Kinsale to Sneem, with a stop at the Drombeg Stone Circle
Wednesday saw us leave Kinsale and make our way to the Sneem Hotel, which is in-surprise!-Sneem.
The drive was our first extended trip on some of the smaller and more “interesting” Irish roads. The GPS kept making suggestions that I am sure were well-meant, but which often seemed to be headed in completely wrong directions. I think it was trying to take us around small towns, but we usually ignored the suggestions. The main roads were challenging enough, thank you.
But I do have to say that the first part of the drive, to the Drombeg Stone Circle, was almost all on small roads with very little traffic. It paralleled the coast for a good part of the distance and we saw several ruins on the way. The tide was out, so the coast was not as interesting as it might be.
The Drombeg Stone Circle is one of many such “standing stone” relics of earlier times. This one dates to 1100-800 BCE. It is different form others in that it has a “fulacht fiadh” which is cooking place where fire-heated rocks are dropped/pushed into a shallow earthen basin filled with water. The water heats up and meat is cooked by submerging it in the water. It looks to me like a giant stew pot. [If you look at the pictures of the Drombeg
circle in the album you will get an idea.]
These standing stones, often in a circle, may make you think of something spectacular, like Stonehenge. They are not on the same scale, but they are spectacular in their own way, We like to speculate about how they were built, why they were built where they are, and why they fell into disuse.
This site is sort of off the beaten track, but the signage was pretty good. The GPS was confused—it seems to get confused when it strays from the main roads—but I had created my own driving instructions just in case. [Tomorrow’s episode will tell how the GPS took us to the end of a pier and insisted we were at a stone fort.] There is parking nearby in a small gravel area for a few cars and to my surprise, most of the parking places were filled. After a short hike we came on a nicely maintained clearing and saw the stone circle.
One thing Ireland has no shortage of is rocks, and I would guess that the rocks for the standing stones were highly local. Perhaps that factored into the site selection. There are 17 standing stones in a circle with a “portal” (no door, of course) and opposite the “entryway” is what is called a reclining stone, which might remind you of an altar. At the winter solstice, the sun sets behind the reclining stone as viewed from the portal.
Mostly I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
After a short visit, we were on our way again. It was 60-some miles from Drombeg to Sneem. The road was a bit of a challenge, especially at the Caha Pass that we did not stop often for pictures, even though the scenery warranted it. I just noticed that my tracking app, which I use to log our route, sometimes shows us apparently going off the road if you zoom in on the track. Not True! We were [almost] always on the road (or close to the edge—the roads are not wide) but the tracker only updates every 30 seconds or so and the road (N71) was so twisty that in 30 seconds we might change directions several times.
We were glad to reach the Sneem Hotel. When we got here, we at first wondered if it was open. The car park only had a couple of other cars in it and it was 4:00 in the afternoon or so. But it is the off season in Sneem and Kerry County in general. The hotel is quite nice and modern. Our room is spacious and comes with a great view. Part of our package included a dinner. When we went down, at about 7:00, there was one other couple in a room that could accommodate perhaps 100 people. Another couple came later so there were only 6 of us eating there. But we got great service and the food was quite good. We enjoyed everything, including the 2 kinds of desert we had.
Now: cue the portentous music. We are here for 2 nights. On our arrival we heard that there was a big storm on the way. The winds, which will be the big problem, may reach 130 kph (about 75 mph). We had beautiful weather for our drive around the Ring of Kerry on Thursday, but as I write this Thursday evening, the winds are beginning to build. We have been told that it may be risky to drive tomorrow (Friday). We’ll see…
Here is a map of the drive from Kinsale to Sneem. Zoom in along the south coast to see the side trip to the Drombeg Stone Circle.