Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Two Irish islands

As a change to our annual Bardsey trip, Kate and I took ourselves off to SW Ireland in early September. After an overnight in Skibbereen (County Cork) we headed for Baltimore and the ferry for Cape Clear Island. Cape Clear is in some ways a sister island to Bardsey, with a bird Observatory and strong Celtic traditions. It is the most southerly point of Ireland, apart from the Fastnet Rock which is 4 miles to the SW. Cape (640 ha) is considerably bigger than Bardsey (179 ha), has a population of around 120 and a daily ferry service 3-4 times a day from Baltimore. The boat is only cancelled in gales. Another difference is that farming on Cape is entirely based on the raising of beef cattle, which has led to the proliferation of electric fences along field boundaries (stone walls which have not been maintained). This makes it a bit more difficult to wander around birding! See photo of Kate getting under electric fence.
After 6 days staying beside the North Harbour on Cape, we headed further north to Castletownbere, a fishing port on the Beara peninsula, on the north side of Bantry Bay.
The next morning we crossed over to Dursey Island, at the tip of the peninsula, in (believe it or not) a cable car! This takes people and animals; 6 of us went across with a Texel ram. The islanders also get cattle across in the car, but the authorities are trying to ban this (gets in the way of the tourist trade). So cattle will have to swim. Watch this space!

1 comment:

  1. I think Kate could make a very good limbo dancer. The islands sound great places to visit. Is there a pub?