Most of the travel with an interactive map.
Early spring is fresh and unusually wet in France. According to my experience, it announces a disturbed irish weather. The augurs have spoken. Not really a problem for Ireland as depressions use to cross the isle in few hours, these weather conditions offer the four seasons in a day, even in half a day at certain places. And this is probably one of the outstanding traits of the country.
Air travel companies change time to time their schedules and consequently, my habits. This year, I decide to leave aside Dublin. For my moves, a 170 € round trip ticket and 292 € for two weeks with a rental car (a nice Clio, but I did not notice that the engine was an option !). After the 2008 crisis, the flourishing economy is back in Ireland. With a 7.8% growth in 2017 and an expected 5.6% this year, prices are increasing : 40 to 70 € per night for a single room en-suite (5 to 8 € more than in 2017), 17 to 32 € for a 2 or 3 plates menu (2 to 5 € more since 2017). Next year, prices should be as expensive as before 2008.
02/05 : evening
Landed after 18:30, I am outside the airport and behind the wheel before 19:10, not to bad. I booked a B&B at Portmanock next to a golf course, a nice place along the coast in the north of Dublin. My hosts are nice people and their breakfast is great. I decide to book my last night at the same place.
03/05 : Laragh
Usually, this is the place for my last walk, not this time. I go to the monastic site of Glendalough and I follow the classic trail on the cliffs (red marks). On my way, I discover that woodmen worked hard last months : a large part of the pine forest vanished for at least the next 25 years... I am a little bit sad and also happy to have seen the forest before its end. On the return, wild goats cross my route. They are a reminiscence from the old silver mine activity. After this first walk, I decide to follow the orange trail, an easy path where I can watch few young red deers.
04/05 : it's a long way...
The day begins with a nice blue sky with some white clouds made of cotton. I go to the south counties with the idea to walk tomorrow on Kilclooney or Knockmealdown. At Clonmel, I do not find a room in any B&B, Then I go to Dungarvan with no more luck. I decide to go to Caher and finally, I finish my day in Tipperary. It's a long way...
05/05 : Galtees
From the window, I am happily surprised to see mountains. I check on my GPS if one of my selected routes could bring me to one of these promising summits. Bingo ! These mountains are the Galtees and Galtymore is a target of choice. With its 918 m, it is one of the two irish Munros (summits higher than 3000 ft) outside the western areas. On the trail, despite I meet more walkers than during all of my next walks, I reach the summit alone with clouds pushed by a strong and cold wind. The Galtymore horsehoe is an enjoyable hike.
06/05 : Beara Peninsula
I leave Tipperary to Castletownbere with the fear to not find easily a B&B because this monday is a bank holiday. I reach the town without a map by following small and narrow roads. Clouds are very low, not a good sign for tomorrow.
07/05 : misty day
During my huge breakfast, I discover a low cloud ceiling. Walking to any summits may be a little bit tricky with the fog today. So, I decide to give a chance to a 16 km loop walk around Knockoura : if the weather becomes better I might reach the summit. On the trail, I discover that even a little flat wet sandstone rock can be as slippery as a soap in a shower. I meet a young german girl, few rabbits and ... a Kerry slug ! This gastropod can be seen in Ireland, but also in Portugal and Spain. More information on wikipedia. Back to my B&B after four hours and an half under the rain, I learn that if the weather shall be bad in the region, I am at one of the worst place in Ireland.
08/05 : Ring of Kerry
Today, I go to a famous mountaineous area : Iveragh Peninsula. This part of Ireland is a touristic hotspot. Despite a sunny weather at the start of my day, I drive a little along narrow and enjoyable roads in the heart of Kerry instead of walking.
09/05 : Torc Mountain (535 m)
After the rest of yesterday, it is time to visit a mountain. The weather is a bit disturbed and finally I choose an easy trail with some panorama like Africa savanna, but without lions. Torc summit offers a beautiful view on Killarney Park, Purple Mountains and MacGillycuddy's Reeks. In the evening I go to my den in Killarney : the Laurels. I am disappointed by a welcome among the worst and their so good fish&chips is now so ordinary. I will forget this establishment for few years...
10/05 : Macgillycuddies Reeks
Because of a tormented sky, I decide to not try new summits. Nevertheless, I do the famous Coomloughra horseshoe walk. I reach four Munros in one time (Beenkeragh, Carrauntoohil, Caher and Caher West top). The temperature is low, the wind is strong and I find some snow patches on the highest summit (1039m). I also meet a couple of german girls. Germans seem to be numerous in Ireland this year.
11/05 : Burren
Today I go to a unique area in Ireland : Burren's landscape is special with its flat and low mountains. You can find alpine flora at few meters above sea level whereas in France you would have to climb upper than 2000 m to see the sames flowers. I take my time before going to walk. But I am unlucky, the road is just closed in front of me with major road works. I finish my day at Black Head and I take my dinner in Ballyvaughan.
12/05 : Croagh Patrick (764 m)
Croagh Patrick is a famous place of pilgrimage in Ireland. For me, it is only a challenge and this year, I have decided to beat myself. On the badly eroded trail, I meet lots of people and most of them are not used to walk on such a ground. On the top, I see a group against the right of aborption, the referendum of the year in Ireland, a big turn for women and the country. In 19 climbs, this is the first time I can go inside the white chapel. After a short stop in a fresh wind, I go down back to my car with the feeling that I won my bet. Two hours including a 10 minutes pause on the summit and without running, its my shortest time ever and it shall be my best one before long.
13/05 : Country Life Museum
The sun is shining today and a friend suggests me a new walk to the Country Life Museum from Castlebar town. I park my car near the cemetery and I follow the path quietly as it should be a short walk, all in all only 14 km on a flat ground. Since its opening, the museum exhibition is nearly unchanged, except a temporary exhibition. I drink a tea with a scone at Turlough Park House's restaurant while a light rain shower. On the way back, I hear the clamor of a crowd near the border of the town. I discover that it is an important gaelic football match : Castlebar vs Galway, the enemy brothers. Back to my B&B, my hosts are disappointed by the final score : Castlebar lost and I walked 10 km more than suggested (24 km).
14/05 : epic fail
Clouds are low today but I decide to go in Connemara because the weather shall be better. Once on the road, the sun is shining above Tawnyard. I start to climb the mount but clouds are here and they seem to move down, hiding Tievnabinnia summit (742 m). A bit lazy (the walk yesterday may be also a reason), I choose to not continue further and I go down to the road in the valley. 6km later, all clouds vanished... I have found the epic fail of my holidays.
15/05 : Howth
After a big breakfast, I drive to the east coast, back to Portmanock. I planned yesterday to visit Howth Head. This peninsula situated in the north of Dublin is an unexpected place at only 30 minutes from the city center. There is a large fleet of fishing boats and many restaurants are aligned along the quays. My 15 km walk is prematurly interrupted whith two hours of an heavy rain shower and the rise of a mist. Bad luck, I finish the day in a restaurant with a very good early
bird fish menu.
16/05 : the end
Nothing more to write, except that, despite a mixed weather, my holidays in Ireland this year were enjoyable. I leave the emerald isle with ideas for new hikes...