Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar

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.

Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (3)
The Green Road stretches across the hillside and typical Burren limestone landscape.
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (27)
There she goes!


Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (23)
My usual view when I raise my head after taking photographing flowers.

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.

Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (33)
Rounding Black Head to the view to the north
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (37)
Gleninagh Castle on the north coast of Co. Clare.
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (49)
After a short steep climb we were high on Black Head
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (50)
with its stretches of limestone
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (41)
and view across the sea to the Martello Tower at Furbo
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (58)
Beginning the descent towards Ballyvaughan
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (61)
with views down to the fertile valley
Fanore to Ballyvaughan views (67)
but, on reaching the road, that sinking feeling when we realised we still had 8Km to walk to get to Ballyvaughan. 

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.

The way that we went! 

8 thoughts on “Gioraíonn Beirt Bóthar

  1. A lovely walk indeed, though I tend to stay at Rockyview Farmhouse, an easy 100ms from the start of the green road, highly recommended! I especially like the stretch along the top reaches of the Rathborney River, where it stays on the surface of the limestone, but disappears further down leaving a stony bed. I always think around Black Head of the road in famine times, and try to imagine – impossible – how it would have seemed when cold, wet, starving, barefoot no doubt, heading to the workhouse in Ballyvaughan if your body held out. It certainly tested your new hip. Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

      1. On your route map, as you turned right off the Black Head path, inbetween Cappanawalla and Gleninagh Mountains, you (after a good climb!) get back onto tarmac in the valley of the Rathborney River – a wee stream in fields to start with, which the farmer had partially ruined by deepening and dredging the river bed to improve drainage from a very rushy field. Great water plants there, recovering slowly. The river then flows down the side of the road, keeping you in good company if on your own as all streams do, but disappears at some point. I remember one summer with the kids when young we found it flowing well. Went back the next day it was dry! The top reaches though always flow. Lovely. Easier walk for my 2 usual companions, not too steep, no rough stones, very quiet road.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s