A couple of days ago I was reminded that I have a copy of The Coast of West Cork by Peter Somerville-Large. The book describes a bike ride that he took along the coast from Clonakilty, up and then back down the Mizen and then up and back down Sheep’s Head past through Bantry and finishing somewhere on Beara. It includes a good description of the weather that can be found on Sheep’s Head.
Next morning I departed from Kilcrohane in bright sunshine. As I cycled over the pass to Bantry, and in Edith Somerville’s words, “the glory had departed from the weather and an ugly wall of cloud was rising out of the west to meet the sun. The hills had darkened and lost colour, and the white bog cotton shivered in a cold wind that smelt of rain.” The ceaseless battle between clouds and sun, the strokes of light on mountains and sea followed by swollen black clouds with their bellyful of rain, must have a conditioning effect on environment.
I cycled up the Goat’s Path, climbing the side of Mount Sefin to the summit, crowned unexpectedly with a gleaming white marble copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Then there was Bantry Bay once more, “the noblest Bay in the world and capable of containing all the navies of Europe.” It was almost invisible in the rain which stung my face as the bike rattled downhill. The downpour became heavier, hard and relentless. With one hand holding my umbrella over my head, the other grasping the handle of the bike, I cycled on into town.
Sound very familiar!
The Royal Navy in Bantry Bay at the time of the first Great War (1914-18). Part of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet assembled in Bantry Bay in preparation for the Battle of Jutland in 1916, which was the main set-piece naval engagement in the First World War.