From Abbeyfeale I journeyed to Kenmare on the northern edge of the Beara peninsula. I knew of no labyrinths in the area but was keen to visit some of the other ancient sacred sites.
A lot of planning went into my trip but for various reasons that I have previously mentioned a lot was now being determined on a day to day, place to place basis which is apt for the step by step way in which we approach a labyrinth walk. After about three people had mentioned the place to me I rose early one morning to drive to Dzogchen Beara Meditation Retreat Centre on the southern side of the peninsula near Allihies. The drive was stunningly beautiful with low cloud and drizzle closing in as I approached this incredible centre perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Over and over again when I have been lost just one person has appeared on the road or pathway to give me assistance. This time it was a woman who was staying at the centre and running late for the meditation. We both snuck in quietly just a few moments into the session.
From Dzogchen I drove to meet up with Norah de Barra, a shamanic healer living and working near Castletownmere and who had been recommended by the woman running the B&B I was staying in. Rather than a healing Norah sent me on a mini pilgrimage to Coomgira, the Mare’s Tail waterfall. It was a feat in itself to find the right road ( got sent back to retrace my steps on the first one I tried), travel down its narrow, twisty, twining length, stop at the gate at the end and strike out over the open ground in the direction of the waterfall which fortunately I could see in the distance. A little Jack Russell terrier appeared out of nowhere to accompany me.
At first I was walking through grassland and picking my way through mud and across small streams all the while trying to keep my shoes and socks dry. When I got to the bog I gave up that futile pursuit and removed them. It was probably different for my ancestors but as I picked my way across the land I found it very difficult to distinguish what was firm ground from what was not. I’d step on to a spongy clump of grass or moss that would hold my weight, next step I’d be up to knees in water or mud or both. I chatted and swore to my small friend as we made our way toward the highest waterfall in Ireland. She, as a native, wasn’t having the same difficulties traversing the terrain.
The other challenge presenting itself was that there appeared to be a fence right along the stream at the base of the waterfall. I walked along the fence searching in vain for a style or a gate. None to be found! I had expected a public path to a public waterfall. I had been told not to give up on my mission to put my feet into the stream at the bottom of the waterfall so I walked to the very end of the fence where it abutted huge boulders and there was a small section of fence free of barbed wire so I scrambled over (my friend went through or under). Plodding across more bog and unable to find firm ground to sit on at the edge of the stream I finally managed in an ungainly manner to step in the flowing water without going completely arse over turkey. In ancient times Coomgira was the focus for worship of the divine feminine on the peninsula. I hadn’t felt particularly divine or feminine but I had made it!
On the way back I found a couple of posts with a hiker symbol and arrows on a more obvious path. Over and over, for reasons I can’t explain, the path or the road reveals itself more clearly on my return journey. Once again through a combination of step, sink, walk on I made it back to the car. My little friend had left shortly beforehand with her young owner who had appeared at the gate. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Guides come in many shapes and sizes!
One profoundly beautiful and moving experience on the Beara was visiting the Uragh stone circle, burial mound and famine hut. The stone circle had a huge guardian stone (my word) and 4 other stones. It’s up on a hillock overlooking Lough Inchiquin with a waterfall in the distance. On an overcast Sunday afternoon it was mainly me and the sheep there. I felt deeply privileged to be able to explore this ancient sacred place uninterrupted by the tour buses and flocks of tourists that pour over the better known places. I had the sense that I could feel the presence of the Druids among the moss covered oaks and rocks on the hill behind the famine hut.