Published: May 23rd 2011May 16th 2011
The first week of our trip was over, and Brian had to go home. We walked him to the bus stop in Galway, and bid our campanion slán agus sábháilte turas (farewell and safe journey)! Then Geoff and I drove to the Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry. The drive took most of the day and by the time we checked into our B&B that night we were tired and hungry. Had a great time at the local pub where many townsfolk were playing music and singing songs...met some visitors from the states as well (Flint Michigan, of all places).
The next day we explored the Dingle Peninsula. This is the southwestern most peninsula in Ireland and quite beautiful. We drove to Dingle by way of the Connor Pass. This is a very tall (very dangerous in my opinion) roadway over the mountains to Dingle. Our proprietor from the B&B told us that when we get to the first lookout, there is a small waterfall coming down the rocks. He told us to follow the waterfall up a ways and we would come upon the lake that feeds the waterfall. We found the place and climbed the rocks to the lake.
Wow….so beautiful. If it was a very warm day I could imagine how refreshing a dip in the lake would be. However, it was quite cold and windy so no dip for me! The lookout was spectacular, even though the drive made me a bit apprehensive…there was not much room for two cars to pass…definitely glad we didn’t bike this region!!! I was surprised to see sheep casually crossing the roads…I wonder how many get hit…
We crossed over the pass and drove down into Dingle. What a great town…lots of shops and pubs and interesting architecture. Once we parked the car we strolled through town looking for a place to rent a couple of bikes….YES…we were going to bike the peninsula! We found a great bike rental (10 euro each) then set off to see the coast of the Dingle peninsula. We stopped at a supermarket before we left the town to buy more bread and cheese for lunch, then set out. We made it 6km. Not as fun as we expected. Plus it looked like rain. (can you hear the excuses in my words??? We were over the biking thing, so let’s not kid ourselves). We stopped on
the beach and ate our bread and cheese, then biked back to town. The funny thing is that it felt like hours to get there, but the bike ride back felt like only 10 minutes…kinda embarrassing when turning the bikes back in, but hey we tried, right? So then we did some massive gift shopping (tons of great spots in Dingle for that), hauled our loot back to the car, then DROVE around the Dingle peninsula (much smarter, eh??). I would have liked to explore this area much more than we had time for. It was very pretty and lots of small pubs and ruins to explore. We stopped to look at a Ring fort right on the beach, but didn’t want to pay the entrance fee. So we continued up the road to the first Beehive Hut. These huts are old medieval structures that are inside ring forts and look like Beehives. VERY COOL. Geoff and I stopped at two of these sites that afternoon and imagined what life must have been like and how cozy it must have been to sleep inside one of these stone structures protecting you against the wind. Ok, it is not the Ritz
I'm going over that????
but if you have to sleep on rock, this is a good way to go. Our next stop was the Gallarus Oratory, a small, stone-built chapel in the shape of an up-turned boat. The oratory is built of stone without mortar, using "corbel vaulting", a technique developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. This place was cool and well worth the 5 euro to get in. I have lots of pictures of this structure. Connor’s Pass and this was another memorable highlight of our trip. Too bad Brian was missing this part of our trip! Next stop the South Pole Inn, in Annascaul. This town is one of the most-photographed villages in Ireland, and the South Pole Inn is named in honor of connections with the great Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and, more particularly, his second officer, Tom Crean, who was a native of Annascaul and has only recently achieved the recognition he deserved for his own part in Antarctic exploration.
On retiring in 1920, Crean returned to Annascaul, married and ran the South Pole Inn. As well as being a delightful, well-run pub, The South Pole Inn is full of fascinating Shackleton and Crean memorabilia. Geoff and I had a great
time here. We read almost every newspaper clipping on the walls and the artwork and photography of Crean’s participation on the Antarctic voyage was everywhere. I think I had my best meal in this pub…roast beef, carrots, mashed rutabaga, mashed potatos, brown bread, and lots of gravy. I can still taste it…very similar to the dinners I had on Sundays and holidays growing up. The woman that worked there kept asking if we were doing ok (not too many people in the bar that night) and said a home cooked meal was always good…boy was she right. We lingered here for a while, then went across the street to see the memorial gardens of Tom Crean, then made our way back to the B&B for the night. Tomorrow we head for Midleton near Cork, to tour the Jameson Whiskey distillery.
There are more photos below