Montag, 5. August 2013

ALPEN TRAVEL TIPS & PICKS: DINGLE, IRELAND

 


Dingle cliffs
 
 PART II: IRELAND Dingle

This post is part of my Travel Picks and Tips from my recent visit to England, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria in April/May 2013. To simplify things, I have divided up my posts into areas in each of these countries. This post is about Dingle, Ireland. Click on any of the following links to take you to other regions/countries of your interest. I hope to enlighten and share with those who wish to travel to these areas with some of the highlights of my adventures in these beautiful parts of the world.
Enjoy!


 This post: DINGLE
Also see  London, Oxford, & Chester ENGLAND/ Galway, IRELAND
Coming soon: SWITZERLAND, AUSTRIA & BAVARIA

My bio and full Itinerary  for this trip can be found in the post:
Irish Countryside looking out at Dingle Bay
After I finished my morning exploring Galway, I got into my car and drove south through the green Irish countryside to Dingle, where I was to be spending the better part of a week. Aaaah, Dingle...a magical place where a piece of my heart lies.

I was first in Dingle a year and a half before and could not get enough of this stunning, yet rugged and remote Irish peninsula, not to mention probably Ireland's most traditionally Irish town with respect to the old Irish Gaelic, which is still spoken by all locals growing up there -  both old and young!

MOTORWAY PUB PICK  O'GRADY'S

Pub on the way to Dingle
On my 31/2 hour drive to Dingle from Galway, I stopped for lunch at what appears to be quite a popular pub (having heard about it already in Galway the night before). O'Grady's is signposted from the N18 Motorway and easy to find in the center of the town called Gort. As the lads in the pub in Galway had already told me that they stop there when heading south, I though I would try it out.


Homemade Irish Stew
It is very large and they have quite the luncheon buffet going on. I ordered the Irish Stew which was quite delicious. Overall, it was good home made pub food and a quick stop, so that I was on my way to my beloved Dingle in no time at all.

 
O'Grady's The Square, Gort, Ireland Tel. 091 631096


SCENIC VILLAGE PICK  ADARE

Thatched Cottages in Adare Village

Just south of Gort, I turned west onto the N21 and within 15 minutes was so overwhelmed by a small village I was driving through, I just had to stop. I was surrounded by picturesque, "lived in" thatched cottages and medieval Priories and Friaries. I was in the village of Adare - dubbed as one of Ireland's most charming villages.

Medieval Church in Adare
I got out to take pictures, and caught my breath at the unexpected beauty of the place.

Many of the thatched cottages are still residences, and the rest now craft, gift and coffee shops. I wandered into one of the  shops occupying a sweet little cottage, quite appropriately named the Adare Cottage Shop. In speaking with its proprietor, Angelika Butler, I found out that she was indeed a German married to an Irishman. Well what do you know! I lapsed into German and we had the most delightful conversation, auf Deutsch, as I shopped for Irish gifts and got myself the most beautiful dark green Irish sweatshirt to wear at home to show off my Irish heritage.

Adare Manor and Golf Course
The next time I am visiting Ireland, I plan on staying a couple of nights and days in this enchanting village, exploring its 13th century Castle and the medieval Priories and Friary located there.

The thatched cottages were built in the 18th Century partially to accommodate servants working in the magnificent Adare Manor, next door. Adare Manor is now a luxury 5 star country house estate, complete with world class golf course where Tiger Woods has often played. On my next visit, I hope to do more of a review of the Manor and its grounds as well as the historical riches of Adare Village next door.

Adare, Co. Limerick, Ireland  N21 between Limerick and Tralee

SCENIC DRIVE PICK  CONOR PASS

Driving the Conor Pass to Dingle 

As a lover of rugged, dramatic scenery, I always choose to “take the high road” when entering the Dingle Peninsula. The Conor Pass, on which I repeatedly find myself, is Ireland’s highest pass, winding dramatically above carved out glacial lakes and the rocky green craggy landscape of Dingle’s valleys and hills far below.

Every time I drive the Conor Pass, my heart skips a beat or two, each time I drive around a hairpin curve on the narrow one-lane chiseled out road with steep terrain above and beneath.

Both times I have been on the Connor Pass, I have driven from a blue-skied day on the lowlands, into the mystical cloud which seems to reside up there on that high mountain Irish pass. This adds to the eerie beauty of the place and why I am drawn to drive on this road as my grand entry into Dingle, time and time again. 

Check out a video I took of part of my drive!
  video
Made it to the top of the pass! Yeah!
Top of the Conor Pass!
Ahhh! Dingle at last on the horizon!
 

Descending into Dingle from Conor Pass

SCENIC IRELAND PICK  DINGLE PENINSULA

Stunning Dingle Cliffs, Beaches and Ancient Walls
Ancient walk: The
Pilgrim's Way
The Dingle Penninsula, in County Kerry, is indeed dubbed the most rugged and remote area of Ireland. It is a mystical land where Irish (an ancient form of Gaelic) is still spoken as the first language and Irish children from other parts of Ireland are sent on school trips to learn about their Irish language and heritage.

6th Century Glarus Oratory
 
 


ME! In a pre-historic
Irish Bee Hive Hut








Dingle was once cited as 'the most beautiful place on earth' by National Geographic and  was voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by Trip Advisor. These were the initial reasons why I first travelled to Dingle a few years back...and why I am now hooked. Dingle has the most spectacular mountains and coastal scenery in Ireland.  And even though it attracts climbers, walkers and sightseers from many parts of Ireland and overseas each year, it still remains quiet and largely unspoilt - which is why I love it so.

There are many bus tours in the summer which drive the scenic coastal drive, spend a night and then leave, however there is soooo much more to Dingle than that!  

Sun Setting on Dingle Beach

Dingle is a stunning area for archaeological walks across hill and fell; of fascinating structures from pre-historic times to the birth of Christianity and beyond. For hikers and backpackers, there is the famous Dingle Way, a long distance 179km long loop spanning the entire peninsula. Note that this walk can be done in smaller segments, if one only has a day or two to explore.
 

SCENIC GUIDE PICK  DINGLE WALKS

The most knowledgeable guide to walking the whole Dingle Way or shorter day hikes to see ancient archaeological structures and Celtic art or just to absorb the scenic beauty of the Dingle beaches and cliffs, is Colm Bambury of Dingle Walks. He was my guide on my first trip to the Peninsula and also on my next visit. I could not have asked for more of a professional, passionate and knowledgeable guide as Colm (pronounced Colum).

When I was in Dingle just recently, I got to be one of the first people to be given a fantastic new free guide book to walking the peninsula - which Colm helped to write. It is a wonderfully written guide book and you can get it through Dingle Penninusula Tourism which is very informative when it comes down to booking your holiday and suggestions of things to do in Dingle.

View of the Slea Head from my Dingle Way Walk
Amazing walks that I have done so far in Dingle:

Colm with 5th Centuary Ogham
Stone and Oratory Ruin



 
 
Famine Cottage
  •  A very scenic part of the Dingle Way beginning at the 19th century Famine Cottages & the 500BC Dún Beag Fort, walking coastal hugging hills with stunning ocean views and ending at  the car park by the Slea Head - the furthest westerly point in Europe.




7th Century Church Ruin
& Holy Well
on Ryan's Walk

  • The Ryan's Daughter Loop, beginning at the Blasket Island Centre and making a loop up and around a very picturesque part of the dramatic Dun Chaoin coast. (Dingle was first "put on the map for tourism" with Hollywood choosing this location for the filming of the 1970 film "Ryan's Daughter"!)
The School House Set from
 Ryan's Daughter film
 









You can also DRIVE or CYCLE the 30 mile scenic Dingle Peninsula Loop (also called the Slea Head Drive), taking in quite a bit of fabulous scenery and archaeological finds from the road. The Smithsonian did a special on this Loop and give a very detailed account of driving/cycling it HERE. Their description & guide is well worth a day's outing when visiting Dingle.

ACCOMMODATION PICK 
GREEMNMOUNT GUESTHOUSE
  

For the relaxing air of a country house hotel, panoramic views from its peaceful hill-top setting, yet being only a 5 minute stroll into the heart of Dingle, I could not have asked for a finer place to relax and recharge.

The award winning, 4 Star Greenmount House was everything (and more) of what I was looking for in luxurious, but affordable, accommodation during my week long visit to Dingle. 

My room with a view on Dingle Bay
The rooms are elegantly furnished, with (very) comfortable beds and cheerful cushions and curtains to make one feel right at home - not to forget the breathtaking views!

View from Greenmount House

My breakfast of Smoked Salmon
w Scrambled local Eggs
and locally made Dingle Cheese
Their award winning elaborate breakfast spread, with something to suite everyone's taste, was delicious down to the very last crumb and was enjoyed in their spacious breakfast room whilst taking in panoramic views of the Dingle Bay and the lush green surrounding countryside.

At Greenmount House, one cannot find finer, more warm and personable hosts than the Curran family, who built, own and lovingly run the property. 

John and Mary along with their daughter Maria spoil their guests with heartwarming Irish hospitality, down to offering a refreshing glass of wine or warming cup of freshly brewed coffee in one of their two delightful lounges at the end of each day.



The Hot Tub

The Curran's also provide a luxurious hot tub to warm one's bones after a chilly day out exploring the Dingle peninsula. I must say, in ALL of my years of European travel, I have never stayed at a hotel, country house, guesthouse or B&B with a hot tub to sink into at the end of a long day. What an unexpected treat this was!

In writing this, I wish I were back there, at the Curran's splendid Guesthouse for yet another week...well, all I have to do is pack my bags...

I will definitely return for another visit sometime soon!

Greenmount House 4 Star Luxury Guesthouse, Dingle  Tel. 066-9151414

DINGLE PUB PICKS 

So, when I planned my very first visit to Dingle, a couple of years back, I had two reasons for picking this remote little town. The first was that it was a seaside town with great scenic hiking all around and the second was that it had a reputation for having a lively pub scene with lots of authentic Irish music.

Being a town about the size of Telluride (where I live) with a population of around 2000, Dingle has over  50 pubs - many of which are known for their music "sessions" - musicians getting together impromptu to play Irish music classics on their fiddles, tin whistles, guitars and drums.

Sláinte! I had certainly hit the jackpot in coming to Dingle! 

O'FLAHERTY'S


Fergus Ó'Flaithbheartaigh
When it comes down to downright Irish hospitality, language, culture and Irish (Music) Sessions the way they have always been held, you must pay a visit to O'Flaherty's. Your host, Fergus Ó'Flaithbheartaigh, will not only have you in stitches with his Irish humour, but will impress you when he picks up his guitar or accordion to kick off the music sessions  each night. 

But be careful! True Irish (Gaelic) is still spoken here...and the main sign on the door still read's its Irish name: Tigh Tábhairne Ui Fhlaithbheartaigh.

O'FLAHERTY'S  
Bridge St, Dingle  Tel.  066 9151983 

JAMES CURRAN'S BAR

Curran's Bar
This is a traditional family run Dingle Irish pub, doubling as a shop during the day which sells, caps, hats, shirts and a bunch of random items, but where one can get a great pint as well.

It was established over 100 years ago by the Curran family and is run by third generation James Curran (John Curran of Greenmount House's brother)!


The Snug*
Three generation sing-along
It is truly a "local's" pub, complete with its own Snug* and all. One evening a guitar appeared out of nowhere and it turned into one of the funnest Sessions when a whole family - three generations of ladies began singing along to the husband playing the guitar. I even got to participate, singing one of my fav Irish ballads: Sonny's Dream!
Me singing Sonny's Dream
Curran's Bar  Main St, Dingle

*Definition of a Snug: The "snug" was typically a small, very private room with access to the bar that had a frosted glass external window, set above head height. The snug was for patrons who preferred not to be seen in the public bar. Ladies would often enjoy a private drink in the snug in a time when it was frowned upon for women to be in a pub. The local police officer might nip in for a quiet pint, the parish priest for his evening whisky, and lovers for a rendezvous. - Wikipedia

FOXY JOHN'S

Foxy John's is another "local's" favourite which most tourists would walk right by on their hunt for a pub. It is another one of those shops doubling up as a pub. During the day, it is a Hardware and Bike shop, but at night it serves out the pints of Guiness by the numbers.

Bar Hardware Bicycles
I love hanging out with the real locals and here is certainly where you will meet them! 

Foxy John's Main St, Dingle
Ever see a kids bicycle
advertised with a pint
of Guiness? Only at
Foxy John's!















 

DANNO'S

For a great dinner recommendation, my pick is Danno's. Danno's is a local's favourite for fresh seafood, including spectacular fish and chips as well as having a great reputation for having the best cooked to order burgers in Dingle. I always get their mussels, which are freshly caught and served in a tasty sauce. Danno's has both indoor and outdoor seating in a "beer garden" style atmosphere. It also has a big fireplace, which I love to sit by, especially on a cold rainy evening.

Danno's is also the home of the West Kerry Rugby team, so watch-out - you might bump into some mighty hefty lads at the bar.

One last thing - for the wonderful fresh food you are served, their prices remain some of the most reasonable in Dingle for a meal.

Overall, I always find myself going back to Danno's each time I visit Dingle and enjoy it every time.

DANNO'S Pier Head, Strand Street, Dingle  Tel. 066-915-1855 

DINGLE SHOPPING PICKS 

JOHN WELDON JEWELERS

My Claddagh Ring - Friendship, Love & Loyalty

For that extra special Irish keepsake, my choice is a silver or gold piece from John Weldon's Celtic Jewelry Shop in the heart of Dingle.

Before my trip, I had promised myself a Claddagh ring that I had wanted to purchase in Dingle, to represent my love, loyalty and friendship to this amazing town that had stolen my heart a couple of years back.

John Weldon
I did not know where and when I was to find "my ring", but it had to come from a jeweler who had fine unique pieces and from whom I could feel his love for his craft. Such was the case with John Weldon.

On a stroll around Dingle one day, I was drawn to a ring in his window. Upon entry to his shop and enquiring about this absolutely stunning ring, I ended up having the most delightful chat with John and his wife. I learned that all pieces in his shop, whether his own work or others, were all handcrafted in Ireland and that each piece is Assayed and Hallmarked (as required) at Dublin Castle. 

Celtic Knots &
Fungie -
 Dingle's Dolphin

He had many, many beautiful pieces to choose from, but it was that original ring in the window (which fit perfectly from the time I slipped it on my finger) that was to come home with me. He has truly one of the finest collections of Irish Handcrafted Jewelry I have seen, combining Celtic knotwork with contemporary designs.

John has an on-line shop and ships world-wide, therefore, I wanted to share his web-site with my fans, in case you cannot make it to Dingle to visit his shop in person. You won't be disappointed!

John Weldon Jewelers Green St, Dingle  Tel. 066 9152522



THE LITTLE CHEESE SHOP


During my breakfasts at the Greenmount Guesthouse, I found myself getting quite addicted to their delicious cheese platter they presented each morning. Upon enquiry, I found out that the cheeses were locally made and could be purchased at Dingle's "Little Cheese Shop".

One of my passions when I travel, besides seeking out local honey, is trying locally made cheeses. It must be in my blood coming from Wisconsin, but I just cannot pass up a good cheese.

I made my way straight to the little shop after breakfast and found out that the cheese maker, German born Maja Binder, had lived in Switzerland for a number of years with the sole purpose to become a master cheese maker. Completing her course, she then moved to Dingle to produce some of the most wonderful, award winning cheeses I have ever had the delight of sampling.


Packaging up my Dingle Cheese Order
I came away with a number of beautifully bundled cheeses to try - the most interesting of which was her Dilliskus, a semi-hard cheese flavoured with handpicked dilisk - a locally farmed seaweed from the Dingle coast. The seaweed gives this strong cheese a slightly salty flavor and was hands down my favourite - being a lover of strong, stinky, flavourful cheeses.
Cheese Maker Maja Binder

I brought some of my cheeses all the way home with me...which included the better part of a week and a half still to go in Switzerland and Austria. The cheeses survived and I just had my very last piece, months later, here at my desk to inspire and recall whilst writing this post.

So if you are planning a nice day out, why not pop in and get some cheese to take with you for a nice picnic amongst an ancient ruin or on one of Dingle's sandy, windswept beaches!

The Little Cheese Shop Grey's Lane, Dingle - Opposite the Library  Tel. 087 6255788

DINGLE CRYSTAL

Great gifts and great coffees!

If you are looking for an afternoon coffee, tea, scone or cake after exploring the Dingle Peninsula, stop into the Dingle Crystal shop for a homemade delicacy and chat with Sean Daly, master crystal craftsman. Sean was classically trained by Waterford Crystal and now has his own shop with his own signature designs in the heart of Dingle. Every piece is designed, cut, signed and sold by Sean, guaranteeing a unique and individual piece of Crystal to each of his customers.

I was not only impressed by his work, but by the fact that he has a wonderful coffee corner with WiFi (the only coffee shop in Dingle with WiFi, in fact). It was nice and relaxing to sip my cappuccino and write in my journal amidst his glistening crystal creations. Well worth a visit.

Dingle Crystal Green St, Dingle  Tel. 066-9151550

OTHER DINGLE PICKS
 
TAKE A BOAT RIDE WITH FUNGIE

Dingle has a special resident who decided to make Dingle Harbour his home 30 years ago: Fungie

Fungie is a mature male bottlenose dolphin, 13ft long and 250lbs. He is the longest standing friendly solitary dolphin in the world. He avoids visiting dolphin pods, preferring to play with boats coming in and out of the harbor.
Looking for Fungie

I took an afternoon to take a boat ride on one of the fishing boats dedicated to take people out to visit him. It was such an enjoyable afternoon. From toddlers to grandparents, everyone called "Fungie! Fungie" until he came sidling up to our boat to check us out.

There was a chap called Paul, who takes his own little boat called "The Little Red Punt" out to play with Fungie.


Paul in his "Little Red Punt" playing with Fungie
The whole experience was so much fun...it was great to be out on the water and also to see a wild "tame" dolphin up close. I found out that the next day, when I would be boarding my plane to Geneva, was the beginning of a 30 year birthday celebration weekend for Fungie living in the harbor. Bummer, I would have to miss this exciting event, but plan on visiting Fungie again on my nest visit to Dingle.

You can book a Fungie trip at Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, found on the harbor. Highly recommended for a morning or afternoon outing.


Dingle Harbour
Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours Dingle Harbour, behind the Tourist Information Office  Tel. 066-915-2626

DINGLE OCEANWORLD AQUARIUM

Molly the Loggerhead Turtle

Perfect for that rainy day, where you just can't quite muster up the spirit to take yourself out rambling the muddy hills and fells of a wet, cold day on the Peninsula, the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium makes a great, educational dry activity for all ages.

I was most impressed that the tiny town of Dingle should have such a world class aquarium.

The Shark Tank
They boast having Ireland's largest collection of sharks, an amazing Antarctic Gentoo Penguin Colony and Molly, a Loggerhead turtle, which was swept across the seas from Hawaii to Dingle and who after being rehabilitated, resides quite happily at the Dingle Aquarium.

They also have a touch tank, which feature friendly Thornback Rays who love to be petted. 

Antarctic Gentoo Penguins
The aquarium is educational and informative with interactive books and pamphlets they give out at the door. I am so glad I got to experience Oceanworld and would gladly go back again!

Oceanworld The Wood, Strand St, Dingle  Tel. 066-91-52 111

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For more information on Dingle visit

Check out all pictures of my trip on

On Dingle Boat Visiting
Fungie, the Resident Dolphin



Enjoy your visit to Dingle and please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions when planning your own trip to England, Ireland or Europe!
 
Having lived in and traveled to many places in Europe for almost 30 years now, I love to help and recommend where I can, so that you will have the absolute best time imaginable - Alpen Schatz Style!

Read more about my unique, customized travel services HERE.
  
Mary Dawn DeBriae
European Tips and Picks
Alpen Schatz Style
 
 
 
  Also see ENGLAND PART I / IRELAND PART II: GALWAY
Spring Euro Trip 2013
 

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