Thanks to Aidan Buckley for a wonderful few days in the Maharees and for the following report
A group in excess of 40 travelled to the Maharees on Tuesday Sept 3rd for two days of walking and exploration.
The Maharees Peninsula is a place of flower rich sandunes, offshore islands and coastal grassland. Having lunched in Harbour House, Fahamore, adjacent to Inis Tuaisceart behind which the Aud ( with Roger Casement aboard) dropped anchor on Holy Thursday 1916, we assembled at Beal Geal, Maharabeg, to commence our beach walk.
We traversed Scairt Beach at first, admiring the views across Tralee Bay to Fenit, Banna Beach and Ballyheigue. This beach is home in Winter time to a significant number of Brent Geese. We then skirted the village of Kilshannig to arrive at the local graveyard where we viewed the ruins of the 7th Century St Seanach’s Church which was a parish church up until the 13th Century. Within the walls can be found a Chi-Rho Cross slab. We then walked across the beach at Port an Cathasaigh. From nearby Scraggane Pier cows were obliged to swim 1 Kilometre to Illauntannig for Summer grazing. Here a small monastery was founded by St Seanach in the 6th Century containing 3 beehive huts, 2 oratories and a Celtic Cross nearly 2 metres in height.
Onward then to walk the beach at Corrlougha which merges with Clocha Dubha Beach. Here there were spectacular views over Atlantic breakers across Brandon Bay to majestic Mt Brandon where in 1868 an estimated 20,000 pilgrims attended mass on the summit celebrated by the then Bishop of Kerry, David Moriarty.
The crews of several Allied aircraft perished on the slopes of Mt Brandon during World War 2. However, the crew of a German aircraft which crashed in August 1940 had a miraculous escape. They subsequently spent the rest of the war in the Curragh Camp where two of the crew would meet their future wives.
The extent of the ongoing coastal erosion was only too apparent as we neared the end of our walk on this more exposed beach. In the distance towards Killiney we could see the spot where the Port Yarrock, a 3 masted barque, floundered in mountainous seas in January 1897 with the loss of its 20 strong crew.
We returned to the car park at Beal Geal across grassy fields close to ponds which are home to the Natterjack Toad, one of only 3 native amphibians.
On Wednesday September 4th we explored the Loch a Duin Valley, guided by Daithi O Conaill who worked as a Principal in the North Monastery Primary School for 15 years, and is now domiciled in Tralee. This valley contains a remarkable number of monuments from the Bronze Age (2000BC- 500 BC). There are 89 stone structures including wedge tombs, standing stones, rock art, Fulach fia, a fortified island and over 12 kilometres of prehistoric pre-bog field walls. The head of the valley is dominated by a spectacular waterfall with waters from 3 small , mountain-top lakes cascading downward into the valley below.
Bhuaileamar an bothar ansin go teach tabhairne Mullally’s in aice le Ce Bhreanainn, ait a raibh bia den scoth againn roimh filleadh duinn ar an mbaile.
With thanks to Elizabeth O’Connell for the photographs.