You don’t go to Ireland expecting fabulous weather, but our first full day on Inishmore (which you can read about here and here) brought AMAZING weather. So amazing that Mr Husband managed to get a sunburn on his cheeks to match the saddle sores on his, um, well, other cheeks.
Unfortunately, our weather luck didn’t hold and we woke up the next day — our last full day on the island — to clouds and rain. Not the weather conditions you want to see when your main mode of transportation is a bicycle.
Still, I wasn’t exactly eager to get back in the saddle. In addition to my own pair of raw lower cheeks, I was now sporting a knee was showing off the full effects of Killer’s attack.
But wait, maybe Finn McSpool has been practicing some pagan rites because by noon, the clouds were clearing and the sun was (mostly) shining. Guess that means I’ve got to face Killer once again.
After begging Killer to play nice, he let me on (while chuckling maliciously) and we chugged up and up and up the High Road (we’d spent the previous day cycling the Low Road — aka The Flat Beachside Road). My knee wasn’t thrilled with this, but Killer seemed happy with the challenge. Of course, there was a critter break part way up the slope…
After using up all Killer’s gears, we reached the top of the road and our first stop….
The Ring Fort of Dun Eochla
Notice I said “top of the road,” NOT the “top of the hill.” There was still a steep climb along a stony footpath to get to the fort that sits at the highest point of Inishmore.
At the site, we took full advantage of eavesdropping on a schoolteacher who was leading around some teenagers and making every effort to keep them from being bored out of their minds as he explained what they were seeing: an early medieval Irish ring fort.
The fort was built around 700 CE and would have been the home of the local chieftain. This spot was ideal not only to keep an eye out on the sea and land, but also had the advantage of being midway between the summer and winter grazing areas for the chieftain’s cattle.
The ring fort consists of two stone walls. Handy not only to impress the neighbors, but to have a place to keep your cattle if those neighbors come a raidin’.
All in all, except for Dun Aonghasa’s impressively frightening crumbling clifftop location, Dun Eochla is far more impressive. It’s in amazing condition for its age and, since its walls are still intact, gives you an idea of the scale of building that went on way back when. And you can’t beat the price: free. The views from up on the hill aren’t too shabby either.
Off to the “Wait-How-Many?” Temples
With my wonky knee, the trip back down from Dun Eochla proved to be more challenging than the trip up, but soon we found Killer (because no one would dare steal that vicious bike) and were pedaling away in the direction of Na Seacht dTeampaill, or The Seven Temples.
Where there are all of TWO temples.
So why call it Seven Temples? My only guess is that the person who named this place didn’t know the Irish word for “two.”
The main temple (church) here is Teampail Bhreacain and dates from between the 8th and 10th centuries. It’s dedicated to a guy named Bresal (whose name my cheeky autocorrect wants to change to Breast).
Bresal supposedly arrived to Inishmore in the 6th century and chased off a demon named Bhreacan, which might just be a metaphor for Bresal turning the pagan islanders to Christianity. Still, it’s a bit of a slap in the face to name the church after the demon and not the demon chaser.
This site is still a working graveyard (well, “working” might not be the right term). The graves feature plenty of Celtic high crosses and flowers planted long ago that are still popping up.
The Hunt for Giant Beehives
Both Dun Eochla and The Seven (Minus Five) Temples were super easy to find. But why make things easy on ourselves? Mr Husband was keen on finding Clochan na Carraige, a beehive hut that was supposedly “right next to” The Seven Temples.
Beehive huts have nothing to do with beekeeping…unless we’re talking about giant bees like something from a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie. But since this isn’t a post about the history of B movies, I’m pretty sure these beehive huts are stone dwellings that resemble a cloche-style beehive.
Given that there are A LOT of stone structures on Inishmore, it’s not super obvious when you’re scanning the countryside from your bike trying to spot a particular one (especially when your saddle sores from the day before have now developed their own saddle sores).
Finally we found the side path (someone’s driveway) we thought might be the one that led to the field that led to the meadow that led to the bog that led to the hut. As our map gave us no hints as to how far the hut was from the main road, we kept walking. And walking. And walking. And, nope that’s not it, and walking. Well, at least we’re not on the bikes.
Wait, what’s that up ahead? Rocks! Okay, that’s nothing new. But these rocks are in the shape of, could it be? Yes! A cloche-style beehive!!
You can find beehive huts in various places around Ireland, including the Dingle Peninsula, but this was the first one we’d ever been able to get up close and personal to.
The rectangular room inside measures about 6 meters by 2.5 meters and, due to some clever Ancient Irish engineering skills, is perfectly dry despite there being no mortar holding those stones in place.
Calling It A Day
Our butt skin in pure agony at this point, we chugged along the Low Road back to Inishmore’s main town of Kilronan to return our bikes, and I for one was glad to be rid of them! Finn, having spent most of the day napping in my backpack was keen for some fun in the pub. And what’s more fun than a beer taller than yourself?
–Finn, doing okay?
–Yeshh, why do you ashk?
And then this happened….
Luckily, with Finn passed out, I was able to enjoy my beer. But, as they say, you can’t keep a good monster down and Finn was soon ready for more. A lot more….
Thanks for joining us on our Inishmore Island Getaway. Finn and I will be back next Saturday with an Inishmore farewell, and our first day in the big city of Dublin where Finn will get to meet his maker and a couple new friends. And next Wednesday I’ll be back with more Domna updates.
If you haven’t done so already, please please please cast a vote in Round Two of my book cover survey. There’s just one tiny question to answer and shouldn’t take more than a minute.