The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw

Posts tagged ‘kerry’

Tie me kangaroo down

On Thursday, my father and I launched an expedition on Carauntoohil. We didn’t quite make the top. Can I blame it on my father? No wait – it was the weather. Yes, that’s more loyal. Also, potentially more true.

Thick cloud rested on the top of all the Reeks, although it lifted marginally as the morning wore on. A fairly serious track has been cleared from the farmhouse at the head of the Black Valley and we followed it to Curraghmore Lake. We turned back halfway up the slope to the saddle ridge linking Carrauntoohil with Cnoc na Péiste. You might say we were vanquished by dangerously violent sheep.

Also I fell off a stile.

Dad gets ready


Hello? Is that the horoscope hotline? I'd like to check my horoscope for today, specifically as related to heights. Oh, you don't- hey, is this a recording?


Big boulder


Deadlyjelly negotiates the rockery


Resting up at Curraghmore Lake


Dad leaning against Rock Art


Looking down into the Bridia Valley


Rolf Harris

A life of privilege

Mum: Will you ever stop scratching your arse against that heater?

Me: N-n-no. This house is f-f-freezing. It’s bordering on ch-child abuse.

Mum: Will you ever go and put some more feckin jumpers on ya.

Me: I’m w-w-wearing them all. D-don’t have any m-more.

Mum: I could lend you a vest.

Me: <look of slowly dawning horror>

Me: I would rather die of hypothermia.

Mum: For fecks’ sake! Will you ever toughen up! And stop wrecking my head! When I was a girl, we were so cold we were practically crippled with chilblains. We didn’t have ‘radiators’, just baked potatoes. We used to walk four miles to school, barefoot through the snow-

Me: Well, you’re lucky you’re hardy. I, on the other hand, was born into a life of privilege-

Mum: GAH!

Lesson 1: how to slice with a ski pole

Intrepid explorer (don’t be fooled by the beanie)

After days of rain in Kenmare, and snow up country resulting in the daring rescue of a busload of tourists from the Wicklow mountains, this morning was a surprise.

The day was lovely and bright and crispy. Dad and I decided to walk up the Lack Road from the Bridha Valley. Looking north from the Ballaghbeama Gap to the Valley, the Magilicuddy Reeks were framed against a perfect blue sky.

The Magilicuddy Reeks. The mountains frosted with snow are Caher (left) and Cumeenmore (right)

The wind could have scraped the arse off you, but at the pace my father set we warmed up quickly. In short, he walked the arse of me before the wind could get it.

Dad is a menace with a pair of ski poles (although technically, the man doesn’t need a pair of ski poles). I was lucky to escape with both eyeballs. The thrilling accuracy with which he flicked the pole up at the end of a stride cannot be accidental.

At the top of the Lack Road, we had some Nice biscuits and mint crisp. Then we turned east towards Curraghmore Mountain. After slodging through a bog, we scrambled up a jumble of rock towards the cairn marking the summit of Curraghmore.

Morning tea

The route ahead: Curraghmore Mountain is the highest peak in this photo, although admittedly it is more a trick of perspective

Picture by dad; me and Lough Acoose. Dingle Peninsula in the background. Also, my thighs aren’t really that big; it’s the wind, I swear to god, it’s the wind. Husband tell them, please.

Clouds collected and struck poses and looked threatening, but they didn’t venture below peak level. It was like watching a slide show.

Caher seemed but a short uphill sprint to our left, but my father hasn’t been on a walk this technical since his last hip operation and has a keen appreciation of his limits – although, this was not entirely clear as he descended to Curraghmore Lake.

There is no track apart from the odd set of sheep prints, with steep cliffs on either side of the descent. After the recent rain, much of the terrain was boggy and hanging halfheartedly to the underlying rock. Dad has two artificial hips and a fall runs the risk of dislodging one or both. We took it slowly, but every now and then the sound of dad’s ski pole skittering across damp rock made my heart skitter too.

Had he fallen, I was going to tell mum it happened on the Lack Road and dad used his arms to pull himself over to Curraghmore Lake.

Dad features cloud cover

Sunshine threatens Black Valley. Broaghnabinnia’s shadow also features, centre left

Picture by dad: me and Curraghmore Lake

Picture by dad: the reason there are few photos of me

Heather, possibly

Dad kicks rock

Multipurpose bridge/trailer

Dusk in the valley

Time to go home

Mum ponders seaweed


My gorgeous friend Chantal and me, on the cliffs near Garinish


 Magic day


Looking back out the Hag’s Glen

Fugitive cows

My father used to spend a lot of time in the mountains, but hadn’t done any serious climbing since he had his second hip replaced this time last year. On the top of Carrauntoohil and Cumín na Péiste, I got wistful text messages from him asking me what it was like and to pelt rocks at tourists for him.


There is nothing wrong with Dad’s fitness and he is particularly steady with a walking stick, so I worked on him to try something a bit more challenging. He seemed reluctant; at least, he came up with any number of reasons to put it off. Really: he says a few prayers every now and then – it’s not as if he’s tied to a desk.


I was thrilled when Dad said he’d like to walk up to Curraghmore Lake, just underneath Carrauntoohil, and suggested the following Monday.


The drive the Bridha Valley is stunning: a single-track road winds its way up a gorge and tops out at Bealach Béama with sheer rocks on either side. Unfortunately, halfway up we got stuck behind a Bentley, which in turn got stuck behind a herd of cows. After a while, it became evident that the cows were fugitives; there was nobody driving them.


Half an hour later, I was fed up with the Bentley jamming on the brakes every time a cow chewed cud aggressively. He was obviously nervous about having his gleaming car licked by a cow, or lashed with a tail. When we came to a narrow(er) stretch of track, I applied the handbrake and dashed up to the Bentley. I knocked on the window.


“Hi, ah- oh, how are you? Nice weather we’re having. Where you off to today? Just here for a holiday, eh? Oh, Glenbeigh is lovely, yes. Listen, I was wondering, would you mind pulling in when you have a chance and letting me go ahead? My husband’s an expert on passing cows.”


“Oh, no problem,” said the driver. “I wanted to do that myself, but missus wouldn’t let me.”


The Bentley pulled over and I nudged through the cows, instructed by Andrew: “Ok, zoom up behind them really fast and then swerve to the left.”


We eventually reached the head of the Bridha Valley and got ready to go. Dad did a couple of creaky squat-thrusts.


I was terribly nervous for Dad, but he set off strongly. Every few hundred metres I checked to see if he was ok, but it seemed superfluous when I had to catch him up to pose the question. The man leaped from rock to rock and forded streams in single bounds. I was tremendously proud.


“This is my dad. He has two false hips,” I said to everyone we met.


“Er Niamhie, maybe your father doesn’t want you telling everyone,” said Andrew.


It took us shortly over an hour to reach the lake. As we ate our lunch it started to drizzle, but we had waterproofs and a flask of coffee, and Dad wouldn’t have considered it a Walk if he hadn’t battled headwinds.


We were back at the car, when a man pulled up and wandered over. He was waiting for three people who had set off from the other side of the saddle two hours before. Andrew managed to pick out the group as they passed the bottom of a rock face.


“Why don’t you go and meet them?” I asked the man. “There’s a clear track.”


“Oh no, I don’t do that kinda stuff,” he said. “Ah have a false hip.”


“Well, I have TWO false hips,” said my father, and maybe only I could hear the ‘na na nana na’ hanging unspoken in the air.


I considered The American’s size more an impediment than the false hip, but inspired by my father’s restraint, I resisted saying so

In the mountains

Although Husband looks deep in thought, he’s actually working up to laugh at one of my father’s jokes. This is my favourite photo of Andrew of all time

This isn’t

Andrew on Cumeen na Péiste

Still there


Kerry sheep

Top of Ireland

The Deans

Me, Dan and Philip after climbing Brandon. If you look closely, you can make out the cartoon cloud on the left


Dan from above




A drop of sun on Cumeen na Peiste

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