Hi, and welcome back to my weekly blog post. This week I am revisiting a trip we took to Keem Bay in Achill during one of the periods between lockdowns in Ireland last year.
Having visited many occasions, I had always wanted to hike up to the derelict lookout post on the top of Moyteoge Head at Keem Bay. But, I had never seemed to get around to it. If there were anything pandemic lockdowns taught me, when I have the opportunity to do something, just do it.
So on one particularly wet and windy weekend last May, with promises of rain and more rain, we decided to take our camper on its maiden trip to Achill. Fingers and toes were crossed. It initially looked like the weekend would be spent in the van. That was until we crossed over the Sound onto Achill Island. Immediately, the rain fell away, and the sun flitted rays of golden light over the rugged landscape. It was as if a miracle had just taken place. In Ireland, it is well known we can have all four seasons in one day, and luckily for us, summer was casting its glow over the island.
We drove past the villages of Keel and Dooagh on our way to Keem Bay. Nestled between Croaghaun mountain and Benmore Cliffs, the bay sits at the front of the valley, sheltered by Moyteoge Head. The views are spectacular; the drive takes you along a clifftop road around Croaghaun, revealing the white sands of the horseshoe bay before descending towards two parking areas. We chose to park nearest to the beach, which is also the base for the hike up to Moyteoge Head.
Parked and a quick bite of food later, we began our hike. It was late evening, and the sun would be setting soon, enough time to get to the top for golden hour.
Starting by the side of the river, we swung left, keeping the lookout in our sights as we made our way through the heather. The sun, descending in the skyline, coated the grass and the top of the mountain with an orange/yellow filter.
It took about twenty-five minutes to get to the top, with lots of dawdling to absorb the views and take photos. The building is just a shell, with no doors or windows, just concrete and stone walls; it was last used during WW2 to track ships and aircraft. The concrete structure is thought to have been constructed around a primary stone building initially used by the coastguard.
Standing in the building, the open doorways and windows frame the vistas to perfection. I wondered about the people who had been here before. Imagining what their lives would have been like. How often had they sat looking out at the rain and storms, been blasted by unforgiving winds or caressed by the early summer sun just as we had been today?
Would they have thought it strange that we would want to sit here on an evening in May just because we could, for no other reason? It was glorious and exhilarating; the highest sea cliffs in Ireland sat to our backs. The vastness of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded the point we sat on. We were just dots in the big picture. We sat in silence as the sun disappeared behind Benmore and Croaghaun.
Finally, we had to make our way to the camper. We ambled in a continuing silence. A shared experience, where no words are needed because no words could be found to capture the feeling without diluting it into something else.
We remained unspeaking until I, in a grandiose epilogue, slipped on my bum and shrieked. Moist grass and slippy shoes are not a good combination. So I popped off my socks and shoes. Running barefoot down the rest of the mountain towards the shore, dog by my side, laughing loudly. Happy to be precisely where I was at that exact moment.
If you are interested in finding out about the various historical buildings in the valley and the bay, I found some articles and have included links below.
Next week I am staying closer to home and exploring Knockma Forest Park. Wishing you a wonderful week.