Monday, July 8, 2019

Eyeries County Cork: A Little Corner of Heaven

As I write, I gaze out the window at the beauty of Coulagh Bay. Its waters glisten in the late-morning light, framed by the Ring of Kerry to the north and Beara Peninsula's Mishkish Mountains to the south. 

Beyond, to the west, is Scarriff Island, rising like a magical whale, hiding the mysteries of the Skellig Islands from my view. Further west rests only the deep Atlantic, with Nova Scotia and Labrador the next stop. 

The view is captivating. Here, I have found peace within solitude. Here I have made fast friends. Here, I have finally learned what rural Ireland is all about.

Escaping the Big Smoke

For  almost 30 years I lived and worked in the Dublin area. For almost 20 of that, I made the daily commute from Navan in County Meath to my place of work in Dublin. When visitors to my new home in Eyeries ask me about the Dublin area, thinking it still an enclave of restful business practices, I can't believe their ignorance.

"Certainly it is not as crazy as my place of work in Chicago," an American visitor will state categorically. "Dublin is part of Ireland, after all. And Ireland - well the whole country is so, so...backward, isn't  it? Surely, it must be more sane than any American big city."

Ah the silliness of such comments. So I work to set the facts straight. City life in any Irish big city is just as crazed, just as mad busy, just as stressful, as working in any other large US or European country. "It could take me up to four hours a day to get to work and home again," I explain. "The traffic was a curse. Road rage common. We'd shake fists at each other, cursing like a navvy, such was a commuter's life to Dublin."

I'd have to point out that Ireland has changed drastically since the day I immigrated here in June 1982. Back then, when first setting foot on Irish soil, I couldn't afford a car. I couldn't afford a phone. I couldn't afford many of the items I took for granted back in the States. Commuting to my place of work 20 minutes south of Navan was a matter of sticking my thumb out and praying for a lift from some generous automobile owner. 

Back then, I was not alone. Many of us living in Ireland couldn't afford such things. 

But then it all changed. As I've previously written, Ireland's economy blasted off like an Apollo rocket bound for the Moon. As pay increased and money poured into  previously bare bank  accounts, we all bought things: cars, houses, phones, computers... the list was endless. It all fell apart in the 2008 recession, of course. But once again Ireland's economy has  blasted off into the stratosphere. 

And once again, life in much of Ireland has gone mad with the business of making money. Irish people sacrifice their lives just as many do across the world, spending hours every day in the coffined life of their automobiles. They work hard, save hard, take care of children and elder parents, and otherwise do everything they can to make good and safe lives.

But of course, in the process they've lost something. Perhaps it's the lack of time to look at the beauty of the life around them. I know what that's like. For years, I lived a similar life. I lost my soul in the process.

However, I abandoned that  world almost 10 years ago. Instead I moved to Eyeries. And here, I have once again found my soul.

A Village of Tranquility

Eyeries (historically spelt Irees or Iries, from Irish: na hAoraĆ­) is a village and townland on the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, Ireland overlooking Coulagh Bay and the mouth of the Kenmare River in the south-west. It lies at the base of Maulin, which, at 2,044 feet (623 m), is the highest peak in the Slieve Miskish mountain range that forms part of the backbone of the peninsula. (

To say the village is isolated is to perhaps minimize its distant location from what many would define as civilized. 

Just over 60 souls live in the village. We are served by the friendly owners of only a few amenities: a restaurant. Two cafes.  Three shops. Two pubs (of  course). The Catholic Church. And that's about it.

Want to go shopping? If so, we  travel  four miles south to Castletownbere (the largest white fish deep water port around). If we want something a little more sophisticated than the Town SuperValu grocery store, we must travel to Kenmare, about 60k northwest. If we want a major shop, then it's to Killarney we go (an hour and 20 minutes from here), or Bantry (about an hour), or Cork City (just over two hours).  

I doubt Eyeries is for everyone. Many simply couldn't survive here because it does not have the 'amenities' most people take for granted. That said, I now know I'll never  live anywhere else. Why?  The beauty is staggering. And what matters in my world now rests either in my house, or right outside the  back door.

For instance: yesterday I decided I needed a break. I pulled on my hardy wet suit, climbed in the car, drove a mile south (yeah, I know. I should have walked) and went swimming at our local Strand. For a half hour I was surrounded by a world of wonder: jelly fish, pollack, mackerel. A few years ago I was joined by a local seal. 

Finished, I  stood on the shore and marveled at the life I now lead, and the miracle that had brought me here. No longer do I fight my way through traffic. No longer do I struggle to survive the rigors of a global economy. 

Instead, I breathe the solid sea air. I listen to the cry of seagulls. I watch  the sun setting, golden, beneath a far horizon.

And on those nights when I am especially lucky, I reach up to the glory of stars swimming in the sea above me; stars so close I think I might grasp a bunch in both hands.

Surely I am a lucky man  to have found this place. With any luck, I will stay here the rest of my life, my ashes finally scattered in Coulagh Bay, mixing with this tranquil bit of Ireland forevermore.

For more information on Eyeries, go to their website:

  Want to learn more? A Survivor's Guide to Ireland 2019 edition is Now Available.

     This travel memoir of about 80,000 words follows this erst-while American who has lived in Ireland since 1982. If you want to know more about what you can do to get a work permit, get a job, buy a house, and otherwise live and enjoy life like the Irish, I hope you'll have a look at A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Happy Trail - Tom 


  1. It sounds lovely to me. But I do wonder how 60 people are enough to support a restaurant, 2 cafes, 3 shops and 2 pubs. Are 60 just in the village proper and you have a couple dozen living on the outskirts? Your swim sounds delightful. I could happily root myself in such a place. NYC can be really exhausting.

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  5. Sounds lovely. You really need to come to the desert. But, come in winter. :)

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