It was a day of intermittent showers when I set off with my husband, son, and sister to see if we could find the Canglass Blow Hole. I’d seen photos, and I had a pretty good idea from satelite maps where I thought we would find it, but our quest was far from a certain one. We poked along a tiny road beyond Cahersiveen, but we pulled over in a turnout when another car overtook us on the road.
Instead of driving past, the driver stopped as he drew alongside, rolled down his window, and asked us, “Do ye know where you are? Do ye know where you’re going?” We explained that we did know where we were, and we thought we knew where we were going, but the hesitation in our voice must have been clear. When we revealed we were in search of the blow hole, he told us to follow him, and off he went down the road.
In a few short minutes, our mystery friend pulled in to a small turnout with just enough room for us to park as well. He directed us to head over the fence, across the stream, careful through the bog, and follow the cliff edge until we found our destination, and then he headed in the opposite direction, camera in hand to catch the light on the water by the harbor.
It was slow going. We were not following a pathway, or even a walking trail. We jumped the stream, hopped from hummock to hummock through the bog, and then followed the sheep trails along the cliffside. Our surroundings were stunning, and though the sky was foreboding over the near mountain, and showers passed out to sea towards the Blasket Islands, our luck held and we remained dry. As we picked our way along, we saw our photographer friend coming along in the distance. Since he was a much more direct walker than we were, he soon overtook us, and encouraged us along.
After about an hours walk, we crested the hill that looked down over a rough patch of ground to where the blow hole could just be made out in the distance. Success was within reach! Some of our group were weary from the difficult trail, and others were wary of walking along the top of the cliff, but soon we made it to the Canglass Blow Hole itself. A wide land bridge separated the bay from a huge hole, over a hundred feet deep, where the ocean waves crashed in. Looking down into the blow hole, we watched sea gulls soaring beneath us, riding the air currents within the massive hole. It was a place of unrivaled beauty.
Our serendipitous guide, Gunter, gave us several great tips and pointers, and suggested some other beautiful spots to explore. While we appreciated his advice to walk just a bit further on to a beautiful bay with cerulean blue water against stark cliffs, his finest gift to us was that of permission. Before he left he assured us of two things: that any historical site in Ireland is open to the public to explore, and that every tiny road ends with a turn around. Now as we explore unknown corners of the island, we often quote Gunter’s words of wisdom, and explore those back roads with the knowledge that no matter how narrow the lane gets, there will always be a way to turn around if we just go far enough along.