We knew that once we left Cork we just wanted to find the sea. We wanted to take coastal driving routes and see little villages and towns that we’d never heard of before, and once you’re a few kilometres down the road that’s exactly what you find. We knew we wanted to get to Clonakilty for our next B&B, but we had all day to get there so we headed up, up, up some steep roads to get a real sense of why Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle.
I mean, the place is so green. We saw a lighthouse up ahead that we wanted to get to but the Irish coast is all privately owned and so the amazing views weren’t open to us as they instead belong to a private golf club. How infuriating and disappointing is that? We dropped down onto some beaches which were lovely until we spotted a dead dolphin on the sand and I had a bit of an internal meltdown. I needed to see something pretty ASAP.
We kind of stumbled upon the tiny village of Timoleague. It wasn’t written about in the guide book we were using as our road trip bible, but I really had to pee so it seemed as good a place as any to stop at. Our lack of planning was rewarded when we wandered into the ruined abbey right next to where we’d parked. It was green with moss and had views over the estuary, shining sunshine onto the remaining graves dotted around the ground.
We got to the tiny town of Clonakilty in the early evening and checked into our beautiful B&B before seeking out a pint of Guinness (or five). We were recommended to head to De Barra’s, a tiny but cosy pub where a traditional Irish band were due to play that evening. We settled in with our drinks (turns out I like Guinness!) and around 9.30pm the place was full to bursting. A group of five men and one woman sat in the corner with a variety of instruments including fiddles, whistles and drums and set out to do the most gloriously Irish thing I’ve ever seen.
The songs were a mix of sad, lively and even funny and people from the audience were invited to join in (all of them regulars and prepped with a tune to play). I loved how the woman propped up next to us at the bar for most of the evening turned out to be a well known singer in the area and when asked, stood up to perform an adorable ditty about her home town.
It was so uplifting and exactly what I wanted to experience on our trip to Ireland.