Ireland Part 2 - in the Peninsula

Trip Start Aug 19, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ireland  , County Kerry,
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bidding adieu to Galway, we drove south toward the Dingle Peninsula. There are a four 'fingers' in southwest Ireland that are peninsulas jutting out into the Atlantic. Dingle is the first of the four. We didn't have a decent guide book to follow so we decided to start out at the top of Dingle and drive the loop west and on around to the south with an overnight stop somewhere in the middle of our journey.

We had heard that the Ireland World Cup qualifier match was going to be played around 5pm so we started to seek out a turns out pubs have more than just draught beer...they have televisions.  In the small town of Castlegregory, Sara darted in and out of a few perspective watering holes until we found one with 1) a television showing the match and 2) permission to allow us to bring in our peanut butter and jelly supplies as we were famished. We found such a pub in the west end of Castlegregory and settled in with a couple of pints, some crisps, the locals and our newly constructed PB&Js. Can I just put in a general comment here about the omnipotence of crocs?  Ya'all know, those rubber shoes the kids are all wearin'.  I've seen them on the feets of peeps globally.  Ok, Ireland's football squad triumphed which made the pub a decidedly more pleasant place than at the start of the match, sure the lager didn't hurt either, and we then headed onward looking for accommodations.

We decided to explore a small spit of land directly to the north of Castlegregory and we found a little B&B Inn at the very end of the road. The area around there, Fahamore is the town closest to the end of the spit, was breathtaking. Especially considering the sun was just setting and the light falling on the water and surrounding dunes made it all the better. Along the west side of the spit is a stretch of sand called 12 Mile Beach. 12 Mile is a wide, fine powdery sand beach with tall green grass reeds growing out of 20 to 30 foot high sand dunes that border the back of the beach area. Looking to the south from the beach, above the curve of dunes, you can see the high mountains that dominate the peninsula's interior and in between the two highest peaks, Conor Pass. We enjoyed the dying light on the walk back down the road to our B&B where we convinced the Australian waitress that we needed a couple of salads and some grilled veggies.

The next morning, we headed to the dining room again for the traditional Irish breakfast. We were greeted by the owner. She and her husband had six natural children and five more adopted. Full of energy,  she was and a real Irish wit with the gift of gab. She attempted to take my order after blurting out the various animal derived products one could have for breakfast. I started to slowly explain to her my dietary restrictions and, no doubt from impatience with my pace, she interrupted with, "ah, as we say in Kerry, 'how bad have ya got it?' She went on to tell us of her aunt that lived in Hollywood who, in her much younger years, had been Rock Hudson's paid 'cover'! She chatted so long we almost didn't get away from her establishment before nightfall.

During dinner the previous night, we were told by the Aussie waitress to head up over Coner Pass as it was her favorite part of Dingle. She had come to Dingle on a weekend trip from the college she was attending in Ireland and the windsurfing in the cove hooked her and she's been around these parts for almost a year. The drive up to Coner weaves through the high hills overlooking the entire peninsula especially the green plains that meet the yellow sandy beach and blue water below. Upon reaching the pass itself, we got out and hiked up a fair distance to get a great few of the entire area. With the exception of avoiding the grazing sheep and grazing sheep droppings, it was very memorable.

Down the other side of the pass, we drove out to the cliffs and inlets of Dingle's west side and the harbor near the Basket Islands before heading around the south part of the peninsula toward Cork. Dingle was far above our expectations.  If Ireland would ever have a consistent summer of warm and dry weather, Dingle would be drowned in tourists.  Guess maybe it is good that Ireland doesn't.
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