Nature Notebook

THE SEAT OF FIONN
– beholds lake, mountain, sea – & the brothers wet pants!

“My trousers will get wet,” the brother peeved as we started walking in the rain. He had left his waterproof pants at home.

“I checked Met Nor and they said there was only a very slight chance of rain.” He was not convinced. “If it gets too bad we can turn around.” That didn’t convince him he didn’t turn back.

We left Glenbeigh (on the southern shore of Dingle Bay) a little before two in the afternoon to follow the Kerry Way completing a circle around Seefin Mountain, south east of the village.

Seefin comes from the Irish Suí Fionn – the seat of Fionn, a mythological Irish warrior. The legend says the aging Fionn rested here in his chase around Ireland after the young warrior Diarmuid, who had eloped with Fionn’s promised young bride Gráinne. The young couple were said to have rested across the way on the side of Curra Mountain – one of the many places in Ireland bearing the name Leaba (bed of) Diarmuid & Gráinne.

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Curra Mountain with Dingle Bay in the background
The rain eased and then stopped as we walked east on the main road (N70) with long, low views north of the back strand at Rossbeigh.
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Hazy view of Dingle Bay, Rossbeigh Strand and Loch na dTrí gCaol

After two kilometers our route was south east on a minor tarred road (sign-posted The Kerry Way and Treanmanagh) which immediately started to rise giving ever widening views over the sand spits of Rossbeigh, Inch and Cromane that are the source of the poetically names Loch na dTri gCaol (the Lake of the three narrows), the inner part of Dingle Bay. Its name in English, Castlemaine Harbour doesn’t have the same ring. Great colonies of winter migrating seabirds feed on the mudflats here that are exposed at low tide.

In a little while the northern end of Caragh Lake can be seen from the rising road. After a little over two kms the route becomes a dirt or green road. Now there are dramatic views over the whole six kilometer length of Caragh Lake.

 

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Panorama of Caragh Lake with ‘the brother’

About this time the rain started again. Down below at Blackstones Bridge an old man told me some years ago that his grandmother had been lifted on sheet from her sick bed on a Christmas Eve in the 1890s and left on the side of the road while her stone cabin was knocked. A memory of the infamous Glenbeigh Evictions.

Wind and rain got stronger. After four kilometers on the green road our route turned west towards the Windy Gap. The increasing wind, rain and cold was proof that it was well named. The brother had the good grace not to mention the Met Nor weather forecast – though there were some dark silences.

At the far side of the Gap rain stopped and wind eased. It was still cold. Now to the north there was a dramatic panorama of Dingle Bay, the three sandy spits and Loch na dTri gCaol and the mountainy spine of the entire Dingle Peninsula in the background.

South west the Coomasaharn Horseshoe. The novel Red Cloud has a gripping account of a young bird being stolen from an eagle’s nest here. The huge panorma from the top is for another day. To the west Drung Hill a Luanasa mountain that is also a tale for a later walk. As the route dropped down, the sea views continued for more than a kilometer.

After six kilometers of green route we were back on tarmac that continued along a minor road until we finished in Glenbeigh after two and a half kilometers.

The brother said he enjoyed the walk. He has changed the screen saver on his mobile phone to that high view over Caragh Lake. Is that because he was so impressed – or because he wanted to remind himself never to come again? A bit like the day we struggled up Cardiac Hill some months ago “I have done that”, he declared, with little doubt about his future intentions for the route.

– Frank Lewis

PS In fairness to Met Nor (yr.no) the closest I could get to a Seefin forecast was Dingle Bay – the Macgillicuddy Reeks was not on offer – and the weather difference between the two is huge.

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