The howling gale clattered rain against windscreen. The sky was black. Brutal rocks lined the edge of the narrow road—little more than a scratch in the Co. Kerry landscape.
Ann (my wife) and I were living in Dublin at the time, having recently returned from the US. We'd come to Co. Kerry so I could spend a few days taking photographs. It's a place I'd visited many times, but it can feel isolated and intimidating to the newcomer. Especially the west coast of Kerry, which can be forbidding at times.
The night we drove down, there was a storm and the sky was heavily overcast. We couldn't see a thing, other than what was in the high beam of the headlights.
Our route took us through the Gap of Dunloe—a winding, narrow road in a remote part of Kerry. A breathtaking place, when you can actually see it. Sinister, when you can't and the world is raging outside the car.
Ann was very quiet as I drove us deeper and deeper into the alien night.
Eventually, she turned to me and said, "Is this where you murder me and dump my body?"
Eventually, we arrived at our B&B in the Black Valley. Relief.
The next morning, I got up early to photograph the sunrise. The daylight revealed a magical place. I spent a happy hour or so taking pictures before heading back to the B&B.
I hopped in the shower, while Ann went down to breakfast.
The old lady who ran the B&B got Ann settled at a table and asked her right to her face, "Are you having conflicts?"
Ann was speechless.
1) That was a pretty big assumption to make just because I hadn't come down to breakfast with her.
2) What an absolute cheek!
The old lady thought Ann hadn't heard her, or was simple or something. "Are you having conflicts?" she repeated in her thick Kerry accent.
Ann's brain caught up. Cornflakes! The lady was asking whether she wanted cornflakes!
And that was our introduction to the Black Valley.
A couple of years after that trip, we moved to a remote part of Co. Cork. Except, it doesn't feel remote. It feels like home. We've embraced rural Ireland. And it has embraced us.