Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Dingle Peninsula


Woke up to another windy cloudy day. While having breakfast, I did notice that there seemed to be a break in the clouds -- could it be? will there be sun?  A woman at breakfast said today "There's no bad weather, there's just bad clothes". Ain't that the truth!

Got some information from out hostess,Orla, about where to stop along Slea Head Drive or the Ring of Dingle. Checked the forecast and, if you were to believe it, there was some clearing between 10 and 2 when the rain starts again. Before we left, we asked Orla to make dinner reservations for us for Out of The Blue restaurant tonight. It is suppose to be the best place in town. With all that done, we headed out.

It was a mixture of sun and clouds - we'll take it! We were driving down the coast when I spotted a radio/cell/satellite tower half way up a mountain. "Look at that, they didn't put it on the top." We thought about that for a minute and said "This is far enough, we won't make it down to the pub if we go up any further!"

Our first stop was Dunbeg Fort. Not much left of it now. It was the views that were most impressive.
An ancient site, archaeological excavations have shown that the fort was primarily occupied between the 8th and 11th centuries AD, when it was defended by a series of ditches and earthen banks as well as a substantial stonewall (Barry 1981). These defensive features cut off a small, triangular peninsula, which is defined by sheer cliffs that fall steeply to the Atlantic below.  The interior of the fort contains the remains of a large stone-built house, as well as a souterrain (an underground passageway) and  it is likely that other structures once existed, but were lost during earlier storms and cliff collapses. Originally the fort was probably home to a local lord or noble.
Across the street is the Stonehouse Restaurant set near the famine cottages. A bit of irony here.
The Famine Cottages were built in the mid nineteenth century and originally housed the Long and then the Kavanagh family in Fán, Ventry County Kerry. The cottages were located on the lands of the Earl of Cork who was landlord for some of the lands in the area. The family lived in this house during one of the worst famines to strike Western Europe – The Great Irish Famine. Due to its remotenss and poverty West Kerry was one of the regions that suffered greatly during the Great Famine. 
Next were the beehive forts.
The collection of beehive houses at Fahan is said to be the most remarkable in Ireland.The date of the Fahan clochán is uncertain, since stone huts with this design have been built from Neolithic times to the twentieth century. Some of the earliest may have been built by hermit monks. However, it is thought that most of the clochán in this grouping dates to the twelfth century, when Norman invaders forced farmers from more prosperous areas to move to the marginal lands of the Dingle Peninsula.
Our next stop was the Great Blasket Center. A memorial to the people who survived on the island. They were a small community of 100. Eventually, the remaining 22 had to be evacuated.
They were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population, and today are part of the Gaeltacht. The inhabitants were forcefully evacuated by the government to the mainland on 17 November 1953. Many of the descendants currently live in Springfield, Massachusetts,and some former residents still live on the Dingle Peninsula, within sight of their former home.
A bit further down the coast was the setting for Ryan's Daughter, a TV show way back when. Yesterday we had lunch in the pub that held the press conference for the show. There was a great walk down to the beach. We thought it would be a good Jerry B. moment. Well, Jerry wanted no part of it! The first attempt,was the waves coming up on the rocks. Well the wind was blowing in the wrong direction and I wound up with him all over me! I was mortified. We then decided to get down on the beach, closer to the sand. No sooner did we get down there when a wave came and grabbed us! Shoes, socks, pants - all wet!  That was it. We got the message.

Back in the car, with the heater turned all the way up in the hopes of drying out, we kept traveling
along the coast. Stopped off where we spotted a bunch of other cars that had pulled off the road. Apparently, everyone was hiking up the big hill. We thought it might have been the Star Wars set but nobody seemed to know. The challenge was getting across the mud fields from the car up to the somewhat dry path that lead to the top. Well, if I was wet and salty before, now I was wet, salty, and muddy! At the top, the vista was stunning. The sun was still playing hide and seek, and the wind was howling. But it was gorgeous! Coming down seemed to be easier or we were more experienced.

Still weren't sure if that was the Star Wars set, until we spotted a sign further up. Popped into a pub and asked. "just turn left at the corner - the big open field is where they were". So we visited the big open field. This is the new Star Wars movie and is not out yet.

Time to get something to eat. Followed a road down to the sea. Another pub, another soup - this time French onion - very yummy. It was 2pm - it was raining! After lunch, we charted a course back to the b&b. Got in around 3.

For anyone deciding whether to do the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula, I would choose Dingle. There is a better vantage point for the views and there is so much more to see and do. There were several trails that we would have liked to have done had the weather been better. Even so, we found it much more user friendly that the Ring of Kerry. Of course, if you can do both, go for it!

Dinner reservations are for 6:30. We got into town around 6 and walked around. Went into the Music Store and inquired about their concert tonight. We were hoping to go there after dinner. Apparently, they were all filled up with a Rick Steves tour. Well, say no more, we were out of there. The sun was out so I took some town shots until it was time for dinner.

We were very excited out going to Out of the Blue, since we heard so much about it. It turned out to be a French restaurant and all in all the fish was not that good. We tried the local oysters. Very different than what we have back home, still very good. The main dinner fish, however, was pretty tasteless and Geoff thinks his was not even fresh. The vegetables were amazing and the wine was also very good. In the end, we expressed our concern to the waitress and they manager took the wine off the bill. Very nice of them.

From there we headed down the street to one of the local pubs ordered some dessert and I had an Irish coffee. This place was jumping. It was great watching and listening to everyone.  Finished up and decided to head back to the b&b. The weather had turned and the wind was howling -- no walking the town tonight.

We head to the Cliffs of Mohr tomorrow but not sure where we will stay over. We'll see where we end up after that.


Next time... To The Cliffs of Mohr

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous... but also filled with wonderful memories of my visits there. Plus I didn't know about the immigrants from Blasket Island moving to Hungry Hill in Springfield which is THE Irish neighborhood, and is where my Dad grew up. Grandma & Grandpa lived there for the rest of their long lives. They were from Morleys Bridge, Kerry (Lynch) and Drinagh, Cork (Driscoll) not Blasket Island and they never knew Gaelic, but they may have known some of those immigrants.