I got to the village of Sneem, on the Ring of Kerry, very early because I had decamped at 6am, to vacate my little hideaway in the grounds of a rural community centre. So early, in fact, that the only place open for a breakfast was the bakery. As I entered, I heard: “Are you in favour of the Cambridge scientific view of the world, or the Oxford theological?”. I looked at him quizzically and he followed me into the shop, plying me with questions about philology and philosophy, then abstruse areas of science, and the shop owner quickly came to the rescue: “Now sir, would you prefer to be left in peace? Sean, can I have a quiet word round the back?”. I then realized I was in the company of the village savant, who forced himself on anyone who would listen…….and I had been his first victim that morning. I then enjoyed my breakfast roll chatting to the 2nd Welshman I’d met who had moved permanently to Ireland.
There was a lot of huffing and puffing on today’s route….I seemed to spend most of the day climbing first up the 1000 feet to Moll’s Gap (named after a lady who kept a little tearoom at the top), and then the murderous switchbacks of the Gap of Dunloe, which was also thick with walkers and horse buggies. If you really didn’t want to expend energy, you could pay 100 euros and take a buggy…..but for the other road users, they simply blocked the roads, making fast descents a bit tricky.
But, as you can imagine, the views at the top were seriously good…..hence the crowds. And on the stupidly steep sections, I was hardly outpacing some of the fitter walkers….my street cred would have been in tatters had anyone overtaken me…..the shame of it. Now, the downhill was a different matter……
In Sneem, I found a cycle shop that must have been owned by a distant relative….it had ‘open’ on the door, but it was resolutely closed…and I was told he may not turn up at all…..at all…. only in Ireland!