It all started with the All-Ireland Gaelic football match which we watched on a Sunday at the hotel bar in Ballyferriter. We’d stopped in earlier in the day for a quick pint, and chatted awhile with the Polish bartender. We thought that experiencing Gaelic football in a Gaelic speaking area wiht a Polish bartender would be a fun and enlightening experience, and it was.
We arrived early to secure a good seat, and found one just to the right of the large screen television, but still back far enough to see well. We ordered pints, and throughout the match a few more pints and lunch. I opted for a beef and kidney pie while the ladies settled for more standard fare. The pie was large, tasted delicious and even had a chunk of black pudding on top for decoration. As the match progressed, my insides began to express disquiet. The disquiet was compounded by Kerry losing to Tyrone, but it was a great match altogether and very entertaining to watch the crowd as well as the game.
I skipped dinner that evening as the internal distress continued. It reached a climax in the early hours of the morning with a total systems purge. In the morning it was obvious that I had food poisoning. I can’t say for sure, but I blame it on the black pudding atop the pie.
The ladies took off and left me to sleep and visit the bathroom at alternating intervals. By mid afternoon I felt better and was retaining fluids at both ends, and by late afternoon I needed to walk around in the fresh air. The weather had cleared and the sun was partially obscured through the clouds. Perfect for taking pictures! I gathered my camera equipment and put on outdoor clothing and boots. Imagine my distress and irritation when I tried the front door and realized I’d been locked in. Not only abandoned by the ladies, but locked in to boot. The door lock was unable to be opened from the inside. Not exactly good in case of fire, but it being a concrete block building and usually raining, that probably wasn’t a concern. The back door was sealed with tape to keep out the wind and appeared to be nailed shut as well. I set about examining the windows and found that the back bedroom window had no screen and was large enough to permit me to escape. I wrote a note explaining my situation. I think it read something like “Gone out for a walk, please don’t lock me in next time”. I had to drop the camera bag out the window first and then squeeze through the narrow opening and fall/hop out onto the grass. I shut the window behind me, and ventured out into the wind and sun.
I had in mind to visit a spot that we’d gone to last year. Just down the paved road a few yards from the Suantra Cottages was a dirt road leading North towards the bay. It was a fairly easy walk, and wasn’t overly taxing on my delicate constitution. The road passed between green fields and jogged to the right sharply and ended in a large stone fenced area. The water was clearly visible, and the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks was very loud. Seabirds wheeled overhead adding their voices to the sea and wind. I walked out carefully as I remembered large sink holes from the prior excursion. Abruptly a large hole appeared underfoot about four feet in diameter. It dropped down about 30 feet into water below. Evidently the sea had eroded the rock and penetrated about 50 feet inland. If one had gone down the hole, there would be little chance of surviving the fall let alone the watery end awaiting. I tried not to think about other holes yet undiscovered but waiting as I walked out towards the water's edge. The ground dropped away abruptly below to a rocky beach with larger boulders offshore. Sybil Head was visible in the distance ahead, and to the right Clougher Head enclosed the bay. The waves crashed in heavily on the rocks, shooting high into the air and creating plumes of spray. The sun sank lower and shone between clouds, creating a red and gold light. I wandered along the shoreline, taking pictures of the waves, sun, rock and cliffs.
Eventually my wife joined me, no doubt figuring that’s where I had gone. She wandered further West and down onto the rocky beach. She started digging amongst the soft rock and found several stones containing fossils of shells and sea plants. Further excavations revealed more and she began filling her pockets with interesting bits of rock, shells and wood. This is typical behaviour. In an earlier excursion on the Beara Peninsula she had found several geodes along the rocky shoreline. I tried to find something interesting, but she seemed to have the knack, so I returned to the camera and scenery. We continued our mutually exclusive excavations and picture taking until the sun sank to low to see well. Treading carefully, we skirted the sinkholes found and unfound and trekked back to the road and then to the cottage.
Examination of the bits collected by my wife, and the myrid of photos proved it a successful venture, and one to be repeated again next time we returned to Ballyferriter.