A Guide to Hillwalking and Mountain-climbing for People who don't know what the F**k they're doing! – Lough Tay (Kind of)

I finally lived up to the title of this series of blogs. I did not have a clue what I was doing on Lough Tay. The winds were reaching up to 65 km/h on level ground and we had 700m to climb. But we never made it that far. I wish I could tell you that something spooky happened or that we had a titanic battle with the elements but we simply got turned around and went down a different path.

A picture of a beautiful sight looking out at a beautiful sight #cheesy

This walk was apparently going to be easy and well signposted. The online reviews said that boardwalks brought you all the way up to the top and back again. After making our way to the starting point, we saw nothing ahead of us and boardwalks to our right. So we went right. There weren’t too many signs with the little yellow man to tell us where we were going but it seemed safe. That is, until we came to a viewpoint and tried to test out our new camera. We had to hunker down beside some tiny bushes and pray we wouldn’t get blown back down the boardwalks from whence we came!
We persevered, however, and continued to go down the wrong path, unbeknownst to us of course. We made our way down through a man made path in the forest, trees lined like soldiers on each side. It was ethereal. We came down onto a road, which wasn’t the safest for pedestrians given how narrow it was. We decided to go back to where we started. At this point, the wind was picking up, smacking the zipper to my jacket off my cheek anytime I turned my head. My hat flew off once or twice and even eating a banana in gale force winds was a dangerous activity. We had spent an hour going in the wrong direction and our moods seemed to be going down too. Not that we were sour or annoyed or anything. I think that we had had enough of Lough Tay for one afternoon.

Stairway to Heaven, if Heaven has cheek-slapping winds

K is a firm believer of the saying, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ She is making a believer out of me also. As we came back to the start, she stopped, turned to me and pointed at something behind her. A little yellow man with a walking stick engraved in a wooden post, right beside a growth of grass sticking out from the bushes.
“Did you see him when we turned right?” she asked, half-laughing.
“Oh my God!” came my reply, letting the laughs come out.
Everything happens for a reason and for some reason we weren’t meant to be on that walk with winds threatening to blow us down to lie with the sheep for the night.

I was in a fouler mood than K. It wasn’t the fact that we had gone wrong on the trail. I didn’t see it as a waste. We always enjoy our time and walks together. We still got to test out our new camera and we got a bit of exercise in while doing so. The reason I was in a foul mood was that while standing outside the car in the clearing, looking down on Guinness lake (so named because the water is so dark and the white strand of beach makes it look like a massive pint of Guinness) a bus full of tourists pulled up. People speaking languages from all over the European Union spilled out. Several rental cars passed us as we made our way to the beginning of the walk. A fleet of souped up English reg sports cars flew by on a narrow bridge. As we deliberated whether to go straight or turn right for the boardwalk, an American family were readying themselves for their hike.
I don’t want anybody to get the wrong impression of me. I love Ireland. I love the fact that Ireland and her natural beauty attract millions of visitors every year from all over the globe. But right now, Ireland is for the Irish. Ireland is for everyone who lives here, no matter the nationality, race or creed. Everybody who lives in Ireland is Irish in my book. Ireland is for her people during this pandemic. It is not for people from Spain, U.S.A, England or any other country who are still trying to get their holidays in in the midst of a worldwide plague. How selfish do you have to be?
I have stayed within the walls of my apartment, barely seeing my family for the last three to four months and wearing a mask when I go into shops so that I can protect myself and those most at risk from contacting the disease. It was an absolute kick to the teeth to see all of these holidaymakers just carrying on as if Ireland had not just come out of quarantine. Whatever about the people milling about on Dame Lane, but these people had traveled internationally to get here. I had heard stories of Americans flying to Belfast, renting cars and then traveling to their county of choice in the Republic. If it is that hard for you to do then you shouldn’t be doing it.

Go home!

I know that if cases are going to go up in the next few weeks then it is most likely down to the confusing ease of restrictions we have just received from our government. It may be down to people mingling with their friends that they haven’t seen in months, brushing shoulders with other socially starved groups. In my mind, though, I will not forgive these tourists for putting our country at risk once again and giving the two finger salute to our front line workers that have risked and sacrificed everything so that we could all be safe.


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