Cummeenduff, now there’s a word. I was reminded of many of our aboriginal names that bear no relevance to the English language and here the Celtic background still flaunts itself in so many ways but this was a place I’d never heard of.
There was still time in the afternoon for some photography so I begged leave of Lorraine and bolted out the door. According to the map, the path to the lakes was opposite our entry gate somewhere so I figured I wouldn’t have any trouble finding it. Mistake.
I walked westward along the single lane road and “no entry” did I spy so I did what I always do, jumped a fence. Second mistake. The entire paddock I found myself in was a peat bog. No matter where you put your foot, it squelched. So I took it easy, working my way down towards a line of trees that had befriended the river. You couldn’t take your eye off the ground, so potentially slippery was it, and then it happened. My right foot went out from under me and my dodgy left leg bent totally back as I flopped over on my right side and got the brand new jumper, that Lorraine had bought for me, wet and muddy.
Pain wracked my leg. I began to wonder just how I was going to get out of this situation but first I had to get up. If you’re a supple 10 year old it presents no problem but it was like my body was frozen and my leg was trapped beneath it and at least 10 seconds passed before I could roll sideways. It seemed ages before I could get into a position where I could lever myself upright again. This was achieved slowly and methodically and I found that I could still walk.
That’s when the adrenalin cut in again and I moved yet again in the direction of the river, knowing that there would not be a second chance, but only made it another 70 metres before it became impassable. So I turned around in bitter disappointment and struggled warily towards the road once more.
I tried to hide it from Lorraine when I made it back by having a quick shower. Third mistake. Unsure of just what to do with the jumper I washed the stained arm gently after I’d done my dirty trousers and socks and hung the lot over the heater before retiring to the dining/lounge room at the far end where Lorraine was. It was all going swimmingly until……Lorraine went to the bedroom while I sat on the lounge typing on my computer.
I have no idea just how many minutes passed until an irate woman stomped through the door, wrung out the arm of my jumper on the dining room floor before throwing it violently just past my head. It’s about here that the word “recrimination” comes into play. The torrent of abuse I suffered thereafter put something of a dampener on the holiday and had not Sheila come to the rescue and calmed Lorraine down a little I don’t know what might have happened.
Neither of us slept well that night; how many hours I lay awake I know not, but they were several in number. The first time I had to go to the toilet was absolute agony; I should have had crutches so great was the pain in my left leg. The next couple of times I could manage it but only with gritted teeth.
Sometime during the night (it was around midnight we later learned) the 76 year old party girl came home. You could hear the solid metal gate clang, her footsteps along the path, the door open, the light clicking on in the hall…..in fact, there’s not a sound that doesn’t echo along the tiled floor.
Breakfast seemed to bring a little relief and the thought that I might actually be able to try again to reach the lakes was inspirational so, with better instructions and ignoring the map, we drove the car to where you turned off for Cummeenduff Glen and found out that you could actually drive to where we wanted to go, albeit slowly. It was yet another one laner whose only purpose was to service a few homesteads further down the lakes.
By Irish standards the weather was about as good as you could get it, i.e., partly cloudy, no rain, light winds. Not perfect for photography but the best we could hope for. However, there was another factor to consider and that was just being here amongst the mountains, called MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, that rose 3,000ft from the valley floor. Part of the allure was their starkness, all rock on top with bracken ferns browning much of the lower slopes in amongst patches of grass and, farther down, the odd house. Here and there were fence lines and old stone walls of indeterminate age in various states of disrepair while trees put in a spasmodic appearance only on the valley floor. It was a bleak yet somehow attractive landscape and when we came to the lakes we were only too happy to record the moments we spent there.
Just being there was spellbinding. The stillness and quiet, the corrugated ripples on the tranquil water oscillating through the reeds, the eye-catching dominance of the mountains, the free roaming sheep, the bog we had to walk on to get the lakeside pictures, the ancient crumbling rock fences all played their part.
I was almost mesmerised by an old ruin on top of a rise with hills all around. It seemed such a forlorn thing that once had been lived in but today was crumbling at the rate of about two bricks a year. I almost expected an apparition from within as I made my way around the walls and the animal pens that once were. You could almost sense the presence of a sheep herder checking a few ewes that he had penned up for safety before retiring into the minimalist dwelling attached. No creaking old wind-blown gates here, just dry stone walls that only added to the bleak appearance of the place.
You could feel that the cold of winter would have been chilling and I wondered just what they did to fill in their time when the wind blew the rain sideways outside.
We spent some hours in the glen before returning to the irrepressible Sheila for some morning tea.