Adhering to the maxim of Alfred Wrainwright that, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, 16 hardy souls set out from Cork in torrential rain, on the morning of November 20th to gather in Killarney for the final Hillwalk of the year, in Muckross Park. Cork people often experience feelings of trepidation on crossing the county bounds into Kerry, but on this occasion we were welcomed with open arms and clearing skies!
Suited and booted, we set off, under the capable leadership of Joan McCann and the patient stewardship of sweeper Angela Foley. Our first stop was at Muckross Abbey, sadly in ruins since Cromwellian times. One could easily spend a few hours here exploring the ruins and the adjacent graveyard. It’s the burial place of Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, Aogán Ó Rathaille and Seathrún Ó Donnchú. Two of our group found the grave of a family member here too. The yew trees are impressive!
From there we crossed Muckross Road and followed the Queen’s Way up to the beautiful woodlands, our path dappled in shades of gold, red, yellow and brown. Someone recalled the “Autumn” essays of our teaching days.
Tar éis sosa bhig, leanamar orainn i dtreo an tsean-bhóthair idir Neidín agus Cill Áirne. Bhí an méid sin cainte is comhrá ar siúl nár airíomar go rabhamar ag déanamh gan mhoill ar eas Toirc. Is fíor an seanfhocal:
Giorraíonn beirt bóthar:
We were so lucky with the weather! Apart from a light mist on the higher ground, we saw nothing of the deluge that afflicted the folks at home. So, with one eye on the sky and a careful eye on the path, we wound or way down to majestic Torc.
After nearly 3½ hours in the hills we were delighted to reach the welcome comfort of the Muckross House Cafe and tuck into warm food. In a throw-back to those aforementioned school essays, I would like to confirm that, “we returned home that evening, tired but happy”.