We drive out to the oldest operational lighthouse in the world at Hook Head. It seems everyone else has the same idea. The black and white striped lighthouse looks down on crowds of Sunday visitors.
An old teacher never retires, so Seán has to restrain me from supervising the teenagers taking selfies on wave-sprayed rocks, gaily ignoring the warning signs for blow holes.
Looking in the opposite direction, we lunch watching a red fishing boat plough its way out of Waterford Harbour.
The lighthouse was commissioned by William Marshall, to guide ships up to his flagship port town of New Ross, where my family are from and where I spent every school holiday for years.
We walk to 5th century St. Dubhán’s church. Dubhán means fishing hook in old Irish, and the peninsula is shaped like a hook too. There’s not a soul in the ruins, the only sound birdsong.
I muse over potential landed gentry antecedents when I see the 19th Century O’Brien graves, with our family ‘Patrick’ and ‘Martin’ too from Loftus Hall, but my brother in London does a quick google and says that it just means the family were tenants on the land owned by the Loftus Hall Estate.
Following locals down unsigned laneways can be problematic – I’ve landed up in many a private garden that way, so I check that the woman walking her dog turns along the track when she reaches the house at the end of the lane. She does, so I scarper after her, followed by an embarrassed looking Seán. But locals always know the best-kept secrets.
The laneway by the church is carpeted with daisies. Little Dunnocks twitter and swoop, feasting on the flowers. Soon the woman’s gone and we’re alone on Medieval port walls, with just sea and sky and green, green grass.
Driving towards the Wicklow mountains, the temperature gauge goes from 12 Celsius to 9, but their isolated romance works its magic every time.
We return to our favourite, Glenmalure, a perfect glacial valley, with russet topped mountains on either side and the Avonbeg river rushing under arched bridges.
Although we’ve been here only a month ago it still renders us silent. My piece of Flash Fiction inspired by the place is called The Otter. To read it click here: https://campervanbard.com/2023/04/11/the-otter/
The whitewashed Glenmalure Inn, generous as always, allows campers to park for free. We relish their own reared stuffed lamb and end the night in their friendly bar.
We’ve never walked the Wicklow Way south from here, so the next day, we tramp up the trail through forestry land. After zig-zagging up the mountain path, we’re surrounded by a bowl of fern covered mountains, the turf cutting bogs still marked out in rectangles on the hillside.
Following a railway sleeper path up through the water-filled forest, there’s so many different species of moss: star shaped, velvet cushions, sphagnum and, something I’ve never seen before, long flowing moss that hangs from the trees for all the world like the Spanish moss in the southern states of America.
When the sun shines through the trees it’s easy to believe we’re in a green under water alternative world.
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