At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats – Around Ireland by Kayak
At the Water’s Edge
is based on a log that Timmy Flavin kept during a 942-mile paddle around the coast of Ireland with Donal Dowd, a kayaker and mountaineer. They left Courtown harbour in Co Wexford on May 11, 1991 and returned just four weeks later, paddling an average of 50 kilometres (31 miles) a day.
Timmy Flavin died of cancer four years ago and his wife Bríd Farrell has published an illustrated book based on his log. It includes tributes from Dowd, other paddlers, and friends. Cathal Cudden and Bernard Forde, well known in the mountaineering community, were involved in the design and publishing of the book.
To Order a copy:
At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats sells at €15 a copy.
The book is also available in Polymath Bookshop in Tralee (+353667125035) and Woulfe’s Bookshop in Listowel (+35366821021).
Forecast was for settled weather. There was a little rain at the beginning but it remained clear for the rest of the walk. Conditions underfoot were good, especially on the bog between Barnacurrane and the Devil’s Punchbowl.
A panorama taken from a spot height on the ridge south of Barnacurrane.
We assembled in the carpark above Torc Waterfall, reached by a side road to the left about 300m metres from the main entrance to Muckross House on the N71. We left the carpark and headed south, climbing through the forest on deer and mountain bike trails – watch out for bikers hurtling through the forest – until we reached the end of the forestry track.
We climbed the final section of forestry to reach Barnacurrane, a gap in a rocky outcrop that marks the boundary between the lowland and the mountain. The trail is well worn and there is a steep section just below Barnacurrane. There used to be a stepped path here but that has mostly disappeared and good footwear is essential.
Nuala Finn and Bertie Hickey heading towards Barnacurrane.
At Barnacurrane one of the group pulled out and Ciarán returned to the carpark with the member before making the return trip to Barnacurrane. His route on the day is marked in blue on the map above.
The red route shows the line taken by the rest of the group. It climbs across the bog, following the line of a wall and the dry ground alongside the stream to reach the track leading to the Devil’s Punchbowl. From, it follows the track/trail to the summit (843). From there it crosses the plateau to the aréte descending northwards to the ridge formed by the Devil’s Punch Bowl and the back wall of Glangappul.
Careful navigation is needed here in poor visibility. Sean O’Suilleabháin warned mountaineers, in his classic guidebook on climbs in the southwest, that Mangerton means the “deceiving one.”
The route continues up to the unnamed summit known as Mangerton “North,” heads East on the southern ridge of Glangappul before descending to the trail that leads into the valley. It follows this trail until it turns northwest from the lake shore, crosses the Owgarrif River –caution – and continues across bog close to the foot of the mountainside until it reaches the track for the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
It follows the Finoulagh River downstream for about 300m and heads west into Tooreencormick, the site of a battle between McCarthy of the Glens (Old Kenmare Rd) and the Normans in 1262, during which Cormac Mac Carthy died. The place name marks his burial on the site of the battle. Keith Woodard, a photographer based in Killarney, gives a really good account of events leading up to the battle.
From Tooreencormick the route continues west, into the forest and back the caprpark.
TMC returned to Connemara in April for a weekend of mountaineering organised by Bertie Hickey. Routes included the Clencoaghan Horseshoe, which includes six of the Twelve Bens mountain peaks of Derryclare (677m), Bencorr (711m), Bencollaghduff (696m), Benbreen (691m), Bengower (664m) and Benlettery (577m).
The Bens were featured in an early guide to Connemara. Rambles in Ireland: A Fortnight in Ireland; 0r, Pen and Pencil Sketches of a Tour in the Autumn of 1846 was compiled by the Gascoigne Sisters, Mary Isabella and Elizabeth (De Burca Rare Books Catalogue No 96, Spring 2011, pages 84-6).
The guide included illustrations from sketches made on the spot. The sisters promised that travellers would ‘be sure to meet with novelty, incident, and adventure,’ although the ‘accommodation at the inns would certainly admit of improvement; but there is excellent salmon to be had everywhere.’
The sisters spent 15 days travelling through Galway, Mayo, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Derry, and Antrim in 1846, in the middle of the Height of the Great Famine. The sisters were very wealthy. Their family were landlords in County Limerick and owned collieries in Yorkshire. The sisters were noted for their charitable work in England and Ireland. Rambles in Ireland was published to raise funding for relief work in Limerick, which was targeted at Protestant orphans.
The Bens were featured again during the An Gorta Beag or the second famine of the 1890s. Robert John Welch, a naturalist and photographer, climbed the Bens in 1894 and 1895 and recorded the main geomorphological features of the Glencoaghan Horseshoe. He published the photographs in an album that was presented to Arthur “Bloody” Balfour in recognition of his patronage of the Galway to Clifden railway line.
Light railways were built in the west of Ireland to provide employment to the poorest section of the population, who otherwise, would probably have starved to death. Balfour’s brother described it as a political strategy for “killing Home Rule with Kindness.” Maud Gonne, quoting a priest from Mayo, described these relief works as ‘organised famine.’
This short video records the ascent of Curved Ridge in the Scottish Highlands by members of TMC on September 28, 2017. It’s a good idea to log all your walks (lowland and mountain) or climbs (rock climbing outdoors and the wall indoors), especially if you are considering submitting for an award like the Lowland Leader Award or the Mountain Leader Award (better known as the M.L.), the Single Pitch Award (in rock climbing), and the Climbing Wall Award etc.
Recording a walk
It has never been easier to record your walks and climbs. Back in the day all walks were written up in the club’s log book, but, surprise surprise, things have moved on. Mike Slattery’s watch, yes watch, gives a good impression of the approach, climb, and walk out on the day we climbed Curved Ridge. View Ranger is a great way of recording actual routes on the OSI 1:50.000 maps that we use. Most members will be familiar with the maps Bertie Hickey puts up on Facebook:
This is the route of Andrew Kelliher’s recce for the Level 1 walk tomorrow, Sun 11 Feb, 2017, the long awaited return to the Reeks. Interactive maps like this are taking over from the traditional route card, but two points need to be made on this.
The first point is that you still need to be able to navigate from a map and interpret the terrain that you are walking in. We recommend that you have a ‘paper’ map (laminated) and compass with you and that you apply the navigation skills that you learned in Mountain Skills 1 & 2.
The second is that you will need to carry your phone, or whatever device you are using to access View Ranger, in a weather proof pouch and have a backup power source in case the battery fails. These are widely available but remember, they need to be weather proof as well. Water and electric circuits don’t mix.
The next step is to keep a record of the walk, not just the route.
You will need to decide on the type of walk, whether it was a walk amongst equals, a group walk with a leader, or a walk that you led.
You will also need to decide if it qualifies for a Quality Mountain Day (QMD).
You will need to describe the weather, including wind speed, direction, precipitation, and temperature.
Finally you will need to include all details of your route, including map sheet number, start and end points, peaks summited, total height gain, and notable events.
You should have a screen grab of the route, if you are using View Ranger, and photos that show the conditions and/or challenges encountered during the walk.
It is also recommended that leaders record the name of everyone on the walk.
Writing up the log
Then you need to write up the log. This can be done online on the Mountaineering Ireland website. Every member of Mountaineering Ireland has access to an online digital log. Simply log on and access the Digital Log menu on your Homepage.
Then fill in the details.
It’s as easy as that!
We recommend that you collect the information as you go, getting a weather forecast, making a route card and/or tracking your actual route, taking photographs of conditions etc. It is handy to write up each section in Text Edit, Notepad or something similar and cut and paste the information into the online log.
I was going through Tom Finn’s (1927-2007) slide collection today and came across this photo, probably taken back west. We are not sure who the men are, let alone the nuns they seem to have rounded up. We think the men are Tom’s climbing buddies Brian Daly, Denis Switzer, and Bill Edwards. If anyone can confirm this, we would be delighted.
Tom was a founding member of the club, a pioneering mountaineer, and a keen photographer. He usually had his camera with him when he went mountaineering and illustrated details of all climbs were entered into a club logbook or a personal journal. These provide a fascinating insight into the development of mountaineering as a sport in Kerry, as well as the history of Tralee Mountaineering Club.
If you have any ideas about what was going on in this photo, or a suitable caption, get in touch!
“You know the nun in the square wimple is wearing a habit like Auntie Pat’s but I don’t think it’s her. In the early days she had to stay in a convent – she used to stay at Pres but I don’t recognise any of the nuns. I think it’s definitely Denis, Bill and Brian.”
“I like the symbolism of the nuns on the mountains on today February 1st the feast day ‘Saint Bridget’ which traditionally marks the beginning of spring representing rebirth and renewal, hope, youth and growth.”
Picking up on Mags’ point about Lá ‘Le Bríde or Bridget’s Day, just in case people think that it was a man only club “back in the day,” women were just as involved in the development of TMC from the beginning, as this early photo of a climb on Brandon shows: