June 1st - Sneem, Co. Kerry

Union Hall to Sneem

by Rebekah Keyster

This morning we awoke to a beautiful view of Union Hall's inner harbor. We had an unusually interesting breakfast at Sea Scape, our B & B for the evening, which included choices such as baked plaice and vegetable omelet as well as the usual full Irish breakfast. Then we went "traveling." Americans might be more familiar with the phrase "hit the road," but the Irish ask "would you like to travel?" So we departed Union Hall and headed for Bantry and then the Beara Penninsula. We drove along some of Ireland's 2,000 miles of coastline and stopped at a few towns and ancient monuments.
The winding coastline of Co. Cork's Beara Peninsula presents opportunities for photographic panoramas around every bend.

Our first stop for a "photographic moment" on the Beara coastline. There are so many scenic landscape. I was reminded of driving along Highway 1 in California along the coast: winding roads and ocean view, but much more green. We stopped a second time at a lookout point near Bantry. I shot a panorama, and Phil went to great lengths to find the best possible perspective!

The careful photographer is always aware of the edge of the cliff.

Our next stop was an off-road adventure to the Kilmacowen Standing Stone and Wedge Tomb. Kilmacowen means "Hill of the Son of Owen." These Bronze Age tombs were not listed in our guidebook and we felt like explorers who just chanced upon them. Here I made my first virtual-reality environment which will link together the two 360-degree views of the neighboring monuments.

An inner slab of this wedge tomb had man-made cup marks. The signature of the Bronze Age artist?

These mountain fields, which contained two of Ireland's megalithic monuments, also were the grazing grounds for hundreds of sheep. So we had to be very careful where we put the legs of the tripod.


The next road led us to Castletownbere to collect audio and photographs. I spoke to some farmers who were laying stones for a flower garden. They were also kind enough to direct us to our next destination. We love how the Irish are so generous in giving directions; they would even get in your car with you and direct you there if necessary!

Stopping for a roadside panorama: a time to stretch the legs and extend the tripod.

The next destination, which Howard needed to document for his research, was the Ballycrovane Ogham Stone. An Ogham Stone is usually an early-Christian monument with an inscription in a simple alphabet of horizontal lines on its edge. But this particular stone, the tallest of its type in Ireland, is thought to be pre-Christian in origin. Near this site, some of us documented the scene at low tide on the harbor. All of the boats rested in the mud, waiting for the return of the tide.

The tides of Ireland are dramatic in their height, as the northern latitude (as far north as Nova Scotia) makes the daily flow much greater.

After leaving this spot, we encountered a van full of students and their professor from the Art Institute of Chicago. Small world!

Kellly's stuffed Mickey has his place on the dash whenever she is riding shotgun.

The trek to Sneem, our destination for the evening, was another hour and a half of twisting mountain and coastal terrain. We used that time well, however, to catch some Z's. We woke up in time for our arrival in Sneem and dinner at a local pub. Emily and I each had vegetable soup, brown bread, and shared lasagna and salad. Howard had his usual salmon of one form or another. And we all find the potato salad exceptionally good, except our professor, who thinks it's more mayonnaise than potato.

Tomorrow we'll reconvene at the van, where there are sing-alongs, sights to see, and plenty of laughs to be had. Also about 12 hours of work.