Nestled beyond Kerry’s beautiful Gap of Dunloe, perhaps it is the dark and brooding look when the rainclouds hang low over the Black Lake that earns the Black Valley its formidable title? Perhaps the black name was uttered during bleak famine days that ripped the valley of its tenants? Perhaps it is the more recent account of it being the last place in Ireland to be connected to power and phone networks, because of its remoteness? I’m not really sure how the Black Valley got its name. But this Bank Holiday weekend there was little ‘black’ about the valley that saw my exercise regime bring me walking 3k to the first of the lakes, with my 88 year old dad stepping out by my side. We dodged the showers under heavy bushes and overhanging crags, giggling like kids as we studied the clouds that brushed over Purple Mountain – timing our dashes between the dry spots – and watching with delight as drenched walkers passed us by, after displaying worse timing or worse luck than us. Heather glowed pink and purple, ferns and mosses were multi-hued, green and glowing in their post-shower celebration, sunshine sparkled on rain-washed rocks and roads, and everywhere the sound of water, gushing from the mountains to the lakes and rivers at our feet. The mountains and valleys, living and breathing all around us, playing with the music of sunshine and showers. Enjoying all this with my energetic, healthy, octogenarian dad. A little black magic perhaps?
Following our walk in the Black Valley, dad’s taxi to Kate Kearney’s Cottage was of the four-legged variety. The pony and trap turning up to surprise him, just before lunch. Thanks to Bob Ferris for the ride and the craic about his ‘one-horse-power’ cab. King of the Mountains, Pat Falvey, also had a great welcome for dad at his Beaufort Mountain Lodge; and the Malton Hotel rounded off the weekend in style, with swimming in the pool and a lounge in the hot tub. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my weekend in Killarney with dad; sharing with him my love of mountains and listening to his tales of growing up in Cavan and Belfast. It is great to exercise and have a passion for hobbies, health and fitness, but it is great to be able to share your passions with your friends and family too. I am thankful that with all my training and running around the country, I haven’t sped up so much that I walk too fast for my lovely dad.
I’m back in Killarney again this weekend. I am a little stunned to announce that I am proud to be an Event Ambassador for the Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race 2013. I will be taking part in an Adventure Race Training Day this Saturday in Killarney and preparing for the race itself on October 5th. I watched these adventurous mud-spattered warriors stampeding past me in The Gap last year and I promised I’d find out more about it. I never thought I’d end up being involved to this level, but life can be funny like that. In case you are thinking that it is not for you, let me insist; there are three different routes for all levels of fitness, so you have no excuse. Join me and register here: http://www.killarneyadventurerace.ie/index.php and I’ll see you in Killarney in October! 🙂