Ireland: Dingle

At the end of our Ireland trip, before we set off to experience Italy, I asked Chase if he had a favorite town we visited. Hands down, it was Dingle. Dingle is on a peninsula at the westernmost part of Ireland. It has the right mix of lush landscapes, rugged coasts, and traditional Irish music. Dingle is also part of the Gaeltacht, a region where the Irish language (Gaelic) is carefully preserved by the government. A quick 2 hour drive from our B&B in Kenmare allowed us to wake up and enjoy our made-to-order breakfast from our sweet B&B hosts, while comfortably making it to Dingle just in time for an early lunch.

Like every drive, the one to Dingle was beautiful. After manuvering winding roads along the coast, we were just a few miles from Dingle and the scenery instantly changed. The scenery you imagine when you think of Ireland was here all along; manicured rolling hills in a variety of emerald jewel tones. The hills surrounded us, and just beyond them would be the small seaside town of Dingle. Our senses were overwhelmed, and for the millionth time my sweet husband pulled over so I could photograph it all.

When organizing my posts, I typically put the photos in the order they happened so you get to experience the day just as we did. For this particular post, I put all my images of Dingle-town at the end and am showing you the Dingle Peninsula drive first. However the images from the peninsula itself are all in order, as well as the photos of the town. Once we arrived in Dingle, we parked and had lunch (you guessed it, fish and chips!) and then had a 20 minute leisurely walk around town before jumping back into our car for the coastal peninsula drive.

The Dingle Peninsula is about 30 miles long. Fun fact: It is home to 50,000 sheep. The town of Dingle itself has a population of about about 10,000. Our first stop was not planned, but I could not pass up the opportunity to feed sheep in Ireland. That’s like skipping out on the gondolas in Venice, Italy.

We agreed that if we really wanted some farm animals on our property one day, we would definitely get some sheep.

We continued our drive along the breezy coast, soaking in the views of the ocean, the rugged cliffs and hillsides. We eventually came to another stop because of the breathtaking views and of course, sheep. The contrast of scenery was the most interesting part – to one side of the road was the ocean with surfers riding the waves; the other side presented a vibrant green hill littered with fluffy sheep. I followed Chase along the stone wall, which eventually led us up to the path we climbed to the top of the hill, which boasts a beautiful 360-degree view.

The stone wall cuts right through the center of the image below horizontally, and the top of the hill is where we eventually ended up, passing a plethora of sheep and…sheep poop. The sheep were not too fond of us, as they constantly trotted away if we got closer than ten feet. We must have reeked of tourism.

We snapped a few shots and made our way down after enjoying the warm sun at the top of the hill.

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE.

This drive was low-key, which was a nice change of pace from the Ring of Kerry. Covering 30 miles of coast is a lot more manageable to do in one day. One stop I wanted to make was at Dunquin Pier. This pier, not visible from the road, was used to transport sheep so they could graze on the Blasket Islands not too far from the mainland. The rough pyramid-shaped rocks and curvy pathway (and a chance to stretch our legs!) really made this spot worth the quick stop . We continued on our way, nearing the end of the peninsula, making our last stop before we headed back to Dingle.

An interesting fact that I came upon while reading our guidebook was the history of the Irish Potato Famine. Off in the distance were rolling hillsides with vertical ridges (a few images down) – these ridges are of the potato beds that never grew, but instead rotted in the ground. They have been untouched since the planting of 1845. Earlier in this post I mentioned that Dingle currently has a population of roughly 10,000. Before the potato famine hit, the population was about 40,000; however, after the famine they discontinued farming up that high because of the decline in population.

Our last stop on the Peninsula was the Gallarus Oratory, one of Ireland’s early Christian churches, made with drystone. It was built about 1,300 years ago and is rather small inside, fitting maybe 10-12 people total, with only one small window. This thing is smaller than my bedroom.

Luckily at this time of the day there was only one other couple at this sight, so we could enjoy the small grounds without feeling like we were holding anybody else up. From here, we made our way back to Dingle so we could experience all this small town had to offer.

When we first arrived at Dingle for lunch, we stopped at The Dingle Pub for fish and chips and a drink. I loved the colors of this pub – the stark contrast between white and emerald green made this place photo-worthy. The outside was fun and colorful, while the inside was warm and cozy (like ALL Irish pubs!). While Chase stuck to the tried and true Guinness Stout, I decided to change it up and sip on a Bulmer’s cider, a good pairing with fish and chips.

For our evening adventure we strolled the town, noticing all the brightly colored buildings and homes which were a staple all over Ireland – especially in the smaller villages. It definitely gives this seaside town some character and charm. I snapped some photos of all the brightly colored buildings and rustic doors. There wasn’t much of an agenda for us in Dingle; our main goal was to enjoy the present moment and relax. The more I think about it, the more I realize we had plenty of time to relax and take it all in, regardless of where we were in Ireland; whether it was in a bustling city like Dublin or a tiny village such as Kenmare. This wasn’t a vacation where I felt like we needed a vacation afterwards. That’s a rare occurence.

The last thing we did in Dingle before heading back to Kenmare was head straight to Murphy’s, grab an ice cream cone, and plop ourselves at the docks across the street during golden hour. Sweets are hard for me – and by hard I mean hard to choose. It’s one thing I’d rather not share, and you typically will rarely see me split a dessert with anyone. Not even Chase. The only exception I make is when I literally have no room in my stomach to have my own serving; those are the times where I have stuffed myself to the point that it’s distracting and I am moaning about how sick I feel.

That’s the only exception. So for that very reason, we opted to grab some ice cream before dinner.

The light was beautiful, and while it’s tempting to consume all my golden hour time with photo taking, I was more interested in devouring my melting ice cream cone while sitting next to Chase with our feet hanging off the edge of the dock. I snapped a few photos of us on our way to the docks and then a handful of the surrounding boats on the water (all with their own unique design) and we sat there until the sky was no longer blanketed with golden sun rays. After some time down by the water we headed for our car, drove back to our B&B in Kenmare, and finished off the night with dinner in the back corner of a cozy pub. Can you guess what we had for dinner?

Fish and chips y’all. What else?

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