Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ireland: Dingle Peninsula

Tags: #travel, #ireland
Other Posts: NewgrangeRock of Cashel

The colorful boats and buildings of Dingle Ireland
The Dingle Peninsula in southwestern Ireland is a stark place where an unforgiving sea meets an unforgiving land. When the English ruled Ireland, they banished the locals to this zone of harsh and magnificent contrasts. Through tenacity and grit they managed to eke out a living by laboriously dragging sand and seaweed up onto the barren hillsides until they could at least farm the nefarious potato.

Sheep along the coast of Dingle Bay
Dingle coast
In April of 2005, I took my father to Ireland and we stayed in Dingle and drove its narrow byways. I don’t know who was more frightened, my father in the passenger seat or I in the drivers. My side of the very narrow road was bordered by the ubiquitous stone walls while on my father’s side there was the ever present trucks that have invaded this narrow world where traditional Ireland still reigns. A lot of screaming went on in our little car as each of us looked out our respective windows at imminent death.

Rugged coastline
How green the hills
The town of Dingle is a pleasant fishing village, colorful, and friendly. There are pubs, decent restaurants, and lots of salt air to refresh the senses. It was also significantly warmer than Dublin for which I was immensely grateful. You would think someone so intimately familiar with layering as I would have packed better, but I left my down jacket at home. I was more worried about rain and so I dragged along a softshell instead. This was a mistake. I had forgotten how chilly a damp climate can be even when the mercury reads a moderate number.

Blasket Island in the sun
This reminiscence is the result of watching an episode of Rick Steve’s Europe. I opened up the folder on Ireland and started poking through the photographs. Too much time has passed and too little booking keeping has prevented me from labeling each of these with their precise location. Most were taken along at the far edge of R559 between Glanfahan and Dunquin. Hopefully, they will give you a general sense of the area. The island off shore is the Great Blasket Island. Even harsher than the mainland, the government forcibly removed the residents back in the 50s. You can take a boat out to see the ruins, but we did not do this.

Blasket Islands in clouds
As with most travel, it is impossible to see everything in a short 10-day vacation and I regret not exploring up the coast towards Gallway. My father is not a hiker, either, so I will just have to consider returning to the area so I can stroll over the verdant hills. The rocky trails of Colorado should adequately prepare me for the conditions! If the topography of western Ireland appeals to you, I would consider flying into Shannon and staying on that coast. There is much to see.

Here are some links to great travel guides to Ireland. Buy from Amazon and I will get a small commission.


Lindab said...

Stunning. I should imagine the Irish Tourist Board would buy these from you.

The B's - Mamma B said...

Your pictures are gorgeous!

We are planning a trip to Ireland summer of 2009, and now I'm thinking we'd better bring heavier clothes! Do you have any suggestions on packing for the weather?

We would love any suggestions on scenic drives you might have - Ring of Beara or Dingle Pennisula?