Summer has well and truly arrived in Ireland. We’ve had scorching hot days for almost a week now and its been so wonderful. From the fabulous Mannix Point campsite we did day trips to Valentia Island, Inny Strand beach and the Skellig Islands. We’ve been swimming in water so blue and clear and with sand so white you’d think you were in the Med. The Skelligs were a particular highlight – Tolkein like rocky pinnacles jutting out of the Atlantic. The larger of the two islands has the (very intact and impressive) remains of a monastery which was built and inhabited from the 6th to the 12th century. An incredible feat of human engineering with 600 stone steps cut and laid just to get to the point where they built the monastery itself… The islands are also an amazing habitat for sea birds with the smaller island housing several hundred gannets in the summer. Our boat drove around underneath and the noise and site of so many birds in one place was incredible. The island with the monastery has flocks and flocks of guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes, storm petrels, and best of all puffins! It’s nesting season and because the puffins don’t just nest in the cliffs but also in burrows amongst the sea campion on the ground, they were just absolutely everywhere! I fell totally in love with them and had to be dissuaded from stowing one away in my rucksack… :-) John has made up for my disappointment at not being able to keep a pet puffin by perfecting an impression of their call!
From Kerry we have come further east and south to Kinsale, Cork and now Rosslare. We had a wonderful seafood dinner in Kinsale last night and a great lunch from the English Market in Cork this afternoon, so we’ve been doing well on the culinary front. John is off to a stag do in Yorkshire tomorrow and I’m taking the van by boat on Saturday morning over to Pembroke to meet up with some very dear friends.