Today we are wandering our way to the west of Ireland, specifically the Dingle Peninsula.
In the southwest of Ireland there are 5 peninsulas, kind of like fingers, that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Dingle is the farthest north and is just north of its more famous neighbor, the Iveragh Peninsula, or the Ring of Kerry. While the Dingle Peninsula is still touristed, it is not nearly as busy as the Ring of Kerry. There is something magical about this wild part of Ireland. I was fortunate enough to be there in late September as the tourist season was winding down. I still met other travelers, many from the US. But, it was mostly uncrowded here.
The town of Dingle is the best place to base yourself as it has a fair amount of hotels, B&B’s and guesthouses to choose from. I stayed at the Dingle Marina Lodge B&B which is right on the waterfront and relatively inexpensive. Rooms are basic and the breakfast is good. There are shops and restaurants along the harbor area and it’s a short walk to Main Street where you will find more places to spend your money. For dinner I highly recommend Half Door Restaurant. It’s small, quaint, and the food – think seafood – is incredible. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the waterfront.
Driving the Dingle Peninsula takes a good half day or more depending on how much you stop (A LOT!). Take your time. Don’t be in a rush. This is Ireland. Stop at a pub along the way. Get out of the car and walk for a while down a path that leads to … well, who knows, but maybe an ancient ring fort or a fabulous view of the Atlantic. I can guarantee you’ll want your camera. The loop is about 50km (31mi) and the road is narrow. But, the scenery is stunning. You can also choose to walk it if the spirit moves you. It can be done in a few days, staying at small B&B’s along the way. Or, you can simply walk part of it, arranging to be picked up at a certain point and driven back to the town of Dingle. This is Ireland, after all, and the locals are some of the friendliest folks on the planet.
Dingle is a Gaeltacht area so Irish is technically the first language spoken. And, you will hear it. But, English is of course, used widely. Being a Gaeltacht area means the Irish culture is very much alive and well. You can drop in at any of the many pubs in Dingle town and hear some traditional Irish music most nights. There are artisans here, as well, and there are an array of festivals.
From the Fahan Beehive Huts to Mount Brandon to Slea Head. From the roiling northern Atlantic pounding against the craggy cliffs to the wind whipping mist in your face. This is Ireland.