Tested on Ireland's Rugged Fringes.
Irish poet Seamus Heaney described the weather on the Dingle Peninsula as “loud”. The effortless power he evokes may be oxymoronic in my crude retelling - but this doesn’t wither the sentiment.
Last weekend we took the Crua Core out on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland, to see how it fared in 60km (38mph) winds. Our primary concern was our very large (and tall) tent gulping air during setup and quickly morphing itself into a novelty blimp, parachuting through the Atlantic sea swells. With the fears of living stranded and crouching under boulders for shelter, we made sure to keep our wits about us. The cans of Black Stuff would have to wait. After navigating the front door and angling it away from the wind, we staked down the tent and began to pump.
While photographs may tell one story, we were negotiating passing showers, each threatening imminent vigour more than the last. Thankfully our home was up-and-ready to stow away our gear - just in time to rebound the blisteringly cold rain away from cameras and hiking equipment.
We were situated in view of “The Three Sisters” (An Triúr Deirféar), which you can see in the first image. Legend has it, Binn Diarmada, the highest of the beaks, is where Gráinne and Diarmuid, princess and paramour, slept while on the run. It also played a bit-part in a more recent historical event, when Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St Louis across the Atlantic in 1927. The Three Sisters were the first bits of Europe he saw. In a similar but less dramatic vein, we were blessed to be greeted with the very same blissfully distant peaks on arising from slumber. I can (thankfully) attest to the fact that our Cocoons didn’t break sweat in wrestling with the thick, black angry nightfall which greets a traveller to Dingle. We rose fresh and rested, ready for a day’s hike. The only subtle lull offered by an all too familiar heaviness of good stout.
Our climb began at the Connor Pass and on writing this the following day, I feel no less the satisfaction of conquery. In parallel, however, there’s a certain fatigue one faces from persuading an old mountain. Carrying on from Connor, we moved along the ridge connecting An Bhinn Dubh, Breenabrack and Ballysitteragh, before making a push for Gearhane and finally - Brandon. Mount Brandon is steeped in history, both in Irish folklore but also during WW2, where several Allied and Axis planes met their match while soaring through the thick ring of fog hugging the mountain.
While at the peak, we hadn’t much to view, other than our descent. Here we encountered ancient stone sheds and flowing waterfalls, reminders of the fleeting nature of time. And fleet it does. Along with the elements, for a heavy dark cloud, ominous in the sky, followed us with threat. After crossing two rivers (rather nervously, with camera gear attached) we made our final trek up and back to the car.
The unfamiliar June sun began to peek through the mist, greeting us for the evening before hurriedly ducking away.
It’s a feeling you must grow accustomed to around Dingle, for the patchwork green fields are conceived only through dark and damp loudness.