Our dream cottage on the Beara Peninsula, Ireland.
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On many mornings at our rented cottage on the Beara, Ellen and I woke early and walked for a few hours while the girls slept, rousing them later to start their day. One morning, we drove west a couple of miles along the narrow road to Allihies and then walked to an abandoned fishing village that we'd heard about.
The walk passed a small cluster of stone houses at the paved road, and then followed a two-track through fern and foxglove fields and around a steep hill that dropped to the ocean. The sun was warm and the light was beautiful. Sheep complained as we passed, but we didn't take them seriously and they went back to their meals as soon as we were gone.
After about a mile, we came upon a perfect white stone cottage, built right at the high tide line in a protected rocky cove beside the sea. Deep in the ferns beside the ruin of an older stone house, the cottage was almost hidden from view until you were right above it. Steps led to a stony beach where an old wooden boat rested. Peering through the windows revealed a lovely fireplace, baskets of seashells on a windowsill, cozy furniture, a substantial rustic dining room table, bottles of wine in a rack, and a Whole Foods bag hanging from a hook in the mudroom.
Later we learned that the house had once been the home of a fishing family, and that they tied their boat right to the front porch to unload their catch. More recently, it had been purchased by a French couple, who came to stay from time to time, dashing our (idle) fantasies of buying this perfect place.
Farther along the road, the village itself was spread sparsely across a lush green hillside--stone houses and ruins of older houses with views to the ocean. Some of the houses were being renovated (by an artist, we learned later), and were lovely inside. Others were as they had been left, some open to the weather. A small greenhouse was in disarray, but still full of flowers. We walked across the hill looking at each structure, and then followed old stone walls down to the rocky shore and back to the white cottage for one last look before reluctantly walking back to our car.
Sometimes when traveling you happen upon places where you could have lived in another life. This place was one of them, and it wasn't hard to imagine days spent reading on the couch in the living room, swimming in the cove, or wandering along the shore. But the French couple beat us to it, and we had a different life to resume, and three teenagers to roust from their beds.
Along the road that leads to the cottage.
First view of the old village which is now being renovated into an artist's colony.
Wooden boat in the cottage cove.
Ellen in the old fishing village.
View east along the coast from the fishing village.
One of the renovated houses in the old fishing village.
The old fishing village.
One of the renovated houses in the village.
The walk from the village back to the cottage
Ellen on the walk from the village to the cottage.
The sea along the coast near the cottage.
Seaweed in the cottage cove.
A last look before leaving it behind.