Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dzogchen Beara and Allihies.

For years, Jon has been talking about a Buddhist retreat center in Ireland that he'd heard of, so of course we included it in our itinerary.  When we left Cork on Tuesday, we headed for the village of Castletownbere, on the Beara Penninsula, in the southwest corner of Ireland.

Castletownbere is a working fishing village (with a very pretty main street, lined with pubs and shops) and the Dzogchen Beara center is located about five miles away.  We had two nights booked in a B&B and we treated ourselves to a nice dinner out, to celebrate surviving the harrowing drive.

Wednesday morning, we dropped all our dirty clothes at the laundry service in the village and headed for Dzogchen Beara. It was stunning!  The buildings are situated on a hill, high over the Atlantic.  I was expecting something rocky and forbidding, but the grounds are made of a series of beautiful gardens with intensely colorful flowers. The loud humming of bees was the overpowering sound here.  We visited the meditation rooms and gardens, and  wandered down a path, where fat, friendly ponies grazed. It was so refreshing to be able to sit quietly in such a peaceful and beautiful place.

We left Dzogchen Beara and headed for Allihies, about nine km further west. This is a pretty little village that appeared to be deserted.  There wasn't a soul around.  It was as if the entire village had gone off to attend a wake.  

We walked through the village and up a path that led to an old, abandoned copper mine, high up in the hills.  We hiked all the way up to the mine, enjoying the breathtaking views along the way.  The mine itself was fenced off--they don't want people (or sheep) falling into the abandoned mine shafts--but you could see deeply blue-stained rocks, which I think were the copper.  We were told that the beach, which we didn't visit, has sand made of copper.
Approaching the mine

We walked back down to the village and had an excellent lunch at the Copper Mines Museum Cafe.  Then we headed back to Dzogchen Beara to attend their 3:00 pm mediation class.

View from the hike

Dzogchen Beara

As I write now, it is Thursday morning, and we are about to leave Castletownbere and wander. We have no accommodations booked for the next two nights and we will stay wherever we happen to end up.  (Hopefully not in the car!)  


  1. These look like the ponies that wear sweaters!

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  3. Your comment about the bees reminded me of Yeats's "bee-loud" glade in one of his poems.

  4. You discovered a lovely village, and I like those ponies.

  5. Looks beautiful and sounds incredibly peaceful.

  6. It looks peaceful and charming and invigorating at the same time.