Today was the day I decided I love Ireland. Not that I didn’t enjoy the first few days of the trip. I did. But today was filled with countless “I can’t believe this is real” moments. It was that awesome.
I took a short walk along the harbor in Kinsale before setting off on the “Wild Atlantic Way”. And wild it is. And beautiful, and stunning, and gorgeous, and… well, you get the idea! Almost immediately, the views opened up into those iconic Ireland coastal scenes with fields of all shades of green, laced with hedges and hay bales, sloping down to the sea. I think I stopped about every mile to take pictures! I followed the well-signed route through Timoleague, Clonakilty, and Skibereen before turning off onto the Mizen Head Peninsula. The peninsula forms one of the “fingers” of southern Ireland, much like the peninsulas along the coast of Maine.
I stopped frequently to take photos, and as I made my way further south on the peninsula, the roads began to narrow. In some places, the road is basically just one lane, with some small shoulder pull-offs to allow cars to pass. Finally, the large Mizen Head parking lot came into view. Mizen Head is the most southwesterly point in Ireland, and attracts visitors due to it’s location high above the surrounding cliffs. There are many paths to viewing platforms, each providing a different view of the crashing waves.
After leaving Mizen Head, I made my way to Durrus, a gateway to the Sheep’s Head Peninsula. While Mizen Head is certainly remote and wild, Sheep’s Head takes it a step further. There are only a couple of towns on the entire peninsula, and the final few miles to the tip are basically the width of a driveway hugging the rugged cliffs. It was incredible. I decided to skip the walk out to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse because I still had a couple of hours’ drive to get to Killarney. I checked into my hotel, spent a few minutes brushing all of the tangles out of my hair because of the wind today, and headed to the hotel’s Brehon Bar. There, I enjoyed possibly the best toasted ham and cheese I have ever eaten and a sticky toffee pudding. I’m going to say this was the best meal on the best day of the trip (so far).