2014 – Day Fourteen

On the road again, along the Southern Irish coastline. We slow the
pace down a little today and make it just a few villages out of
Waterford, following the coast road to finally settle in Ardmore. The
drive is very scenic. Ireland is truly connected to the sea. No wider
than 150 miles at any point, you are never far from the ocean, and
the route we take wraps around the coast to expose spectacular
views at every turn. This is farming land too, so often the view is of
green and grain crops – the land is a patchwork of colour.

The houses here, to me, are very reminiscent of Australia. They are
free standing with a generous allotment of land, and more often
than not, there is a generous shed (man cave) to the side. The main
differences are the size of the windows, they are small here,
presumably to retain heat, and that villages tend to be built in one
or two styles so that they have a uniform appearance. Dormer
windows are very popular too, with second storeys being tucked
into the roofline. Thatched cottages dot the landscape – they are
fairytale charming, and neat as a pin.

Ardmore is at the base of one of the few Gaelic speaking areas, one
of very few left according to the map. It’s a shame that Ireland is
losing its language – less than 5% of the population speak the old
language.

But language aside, Ardmore is known for its coastal a walk which
boasts ruins going back to the 5th century. We park on the beach
and hike along the coast, stopping to look at the shrines, churches
and tombs that are along the way. The most interesting of these is a
tower which the priests used as a bolt hole in Viking times when
things got rough. They would gather their most precious texts and
scriptures, shimmy up a ladder into the the tower, essentially into a
first storey level, then withdraw the ladder and hide out until the
threat had passed. Pretty clever really. The tower is about 30 metres
high and around 4 metres wide at the base. Being round it offers no
point of purchase for external access. There is also a shrine devoted
to St Declan who is credited with bringing Christianity to the south
west of Ireland before St Patrick even set foot on Irish soil. He
founded the monastery that the tower and church ruins are part of.
Ardmore still uses it as a cemetery today.

It’s a good walk. Fabulous ocean views and lots to explore. Nice
birdies sing us along our way. The sea is perfectly flat and a teal blue
– not a wave to be seen all the way out to the horizon.

Energy expended we laze about for a while and read. Or at least I
read while Chris leaps up every 5 minutes with something or other
he feels needs to be checked. Not one for staying still, our
Christopher.

We decide to have a little splurge for dinner. On the way up the hill
we past the Cliff Hotel restaurant which is Michelin star rated, and
highly recommended by a local we chat to, so off for dinner we go.
The setting is perfect. We have cocktails on the terrace overlooking
the ocean, then a truly fabulous meal: mushrooms in a cream sauce
on brioche toast and seafood chowder to start, then I have a grilled
lobster and Chris has a steak. Lovely Spanish wines to accompany.
Delightful. Coffee with petit four to finish.

We return home sleepy and full, just stopping long enough to spot
some silly young bunnies along the way. One’s so little he barely
gets out of his own way. Very cute.

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