BY HOOK OR BY CROOK

We were on a mission to cover distance and distance again. So far so good, but ahead of us was the Hook Head, not the most fearful of headlands we paddled past so far, still it needed some caution.

The chart showed a tide race called Tower Race, and in my experience, if tiderace has a name, it needs to be approached with caution. We started our journey on Bunmahon beach, where we spent two nights. We were on the copper coast and this little village used to be big mining town with about 1500 people living here at some point. Hard to believe now, but the reminds of the mines could be seen on cliff tops. The coast was again spectacular, stacks and arches, if only the swell allowed us to explore. This time we were not alone on the sea, and actually met and exchanged few words with random kayakers, from Bristol, and local ones, too.

We passed the Metal Man statue on a headland just outside Newtown Cove at Tramore. Built in 1823 instead of a lighthouse, his right hand is pointing away warning passing ships to stay away from dangerous rocks.

We landed in the harbour of Dunmore East for tea-coffee, amazing lemon drizzle cake and to think of where to next. We had good wind behind us all day, but the forecast was showing force 5 at Hook Head. Some of us were reluctant to go. In the end after much sitting, thinking, and mulling things over, we decided to paddle across the bay to be closer to the Hook the following day. However, the landing places were a bit unsure, so we decided to pick one closest to the head hoping it would be sheltered enough to land that day and launch the following. Then we decided that we might as well see if we can go past the headland. Best decision ever!

As we approached the other side we could see that landing isn’t great, oh well, we had to paddle past the head, which actually looked better than expected. And that was great, as I really wanted to be done with it. The Hook lighthouse stood high overlooking our evening paddle. We decided to continue towards Baginbun Bay.

Baginbun Bay was the place where Normans landed in 1170, they chose wisely as it is very sheltered bay. And although I absolutely hate beach camping, it was one of the nicest beaches we’ve seen so far.

Sadly we didn’t really have time to make the most of this beautiful place, and while some people enjoyed a swim late in the evening, we were heading to bed, as we decided to get up in the dark and be on the water before sunrise. And no, it wasn’t because we wanted to embrace the whole ‘see sunrise on the beach’ idea, we wanted to make progress before the wind picked up later that day.

We had an offer to visit our friend’s cousin in Kilmore Quay, and with forecast promising another non paddling day the following day we were keen to make it.

Little did we know this leg was turning into a small journey throughout history. We passed the world’s oldest lighthouse built some 800 years ago. We landed where the Normans did. We rounded headland which stood at the origin of the “by any means” phrase. There are many theories of its origin, but I obviously like the one acclaimed to be made by Oliver Cromwell to take Waterford by Hook, on the Wexford side of Waterford Estuary, or by Crook, a village on the Waterford side in mid seventeen century.

We had no idea then that the family we were to stay with, Anna, Jim and Jack were from Butlerstown Castle. Their family came to live in the area when they had to leave England after being on the wrong side during the Civil War.

And that’s how we came to stay at the castle for two nights. I have seen many Tower Houses around the coast of Ireland, but this one I could actually visit.

We had good rest among woodlands and flowers, the furthest inland we ever got to. Our boats stayed on the beach in Kilmore Quay, as always, we believed that people are good. They were, even in Kilmore Quay, and the person, who went through our front hatches didn’t take anything more than my half empty bottle of whiskey.

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