As Irish as can be! Dún Chaoin and An Daingean, Co Kerry, Ireland

Ornate clock above the Dingle Pub doorway; B&B sign. Dingle, Ireland

It’s guinness time; time to meet me at the pub!

Can you get more Irish than Dún Chaoin (Dunquin) and An Daingean (Dingle), on the Corca Dhuibhne (“Seed or tribe of Duibhne”; the Dingle Peninsula) on the southwestern-most reaches of Ireland’s County Kerry?

I very much doubt it!

After staggering into Dingle from Annascaul, wet and windblown, we were pleased to have two nights in one place and an official “rest day” on our walk around the Dingle Peninsula.

Day 5:  Dingle (Rest day)

Officially this is your rest day, but we will give you some options of things to do: like take a boat trip and swim with the famous dolphin “Fungi” or take a half-day historical bus-tour around the area.
The town is distinguished for its restaurants, most of which offer you an excellent choice of local seafood. There is a large variety of pubs; 52 licensed premises to be exact. Traditional Irish music is played every night in many of the pubs around the town.

The guide notes were right!

Dingle is delightful. We ate fish and chips and mushy peas while the football played on the TVs one evening. The next night, as we were listening to an old and expert fiddle player, we and our tables were pushed back to make space for the dancers. Not the Irish Dancers we know from television: those unsmiling girls in short kilts whose legs stomp and twist while their arms never move. No, these were four pairs of everyday-looking people who turned into whirling dervishes once the fiddler took up his bow: swirling and spinning around in patterns so fast and complex my head spun just watching them.

Colourful row-shop-fronts under a tray sky. Dingle, CoKerry, Ireland

Pretty, even in a drizzle and under gray skies; Dingle, Co. Kerry.

National Geographic once called Dingle ‘the most beautiful place on earth’. Even in the morning drizzle, with gray skies overhead, it is a pretty town.

Of course, I was loath to waste our day in Dingle “resting”, so we caught a lift to Dunquin to catch a boat to the Blasket Islands – or so we had hoped. With the rough weather, the boats weren’t making the crossing, and we settled for a few interesting hours in the Great Blasket Centre instead.

Visitors looking at photographs in a hallway in the Great Blasket Centre, Dunquin, Ireland

An exhibition of photographs of the residents and houses, etc, from Great Blasket Island.

Statue: a person wrapped in clothes, struggling against strong wind. The Great Blasket Centre, Dunquin

The unnamed statue that I like to call “Against the Wind” evokes the feeling of hardship on the island.

View across green grass and the Atlantic ocean to Great Blasket Island

It looks calm enough today – Great Blasket Island, off the southwest coast of Ireland.

This whole area is Gaeltacht – the Irish language word meaning an Irish-speaking region – and Great Blasket Island was the language cradle that allowed this to happen. By the end of British rule in Ireland (1920-22), Irish Gaelic was spoken by less than 15% of the population. Great Blasket Island (An Blascaod Mór), however, sitting off the coast, with no modern conveniences, no priests, pubs, or doctors, was fairly isolated, allowing the old language to survive and thrive. The small community (160 people at most) that lived there until the final evacuation in 1953, had rich oral traditions, which they were encouraged to write down after visits by Irish scholars and poets in the early twentieth century. This led to a remarkable number of writers who published works in Irish; many of which have been translated into other languages. Spoiled for choice in the Visitor’s gift shop, we settled on “Twenty Years a-Growing” by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin (Maurice O’Sullivan), first published in 1933, and read by me with a smile on my face.

Once finished at the centre, we booked a cab to meet us later at a local pottery workshop, and set off walking across the roads and hills.

Small white houses on a green hillside, Dunquin Ireland

Wind-swept and isolated – the houses of Dunquin, Co. Kerry.

Looking down a country road towards the Blasket Visitors Centre and the Atlantic Ocean. Co.Kerry

Looking back down the quiet roads…

Tiny pink and white flowers growing in a stone wall.

Tiny flowers grow in the stone walls along the roadway.

House on a green hill overlooking ocean and land, Dunquin Co.Kerry

House on a hill.

People walking up stony paths, Clogher Head, Co. Kerry

Curious, we followed the bus-loads of tourists up the stony hills at Clogher Head.

Large granite rocks on Clogher Head, Co. Kerry

We were greeted by large granite rocks –

View from Clogher Head over Clogher Strand, Ferriter

– and treated to a fabulous view!
The little beach of Clogher Strand, Ferriter’s Cove and, in the distance, the peaks of The Three Sisters.

Little flowers on the edge of a cliff, Clougher Head, Co.Kerry

Flowers on the Edge

A woman runs down a path along a rocky hillside. Clogher Head, Co. Kerry.

Like something out of the “Irish Spring” commercials of my youth, a woman – dwarfed by the landscape – runs down the hill…

View across Clogher Cove and the mountains behind. Co. Kerry.

Cape, Cove and Cave:
The beach at Clogher Strand, Ferriter’s Cove and, the mountains the distance.

Daisies growing in a barbed wire fence. Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry

Daisies growing wild. Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry

Tall standing stone with a viewing hole in it. Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry

Standing stone with a viewing hole –

Stone with a hole, seen through another stone with a hole - Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry

– lined up with another stone with another viewing hole.

View across Ferriter

Some properties have a killer view!

Strange pottery puppet-like sculptures outside the Louis Mulcahy Pottery complex.

Strange creatures greet us as we finally reach the Louis Mulcahy Pottery complex in Clogher –

Large pottery vases outdoors, Louis Mulcahy Pottery, Ballyferriter, Co. Kerry

– while other works, like the beautiful pieces for sale inside the shop, are the epitome of stylish grace.

Colourful shopfronts: Dingle, Co. Kerry

Back in Dingle, the afternoon sun shines long enough for us to get from one shop to another.

Ceramic dolls in yellow rain gear.

Ceramic babies in the shops are ready for the extremes of local weather.

Young women getting hair wraps, Dingle, Co Kerry

Young women take advantage of the sun to get their hair decorated…

Two women walking up a narrow street. Dingle, Co. Kerry.

… and women walk home with their shopping.

text: slainte - good health

Back in Dingle, during intermittent rain showers, we browsed in shops displaying local pottery, woven and knitted goods, jewellery, musical recordings and instruments. When the sun came out, we enjoyed locally made ice cream. Everywhere, we heard people speaking Irish Gaelic between themselves, before switching to English to speak to us.

Modern expressions of age-old crafts, language and music are alive and well here, and it was a joy to partake – even if only for a day.


Pictures: 22June2012

  • dietmut - November 24, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    Ursula, thank you for this report. photos of a really beautiful landscape and the ceramic babies are lovely. I wish you a pretty weekend, DietmutReplyCancel

    • Ursula - November 25, 2012 - 2:15 am

      Thanks for your visit, Dietmut!
      We really enjoyed this part of Ireland – in spite of the rain. I hope it is not too cold where you are. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • […] by bus, and then from Camp by foot. We had spent days trudging through rains, down country lanes, into museums and shops and churches, over hills and through bogs, over mountains and across beaches. We were sore and […]ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *