After a comfortable evening at our bed and breakfast in Adare followed by a traditional Irish breakfast I wrestled our giant european travel bag (about twice the size of a normal suitcase), our other suitcase, and camcorder bag out to the Nissan Micra we had picked up at the airport.
I must confess here that Amy and I did not travel “light” on our first few trips overseas. In those days we carried everything we thought we might need and were apparently under the assumption that Ireland was some remote backwater outpost that wouldn’t be able to supply us with toiletries, spare batteries, and clothing for every season! We’ve come a long way since those days and recently spent a week in Barcelona with only two carry-on backpacks and my back will be forever grateful!
If you’ve still can’t picture a Nissan Micra, you will understand the humor in our luggage – vehicle predicament if you can picture a Toyota Yaris or a Yugo. Our giant european bag could not fit in the small trunk space and it just barely fit into the back seat area when we folded both seats forward. Once we had the luggage situated in the car, no easy feat, and our friends were loaded up we headed out west towards the Dingle Peninsula.
The Dingle Peninsula is a must see if you’re traveling down into the County Kerry region of Ireland. The peninsula juts out into the Atlantic with the Slieve Mish mountain range running down its spine separating the north shore from the south shore. All of the towns and villages on the peninsula are small and quaint including the largest which bears the same name as the peninsula itself. The western end of the peninsula (west of Dingle) is one of Ireland’s Gaeltacht regions meaning that Irish Gaelic is the predominant language spoken and all road signs are in Irish Gaelic. The peninsula is also home to many medieval an prehistoric archeological sites and in more modern times was the setting for the film Ryan’s Daughter, and a portion of the recent film Leap Year.
We had booked reservations at a bed and breakfast in the town of Dingle on the southern shore of the peninsula and had decided to get to it by taking the Connor Pass over the Slieve Mish mountains. The road up and over the pass was narrow and single lane in a few spots. There were campers/caravans coming down in the opposite direction so at times it was a harrowing experience especially when you noticed the occasional cross or other monument marking the place of prior travelers’ wrong turns. The views as we reached the top of the pass were worth the white knuckle driving though and it made the pint of Guinness at the other end all the more tasty!
We rolled into Dingle around lunch time and checked into our bed and breakfast after wrestling the luggage out of the Micra. This one was right in the downtown area so there was no need to worry about drinking and driving.
Amy and I waited outside on the street while we waited for our friends to freshen up before we headed out to explore the town on foot. As we stood there a man on a motorbike rode by and a pack of three small dogs burst out of an alleyway about 2 houses up and chased him down the road before coming back to the alley. One of the dogs stood near the entrance to the alley and had his head sticking out looking down the road. As a small car approached, the dog ducked his head back into the alley and then all three again rushed out and chased the car barking and making a big commotion. They returned to the alley and a lookout switched with one of the other dogs.
After Dan and Devon came down and we showed them the dog’s little game we headed down to the garishly painted An Droichead Beag (the small bridge) pub. Everyone sat down at a cozy table in the front window and I walked over to the bar and ordered a round. As I stood at the bar waiting for the Guinnesses to settle I had the unnerving feeling that I was being watched. I glanced to my right and realized that there was a man under five feet tall with flaming red hair and a tweed jacket standing there looking up at me. I said hello to him and struck up a conversation. After a few minutes I invited him over to say hello to everyone. I did this for two reasons, the first being that he was nice and said he could tell us where the best places to go for traditional Irish music were, and second because I had found a leprechaun! I know its cruel, but he really really did looked like a leprechaun.
We had seen a few rainbows since our arrival and now we had found our leprechaun … if only we had found that pot of gold!
Dingle turned out to be a great place to spend a few days on our trip and I wished we were able to spend more time there. There are interesting pubs everywhere including one called Dick Mack’s which was a small leather store by day and a pub by night. Now its just a pub but they left all of the old fixtures so it still has the feel of being in a pub and a leather/hardware store all at the same time. So the next time you’re on the west coast and you need to pick up some leather to patch a hole in your backpack head to Dick Macks its worth a visit.
Be careful though when asking the locals for directions though. When you ask “where is Dick Macks?” they will reply “across from the church” then when you ask “where’s the church” they’ll answer “across from Dick Macks.”
Stay tuned as we head out for an excursion on horseback and get hopelessly lost trying to find the Slea Head and then head off to kiss the famous Blarney stone!
We lost the majority of our Ireland pictures at some point between 2002 and today so we needed to rely on some images from Wikipedia to help give you an image of the places we mention.