West Cork was beautiful--wild, remote, punctuated with high hedges and crumbling buildings. Castles destroyed by Oliver Cromwell? Or just Big Houses that had fallen into ruin? We had no idea. We had no context for what we saw; we just drove and stared.
I wanted to go to Mallow, because of the old song--"The Rakes of Mallow." But first we got lost, due almost entirely to my pathological need to go on smaller and smaller roads. We ended up driving along a narrow country lane, with no idea if we were going north or south, the road twisted so much between the fields. A woman walked briskly up the road, out for her afternoon constitutional, and I pulled over.
Is this the road to Mallow? I asked.
She squinted at me in the sunlight and said, Well, maybe it 'tis and maybe it 'tisn't. But it's a glorious day to be lost. And she gave us a broad smile and walked on.
It was indeed the road to Mallow, but once there we got caught in Friday evening congestion and idled in traffic for a long time. We both agreed to keep going, and headed south. We ended up, quite by chance, in Dripsey, a village about halfway between Macroom and Cork.
We found a B&B, dropped off our bags, and went back out to the pub, The Weigh Inn. There were two young girls there, an Irish girl with rosy cheeks and a red ribbon around her neck, and her English cousin, who was visiting. They were the same age, but the English girl looked more worldly. She wore earrings, and her smile, when I took her picture, was polite and restrained, while the Irish girl's smile was broad and happy.
We stayed to the very end and then swept out with the laughing, chattering locals into the starry April night. The windshield was frosty, the car seat was cold, and once we got going on those steep dark curvy roads the headlights blinked out. We were able to gerryrig something--I had to hold the lightswitch on with one hand, and drive with the other, which meant it was impossible to also shift gears. But we were in no hurry to get back. No hurry at all. I got the car in second gear and we coasted slowly down the steep dark roads, our headlights blinking on and blinking off.