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Ireland 2010 - Part 2

IRELAND | Tuesday, 7 September 2010 | Views [519]

The Dingle Peninsula is home to many treasures.  There is the town of Dingle itself with an active art community, a lively music scene, a dolphin making Dingle its home and, not to mention, all the pubs in this harbor side town.  Also on the peninsula is Inch Beach, the Sorth Pole Inn, bee hive huts, historical monuments, Gaelic culture, horse races, narrow lanes, Louis Mulcahy pottery, sheep, views, sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast, the Blasket Islands, and Mount Brandon to name a few.


The attraction that brought me to Dingle was the Dingle Way.  With limited time and an easy loop to walk, I decided on a 4 day walking tour taking me through the following places:

Dingle – Ventry – Dunquin – Ballyferriter - Dingle

Taking the bus from Killarney I arrived around noon time giving me the afternoon to walk around Dingle before enjoying a nice meal with a CouchSurfer, his housemate, and two other travelers.  We had the national dish I wanted to try, boiled cabbage and ham.   It was hardy and good and perfect for carbo loading for the next day’s hike.

 

Bright and early on August 5th I walked the local pathway into Dingle.  I passed the lighthouse, an old tower, looked for Fungie the dolphin in the water, and enjoyed watching the green hills change colors as the sun was climbing the sky. 

 

The walk was a long one but the scenery kept me going.  Not only did the scenery keep changing but so did the weather.   By the time I finished at 4:30pm in Dunquin, it was raining hard and it was cold.  I was happy to be staying at a hostel rather than pitching a tent somewhere.  The hostel has excellent views of the ocean and the Blasket Islands once the skies cleared.  The hostel was warm and well run.  I wanted to extend for another day but it was booked up.  On this leg of the walk you pass by the most western point of Europe at Dunmore Head.

 

Day 2 was a shorter walk to get to the next hostel allowing me some side trips and an extended two hour picnic at a sheltered spot on some cliffs at Dun an Oir.  The Black Cat hostel had a nice homey feel to it and it is on the small side with three bedrooms.  The couple running the hostel also runs the store downstairs and this store happened to be the most popular store among the two in town with the local high school kids attending an overnight camp on the edge of town.  The store had a run on Pringles and soda.

 

From the kitchen window upstairs, a German couple and I watched a neighbor and his sheep dog herd sheep into clusters until the rain started pouring.

 

Day 3 I lightened my load and did a big loop in the area wanting to see an early ecclesiastical site at Reask featuring a pillar stone inscribed with a Greek cross and pendant spiral designs, the Gallarus Oratory which is a 1000 year old dry-stone church built without mortar, and then to the Kilmalkedar Church housing early Christian monuments like the alphabet stone, a sundial and boasts a fine Romanesque doorway.  These stops took me inland and uphill.  The country side is quiet and scenic and with the sun coming out, I couldn’t think of a better place to be.  The walk back along the coast was also a special treat.  The kids here grow up playing in the surf in wetsuits and with more sheep and cows than kids, the beach had few beachgoers.  While the few kids were out enjoying the later afternoon waves, I sat mesmerized by the surf.

 

The last day was a short three hour walk along one of the few roads on the peninsula to get back to Dingle.  The roads can be a scary place to walk or bike because they are narrow and the hedgerows are high giving limited sight access.  Some locals drive extremely fast and there is no shoulder to escape to.  Extreme caution is required on these twisty roads no wider than three cows abreast.   It should be noted that the hedgerows in places are stunning because they are fuchsias giving a nice touch of red in an otherwise very verdant setting.

 

To cap off the rewarding walk, I met my sister and her boyfriend Willie for a hot and tasty meal at the marina restaurant.  The day kept getting better too because we had two more treats coming up.  The first was on the way home when we stopped off at the South Pole Inn for beers and an Irish coffee.  The reason why there is something related to the South Pole in Ireland is because of Tom Crean.  He was a former owner of the inn and was a stalwart of the Scott and Shackleton expeditions to Antarctic.  A famous picture of him has him with his pipe clenched in his teeth clutching an armful of puppies.

 

The last big event was the farewell dinner for the three of us at the Park restaurant located in the Killarney Park Hotel.   The hotel is five stars and the restaurant is elegant and stylish.  We had a table by the fire place and I was glad the fire was going because the evening was more fall like than summer.  The service was excellent and dining experience was superb.  We ate, we drank, we laughed, and we recalled the adventures we had over the last month.  While Ireland was not on my summer radar, it was a highlight.

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