Aodhán Quinlan, Liz O Donovan, Helen Hourihan, Yvonne Shanahan, Jim O Meara, Maureen Fitzgerald, Éimer Godsil.
All met up in Jam in Kenmare, everyone arriving promptly around 1 pm. After a fine feed of freshly prepared food we set off for our parking spot near Lauragh Co Kerry.
Jim and Aodhán did a reci for the camp a few days previous and though they were unable to meet the lady outside whose house we left our cars, they had spoken to a neighbour who assured them it was ok for us to leave our cars there overnight. We gather up our large backpacks the heaviest carried by Yvonne ( of Mount McKninely fame) with a whopping 26kg, including her tent which she very kindly agreed to share with Éimer, took a few photos and proceeded on a beautifully scenic walk in to our destination for the night. Along track through gates and over streams with safely went for about 1 hour, finally around a grassy knoll to our flat mossy field.
After much debate on the selection of pitch site we all settled on suitable locations. Just adjacent to us were 2 deserted stone cottages, which we made into out dining quarters. We set our fire carefully on large slabs of rock in order to leave no trace. All campers commenced cooking, reheating and brewing and all had ample sustenance before settling by the fire in our lovely sheltered spot with the stars above for a roof. How thankful we were it was a clear night and rain free.
Conversation was lively and we regaled each other with stories songs and even self-penned poetry, the most excellent of which was a lengthy poem on the ups and downs of parenting composed and recited by Helen. Liz had been promising us all day of a treat and she certainly delivered – a bottle of raspberry sloe gin she produced and we all part took. Liz had received it as a Christmas present and had generously kept it for her winter camp companions We retired after midnight for what we all hoped would by a warm dry night’s sleep.
The night passed uneventful enough bar Yvonne’s minor -though she thought they were major- issues with her pillow and an awakening in the Quinlan tent. We had all arisen by 10am ish and after breakfast and decamping, leaving no trace of course, we set off back out our track, left our packs by the first gate and proceeded on our 3 hour walk.
We met Stephen O Shea, a local farmer and chatted for over a half hour, he was amazed we had camped overnight and told us about the area and about a cave with very ancient writings, older than the Ohm Stones, so old that no one can determine just how old they are, and experts can’t figure out how the lines were carried out, they were done pre the exsistence of metal.
Maureen knew about this cave and had been to it before and was determined to find it, though our farmer friend reckoned it was nearly impossible to find. After some searching some of us decided to stop for lunch but Maureen and Yvonne foraged ahead in search of the cave and they found it! We all went for a look and what an amazing thing to see. If you are ever walking in the vicinity of the Glanrastal Valley do look for it, it is a national treasure.
We walked back out more or less retracing our steps back to the cars, Liz left a box of chocs for the lady of the house as a thank you for allowing us to park, thus we all set off home after another successful winter camp by Aodhán as always ably assisted, controlled and cajoled by Liz……………… but there is a post script, when Aodhán returned home he received a phone call from the lady outside whose house we had parked, saying she was worried when she saw the cars parked after dark and well into the night and thought it better to call the Gardaí.
After minor investigation they concluded we were camping overnight. The lady had not checked our windscreens for the note we had left.