Finn McCool’s seat on the Goats Path
The seat in the picture above, was crafted by Cork Sculptor Ken Thompson and unveiled at the official opening of the Sheeps Head Way in 1996 by The President of Ireland at the time Mary Robinson. Ken Thompson also created the Air India Monument at Ahakista. The words were chosen from the poem ” The Peninsula” by Seamus Heaney
When you have nothing more to say, just driveSeamus Heaney
For a day all around the peninsula,
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks, so you will not arrive
But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
And you’re in the dark again. Now recall
The glazed foreshore and silhoutted log.
That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
The leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
Islands riding themselves out into the fog.
And then drive back home, still with nothing to say
Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
By this; things founded clean on their own shapes
Water and ground in their extremity.
The Sheep’s Head Way is indebted to the late Tom Whitty, a founder member of the Sheep’s Head Way, born in Philadelphia, settled on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in the 1980’s with his wife Suzanne and family. Tom was inspired by Jim Leonard, a life-long walker and mountaineer who recognised the value of the Sheep’s Head peninsula for outdoor recreation. Tom joined a small local walking group and saw at first hand how the area held the potential to become a world-class walking destination. The idea of the Sheep’s Head Way was ‘born’.
From Idea to Reality: A Community Effort
A local committee was then formed, under the guidance of Tom and of James O’Mahony, a local farmer. Due to the trojan work of this committee, now the Sheep’s Head Way Ltd., the walk was researched and developed and put in place within 18 months.
In July 1996, Mary Robinson – then President of Ireland – officially opened the walk. The route went on to gain an “All Ireland Award” for development and quality techniques.
Unfortunately, Tom’s accidental death in July 1998 robbed the Sheep’s Head community of an inspiring community leader. Tom’s academic skills and his humanity, his interest in the future development of the Sheep’s Head peninsula, and his commitment made him unique. His contribution to the peninsula will always be remembered and his work is commemorated at the’Atha Thomais’ memorial at Gorteanish, Ahakista.