Dingle Penninsula Loop
Trip Start May 21, 2007
26Trip End Jun 01, 2007
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The town has a mascot, Fungie (FOON-ghee, with a hard g). He moved into the harbor in 1983, and loves to swim alongside tour boats.
Then came the best part of the vacation-- our self-guided tour of the Dingle Peninsula Loop. We missed a couple points in the beginning, such as Lord Ventry's Manor, due to confusion over how long it takes to drive one kilometer. Honestly, Elisa would have turned around had she had her way, but the rest of the tour made up for it! We got a look at the foggy Skellig Michael and Little Skellig... awesome. Drove past the pub owned by Irish Football legend Paidi O Se (Paddy O'Shea). Missed the blue cottage Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise lived in during the filming of Far and Away. We figured out where we were on the route when we came upon the beehive huts.
We got a great view of the Blasket Islands at Ceann Sleibhe (Slea Head). There's a big old crucifix at this curve of the road.
This is the area in which Ryan's Daughter was filmed, making the peninsula a tourist attraction and boosting Dingle's economy. On the road in this area is a plaque commemorating the 30th anniversary of this film. We then came across the area of road which collapsed into the sea a couple months back. Scary!
But then we came upon a burial ground belonging to the residents of the Blasket Islands, as they didn't have one-- or a church-- on the islands themselves. The simple lives of the people of the islands is fascinating. On a calm day it could take island farmers a half-hour to row across the harbor to the mainland of the peninsula, at which point they would dock, then haul their goods 12 miles into town.
We had picked up a picnic at SuperValue in town, and decided to find the amazing little beach we spotted from the road to eat it.
Back on the road we got a view of the island called the "Sleeping Giant," named for the shape resembling just that-- complete with a hand resting on a massive beer belly.
At a viewpoint along the way we were able to look up the hillside, the tops of which have remained untouched since the planting of 1845, which lead to the infamous famine that erased 3/4 of the population between starvation and emigration. There are faint vertical ridges of the mounds. Chilling.
Driving through Ballyferriter we saw a very real-looking "stone" cross, actually a fiberglass prop from Ryan's Daughter.
The scant remains of Mainistir Riaise (Reasc Monastery) are incredible. There is tar paper visible in the inner walls dividing the original stone (buried until 1975) from the excavators' reconstruction.
Next was Cill Mhaoilcheadair (the church of Kilmalkedar), which was the Norman center of worship.
We passed through rusted "kissing gate"
There is a battle going on in Dingle right now, over it's name of all things. The region is a Gaeltacht, meaning they recieve government subsidy to preserve Irish culture. Part of this culture is of course the Gaelic language, and a condition of this financial support is that all English names have been erased off of road signs, and it can be confusing driving toward Dingle if you don't know the signs will only say An Daingean (on DANG-un). The locals are none-too-happy about this, and you will often see "Dingle" stenciled onto the signs. Mischievous residents, we applaud you!
I bring this up now because heading back into town there is a sign that reads "Tog Bog E," meaning "take it easy." Josh had a ball with that one for a long fifteen minutes. Then we were back in Dingle.
The couple at the B&B helped Josh make difficult dinner reservations (at first the restaurant said no, but then squeezed us in), then we headed to McCarthy's Pub for an appetizer of Guinness.
And then it was off to the best part of our entire vacation: dinner at Out Of The Blue. We almost missed our reservation by taking the longest possible route there, practically walking out of town in the loop we took. But we made it. And thank God we did! It is literally across the street from the harbor, where the fishing boats dock and drop off their goods every day. The restaurant doesn't have a printed menu, they have a chalkboard; this is due to the fact that the menu changes daily depending on what the boats have brought in. If there's a storm and the ships don't go out, OOTB doesn't open. No chips, nothing fried. A sign inside tells you that whatever you order is either fresh or alive. We had incredible mussels, which Elisa has been craving since we visited Tim in Philly a few years back. The sea bass was served whole with everything but the brain, and the scallops included their feet, which we'd never had. Presentation and sides, perfect. Plus we had a bottle of wonderful wine, which hit the spot as we haven't had it for awhile. Best meal EVER! If you're thinking that this is a ridiculously long paragraph about dinner, keep in mind that it is written by Elisa, who is a big fatty fat fat. And the food really was that amazing.
After dinner We went to O'Flaherty's,
Then we hit the Dingle Pub, with live shanty music! It was so great!