The Dingle Peninsula

The Rock of Cashel to Ross Castle
Killarney to Limerick

Today we explored the Dingle Peninsula, the most westerly point of Ireland, and in fact Europe. It was a fascinating drive from start to finish. Our first stop was at Inch Strand (where scenes from the film Ryan’s daughter were filmed – for those of you old enough to remember) …

… and then along the coast to a town called Dingle (An Daingean in Irish), a pretty fishing village with a sheltered harbour, and rows of brightly painted shops & cottages.

The whole area is ridiculously beautiful – picture postcard scenery around every bend. Dramatic coastlines, rolling green hills with their patchwork of hedgerows and stone fences, white-washed cottages – and lots of sheep.

It is also littered with important archaeological sites from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages. We visited the Iron age Dunbeg Fort from 500 BCE, perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff …

… a 1300-year-old stone church, the Gallarus Oratory, which has stood intact, without mortar, since the 7th or 8th century…

… so-called “beehive huts” – collections of circular stone cottages surrounded by protective stone walls, dating from the early Christian period …

… and Kilmalkedar, a 12th century Irish Romanesque church built by the English to try to replace the monastic settlements.

The other interesting aspect of the Dingle Peninsula is that it is Gaeltacht – an area which is primarily (and somewhat militantly) Gaelic speaking. There is a strong movement to preserve the native language, and most signs are written in Gaelic. We visited a small museum dedicated to preserving and explaining the importance and the history of the language.

When we got back to Killarney in the evening, we did an Irish pub crawl to hear some traditional music. Saturday night is not a good night for live music apparently, as it seems most pubs have DJs that night, trying to appeal to the young people (of which there were lots on the streets). We walked for several blocks – the streets were full of people out for a good time, and there were many restaurants and pubs, some very classy. Eventually we found one pub with a group of old guys (and one girl) playing accordions and fiddles around a table – very authentic; and another place had a guitarist and singer with a very nice voice doing a mixture of modern pop and Irish folk. There is no smoking in any pub in Ireland, which makes for a much more pleasant atmosphere – and also makes pubs easy to spot from a distance, by the groups of smokers standing outside.

But the highlight of the day was frequent messages from Rob with progress scores on the Swans game (Qualifying Final against West Coast) which the Swans won by 1 point! Go Swannies!!

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