing may be permitted. Jubilation and smiles filled the room. After a frantic phone call to re-arrange the bus transfer to Portmagee we were on our way. It was a fast and bumpy journey.

After another agonising wait in Portmagee we set sail for the Skelligs. The sea swell was indeed high. Will we be able to land or not ?? No one dared ask the question. After some skilful boatmanship we landed on Skellig Michael.

We began our climb to the summit (618 steps). On our climb to the monastic site there were Puffins everywhere to be seen. The monastic site is a special place steeped in history with stunning views far out into the Atlantic Ocean. After over two hours at the summit we commenced the precarious descent to the base of the rock. After boarding our boat we passed Little Skellig and the world renowned breeding ground for Gannets. The boat journey back to Portmagee was ‘interesting’. The wind was in our face and the sea swell was high. Thanks to a great boat crew we made it back safely to Portmagee and our bus back to Caherciveen.

A wonderful day on the Skelligs.

Day 10 June 15: Cnoc na dTobar

You need a clear day for the 780m climb to Cnoc na dTobar (Mountain of the Well). After the early low lying cloud lifted nine of us set off for our climb. Day 10 was a rest day for the others. We zig zagged our way to the summit. With a clear skyline there were wonderful views across the Iveragh Peninsula. I pointed out my homestead and Bridie’s homestead in the distance. Gerry encouraged us to continue across to the next ridge with more wonderful views of Rhodes and Kells Bay. As we descended from the summit Gerry promised us some tea & scones in the Old Barracks. True to his word we alighted from our bus at the Old Barracks and enjoyed afternoon tea & scones. It was very much appreciated by us all.

Sadly our guide Gerry passed away while walking / holidaying in Spain with his wife Mary on the 8th July.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam (May he rest in peace)

Gerry's photos of the whole trip can be viewed here.

This is a poem written by Gerry about the Bush Club's trip

Morning Tay the Gerry Way

We started out in Killarney when we crossed the river Flesk
The Bush Club was excited and not sure what to expect
We made our way through Muckross to Torc Waterfall
Where we started our first climb not the worst of all

We went up along the Old Kenmare Road to the Waterfall at Coars
Where after a few earlier showers the rain then pours
On went our rain gear and then we struck it lucky
It started to stop as we climbed the glen at Esknamucky

We crested our final hill the first of many hard slogs
And made our way to the upper lake across the bogs
Through some lovely old oak woods and by the lake shore
We arrived in time for supper after a couple of kms more

A low fog cleared early to a bright and sunny day
We battled through the midges as we made our way
Through a wild and remote valley past multicoloured sheep
To the end of the Black Valley and a climb that's pretty steep

By some standing stones through a cracked rock on we go
What a view lies before us of the Brida Valley down below
We descend with great gusto to another lovely glen
And as one we groan when we realise we must go up again

To cross to our final valley and as we cross the ridge
What a panarama greets us on the way to Blackstones Bridge
Our first glimpse of the sea beyond in Dingle Bay
Each hill brings a lovely vista along the Kerry Way

The Kilometres are clocking up today had an extra few
But sure tomorrow is a short day with a lot less to do
Through the fairy woods and down in to a hobbity dell
Then up to our first Windy Gap this group is going well

The next day takes us up again to the flanks of Drung Hill
The old Coach Road high and exposed gives us quite a thrill
We pass another Windy Gap and as the trail goes down
There's great excitement all around as we see Tom's Town

There are calls about the Skellig will the trip be off or on
It could go either way then you're on the boat and gone
Next morning it's Cnoc na dTobar to climb the pilgrims, way
Then back to the Old Barracks for welcome scones and tay

Another early morning and we depart from Tom's Town
There's lots of undulations all day it's up and down
Walking two long and lovely ridges with the most amazing views
Green Mountains all around and flowers of many hues

We make our way above the lake and cross the final hill
For another welcome break tonight by the sea in Waterville
The next morning we climb by the sea and when we crest the height
Our view down to Derrynane fills us with delight

And now our final day has dawned and on we go on to Sneem
When you return to Australia it will all be like a dream
So tog go bog e, mo chairde, and one last thing I'll say
It was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed all the morning tay

Gerry Enright 16/06/19

You can download or read the pdf of this poem here.

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