I spent the last two days in the west of Ireland, near Skibbereen to be more exact. Like so many places in Ireland west Cork is absolutely beautiful – green hills, blue water and an ever changing sky.
We left Dublin and a grey sky behind us and had lunch in the grounds of Cahir Castle. My friend C. had prepared some delicious food and we sat in the sunshine enjoying an old-fashioned pick-nick.
C. had book us into the gorgeous Liss Ard Estate, a stunning old Georgian country house surrounded by magical gardens, woodlands and on the shores of a lake. Sadly the sun had left us again and we were greeted with cloudy skies.
However, unable to resist the gardens, C. and I went for an early evening walk and we spent some time inside the Sky Garden Crater. This unique work of art by James Turrell is hard to explain, but experiencing it is quite special.
You enter into this man-made crater through a tunnel, and then climb 11 giant steps upward, from darkness into light and end up encased in vivid green, the sky above you. In the center of the crater is a slap of stone, the so-called plinth or ‘Vault Purchase’ . You lie down on it, two people toe to toe, your head a little lower than your feet and you look up into the sky framed in green. Sadly the desired blue was covered by grey clouds for us, but even so it was a beautiful experience.
Once out of the Sky Garden we walked around the grounds and found a magical fairyland. Purple flowers were everywhere, hidden benches and small creeks, overgrown trees and birds singing all around.
The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, C . and I headed out to do some sight-seeing and drove down to Baltimore, a famous pirate sea-side town. We wandered around the pier and ventured inside the O’Driscoll castle, Dún na Séad or Dunashad (“fort of the jewels”). It has been restored and tells the story of Baltimore through the history of piracy.
After enjoying a cup of cappuccino sitting out in the sun C. and I drove to Knockdrum Stone Fort in Castletownshend. It was a bit of an adventure, and very hard to find, as we had to drive down a tiny, grass covered road – well trail – to get there, but it was well worth it, even the climb up quite a lot of steps was quickly forgotten once you saw the view!
It was hard to believe that just the day before we had been surrounded by grey clouds and misty skies – I could hardly get enough of the stunning blue of both sea and sky that lay before us. So, since we still had some time, we decided to visit a nearby stone circle.
Drombeg Stone Circle, also known as Druids Alter, dates back to the Bronze Age, or early Iron Age. This collection of standing stones and remaining dwellings were excavated in 1957 and is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland. What surprised me was that visitors had left things behind on the large alter stone.
As it was already well past 5pm it was time to make the journey home – our minds filled with what we had seen and our cheeks reddened by the warm spring sun.