Skibbereen (spellcheck that!) was our base while we spent a day on the Mizen Head Peninsula, the southwestern-most point in Ireland. Our B&B hostess told us Mizen Head itself (the tip of the peninsula) was the most beautiful place in Ireland. So we had high expectations.
It didn’t quite meet them. At the tip of Mizen Head is a signal station. What does that mean, you might ask. Good question. Long story short, there used to be a manned lighthouse, but now there’s an automated signal, not even a lighthouse really, just a glowing orb encased in a steel cage, from what I could tell. Though perhaps “orb” is the wrong word there (it evokes images of fantasy creatures that pulse with light when they speak. Or is that just me?).
When you arrive at the signal station, there’s a nice reception building – I’ll call it – with a cafÃ© and a small store, where you can buy a number of knickknacks and tchotchkes. To progress further, toward the more museum-y part of the reception building and then onward toward the actual signal station will cost you six euro. We decided to go for it.
There’s a path that takes you down to a heavy-duty bridge, which crosses a ravine and delivers you to a series of small buildings, which are now a museum. Yes, another museum.
This second museum was cute in a wow-isn’t-it-amazing-what-schoolkids-can-accomplish-these-days sort of way. You walk through a beaded doorway into a hallway covered in some fake-rock rubber stuff. The first room is also covered in the fake-rock rubber stuff, and has a television playing a loop of a narration-less underwater scene. The second room had a creepy clay head resting on a pillow in a bed with a fake body under the covers ala Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. There were various documents in glass cases, also. No idea what they said, though.
The third room had a stove and a mannequin sitting at a table eating a fake Irish breakfast. He seemed to be enjoying it. He also had a nice sweater. Off this third room, was another small room with some windows overlooking the cliffs. In this room were two fire extinguishers, a TV, and a VCR — both of which were unplugged – several posters of whales, and a glass case displaying toy whales and sharks.
A separate, smaller building housed even less worth talking about. I really only remember the DVD player in a glass display case.
This is not to say that the whole thing wasn’t worth the six euro, though. After the museums, you get to go out to the tip of the point and actually touch the glowing orb. I was standing right next to it when I took the video of Eileen getting blown around by the wind. It was crazy. Have you ever stuck your head out the window when you were on the highway? No? Well, this wind was like that. A steady 50-60 mph, I’m sure.
Lucky for us, though, it was a quite pleasant day (despite the wind), and after Mizen Head, we made our way to Barley Cove Beach, which was maybe the coolest beach I’ve ever been to.
The next day, we made our way to Kinsale, which they pronounce by accenting the second syllable. Kinsale is basically the town of my dreams. In fact, one of the only reoccurring elements of my dreams is a city/town that is a cross between Jerome, Arizona and Kinsale, Ireland. So basically, Kinsale is the town of my dreams. It helps that it’s the gourmet food capital of Ireland, too.
It also helps that Kinsale has the best B&B we’ve been to. It’s called the Olde Bakery and it’s run by Chrissie and Tom Quigley, who were both personable and hilarious (Chrissie treated us like we’d known her for years, and she was constantly making funny side comments like the one addressed to her dog: “Stop scratching, they’ll think you have fleas.”)
We called ahead from Dingle to be sure we had a room at the Olde Bakery. Unfortunately, there was some mix-up and when we arrived on Monday, Chrissie looked horrified when I said, “My name’s Tim and we booked a room for the night.” When I revealed that I’d spoken with her husband, she said, “I’ll kill him.”
But all went well. She first showed us a room with two single beds, apologizing profusely. We both tried to explain that two single beds was absolutely fine, but she ended up taking us across the street to another house they owned. It was where their relatives stayed when they came to visit, and it was pretty luxurious. Plus, we had the whole house to ourselves.
Most of our time in Kinsale was spent walking around town, simply admiring the ambience. On our first day, we searched for the chocolate muffins we remembered relishing five years ago. They were at a place called Baker’s Oven, and though they weren’t quite as good as we remembered, they were still delicious. We also went out to Charles Fort, an old military complex at the mouth of Kinsale’s harbor, and spent a few hours admiring the views and pondering what it would be like to be a soldier in the 17th century. That’s where our camera’s batteries officially died.
On the second day, after a wonderful breakfast at the Olde Bakery, we continued exploring the town. There was a farmer’s market with some nice food stands serving hot to-go items. Before leaving town, we got directions from Tom for how to get through Cork. Irish road signs leave something to be desired (we’re pretty sure, too, that “Cul de sac” in Ireland translates to “It will be very difficult to turn around at the dead end coming up”), and Cork is notorious even among the Irish for being tricky to navigate, so it was definitely a life-saver to have Tom’s directions.
There he is. The creepy museum guy.
But here’s the view from Mizen Head.
This is part of Barley Cove Beach.
And here are some of the coves at Barley Cove.
Kinsale: Town of my dreams.
Our B&B in Kinsale.
And Charles Fort.
More on flickr.