Where We Be
|Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
We budgeted a whole day to explore the Dingle
Peninsula on Ireland's southwest coast. It's
billed as a quieter alternative to the Ring of
Kerry, and while it's still got plenty of tourists of
its own, it does offer a relatively serene escape
and a chance to explore some of Ireland's most
rugged natural beauty. A narrow road winds its
way along the coast, offering outstanding views.
You'll see craggy cliffs, sandy beaches -- Inch
Beach being especially pretty -- mountains and
rolling hills, and Celtic archaeological wonders
sprinkled here and there. Stretching some 30
miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the peninsula is a
good size to see in a day's worth of driving.
Our favorite stop of the day was also our last:
Gallarus Oratory (€3). Built in the 7th or 8th
century, it resembles an inverted boat from the
side...or perhaps a Hershey's Kiss from the
front. Built without mortar, it's pretty impressive
that it's still standing intact after 1,300 years.
|Amazingly, this small chapel known as Gallarus Oratory has never been restored,
simply because it has never needed it -- even after 1,300 years of Atlantic weather
|We continued driving along Slea Head Drive, the peninsula's
loop road, popping in and out of the car frequently for scenic views
|Even on a misty day the beauty of the peninsula is undeniable
|We liked seeing these dry stone walls which
serve as movable pens for sheep and cattle
|Pulloffs like this offer the chance to get out
of the car and enjoy the scenery for awhile
|Eventually we came to this lovely beach set amid rugged surroundings. It was
half-raining again but a few youngsters were still swimming despite the weather.
|You can see how narrow the road is in places -- technically
it's for two-way traffic but you sometimes have to take turns
|Gallarus Oratory is near the end of a clockwise loop drive.
This view shows how it's shaped like an inverted boat.
|We stayed at the Hideout Hostel in Dingle and had
a chance to explore the cute little town before dinner
|Dingle is the only town on the entire Dingle Peninsula
|Next morning, during the drive from Dingle to the Ring of Kerry, we passed
the lovely Lispole Viaduct, once part of a railway line for steam trains
|Our final sight on the Dingle peninsula was also one of the best: Inch Beach.
Kind of a funny name for such a dramatically long and wide beach.
|This was our view for the next fifteen minutes or so. Rain is pretty much the
norm on the Dingle Peninsula -- even more so than in the rest of Ireland.
|The fort offered great ocean views -- but we didn’t get to appreciate them for long. It started
to rain and we had to race back up the hill since we (foolishly) left our rain gear in the car.
|We continued a short distance up the road to Dunberg Fort. Here we paid €3
each to see the remains of a promontory fort with drystone masonry from 500 BC.
|Truthfully, it wasn't much to look at -- basically
a mound of dirt with a circular ditch around it
|Feeding the young 'uns was especially fun. We also saw
the remains of a ring fort (also known as a lios or fairy fort).
|Our first stop on the Dingle loop road turned out to be a bit of a
tourist trap, but we still had fun since it involved feeding sheep
|We didn't quite have a whole day on the Dingle Peninsula because we had to get there
first from Adare. But as you can see, the drive was pretty -- we love these hedge tunnels.
|We paused in Askeaton where we saw a castle dating from 1199. Abandoned to the English
in 1580, its walls were blown up by the fleeing defenders. Posted nearby was an amusing sign
about restoration work beginning in 2240 AD. The Irish sense of humor is alive and well!
|We reached the Dingle Peninsula and paused for a picnic
lunch with a pleasant view before tackling Conor Pass
|The road to Conor Pass was disconcertingly narrow for a supposedly two-way road but we made it. We
stopped to enjoy the rugged mountain views near the top. This could be Colorado instead of Ireland.
|From Conor Pass you get fine lake views from on high
|A marker stone with encircled cross
is located next to Gallarus Oratory
|The ceiling stones are so carefully laid that it
stays dry inside the oratory despite the rain
|This is a contract stone -- you make a deal with
someone and touch thumbs through the hole!