O'Sullivan's (Minus Clint)

Mia and I are sat back at the pub on the Crookhaven waterfront. She's
nursing a Murphy's (the local from this neck of the woods…Guinness is
a Dublin tradition). I'm working on my Powers Irish whiskey (a
double). We're waiting for the music to start, and after a honeymoon
dinner aboard 'Arcturus' decided it appropriate to spend our last
evening in Crookhaven in the same place we've spent most of the days

Not to sound like we've been drinking the whole time either (in fact,
on the contrary, save of course our gluttonous coffee and soda bread
consumption). O'Sullivan's seems to be the central meeting place of
Crookhaven, one of only two pubs that line the narrow street
(singular) along the waterfront, and decidedly the more popular of the
two. They open around 10:30 in the morning, and for the past three
days, we've been knocking at the door with our laptops and bags of
laundry and trash. We've made the seat up in the back our home base.
That early in the morning the place is empty and the staff is usually
making coffee and mopping the floors, so we could really have the run
of the place. But by noon, the punters are in, and there's not a seat
left in the establishment. They only make basic food - sandwiches
(toasted!), and homemade soup and bread, but it's all delicious.

Clint set off today for parts unknown. Dermott O'Sullivan (the local
barman whose become a huge help to us here) took him in the car to a
small town a few kilometers over where he was able to get a bus to
Cork. He flies to London on Sunday, and ultimately has to get back to
Norway to either continue his job as a tree surgeon or pack his car
and leave, depending on how well his boss took to his six week
vacation. The only message he's received is that his boss was away in
Thailand for the strangest three weeks of his life, and it'd be good
to see him again. So that's that. We hugged him goodbye and thanked
him for his hard work enduring the rigors of ocean sailing (and the
rigors of being cooped up with Mia and I for six weeks - he joined us
in Lunenburg back on July 15, which seems like a lifetime ago by now).

Yesterday we got off our butts and managed to go for a small adventure
into the hillsides surrounding the harbor. There is a small castle a
few miles to the west of the town, up a steep ridge and overlooking
the ocean. We sailed past it on the way in, and the sight of it
enchanted us (me at least). At the time, it really felt like we'd
landed in a new place. There is only one road in Crookhaven (in the US
it would be considered one lane it's so narrow, but here there's white
stripes down the middle and the small cars can actually pass one
another, albeit with the utmost care). We followed it to the west, the
harbor on our right as we ascended the first hill. Only about a
quarter-mile along, we followed a path into a grassy meadow that
continued even steeper uphill, passing through several metal cow
fences. There were actually cows on the other side, but they paid us
no mind and allowed us to pass without trouble. A small stone church
with a sign reading 'St. Brendan the Navigator' outside was perched
below us, overlooking the long, narrow harbor.

We continued along a well-worn footpath that arched further upward and
made it's way along a steep ridge. The land sloped dramatically away
to our left, before the road cut it's path in the hillside, and then
continued on down to meet the ocean. On our right was a more gradual
drop over granite rocks, ancient stone walls and meadowland down to
the harbor. At the summit of this first ridge we were offered a
magnificent view of the harbor and the waterfront, and I cast a
nervous eye towards Arcturus to make sure she was still in the same
place on anchor (I did think to bring the handheld VHF just in case,
hoping someone in town would try to call us if the boat broke it's
anchor. As it turned out, we overhead a PAN PAN call, wen a 40-foot
sailing yacht lost her engine and went on the rocks at the entrance to
the harbor. The Mizen Head Coast Guard quickly responded, and a large
RIB from in town went out to assist. The three people on board were
picked up and they managed to tow the boat off the rocks and onto a
mooring, apparently without too much damage. The incident was over in
less than half an hour).

The ridge then quickly descended. We scaled an old stone wall,
carefully avoiding the barbed wire fence to keep the cows at bay. The
path seemed to disappear on the other side, and the hill sloped away
to the extent that we had to scramble our way down, sometimes on all
fours. The ground was rocky and covered in little prickly bushes, and
mine and Mia's choice of flipflops as footwear seemed less than ideal
at this point. We reached the road, where next to a small causeway,
where the ocean and the harbor were seperated by only a few hundred
yards of low-lying land we found a group of friends camping out in a
tent. We crossed the road and began another ascent up a gravel path,
wide enough for a small car. Mia was lagging behind picking and eating
blackberries the whole way. Clint criticized me for not waiting for
her - he assumed she was having a tough time of it because she'd hurt
her back the day before, and he laughed when he realized she was only
eating. The track was straight and steep, and quickly reached a far
greater height than the cow pasture we'd just come down from. To our
left was sheer cliff right on down to the ocean, the same bit of sea
we'd only just sailed ourselves a few days prior. At the top of the
hill a footpath branched off to the left, and the castle came into
view. Despite our altitude, the path was rutted and muddy thanks to
the rain (which has been here in bits every day). We made the castle
with only seconds to spare before the downpour started, and we
sheltered under the stone roof and drank from our two thermos' of
coffee. Off in the distant a naval warship passed to the south,
heading towards Fastnet, visible just before the horizon.

The return journey was uneventful, and we followed the road all the
way back into town. All three of us were far more tired than we'd
expected, and we're all but drained by the bottom of the big hill,
with still another kilometer to go back into Crookhaven. We cooked the
six fish that the three young boys sold to us in the pub the day
before - we'd left it in the fridge at the adjacent shop, and bought
some potatoes and an onion to go with it. It was delighful, and the
right price - 3 Euro for six nice mackerel, gutted and filleted by the
three ten-year-olds that sold it to us.