Saturday, July 9–Dingle, Co Kerry

Leaving the hotel in Limerick; driving through Adare; Dingle and lunch at the Old Smokehouse; St Mary's church; Sacred Heart University; Dingle Music Shop with a house concert there; dinner at Sheehy's

Duinin House B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



I had a change of plans this morning, and changed my opinion about the Absolute Hotel where I spent last night a bit as well.

Basically that was due to the shower, which had a large shower head but it was directed straight down with no adjustment possible and was only a couple of inches higher than I am, so if you're over 5' 8" then it would be difficult to not just get your hair wet and rinsed but most of your body as well. And the supposedly non-slip surface of the floor of the tub, which was a high soaker tub and difficult for me to even get in and out of, was slick when I'd used soap or shampoo.

I also changed my opinion of the hotel's underground parking lot for the worse as well. When I took my first load of stuff down to put it in my car, I saw that when the lot was full it leaves very little space between vehicles. On one side, someone had parked so close to my car I couldn't open the door wide enough to get my suitcase into the car and onto the back seat, and the pillar next to my car on the other side was pretty close as well. I almost left my things outside the car while I backed out of the space but I needed to go back to my room to get the rest of my things. And when I was backing out of my parking space, I had to do so incrementally, backing up a bit, turning the steering wheel, going forward a couple of inches, turning the steering wheel, backing up a few inches, turning the steering wheel the other direction again, going forwards a few inches and so on until I could actually pull out into the actual center lane.

It was grey & cloudy when I woke up, and although it wasn't raining at the time the forecast the last time I checked this morning was for the weather to worsen with thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon, so I decided that I'd skip wandering around Limerick and visiting the three attractions I'd planned on, and also to skip going back to Adare and Foynes but to just finish the 2.5 hour drive to Dingle as early as possible.

I remember from my trip ten years ago that basically the only reason most people visit Foynes is to go to the Flying Boat Museum there, which although quite well done when I was there last isn't enough of a reason to make the trip.

It turned out that the route from Limerick to Dingle goes through Adare, so I got to see it again after all although I didn't stop. Traffic was busy, and parking was as bad as usual in most towns I've been to or through anyway. I saw quite a bit more of Adare than I remember from ten years ago but that's not surprising. What was surprising is that right in the center of town, one of the thatched buildings was in very poor condition with a collapsed roof.

I drove the whole way from Limerick to here pretty much straight through, not stopping in any of the other pleasant towns I drove through either. I used the Garmin to get to Dingle, than as soon as I could I found a parking lot where I could pull over and look up Duinin House, my B&B here in Dingle, and it was very easy to find not more than a few minutes away from the town center.

I got here absurdly early, around 1:30, with the intent of at least just leaving my car and walking into town to have a look around and get some lunch before coming back to check in, but Pat & Anne, the owners & my hosts, were in and so I could get checked in that early. This morning I put on the last set of clean clothes I had in the one suitcase I've been bringing in with me but still had more in the two suitcases I've been leaving in the trunk of the car, so this time I had to bring everything in and then I'd put the two suitcases back in the trunk later.

Duinin House is quite pretty, a few minutes out into the countryside, and has a nice living room guests can use, a pleasant dining room where I'll have breakfast tomorrow and Monday, and a very lovely sun room or conservatory as an additional living room. My room is small, on the street side of the house, and I've set my laptop up on the somewhat tiny but workable desk.

It was about 2:30 when I finished bringing everything in, and left the actual unpacking until I'd get back later. I was going to walk into town, and catch a cab back, but Anne was heading to the town center then and offered to take me with her, so I rode in with her. I had a very nice late lunch at a place called the Old Smokehouse, and then just wandered around town for the rest of the afternoon.

I never found O'Flaherty's but there are a couple of nice pubs that also have traditional music right near where the road the B&B is on connects with the main street of town. One place I definitely wanted to find was the Dingle Record Shop, which bills itself as "the greatest small record shop in Ireland". It's owner, Mazz O'Flaherty, is a musician whom I've sometimes heard on Marc Gunn's Irish & Celtic music podcast over the years and she and I have exchanged email a couple of times as well. I didn't buy any CDs then because I'd left my pack at the B&B and didn't want to carry them around with me for the rest of the day, so I need to find out what time the shop's open Monday and go by before leaving town for Killarney.

I saw a lot of the places I remember from last time and from my pictures from that trip and a lot more of the town besides. I paid a visit to the lovely St Mary's church, which is right next to the impressive and also lovely buildings of Sacred Heart University whiclh seems to specialize in Irish & Celtic studies. While making my way over to the pier and waterfront, I went by the Dingle Music Shop, which is a small, eclectically decorated and fun place and saw their sign that they'd be having a concert there this evening at 7 PM. As I've said before, I love great pubs and great music but a pub often isn't the best place to hear great music, so I bought a ticket and wandered around some more. I had some sorbet at a very popular place down by the waterfront and just sat for a while on a bench near the statue of Fungie the Dingle dolphin and read my book on the Kindle app on my Irish Android smart phone and watched lots of kids have their pictures taken sitting on the statue.

I'd had a late lunch so wasn't interested in having dinner before the concert. When I bought my ticket, I'd asked the guy working in the store where he'd recommend and he suggested the seafood place right next door which is run by a family that has their own seafood business. The restaurant would be serving food until 9:30 tonight so I decided I'd go there after the concert.

The Dingle Music Shop is a family business. Dara, the guy who was running the shop when I was there, possibly owns it or runs it with his dad, who plays accordion and was one of the musicians performing tonight. The woman with him sings and plays fiddle, viola, and piano as well as composing. They were joined by another guy who sang and played the somewhat smaller tenor banjo. It was a lovely evening, much more like being in someone's living room rather than in a loud pub where the focus isn't so much on the music itself. Not only were Dara and his dad, Mike, and the other two performers very congenial and welcoming but part of the audience were an American family that Dara's known for a few years and have kind of become his American family. In fact, Dara mentioned that last year his dad and he had joined the American family at their home in Scranton, PA for his dad's first Thanksgiving. I bought three of the woman's CDs.

There was also some audience participation, including the usual occasional chiming in on choruses of songs. One of the audience members was a pianist, and Dara invited her to play something while we were waiting for his American family and she played "Clair de lune" by Debussy. Later Dara asked for someone from his American family to sing a song, and one of the men sang "Danny boy" very well, and later Dara asked the son from that family to play something on the piano also and he played one of his own compositions which was pretty good.

The restaurant next door, Sheehy's, was a very nice, pretty place which was quite busy. The young wait staff were all friendly and capable. They use a very informative place mat that explains that the family owns a seafood supply business that's 20 years old and the restaurant just celebrated its first anniversary on July 4, The food was excellent, and the young wait staff included two of the owners' sons.

It was a lovely evening spent in two very nice family businesses.

I then took a cab back here, extracted clean clothes from my two spare suitcases which I then put back into the trunk of the car, and watched one of my programs on YouTube on my Irish Android smart phone before beginning to type up my notes from today.

I'm not sure what I want to do tomorrow. I had planned on driving around the Dingle Peninsula tomorrow, but the cabby tonight mentioned some sort of local agricultural festival is taking place tomorrow, so I'll ask Pat & Anne at breakfast in the morning. My next stop, for Monday through Wednesday nights, is Killarney which is only an hour away from Dingle so I could always drive around the Dingle Peninsula first on the way to Killarney Monday.

It's just turned 2 AM, so I'm going to quickly check my email and get to bed.

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