Dingle: Stone Walls and Bog Roads

This guest post is from Irish author Felicity Hayes-McCoy author of The House on an Irish Hillside.

Dingle: Stone Walls and Bog Roads photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Traditional buildings were hand-built from field stones, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

When the sun shines in Ireland you grab the day with both hands and go out and enjoy it. After a week of misty days and chilly nights there’s plenty to do today in the garden. But Santa Fé Traveler’s invitation beckons, so I take my camera and wander down the hill.

Dingle country road Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Mud gets churned up by passing cows, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Living in a place as beautiful as Corca Dhuibhne – Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula – it’s easy to take your surroundings for granted. But today, under a radiant sky, the particular elements that combine to define this south western corner of Ireland leap out and beg for my attention.

Dingle Dingle bog roads photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

A bog road leading to the mountains, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

The moment I step outside my door I’m struck by the contrast between the lush, greenery around me and the stony field walls and buildings it enfolds. In winter the foliage here melts away in rain and frost, leaving grey stone, pale fields and purple heather. But today the stone’s alive with growing things; curling ferns, long grasses and tiny flowers.

Dingle stone wall photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Some walls are rough and ready, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Wherever you go on the Dingle peninsula, your world is crisscrossed by little roads. In the Irish language these winding ways between tall hedges and ditches are called bóthairíní. In English they’re called ‘boreens’. On a day like today they lure you off the tarred roads made for cars and farm vehicles and draw you down between fields of grazing cattle. The growth on either side of you is so high that you seldom see the cows and their calves or the curly-headed bullocks. But you hear the steady munching of grass and the shifting of heavy hooves in the damp earth. They breathe and feed all around you and you know they’re there, part of this fertile landscape as they have been for centuries.

Dingle stone walls photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Some are shaped to be strong and shed water, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

In Irish the word for ‘cow’ is . The word for ‘road’ is bóthar, which literally means ‘a cow way’. And bóthairíní means ‘little cow ways.’ Crossed by gurgling streams, and paved here and there with little stones thrown down from horse-drawn carts to make the way less boggy, they beckon you upwards towards the blue, misty mountains .On a day like today, with the wind in my face and the sun on my back, I could follow them forever.

Dingle stone wall covered by foliage photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

In summer stone walls get lost under flowers and ferns, photo Felicity Hayes-McCoy

©Felicity Hayes-McCoy May 2012

Bio: Felicity Hayes-McCoy is a professional writer working in print, broadcast and digital media. Born in Dublin, Ireland, she lives and works in a stone cottage in Corca Dhuibhne, Ireland’s Dingle peninsula, and in a inner-city, former factory building in London.  She blogs about life in both places on her website.  Her memoir The House on an Irish Hillside will be published by Hodder & Stoughton UK, and Hachette Ireland on June 7th 2012. You can check it out on Facebook.

Read Dingle: down a quiet country lane inspired by Felicity’s meanderings.

Get the book here:

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7 Responses to “Dingle: Stone Walls and Bog Roads”

  1. Payje
    June 7, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    This is a BEAUTIFUL post! Congratulations Felicity on your book, if it’s anything like this post for Santa Fe Travelers, I’m sure it will be a great success! Billie and Steve, I can see why Dingle is your favorite place, it’s gorgeous! Is it just coincidence that your favorite place in Ireland is the SOUTHWEST?? Haha.
    Payje recently posted..British Columbian mountain ranges at nightMy Profile

    • Felicity Hayes-McCoy
      June 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Hi Payje, so glad you like the blog post. The book was a joy to write and it’s had wonderful advance response so far. Thanks, in part, to lovely hospitable host blogs like Billie and Steve’s which have allowed me to find new friends and readers in the US. So now I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that the kind comments I’ve had on my blog posts will be matched by book reader reviews on Amazon!

      • Billie Frank
        June 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

        It’s a pleasure to host that wonderful post about one of our favorite places on earth. I hope the book is a smashing success.

        • felicity hayes-mccoy
          June 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

          Thanks Billie. We had a wonderful UK launch at The Irish Cultural Centre in London which opened Irish Writers’ Month London 2012 and was attended by the Irish Arts Minister. And some lovely reviews on Amazon from American readers since publication. Now I’m about to fly back to Ireland for the ‘real’ launch in Ballyferriter next Friday. There’ll be a week or so of publicity things happening (must get the windows cleaned before the tv folks arrive)and then I’ll be able to walk the bog roads again in blessed silence!

          http://www.facebook.com/TheHouseOnAnIrishHillsideByFelicityHayesMcCoy#

    • Billie Frank
      June 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      I really want to read the book. It’s such a wonderful area. We have a Dingle post coming next week inspired by Felicity’s. Stay tuned.

  2. Dave Fallon
    September 17, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    Lovely post. Very well written. I’ve been to many parts of Ireland. Dingle is still on my to-do list. Your article reinforces my belief that it’s a magical part of the country.

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