Sunday, July 10–Dingle, Co Kerry

Driving part of Slea Head Drive around the Dingle Peninsula; Ventry; Celtic & Prehistoric Museum; Dunbeg; Gallarus Oratory; back to Dingle and Mazz O'Flaherty's Dingle Record Shop; lunch at Deirdre's Café; chatting with my hosts back at the B&B and enjoying the storm from inside; dinner at Idas; live trad music at An Driochead Beag

Duinin House B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



The shower here in my room at Duinin House is one of the best I've used since I left home; lots of water pressure and hot water, and even if it's also phone booth size it has a door large enough for me to get through comfortably.

It gets light so early in the morning here that I've been closing the blinds or curtains in my rooms; even so, the light was bright enough around 5 this morning to wake me up and make it difficult to get back to sleep. (Tonight I closed both the blinds and the curtains.) I hadn't retracted the blinds before I went down the hall to the lovely glass conservatory and so I had no idea how crappy the weather was until I got there, and it was pretty crappy indeed and remained so until not long ago (and it's midnight now). It was very windy, with a fine misty drizzle.

The forecast was for some slight improvement over the afternoon, and this was my last full day here in Dingle, so I decided to not wait until the weather is possibly better tomorrow to drive at least part of the Slea Head Drive, which is what the route around most of the Dingle Peninsula is called, but to do so today.

Ten years ago, we had driven along a large part of the route, going from Dingle out to the Blasket Island Heritage Centre. One of my very favorite pictures which I took during that whole trip and hung on the wall of my cubicle at the Main Library, and has been hanging in my living room back home since I left work, is of a couple of beehive huts in the field next to a pretty white farm house, just up the hill from a large statue of Jesus & the cross. I missed seeing the house and the beehive huts, possibly because I was distracted by the tour bus in front of me navigating a narrow, winding single lane stretch of road, but I did see the statue.

Even though the weather restricted visibility, the scenery as usual was often stunning and as usual there were very few places where you could stop and take pictures without causing an accident and often there was about fifteen to twenty minutes between villages where you could get something to eat or buy some gas if you needed to. The road goes through several quite pretty villages. I stopped in one of them, Ventry, to take pictures of their equally pretty roadside church.

Just past Ventry shortly before the turnoff to the Iron Age fort at Dunbeg there's a small, privately owned Celtic and archaeological museum (called the Celtic & Prehistoric Museum) which was a real treat. Not only is the building itself interesting and charming but the exhibits are well done, too.

It was still windy and misty/drizzly when I got to Dunbeg but I took the path down to see it. I've seen the fort on a couple of TV shows but it was worth seeing it in spite of the crappy weather. I have to admit that my favorite part of that stop was that down towards the bottom of the path to the fort were a couple of cute if somewhat bedraggled donkeys hiding in whatever wind break the stone wall around the fort provided. Part of the reason seeing the fort is so impressive is that half of it is estimated to have been worn away by the erosion of the cliff it's on.

I didn't drive all the way around, but just about halfway to the Gallarus Oratory which is justly acclaimed as one of the finest examples of dry stone construction still in existence anywhere. It was indeed dry and out of the wind and relatively warm in there. I had to wait for a group of four to six American tourists to take their pictures and leave so I could take my own.

From Gallarus I took the short way back to Dingle, and it was indeed surprisingly short, less than half an hour. I had intended on parking somewhere downtown to have some lunch and go back to Mazz's Dingle Record Shop but traffic and parking were so crappy that I gave up on that idea and was at the base of the hill leading back up here to my B&B when I noticed the parking lot for a night club that was of course not busy yet on a Sunday afternoon, so I pulled in.

I called Mazz to see how long she'd be in the shop this afternoon, and when she'd be there tomorrow. She has some health problems and usually doesn't open the shop sometime between 10 and 11 AM and often closer to 11, but was going to be around for a bit. By now it was around 2:30 and I still hadn't had lunch yet but since Mazz is one of the now three people I've listened to on the various Irish & Celtic music podcasts I follow I really wanted to stop in and this time pick up some CDs by local artists. I thought it was about a ten minute walk from where I was parked and headed on over, mostly remembering correctly how to get to her shop across the street from St Mary's church.

It was rather amusing being there then, actually. Mazz's whole shop is quite tiny, I'd estimate two thirds the size of my room here at the B&B. While I was there, a whole family with about six to seven people came in and two other guys who were there to buy a Beach Boys vinyl LP. The family and Mazz, who had never met before, were giving each other a bit of good natured teasing. I eventually had to make my excuses, buy my CDs, and go find somewhere to have lunch.

I had passed a sign for a place called Deirdre's Café along the way to Mazz's shop and went down a little side street to find it. I had an incredible seafood chowder and a very good shepherd's pie, and was actually the last person they served before closing for the day.

The West Kerry agricultural fair was taking place in a parking lot near where I had left my car. If the weather hadn't been so miserable I would have checked it out, but by this time I was just ready to get back to my B&B for a while so I just got in the car and drove back up the hill.

The weather could actually have been even worse. It could have been raining harder than just the persistent misty drizzle or it could have been heavier fog than the atmospheric mist. (I can still hear the wind blowing strongly outside.)

When we were chatting yesterday, my host Pat had asked what I did for work and I told him I'd been a librarian for fourteen years, and he mentioned he was writing a book about Dingle history he'd like to talk with me about but we didn't have time yesterday. This afternoon, when I got back I was having a cup of tea in the conservatory enjoying the crappy weather outside while being inside when Pat came out of their private space in back and we had a nice chat. His book is about a local Dingle boy who when he got older was somehow involved in a plot to rescue Marie Antoinette.

While we were chatting I told Pat that many hotels & B&Bs along the Oregon Coast make an advertising virtue out of the often crappy weather and bill themelves as great places to watch the storms in the same way that his and Anne's lovely place above the town and the Bay, especially with such a lovely, comfortable glass walled and roofed conservatory, is. While we were chatting two more of the guests whom I'd met at breakfast came into the conservatory and after a while an older and a younger Austrian women (mother & daughter?) arrived. I visited for a while but wanted to take a bit of a rest before heading back downtown later.

There are a couple of pubs down at the intersection of the street the B&B is on with the main street (a couple of them looked better than the others) as well as some cafes and restaurants including where I had a late lunch yesterday. My plan was to walk down the hill to that corner and take a cab back up, but when I got outside and started out on foot the weather was still so crappy I gave up and went back to my car. It had occurred to me that down at the bottom of the hill, near the corner where I wanted to go, was a large parking lot where the agricultural fair had been and when I had come past on the way back up the hill the exhibitors and vendors had been packing up so I was pretty sure I could park there and I was right.

The older pub right on the corner, which has an Irish Gaelic name I can't remember (I think An Driochead Beag), had a sign out front saying that two of the local musicians whose CD I'd purchased yesterday would be playing at 9:30. When I went in and asked, I was reminded that there was another soccer match this evening and so the performance wouldn't start until after that. The pub doesn't serve food, but several of the other restaurants in the immediate area were still open and serving. Back at the B&B I had heard Anne recommending some restaurants to the two Austrian women and one of them was around the corner so I checked it out.

The place is called Idas and serves what I'd usually call fairly expensive, pretentious modernist food preparations and presentations but although I don't usually go for that sort of thing sometimes it can be worth dining somewhere for the experience if not just for the food, which was actually pretty good. Part of my meal included some locally caught fish that had been grilled perfectly and some very nicely done baby potatoes.

I got back to the pub a bit after 9:30 and the match had gone into overtime which lasted surprisingly long, so I just sat around and read on my Kindle app while waiting for almost an hour until the musicians could start playing. Tonight's performance was by a woman called Meabh ni Bheaglaoich who sang and played various squeeze boxes as well as being quite beautiful and attractive and a guy named Matt Griffin. They were both excellent musicians and played very well together.

I actually had managed to get a stool at the table nearest the musicians, but it was unpadded, backless, and kind of short for me. Matt & Meabh were going to play until around midnight, but I left a bit before then because I wanted to get home and type these notes up before it got too late, and my back, knees and butt were starting to hurt. Besides, when I had checked out the only toilet stall in the bathroom earlier when I thought I had needed it the floor had been completely wet, probably with urine.

It's now about 1:30. I hope to sleep in until 8 or 8:30. I have no plans for tomorrow other than driving over to Killarney, where I'm staying for the next three nights. Killarney is only around half an hour from here, and there's not much to see between here and there, so I should be there for lunch. If I can get checked in early enough I might take a bit of a nap if I need one before spending the rest of the day wandering around town.

I have no idea what's going on in Killarney the next couple of nights but will find out when I get there in the afternoon. Tralee is only about half an hour from Killarney in a different direction and is where Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre of Ireland, is located. When I checked their schedule this afternoon I noticed that they have a performance Tuesday night so I booked a ticket.

Bed time.....

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