Log Of The Trip Of The
Senior Scouts Of The 9th Aberdare (Grammar School) Troop
Visit To Eire
Ordnance Survey of Ireland (1960) Sheets 21, 24, 25. Scale ½ inch = 1 Mile
13th August, Tuesday
We met at Aberdare Low Level station at 18:00 hrs There were nine of us going on the trip, John Tomkins, Jeffrey Hall, Melvyn Davies Philip Moore, Terry Evans, Gary Williams, Gregory Williams, Stephen Lewis and myself.
Nearly all our parents were there to wish us luck and we caught the 6:25 pm bus to Swansea. The fare was 6/11d return. The journey to Swansea was uneventful and the weather, although cloudy was not too bad.
We arrived at Swansea High St station at 19:20 hrs and went into the station. At the platform was a train for Fishguard but this was not our train and we decided to wait until the next one came in at 20:05 hrs. We caught this train and it left on time. The journey was pleasant and not too long as we were in Fishguard by 22.05. We then embarked on the boat immediately and put our kits in a pile on the deck and settled down to await events.
At midnight they started casting off but it was 00.30 before we started moving away
from the quay. By this time it was quite cold and as soon as the harbour had disappeared
from sight we all dispersed to find somewhere to sleep for the night. To our dismay
every single place had been taken and we had a choice of sleeping outside on a chair
or inside on the stairs. Some of the boys opened out a flysheet to cover them but
others slept, or tried to, inside. The most anyone slept was about two hours snatched
in bits and pieces, and by the morning we were cold, stiff and tired.
14th August, Wednesday
We sailed along the coast of Ireland for several hours before we turned to sail up the inlet to Cork. We sailed past several fairly large islands; past Cobh which we thought at the time was Cork. We took about an hour to sail up the estuary and then about half an hour to tie up, so by the time we disembarked it was half past nine in the morning. The weather was quite dry and fine, and promised well for a few days at least.
We got through the Customs quite easily as we were in Scout uniform, the only questions being whether we had foodstuffs or presents for people in Eire.
When we left the quay which was almost in the centre of the city we decided to try to book berths for the return journey but we were unlucky, all the berths were booked.
We then decided to have something to eat so we went to the ‘Old Bridge’ restaurant and had breakfast cum lunch for 6/- each. After that we wandered around Cork for an hour or so and bought our provisions for the next few days, which were doled out between us. We then found the bus station and enquired about the time of the bus to Blarney, being told three different times by three people so we decided the best thing to do was to wait until it came.
At the bus station we again ran into a troop of Girl Guides from Rutland who came over on the same boat. They were waiting to catch the bus to Bantry where they were going to camp in Bantry House.
The bus eventually arrived and we all climbed in. The bus was an old ramshackle thing and we wondered whether it would manage the journey which it did. The fare was 1/8d single, No 1 bus. As we moved out of the centre of Cork which was very impressive with buildings of white stone we went through more residential areas which were a complete contrast, dirty and crowded but after about a mile we were out in the country.
We arrived at Blarney at 12:45 hrs and went into the castle (Admission 2/6d). The castle itself is really only a tower and not in very good shape but the grounds were really lovely, quite big fish swimming alongside the paths. We all went up the tower to kiss the stone which was much easier than it looked although it was rather too far down for comfort (about 120 ft but it looked much more from on top).
We left Blarney at 14:10 hrs and walked westwards along a main road which was surfaced with small pebbles as were nearly all the country roads and which carried very little traffic. After about a mile we turned southwards, crossing a small stream which entered the castle grounds which we were skirting. The weather now was very hot and the sun was blazing down. However at MR 025.608.732 we were caught in a couple of very heavy showers so we sheltered for a bit and bought some milk and bread. The showers soon cleared up and we carried on, wondering whether to find a campsite near at hand or to push on and try to cover a fair distance that day. However the countryside around there was intensively cultivated and there was no chance of a campsite.
We found a campsite on the other side of the Inishcarra Bridge (MR 025.570.709) in
a field of sheep and obtained permission to stay the night quite easily. The river
was very wide and smooth and full of fish which were almost tame and were jumping quite
close in, even when we were washing.
15th August, Thursday
We left the campsite at 13:00 hrs feeling as if we could do with another night’s
sleep to catch up. The weather was cloudy but not too bad at first. The going was
good and by 14:00 hrs we had reached Ovens. We rested there for half an hour then
left again. The weather was becoming more cloudy now but the going was still good.
We reached Aherla at 16:45 to find it bedecked with flags for a carnival. We talked
to the villagers for some time who were very friendly and left at 17:10. The road
now was quite flat and, in places, quite straight for some distance. By the time we
reached Crookstown at 20:00 the weather had deteriorated badly, it was drizzling and
by the look of the clouds we were in for a night of heavy rain. We didn’t fancy
getting soaked this early in the trip so we enquired at the first shop in Crookstown,
which sold everything imaginable, whether we were likely to find a barn to sleep in
and were directed to a farm just down the road. Here we struck lucky as the farmer’s
son happened to be the reserve for the Ireland rugby team and so he was very interested
in rugby. The farmer let us have his granary to sleep in for the night, which was perfectly
dry but dark, and he allowed us to cook under cover also. As it turned out we were
extremely lucky as it poured all night and until about 11:00 the next day.
16th August, Friday
We left Crookstown at 12:30 and walked steadily uphill to Bealnablath which we reached
at 13:40. It had been drizzly but warm and so we were glad of a rest when we reached
there although it was no more than a few houses. We left at 14:00 and walked along
the L40 road, for the first mile or so it was bordered by trees but after this we were
on a moor which seemed to stretch for miles. The road was hedged mainly with hawthorn
but here and there, there was a stretch of fuchsia hedge that looked quite out of place.
It soon came to rain heavily and as there was no shelter at all we were very grateful
when the first lorry we had seen in ages stopped and offered us a lift. Although he
said he was only going half a mile it was more like two miles before he turned off.
We walked on, slightly rested and in better spirits, seeing a dead fox on the side
of the road, it must have been hit by a car or lorry. We were again lucky just before
we reached Cappeen (MR 024.316.608) as we were offered a lift by a man driving a tractor
and trailer who took us to the crossroads at MR 024.310.610. These lifts greatly improved
our average speed and we arrived at Glan Cross Rds at 17:05 utterly worn out and starving,
but although it had rained nearly all day, comparatively dry. We were offered the
use of a garage for the night and, although it had a slate missing, it was dryer than
putting up tents.
17th August, Saturday
We had decided that, rather than risk being stuck without food that night we would go via Dunmanway so, when we left Glan Cross Rds. at 12:30 we set out along the L40, cutting off at Shanlaragh (MR 024.259.597) onto the L58. The weather was quite warm but the going was not too bad most of the time so we arrived in Dunmanway, the first place we had seen since Cork which could be called a town, at 14:45.
We decided that the first thing to do would be to have a meal which we did. During this meal we decided that, in order to have a few days at Bantry we would catch a bus to Bantry. We discovered later that it would be cheaper to hire a minibus so we did so. We dumped our kit and wandered around the town. We bought fishing line, hooks and weights to go fishing at Bantry and, at 17:45, we left by minibus.
The scenery seemed much better now we were sitting in comfort and we enjoyed our
trip, a lot of which was through peat bogs. We arrived at Bantry at 18:30 hrs and
started looking around for a camping-site. The people were very helpful but the only
sites at all near were either on steep slopes or on top of the cliffs. We were almost
deciding to camp on the cliff-top when we found out that other people had camped in
the garden of an empty house so we decided to risk it and found it an ideal site, sheltered,
hidden, out of the way yet near the town.
18th August, Sunday
We stayed in bed late then walked around Bantry. In the afternoon we decided to
try a bit of fishing so we set off to one of the jetties and proceeded to fish. We
had an enormous haul, the only thing was, it consisted of many dozens of crabs and
only one fish, caught by Melvyn, which was an ugly, dirty brown thing about four inches
long and which we threw back in. We met a boy from Essen in Germany who was hitch-hiking
around the country and was camping on the top of the cliff.
19th August, Monday
It was sunny and very hot all day so most of us lazed around camp, preparing for
the next day’s hiking while some of the boys went pony-trekking. They really
enjoyed themselves—although a trifle sore—and they saw some magnificent
scenery. The rest of us read our letters if we had received any and wrote postcards
20th August, Tuesday
There was a horse fair in the town square and it was packed out. We had decided that to hike all the way to Kenmare in one day was too much but it was impossible to split the stage up by a stop so we decided to hire a minibus or car to take us as far as Coomhola Bridge (MR 024.990.558). We left Bantry at 12:30 and Coomhola Br at 12:55. We headed almost due north along a track which, after about a mile started to climb steeply and eventually rose about 1600 ft in 4 Mlles. The sun was very hot and by the time we were part way up we were very tired. An unusual feature was the suddenness of the change from a country lane, admittedly steep, hedged with fuchsias to mountain track. About half way up we saw a blue mini-car which had apparently come all the way over the top, as we saw its tyre tracks in several places. We reached the top, where there was a wooden cross, at 14:50, and almost as soon as we had started down the other side we noticed that it was cold and it came to rain. These showers did not last very long but were a nuisance. The walk down was hard on the feet and so when we reached Drehideighteragh Bridge (MR 990.650) at 15:40 nearly at the bottom we washed our feet in the river that, although very cold, was quite refreshing. We made enquiries and discovered that the next shop was in Kenmare so, if we wanted to eat, we would have to get there that night.
After a rest of about half an hour we carried on but before we had gone more than a couple of hundred yards we got caught in a very heavy shower so we sheltered for a bit before continuing. At the triangular intersection a bit further on we noted a footpath that seemed to cut about half a mile off and we were fed up of walking on tracks so we decided to try it.
This was a pleasant change and, although it was very muddy in patches we got through quite easily, rejoining the track about a mile after. We followed this track, occasionally being passed by people on bicycles, for several miles until we reached Dromanassig Br (MR 021.950.680) at 18:05 hrs. Here we crossed the river on to the main road. This seemed to stretch for miles and we were not looking forward to the walk into Kenmare so when, after we had been walking for about 15 mins, we saw a bus coming up behind us and going to Kenmare, we stopped it and gratefully hauled ourselves aboard. The bus was a No 9 and the fare from where we got on was 1/-d single.
We arrived in Kenmare at 18:35, got out, and first of all started to look for somewhere
to have a meal as we were too hungry to cook our own. While we were looking around,
however, a man came up to us and asked whether we had anywhere to stay. We said no
and he offered to let us stay on the town golf course. So I went along to see the
site, liked it, fetched the others and we camped there, by the first tee, sheltered
by trees, on good grass and with a good view. We then had tea and walked around the
town a bit before turning in.
21st August, Wednesday
We were tired out after the long hike the day before so we got up fairly late. The
weather was mainly cloudy but there were quite a few sunny intervals. We went for
a walk around Kenmare which is quite small, consisting of mainly a main street with
most of the shops, one cinema which showed films on two days of the week and which
housed a bingo club on one other and the remainder of the town consisted of houses.
We discovered that there was a bus leaving for Killarney at 12 noon on the next day.
We studied the map and saw that to reach the next place which would be suitable for
a camp we would have to hike at least twenty miles, climbing up over a thousand feet
and back down in the process. The we would be still about 10 miles from Killarney,
where we were heading which would require another day, so leaving us only three days
at the most to spend around Killarney, the first of which would be spent settling in
properly. We therefore decided to catch this bus on the next day.
22nd August, Thursday
We got up fairly early, had breakfast and packed up camp. The weather was fine and sunny so we did not get the tents etc. wet although we were bothered by small children from a hotel nearby who insisted on playing football near the camp. We went into the town at 11:00 and had something to eat before boarding the bus. Our kit had to be put on top of the bus and covered with a tarpaulin. We climbed up a ladder with our kits on our backs after the driver and conductor had spent about ten minutes just passing one kit up. It was much quicker. The fare was 5/6d and we started off at 12:20, about 10 minutes late, but no-one seemed to care.
The bus route was along the main road T65 and the weather by now was quite hot and sunny. There were no stops for some time but the bus was quite old and the road was steep so we had plenty of time to look around. By the time the bus had reached the pass at the top we were very glad that we had decided to catch a bus and not hike over the top. It was even harder than the last part from Bantry and would have taken us two days which would have meant carrying food and camping out on top of the mountain which we did not fancy at this late stage of the trip.
At the top, the bus stopped to let the engine cool off & the passengers stretch their legs and buy souvenirs at very high prices in the souvenir shop which was right on the top at MR 856.792.
When we set off about ½ an hour later it was down hill all the way so we made good time. The scenery was marvellous and when the lakes came into sight it was truly majestic. The road wound down to the lakes and then ran alongside them until it arrived at Killarney and deposited us at the railway station thus saving us the trouble of asking for it. We then wandered out into the town and asked directions to the Post Office in order to claim our mail, of which there was quite a load waiting. After reading some of it we decided to find somewhere to camp. We decided that, as this was obviously a tourist area, the farmers might well charge for use of the fields, so we then decided to look for a camping site and have use of the conveniences provided. We asked several people and were directed out of town about half a mile to the eastwards where we found a site behind a dance-hall where, after a bit of haggling we were only charged 2/- a tent a night.
We set up camp in the corner of an almost deserted field and wandered into Killarney to get something to eat. The town itself was obviously just a tourist town and must have been very quiet out of season. One entertainment which was advertised by a banner strung across the street was ‘PONGO’ which seemed to be the same as ‘BINGO’.
23rd August, Friday
We didn’t do much today, got some stores in and then went around Killarney,
hundreds of small souvenir shops but not much else. Went to the Post Office again.
24th August, Saturday
This is where the account that I have ends. I will try and add the things that I remember about the end of the trip and perhaps others can do the same.
After staying in Killarney for another day or so I believe that we decided to cut short our trip by a day. This could have been because we were running out of money (I know I arrived back in Wales with 6d in my pocket!). We decided that the best train to catch, so we would be in time for the boat, was the one that left early in the morning. Having thought it over we realised that we’d never strike camp and get to the station on time, so we decided to spend the night on the station - not a good idea! Some of us spent the night on benches on the platform, but a few of us realised that the ‘Ladies rest-room’ (yes, there were such things then) was open. While we had a choice of narrow benches or the floor to sleep on, it was warmer than on the platform. We gave the couple who came in later looking for a place to be alone quite a shock !
I cannot remember whether we had changed our tickets, but we successfully boarded the boat back to Fishguard. There we caught the bus back to Aberdare, but I persuaded the driver to stop in Neath, where my grand parents lived, as my family were still on their holidays.
There was also something about bringing home, through Customs, some miniature cameras that we’d bought and that we thought we’d have to pay duty on, but we were just waved through—thank goodness for Scout uniform.
I still have the maps that we used and pretty poor they were.
Recorded by Leighton Jones (ABGS 1957-1964)