Lovely Dingle and disorienting Listowel

Trip Start Sep 06, 2004
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Trip End Nov 23, 2004


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Wednesday, November 3, 2004

After another "full Irish" breakfast, I tried to find a tour, but apparently they had all shut down for the winter. So much for seeing the archaeological sights of the Dingle Peninsula! Even the bike rental places were closed. The next bus wasn't until early afternoon, so I decided to go for a walk out of town. I walked past a school (all schools have uniforms and most are only for one gender) and up a hill past the last of the houses. The weather was warm and sunny and the views gorgeous...Dingle town, the surrounding mountains, and the misty mountains of the next peninsula over--the Iveragh (EEVeraw) Peninsula in County Kerry. That's the location of the famous Ring of Kerry, a circular road from Killarney town. I would be there soon enough, but Listowel was first. Anyway, with the misty mountains and more tower ruins, I could almost believe in anything. Especially the mountains of Kerry, which looked like an unreachable fairyland populated by elves in cities of delicate blue buildings. Another story setting filed away in my messy brain. Finally I was having story ideas again!

Thoroughly content, I retraced my route back into town and found the library for some free Internet. There I discovered another e-mail from the travel editor: No rush, but your angle sounds like exactly what we're looking for! Bliss! A "sign" that I would indeed be appreciated more back in Canada, and hope that my "real" career would at once start to take off, making my return something to look forward to rather than dread.

By the time I caught the bus, the sun had vanished (of course--a whole sunny day is rare). Ireland is unbelievably luminous in sunlight, but still evocative in cloud. Especially the Dingle Peninsula. We drove past fields backed by dark mountains engulfed in cloud; past an impassable netherland of bog with unreachable mountains on the other side (this is me dramatizing for story settings again); past mossy nooks and peaceful little creeks; past hilltop forts of the ancestors (see above); past a big mountain that was almost featureless, an olive/rust colour; through intense golden light alternating with cloud; and past a sign reading cheekily "You've missed Ashe's Bar and Restaurant." That's Ireland for you!

That was all just on the Dingle Peninsula, between Dingle and Tralee. At Tralee I spent a cold half-hour at the bus station, reading the Kerryman county paper. The town I was going to, Listowel (population 3600), used to have 50 pubs (!), and now people are worried because the number has gone down to 36 due to the smoking ban in effect since March. Hmmmm. On the way from Tralee to Listowel, it started getting dark. I dislike arriving in a town after dark because I find it disorienting--especially with Irish street lights that are so dim. The B&B's recommended in my guidebook were full (why??) so I ended up in a hostel that was quite empty, grungy, and above a very quiet pub. It would have been "dodgy" if the town weren't so small. But my guidebook recommended it--maybe it was the only one in town.

As I was checking in, I.C.E. phoned (in Ireland, call=visit and ring=call) with a month-long job at a university library. I had mixed feelings but gave the go-ahead for them to send my CV. For one thing, if I have to go back to Galway for an interview, I'll lose several days in an already tight itinerary and at least $100 in travel costs (that is, if I don't get the job). For another thing, I have to rebook my flight very soon. (The demand for London to Toronto at this time of year is pretty low, so I'm not worried about it not being booked yet, but I don't want to wait much longer.) For a third thing, after I decided last week that I had no choice but to come home, I sort of convinced myself that it would be better anyway. I can't hold out in limbo any longer, even while I'm travelling and seeing the country. I have to know, on an emotional level, whether I'm going to come home in a few weeks or not! So I have to talk to the temp agency about that.

Had supper at an Indian restaurant where I was the only patron (though others came in for "take-away"). The proprietor barely spoke English, or at least he was used to the strong Kerry accent but not the "normal" Canadian accent. Had chicken tikka masala--judging from magazines, it's very popular here although not terribly healthy.

All in all, it was a disorienting evening, and I went to bed early.
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