Newest Review: ... as an example, at one point we turned a bend and were hit by the following scene. On the left, at the foot of the steep green hills, a l... more
A Single to Dingle
Date: 16/04/02, updated on 14/11/03 (61 review reads)
Advantages: If you're single in Dingle, it's easy to mingle, The Folk are bi-lingual, The views make you tingle
Disadvantages: Not a single thingle!
Dingle is a small town which you can get to fairly easily from Tralee. Although it is in the south west, it is the most northern coastal town in Kerry, being the main town of the Dingle Peninsula (not nearly so amusing once you discover that the bit sticking out just a few miles south is called "The Ring of Kerry").
I spent some five hours on buses travelling South to Dingle in order to meet my sister and her friend, after travelling alone in Counties Dublin and Galway. I arrived about three o'clock, and was immediately whisked into a hired Fiat Tiny (or whatever they're called) and driven around Slea Head, the stunning road which takes people right around the lower edge of the Dingle Peninsula and back into town.
Although it is only about 15 miles around, the winding road is exceptionally and terrifyingly narrow, and whether you are driving, cycling or walking, you will definitely want to spend some time just standing and staring at the dramatic views. There are very few places on this side of the earth where hills, cliffs and water congregate so closely, creating such magnificent scenery.
I couldn't do justice to Slea Head as a whole, but as an example, at one point we turned a bend and were hit by the following scene.
On the left, at the foot of the steep green hills, a life size whitewashed statue of Jesus on the cross, with three or four more statues praying at his feet. On the right, beyond a short stone wall designed to stop I'm not sure what exactly, there is a steep drop of about two hundred feet. Between the base of the cliff and the low sun on the horizon lies an expanse of topaz blue water, fiercely heaving agai
nst a number of large dark rocks jutting out from the water.
The whole experience was breathtaking in its most literal sense, and I was more than a little sorry that we would be back in town in less than an hour. If you have the time, take a day or two to walk around Slea Head at your leisure - the lack of pubs etc is certainly compensated by the views which seem to become more impressive with every turn. If you're feeling exceptionally fit, you could even have a shot of hiking the 200 mile Dingle Way, which covers the whole of the Dingle Peninsula.
The Saturday I arrived just happened to be the weekend of some famous Car Raleigh, so there were hundreds of Noisy Car enthusiasts (apply the adjective wherever you like) swarming around town. I was surprised, therefore, that we had no trouble finding a B&B, and were even able to haggle a little, eventually settling on 20 Euros a night - even cheaper than some of the Dublin Youth Hostels.
B&B's and the odd Hotel line the street along the Harbour where the bus into town drops you off. There are also two or three minibuses waiting to take you to Dingle's local travellers' hostels, and all provide a regular minibus service to and from Town.
In between the places of accomodation (and sometimes located above, beneath or within them) sit a good many pubs and eateries. In fact there seemed to be more pubs than locals. Lucky then, that so many out-of-towners, both Irish and foreigners, flock to Dingle for the scenery, the music scene and the craic (I know, it's just not the same when someone non-Irish uses it, but what the hell).
Oh, and they also flock for the Dolphin, but I'll tell you a bit about Fungi later...
Back to the pubs. Apparently there are enough of them for every Dingle resident to have a seat and a pint of Guinness at the same time, and still have room for a couple of Raleigh Drivers in each of them.
I had the best time in An Co
nnair, where a spontaneous folk session sprung up in a corner, and a handsome drunken young visitor from Cork spent much of the night entertaining everyone with his improvised folk ballads.
Of course, pubs like this will always seem different depending on the crowd, so take a walk around and see which one looks like the most fun! An Droichead Beag and O'Flaherty's are popular places to catch traditional live music, but since there are over 50 pubs it would be impossible to review them all here. Have a wander and find the pub that best suits your needs - you're surely bound to find one (or fifty-two, if your "needs" are several pints of the black stuff).
Finally, the lowdown on Fungi, the famous Dingle Dolphin. Fungi swam into Dingle Bay with his mother many years ago, and loved the company of people so much that he stayed. His mother is now long dead, and Fungi has been there so long that there is a whispered rumour among local people of someone out there with a cattle prod who resucitates Fungi every time the tourists pass by, then he sinks back down until the next boat tour.
Whatever the reality, there is no question that Fungi adores humans - if you take a boat trip out of the Bay you are actually guaranteed to see Fungi, although staying by the water's edge is almost as good. When people shout his name he jumps out of the water, and is well known for playing around the boats that cross his wake.
So that's Dingle, in a oystershell. Highly recommended whether it's an overnight stay, or a week or two. A final recommendation is that you leave Dingle via the Conor Pass. It takes you a little out of the way, but is worth it for yet more stunning scenery.
Only try not to leave on the day of the Raleigh, fifteen minutes before the starting pistol like we did...
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