As I said yesterday, we left Kinsale in fairly short order and with a twinge of regret. Nevertheless – onward! Our destination is the very popular Dingle peninsula, home to all manner of touristy delights. We arrive in the town of Dingle, where we shall stay for two nights, and check in to the most commercial B&B we’ll see all trip: Heaton’s. This isn’t a bad thing, just noticeable. The dining room is spacious and contains a dozen or so tables, and the place can probably accommodate 50 people or so. Still it is laid out like an overgrown B&B and thus shall I think of it. Lunch that day is at a fairly commercial restaurant with laminated menus and quickly-produced food. Dingle sees a lot of tourist traffic and has the infrastructure to prove it – the quaint seaside town is only found after peeling back a layer of multi-lane roads, parking meters (!!) and, well, laminated menus.
I kid about the food, but it wasn’t actually fast food; it was pretty good and we ate there again the next day. For one thing, they had cold Bulmer’s, a hard cider that my blushing bride had by then developed a fondness for. It is not to be confused with Strongbow, which a tour guide in Dublin would later tell us was “unadulterated piss.” I’m not sure which one leans where, but I got the feeling that even the ciders had fallen into line along the Catholic-Protestant border. Thank God for the Good Friday Agreement.
After eating and settling in, we make for the Slea Head Drive, which is a route that takes you all along the peninsula, including a fort right at the edge of a cliff and some of the oldest human domiciles; all that plus a 1000 year old chapel. The Slea Head Drive is a favorite of bus tours full of 3rd generation Irish immigrants in search of their roots. Phaw! We laugh at bus tours. Americans are rugged individualists who take challenges head on… provided they are prudent in their risk management & allocation beforehand. This message has been brought to you by Comprehensive Auto Rental Insurance. Comprehensive Auto Rental Insurance: Your Best Friend in Ireland(c)(tm).
We set out counter-clockwise, which is not what is recommended. See above – phaw etc… actually the clockwise advice is probably sensible if only for the particular slant of the ever-present mountain hugging roads, which gives better views if you’re approaching clockwise. Still, a minor point. Our first stop is at Gallarus Oratory, your typical thousand-year-old chapel that remains completely waterproof through the cutting edge technology of stacking rocks on top of one another. It’s not “bone dry” inside but only because it has windows.
We moved on from the Gallarus Observatory and promptly got lost. Not LOST lost, like, we didn’t leave the Peninsula or anything; we just fell victim to the complete lack of signage that is a staple of Irish hospitality. (Seriously, though, Lisa was almost perfect at avoiding these kinds of hassles through sheer willpower, so it stands out that we had an issue at all.) We got back on track, eventually, and made for the Blasket Centre. Now this is a long and complicated story that would derail the blog if I went too far into it. The shorter version is that there was an antiquated community on two islands off the coast of Ireland called the Blaskets. As a humanitarian issue they were evacuated to the mainland in 1953, but this essentially destroyed the lineage of this unique sect. The Blasket Centre sits on the coast with a view of the islands themselves; it contains exhibits, testimonials, recreations, etc.. of these people. Not that they were martians or something, more like a slight evolutionary variation that nevertheless yielded some fascinating differences. Of particular note is the disproportionate number of published authors that the island produced. (More on that in a couple of days.) Anyway, that’s the short version. I was intrigued, Lisa was more tired, so we wandered a bit and then moved on.
Tomorrow, the second half of our trip around the Dingle Peninsula, including a nice old lady that skivs euros off tourists to look at the ancient ruins in her backyard.