Some of you, of a similar vintage to myself, may recall this title, “Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar”, from a school textbook used in the 1960s in Irish primary schools. The message of the story was that company made a journey shorter – literally, “two shorten the road” – and there is a great deal of truth in it. Company and a bit of chat can make time and journeys pass quickly but it is not always the case.
Mary and I had a recent walk in Co. Clare which tested the “Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar” lesson to its limits…any beyond!
We parked at Fanore Beach and walked a short distance on the road towards Ballyvaughan before turning off to join the green road (an unsurfaced road used to walk cattle across the hillside) which follows the contours of Black Head. A strolling pace would get one to the end of the green road in about an hour or slightly longer. However, there’s more to a walk than simply walking, for I love to admire the wildflowers along the way and to photograph them. This takes time, getting the right angle, the best light, composing the shot, perhaps lying on the ground and the subsequent struggle to gain the perpendicular afterwards. In the meantime, Mary will have strolled on and I will raise my head to see her in the distance and I increase the tempo of my stride to catch up with her again. She does, sometimes, wait but, whichever it is, waiting or not, progress is impeded by photography.
We reached the end of the green road, well behind the hour imagined for this stroll, and spotted a small signpost for “Ballyvaughan”. We knew of the route around and over Black Head to Ballyvaughan but had never previously thought of walking it. Then came those fateful words, “Why don’t we stroll on for a bit and see what it’s like!” To cut a long story short, we did just that and, though never planned, reached Ballyvaughan, 17 kilometres and several hours later.
We eventually reached Ballyvaughan and found a taxi to take us back to our parked car. We have since realised that we could have taken a turn on the road and gone back to the car via Fermoyle, the valley of the Caher River and the Khyber Pass – even calling in to Carl Wright’s garden at Caher Bridge, though he was away at the time – but we had set our sights on Ballyvaughan and were not to be turned.
Sometimes the “Gioraíonn beirt bóthar” lesson is better ignored for some journeys are enjoyed for being long.