An Experience of a Life-Time!
Bright and early on Tuesday August 14th, an advanced party of vision
impaired Shuil Harbour to Harbour enthusiasts came together at Houston
Station in Dublin, to join the 8 am train to take us to Cork City on the
first leg of our long trip to Cape Clear Island, situated off the South West
coast. Primarily, to participate on a Scene unseen experience on
Wednesday, August 15th.
After a long bus trip from Parnell Bus Station in Cork City, to Skibereen
followed by a short bus transfer to Baltimore Harbour, it was straight on
board the regular Ferry crossing over to Cape Clear’s North Harbour. Cape
Clear is the most southerly inhabited land in Ireland. The voyage by ferry
from Baltimore, West Cork only takes 40 minutes and you get a superb view of
the indented coastline on the way. The Gaelig speaking Island is three
miles long by one mile wide, lying eight miles off the Cork coast.
On arrival, we were greeted by the Sensory Artist Clare McLaughlin and then
introduced to our trusty bus driver Ferdia to whisk us up to The Tir
na nOg, Hostel (the land of youth) as the Hostel was our base for our stay
on this unique and very historic Island. After settling in and all keen to
learn more about the history of Cape Clear, we set off again with our trusty
driver, on the Island Tour with Ferdia doubling up as both driver and tour
guide. As a long time resident on the Island and given his acquired local
knowledge, he was suitably qualified to give us an audio described insight
into Island life. An Island laced with historic events and many historic
structures to expand the mind. The Island is also celebrated as a renowned
“Bird Watchers paradise”, which makes Cape Clear a unique visitor
After a short rest and freshening up and now bolstered with another six
Shuilers joining the group, we all headed to Cotters Bar at the heart of
this quaint little Hamlet for a very tasty home cooked meal. Followed by
some leisure time in Cotter’s friendly lounge bar.
We were all up bright and early on the Wednesday morning for a hearty
breakfast in Mikie O Driscol’s Tir na nOg breakfast room before making our
way back down to the North Harbour to register for the Event or the “SÚIL
Harbour to Harbour sculptural sensory walk.”
A myriad of like-minded people had gathered around the Harbour, by Sean
Rua’s premises. Before commencing on our relatively short journey,the event
organiser, Clare addressed the gathering and outlined the course of action.
This would be a relatively short walk, 335 metres in length and took us
along the main public road. The pace was very slow and deliberate to allow
us to draw on all of the sensory experiences along the route. We travelled
across one relatively steep hill but given the slow pace, it was a very
comfortable passage for around the fifty participants. The slow pace was
deliberately designed to allow for the creation of a permanent sculpture of
the walk, in the form of the guide rope.
There was total silence as we moved slowly along the rope. Everyone
holding gently on to the rope as they moved from the North to the South
Harbours and given the heavy Island mist, the rocky terrain and the
incomparable flora and fauna enhanced by the silence, it was truly a
memorable occasion. It wowned up with the rope coming together into a
sculptural mind-map of the walk and everyone was presented with a short
piece of rope as a keepsake to remind them of their own personal journey
and the Shuil Harbour awe-inspiring event.
At the reception afterwards in Cotters, we sampled some tasty treatsd,
including some Clonakilty pudding. It was back to Cotter’s again, for our
evening meal, followed by a very lively sing-along to celebrate this very
successful event. However, on route to the return Ferry, it was a
flying visit to Ed Harpers Goat Farm early on the Thursday morning for an
insight into “goat life” and an opportunity to sample some Goat’s Icecream
and some cheese to impress the family, before re-joining the ferry back to
the Main-land and the first leg of our return journey back to Dublin.