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Our trip to the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Nov 4-14, 2010

Barb on the dunes at the end of Inch Strand:

This travelogue is long and some people are not able to view the whole thing so I have broken it up into 10 pages. Here are links to the shorter pages for those who need them (they are repeated at the end of each page as well). The web page was developed in Google Chrome so, if you use a different browser, it will not look the way I intend it to.

Page 1: Prep and Travel to London.
Page 2: Fri – Drive from Shannon to Dingle and Cottage.
Page 3: Sat – Dingle, Michael, and John Benny's.
Page 4: Sun -Storm.
Page 5: Mon - Storm.
Page 6: Tue – Inch Strand.
Page 7: Wed – Climbing and Set Dancing.
Page 8: Thu – Glanteenassig.
Page 9: Fri – Shopping.
Page 10: Sat:Mon – Return Home via London.
Original, all-on-one-page version.
Press here to return to personal picture menu.

This year we were travelling alone.

This was our fourth vacation in Dingle so I
will focus on those things which are unique to this trip.
Amazingly, we have not yet run out of things to do! Every year
is different (and seemingly better than the last) so please read all our
travelogues on this wonderful area to see the many interesting things it has to offer.
You will get much more out of them if you read them from earliest to latest since I don't repeat repeats.

Press here for 2009 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2008 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2007 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)


I apologize for the minutia that most people will find irrelevant; but, because we use these logs to plan our future trips, I record everything that might come in handy later. We came home with 848 pictures of which 409 were contenders and from which 354 were finally chosen (the 2009 log has 246, 2008 has 196, and 2007 log has only 122 so this year's is the longest yet!).

Most of the maps I posted here were created using screen caps from MapQuest and Adobe Photoshop. I found that MapQuest had more detail, especially in the shoreline, than Google. But, neither MapQuest nor Google was detailed enough for our nature hikes so those maps I created by scanning the Ordnance Survey maps we use when we were hiking and then photoshopping the scanned images together. Please do not rely solely on my maps if you travel to this area -- buy your own Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps they are invaluable.

Because I put these travelogues up in record time I'm SURE there are grammatical and spelling errors all over the place! I correct them as I find them but it YOU find any, please let me know! If you find any broken links, please let me know that, too.

I have received many notes from strangers who have read our logs and used them to plan their own trips. If you are one of these people, please know that we really love hearing from you and are gratified that you enjoy these as much as we do. Please keep your comments and suggestions coming!

Prep and Travel to London

Thursday, November 4

We had hoped to go in April, but when our friends invited us to join them at their time share on Grand Cayman in May, we postponed our Dingle trip until November. We actually wanted to go in October but all flights were full so we decided to see what the Irish 'winter' was like.

KC didn't make Executive Platinum this year so we used miles to book our seats. For some reason, AA changed the type of aircraft they fly to Ireland and the business class cabin on these planes had not been upgraded. We didn't think the old configuration was worth 200 miles per person (yes, 200!) so we decided to fly in and out of London and spend a day there on our return.

Inbound, we chose to stay at the Heathrow Airport Hilton because it is walking distance from the terminal. For our return, KC used his Marriott points to book a room at the Marriott County Hall in the centre of town. What an ENORMOUS difference in quality between those two hotels, as you will soon see….

We decided to fly Aer Lingus in and out of Shannon, rather than the cheaper Ryan Air, because we didn't want to travel to another airport. Aer Lingus also offered a FREE flight from Shannon to London at the crack-of-dawn on Saturday (we assume they need to get the plane back to London) and, although the airport taxes and other fees drive the final price up to around $40, we got a kick out of flying "free".

Dingle in relation to Shannon:

Close-up of Dingle Peninsula:

Since we were travelling alone we took three bags, instead of our normal two, partially because we weren't sure what the weather would be like and partially because I didn't know how much organic food would be available so I brought a lot with me, all in glass containers (I no longer use plastic). We also brought both pair of walking sticks. This caused me to get only one hour of sleep the night before we left because I had to distribute the weight evenly amongst my two bags yet keep all irreplaceable things in my carry-on. I also had to restore a semblance of order to the house.

We left the house about 15 minutes late but there was no traffic and no one in line at either check-in or security. Thursday morning is definitely the easiest time to fly! Our flight was only half full and left on time at 10:05 am. We had the two middle seats and checked out the movie offerings as soon as they were available. Avatar was on the menu so, inspite of my severe sleep deprivation, I settled in, watched it twice, and wished the flight was long enough to have watched it a third time.

I eschewed all the meals they served (I didn't want a migraine and didn't get one). KC had the omelet with bean salad for brunch, a ham-and-cheese croissant with grilled veggies for dinner. We both ate the nuts. KC listened to music and then fell asleep.

Passing the time on the plane on the way over:

We landed on time, we breezed through customs, and then we made our way to the hotel, the Heathrow Airport Hilton . Although it was late, 10:00pm, the airport was crowded and Heathrow is a large convoluted place so we did not make our way very gracefully – three suitcases plus three carry-ons were unwieldy and we had a LONG way to go through winding passages, up and down stairs and elevators, and even on the subway – so we got to the hotel close to midnight tired and bedraggled. They gave us room 410 on the forth floor as far away from the lobby as possible and through at least 6 sets of double doors that required two people to hold them open. Remember, we were dragging six pieces of luggage. When we finally got there we discovered that the door had no handle. NO DOOR HANDLE AND THEY STILL SHOW IT AS A BOOKABLE ROOM?!?!?

KC went back to reception and returned to tell me that they had now given us room 170 on the ground floor, 30 feet from the lobby, so we had to make our way back through those 6 double doors. I hated this hotel more and more every minute I was in it.

The second room must have been their very last room: The bathroom had rails everywhere and only a curtain (no tub) between the shower and the rest of the room. The entire room was tiled in white and there was no shelf over the sink or any other place to put our toiletries. It also had an anteseptic smell. If you are handicapped please don't misunderstand these comments. We recognize that wheelchair-friendly rooms are necessary; but this one was not what you would expect in a Hilton. It felt like a hospital, not a hotel.

It was after midnight now so I had a quick snack while KC checked his email. Unfortunately, this was a bad week for him to be away work-wise: he had two important projects with critical due-dates smack-dab in the middle of the week and he would spend much of the "vacation" working. We checked the bed for bedbugs, and fell into it, thankful that we'd only be here a few hours. Remembering the bad experience we had here on our trip to Russia I can now say that this is truly a horrible hotel and I hope we will never be back.

Travel to Shannon and on to Dingle

Friday, November 5

Our flight to Shannon left at 10:00a.m. Heathrow advised us to allow 2.5 hours for check-in so we got up at 6:30. Neither of us wanted to shower in that awful room so we put our old travel clothes back on and returned to the airport. We breezed through check-in and security with 2 hours to spare so we nipped into The Tin Goose for breakfast; fried eggs, ham and coffee for KC and oatmeal and cappuccino for me. It was pretty good for an airport restaurant.

The (Aer Lingus) flight left on time. We were in row 12, the exit row, and were told to put everything – and I mean EVERYTHING including purse, coat and fanny pack – into the overhead bins for takeoff and landing. The flight was uneventful but the takeoff was a bit rough and when I casually mentioned "my stomach" to KC he rummaged in the seat pocket and handed me the air-sickness bag. I laughed all the way to Shannon. We landed on time, our bags came out quickly, and the rental car pickup was easy (it's across the street from the terminal here, thank goodness) but the ATM in the arrival lounge was out of order so KC traipsed to the departure lounge for cash. We bought some water for the trip and were on our way to 'heaven' by 11:30.

We used Hertz this year and rented an Audi A3 hatchback.
It had a 2 liter, I-4, 200-horsepower engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.
KC said it was fun to drive but it was a bit small (all our bags didn't fit in the back)
and it dragged around corners when it was full of luggage:

The countryside was much greener than I expected for this time of year.
Many of the trees were turning and the colors were beautiful.

Using last year's "best map ever" (we did remember to pack our maps this year)
we decided to take the scenic route along the coast from Limerick to Listowel
rather than the slightly shorter inland route through Castleisland.
(We drove by the castle in Listowel but did not stop there).

Route from Shannon to Dingle:

Although the route was scenic it seemed like we were constantly behind a slow-moving vehicle. They were all so different from what we see in the US, and so different from each other, that I started taking pictures of them. They were taken through the car windshield so, unfortunately, many of them are blurry; but they will give you an idea of the weather and landscape at this time of year.

Slow Moving Vehicles on the way to Dingle:

We drove nonstop to Garvey's Market in Dingle where I got some cash and we stocked up on staples – eggs, sausage, bread, cheese, mustard, mayo, beer, cider, salad and veggies. I was surprised and pleased to see a LOT of organic foods, including things like coconut oil, avocados, and arugula (they call it rocket), so next year we will travel much lighter.

Garvey's Market advertizes that they support Irish products and, I suspect, that most of the things grown locally are organic whether they're labeled as such or not although I could not find any data on the subject. I'm pretty sure rBGH is banned in the EU and I know that there are virtually no Genetically Modified Organisms there because of their strict labeling laws. Why the US is so far behind in this respect is beyond me.

Because we had not stopped to eat on the way we were both famished and, not willing to cook (or clean up), we had a late (4pm) lunch at Murphy's Pub . KC had fish (breaded cod) and chips, I had the Dingle Bay house-cured salmon salad appetizer, and we shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The salmon was rich and flavorful but the portion was huge, a full meal. KC ate the 4 slices of brown bread that came with it. He had a guiness and I had an Irish coffee. It was a perfect meal.

Before we left Chicago, Caitriona had sent me a note saying that Michael would be leaving for the Canary Islands the day after we arrived and that she would not be around Dingle either. This is the slow season for them and it is when they take their own vacations. We were disappointed but we understood. However, if there was a possibility of seeing Michael, even for a few hours, we would take advantage of it, so we drove down to Michael Herlihy's Siopa Ceoil an Daingen to see whether he was in.. He wasn't so we drove on to the cottage. On the way to the cottage I called Phil and let her know we were on our way.

Graigue Cottage
our home base for the next 7 days

The cottage in relation to Dingle:

As you can see, there are two routes from Dingle to the cottage. The northern route through Ballyferriter is a little shorter; the southern route along Slea Head dive is a little longer but more scenic. We generally take the shorter route in the evenings (when there isn't much to see), and the scenic route when the weather warrants it.

The cottage we rent is owned and managed by Philomena and Alec Ó Conchúir (O'Connor). We call it the The Philomenal Cottage, an intentional misspelling, because the cottage and Phil are both PHENOMENAL! The cottage is large but cosy, traditional but with every modern-day convenience, and is ideally situated to either explore the countryside or just sit and gaze out the windows. It is truly perfect. And the owners concern for your comfort and safety is unparalleled.

Obviously, we love it, since we have stayed here three years in a row and have already booked next year's trip. I have posted a few pictures below; but, rather than reiterate all of its virtues, here is the link to a webpage I created with dozens of pictures and other information that anyone looking for a rental in this area would be interested in knowing:

Press here for pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).

Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).

When we got to the cottage, just after dark, it was like coming home. Although it had been over a year since our last visit, it was still as clean and neat as it was on our first visit! We were surprised to see that the fridge was FULL – cheese, eggs, milk, juice, hummus, mustard, mayonnaise…all the things we'd just bought at Garvey's! Apparently, the last occupants had not opened many of the things they'd bought so Phil left them for us. And, of course, there were freshly baked scones on the counter.

Shortly after we got in Phil stopped by to tell us that she'd left us some burgers in the freezer in case we hadn't had time to stop for dinner. She really is the most amazing hostess.

Because it was dark when we arrived (and because it was our third visit), we have no shots of the cottage as it looked when we got there so I am reposting some pictures from 2008. Each photo below will take you to the cottage website where you can book your own stay, and you WILL want to do that because this cottage is, without a doubt, the best one around not only for the physical amenities it offers, but for the efforts that Phil and Alec make to insure that your vacation is truly special.

The exterior (taken at 5:30 p.m. in April of 2008) was all stone, a requirement for us:

Press here for more pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).

Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).

The foyer (these stairs are now carpeted):

On the right was the living room (the furniture was very comfortable):

The dining room with seating for 8:

The BREATHTAKING view from the living-dining area:

The fireplace, visible from both the living and dining rooms:

Another view of the living-dining with view of the fireplace and entry to kitchen:

The kitchen is huge:

The master bedroom (which has an attached bathroom with tub AND shower):

In addition to this bedroom there are THREE OTHER BEDROOMS each with AN ATTACHED BATHROOM, and every bathroom has HEATED TOWEL BARS and a SHOWER. There is also a HALF-BATH RIGHT BY THE FRONT DOOR (invaluable when you are running in from a long trek in the hills with a full bladder). The house truly is perfect and you will not regret it if you choose to stay there.

Although the exterior is stone, the interior is plaster, so if you are concerned about spiders and other bugs THERE ARE NONE IN THIS HOUSE! There are also no bedbugs (yes, we did check, as we do everywhere we go).

(An interesting story Phil told me about this cottage: they refer to it within their family as "John na Ghraige" from the original owner, John of Graigue, as it was called "John of Graigue's house" when he lived there. It has also been known as "Tig na Chonors", or "Conor's cottage" after the subsequent owners (who were not, by the way, the current O'Conors who now own it). I find stories like this to be fascinating.)

Press here for more pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).

Press here for link to the cottage website (a new window will open).

When Phil left, we finished unpacking (there is a place for everything in this wonderful cottage!) and then KC had a conference call while I updated my journal. I called Michael and arranged to meet him at Siopa Ceoil an Daingen tomorrow and told him we would call again in the morning when we knew what our schedule would be.

We had a light dinner and played two rounds of cribbage both of which KC won. They were close, though. At one point he needed only one point to win but I counted first and I had just enough to go out! I then finished my journal, while he read, and we were in bed before midnight.

EOD cribbage score: KC=2 BH=0

Dingletown and music at John Benny's

Saturday, November 6

We still had a touch of jetlag and slept fitfully so we were up early which is unusual for us. The sun was shining and the ponies were frolicking in the pasture so KC went out and took some pictures.

The cottage, seen from the street

The shore, seen from the cottage

The back of the cottage, seen from the shore (look how green the grass is!)

A shepherd and his dogs herding sheep

The ponies, Shasha and Timmy:

When KC came in, we went through the guide books and made a list of the things we might want to do this trip, agreeing that we would play each day by ear. Neither of us wanted to rush around or adhere to schedules or plans. We would do whatever seemed like a good idea at the time even if that was staying in and reading.

On the list, in no particular order, were:
Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Beach on Inch Strand
Peddlar's Lake/Loch an Duin near Conor Pass
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)

It rained while we ate breakfast and then the sun came out. We decided to go into Dingle town. While KC showered I texted Michael and told him we'd be there in one hour. We drove to Michael's Siopa Ceoil an Daingen and, while we were there, met two of his friends: Jim, a former teacher, and ???, a biker and the former owner of An Droichead Beag . Both of them were uproariously funny and had some good suggestions on things to do in the area. It is encounters like this that would never happen if we travelled during the tourist season.

Earlier in the year, I had sent Michael and Caitriona a list of the music I wanted and they had managed to find 8 CDs for me, which I bought. Michael then went over the week's music schedule and made recommendations. Since he was leaving for the Canary Islands the next morning we agreed to meet him at John Benny Moriarty that night – Pauline Scanlon would be singing!

From there, KC went to the Internet café across the street to download his email, while I did a bit of shopping. First, I bought a gorgeous sweater at Lisbeth Mulcahy , and then I went to Dingle Crystal . KC met me there. Sean was in and we discussed the Star Trek decanter stoppers I was hoping he would be able to make for us. He said he couldn't do them (he only cuts crystal, he doesn't pour it) but would see whether some friends of his could cast them for us. We arranged to meet him at An Droichead Beag during the week for a pint.

We walked down to Garvey's Market for kleenix and aspirin; then on to the chemist for hydrogen peroxide (I use this as a mouthwash); and then drove back to the cottage. KC had a beer and we shared a Devil's Bit strong cider brewed in Tipperary. I preferred it to Bulmers we usually buy – it was less sweet – so I will look for it here. The Kopparberg pear cider pictured below was also very good, even though it's made in Sweden.

I started listening to the CDs I'd just bought (so far, my favorite is Sean O'Se) and made a list of my favorite songs to give whoever was playing tonight if they asked for suggestions.

Here is my list:

01. I'll Tell Me Ma
02. Galway Girl
03. Sligo of Bulben
04. Nil Ni La
05. An Po car Buile
06. Baidin Fheilimi
07. Newry Highwayman
08. Big Strong Man / My Brother Sylvest
09. Iniskillin Gragoon
10. The Spinning Wheel

Two ciders that we like more than Bulmers

Around 5:00pm it sleeted! It felt really wonderful being inside this sturdy cottage while the weather raged around us. KC brewed coffee and then loaded the dishwasher. We added Michael and ???'s suggestions to our list of possible things to do – Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

At 7:00pm we left for John Benny Moriarty. KC had shepherd's pie and I had pan-fried sea bass. His pie was good, as was my fish, but my fish came with skin (I don't like skin on my fish – why do I keep forgetting to ask about this before ordering!) and everything was mercifully low in salt. The warm apple cake with cream and berry sauce was delicious, as was the Irish coffee. I also forgot to take pictures.

We played cribbage until the music started at 9:30. There were FIVE musicians: 2 fiddles, 1 guitar, 1 accordion, and Pauline. Pauline sang some of my favorite songs but the instrumentals were all reels. Michael arrived around 10:30 with his son, a very nice young man. He (Michael's son) didn't stay long though. John Benny turned his accordion over to Michael for the last two tunes, some very lively barn dances.

Musicians at John Benny Moriarty (lightened drastically due to camera deficiency)

We bought two CDs: The Side Over from Jeremy Spencer , the younger fiddle player, and Red Color Sun from Pauline. We also bought the musicians a round of drinks. Even though they had finished playing, they stayed for the round!

Tony, a friend of Michael's whom we had met two years ago, popped in and stayed for one drink. He is SO INTERESTING to talk to! We bent his ear until they shut the place down, and then we drove Michael to An Droichead Beag (he lives nearby).

We drove home slowly, since it was raining again, and we were reminded that Tony had told us there was a big storm expected to blow through tomorrow. Wow! A Storm! We've been hoping for a storm for 4 years now! But … we also hoped it would hit after Michael's flight left Dublin for the Canary Islands.

Back at the cottage we played cribbage. This year we decided that we would play for 'dish duty'. Since I wash dishes every single day when we are at home I really don't want to do them on vacation so, at a minimum, KC would have to split them with me. HOWEVER, every round of cribbage that I won would be one day of my turn for dishes that he would have to do.

We went to bed around 3am.

EOD cribbage score: KC=2 BH=2

Watching a Storm on the Atlantic

Sunday, November 7

We were really looking forward to the storm but wanted to know when it was expected to start so we turned on the TV – the first time we've done that since we've been coming here – and KC looked for the weather channel . He had trouble finding it. The sky was overcast and the animals were skittish – the sheep were running to different fields and the horses were whinning with no dog in sight. There were lots of birds around, too. But there was no wind or rain. We tried to find a forecast using the internet connections on our phones (there is no phone or internet in the cottage - a good thing) and found one which mentioned only intermittent rain. Perhaps Tony had been wrong; or, the forecast had changed.

We needed to know because, if the weather was going to clear, we would go hiking, but we didn't want to be caught on the mountain by a storm. We finally decided that since it was a blustery day, storm or no storm, we would stay in. We ramped up the heat and settled in with books and cameras. We texted Michael to see whether he made his flight, given that we knew he had been out very late the night before. We caught him on his way to the airport (I really hope he wasn't driving and texting at the same time!) and he said that the flight hadn't been cancelled and that he was confident he would make it out before the storm hit.

Around 1:00pm Phil stopped by to warn us about an impending storm! There was flooding expected and some trees would be downed. If the lights went out, she said there were a torch (flashlight) and some candles in the kitchen. She thought we would be disappointed by the "bad" weather forecast and was surprised when we were exactly the opposite. While we didn't want anything to be damaged, we were looking forward to seeing large waves crashing against the rocks in front of the cottage. The location of the cottage and the large picture window would be the PERFECT place to watch them. She showed us how to find the weather channel but it was in Gaelic! Nevertheless, we now knew a storm was coming! Apparently, storms are not unusual for this time of year, which is another benefit to coming in November.

The note Phil was going to leave if we had not been home
(evidence of how well she takes care of her guests):

Location of the cottage with respect to the coastline:

The calm before the storm:

After Phil left, we lit a fire, broke out the cheese, crackers, and pear cider, and settled in to watch. Garvey's Market no longer stocked that black rind local cheddar we'd enjoyed on an earlier visit but the St. Killian's mini full cream cheese was really delicious as were the Jacob's cream crackers (my favorite crackers ). At 3:00pm I started cooking a beef stew – it would be a perfect dinner for a cold wet day.

The fire:

The ponies were huddled in a corner of the field. Since they couldn't graze KC went out to give them some carrots but they refused to come to him.

The ponies, huddling in a corner of the field:

KC fighting the wind back to the cottage:

The sea was rough, but not as bad as we expected it to be:

The surf:

We had kept the TV on and suddenly they started reporting in English: "…a low pressure front was moving in causing gale force winds tonight, it would be calmer with rain tomorrow, and there would be gale force winds again tomorrow. Flooding was anticipated in low-lying areas. " So, we would get a storm but it would be at night when we couldn't watch it! What a disappointment.

The wind was loud and there was some rain but the surf never really got rough. We ate the stew – the meat was dry but tender and the sauce was thick and spicy. It wasn't as good as Colleen's but it was edible and the sauce was great with bread and butter. We got the candles out just-in-case and then whiled the rest of the day away reading and listening to music.

This year I brought the small MP3 speaker??? that Em had given me and it was FANTASTIC! The unit is dual voltage so all we needed was KC's universal travel adaptor and a multiple plug. I hooked both the speaker and the MP3 player into the adaptor via the multiple plug and we were able to listen to my favorite tunes without having to worry about batteries. Fortunately, there are outlets EVERYWHERE in the cottage so we moved the music to whichever room we were in.

We played some cribbage and at one point KC won 6 games in a row (there are three games in a round)! He kept getting double runs and I was getting zippo. I did one crossword and then we went to bed. It was around 2am.

EOD cribbage score: KC=5 BH=4

More Storm, Lunch at Harrington's, More Storm

Monday, November 8

We woke up at 8:00am to see huge waves crashing against the promontory!

Although we hadn't had enough sleep, we jumped out of bed to photograph them but the camera had trouble focusing on the spray in the low morning light. I had to focus on a rock and then wait for a wave to hit before depressing the shutter the rest of the way. KC checked the topographical map for the height of the promontory and determined that it was about 30 metres high which meant that the waves, or the spray from the waves, were 30 metres high, too!

The waves:

The ponies had moved to the other side of the field so the wind direction must have changed.

The ponies, huddling in a different corner of the field:

KC had lost enough cribbage games yesterday to be responsible for the dishes for the rest of the trip so we decided to start anew and play for money -- the change jar at home, which we normally split. I made breakfast – scrambled eggs, sausage, packaged potato cakes and toast. The eggs and sausage were delicious but the potato cakes were so-so. I don't eat pre-packaged food so I had only the eggs on a piece of kamut-flour bread I had brought with us.

Farm fresh eggs, sausage and toast for breakfast:

The sky cleared a little but the wind and waves continued and I was able to get some decent pictures! They aren't 'great' though because our camera isn't waterproof, at times I was taking them through the window, and our poor old camera has trouble focusing in low light.

A series of shots showing a wave breaking on the promontory:

The rain eventually stopped but the sky kept changing become more interesting to watch than the sea.

The changing sky:

Around noon, the weather seemed to be breaking, so we dressed for hiking and drove into Dingle. We took Slea Head Drive.

The small ford crossing Slea Head drive:
which we were afraid would make the road unpassable
and force us to turn around:

A bad photo of the amount of water crossing the road:

Slea Head drive (we stopped to take some pix):

KC downloaded his mail at the Internet café while I went into the sporting goods store to find a dry-bag for the camera. They didn't have one.

We drove down to Garvey's Market , stopping at Dingle Crystal on the way to invite Sean and Liz to meet us at ADB on Wednesday. At Garvey's, we restocked the pantry, then went to the chemist ( Walsh's on Green Street ) for latex gloves (I use them when preparing food), and finally to Harrington's. for lunch – plaice and chips.

The fish was very good but we both prefer cod. We surmised that because of the rough seas there had been no fishing and, therefore, no fresh fish. Plaice was all they were offering. Since it didn't wow us the way it did the last time we ate there I looked online and there were some interesting reviews on Trip Avisor. It seems that they're OK in the off season but have trouble coping with the volume during the summer.

Harrington's plaice and chips:

By now it was too late to go hiking so we returned to the cottage. On our way there, around 3:00pm, we stopped at Clogher Beach. OMG! I had no idea what a STUPENDOUS VIEW of the waves we would get there! The waves we saw this morning were impressive…but these were downright awesome! They were huge rolling crashing things rushing to the shore in clouds of buttercream-like foam. The sun would blind us and then it would rain. It was wonderful! We found out later, this is where the 'natives' go to watch the waves during a storm.

The waves on Clogher Beach (taken with my little Lumix camera):

The waves on Clogher Beach (taken with the Canon EOS camera):

Suddenly, KC decided to walk up ONTO THE PROMONTORY! In retrospect, I wish I'd gone with him, based on the pictures he got, but I would have slowed him down considerably and he might not have gotten them. I did get a picture of him while he made his way, though

KC on the promontory:

This is what he saw:

Looking back on the car park where I was waiting:

The waves coming in to the beach:

The waves hitting the rocks:

I think this is where he got drenched:

Clogher Head Beach with respect to the cottage:

When KC returned, he was soaked to the skin, including his feet, but said it had been worth it! When we got back to the cottage we put his boots on the radiator – he'd only brought one pair – and hoped they would dry out overnight.

About an hour later, the weather worsened; the waves seemed to be higher and the rain was driving at times. The ponies were no longer huddled in the corner, though, so either they were starving or the storm was letting up.

A wave obliterating the rock at the end of Sibil Head:

It got darker and darker and the waves got higher and higher until the camera was no longer able to see them. When I had started taking pictures this morning, promontory-high waves were remarkable. Now, promontory-high was "normal" and twice that was remarkable.

The highest waves I was able to get a picture of:

At 5:30 the sun went down and we could no longer see the sea but the wind and rain continued. The forecast now was for the rain to end at 8:00pm, 25k winds to continue overnight, and a 1°Celsius wind chill, which is just above freezing.

We played cribbage (KC was still skunking me), and feasted on bread, cheese, and cider for dinner.


The wind stopped at around 7:00pm but it was still raining lightly when KC started doing laundry at 8:00. I went to bed early, at 10:00pm – too many nights with not enough sleep had caught up with me. I did not sleep well as it was warm in the room and I couldn't open the window because of the rain so I know the wind and rain continued all night. KC finished the laundry, read, and watached TV. He says he didn't get to bed until 2:30 although he did admit to dozing on the sofa.

EOD cribbage score: KC=7 BH=5

Stonemasons and Inch Strand

Tuesday, November 9

We both slept until 11am today and woke to see that the sky had cleared and the sun was shining. You would never have guessed how bad it had been the night before.

Our list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Inch Strand
Peddlar's Lake/Loch an Duin near Conor Pass
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)
Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

It was a GLORIOUS day so we decided to tackle Inch Strand. We've gone there every year, hoping to walk to the end, and every year it's been too cold and windy. Today was beautiful, perhaps we would make it this time…Remembering how cold it had been in the past, I bought with me every piece of protective clothing I had!

Inch Strand:

On our way to the car, we saw some stone masons working on the building next to the cottage. Before we arrived, Phil had told us that the old sheep shed had fallen down and was being rebuilt. The perimeter walls had been completed and the old stone – saved from the original shed – was being applied to the outside, just as the walls of the cottage had been faced with the stone from the one which had originally stood in that place.

We asked if we could photograph the workmen and they agreed. In the process we saw how incredibly well constructed these two buildings were. The photo below is of the steel supports between the two outer walls and the roof. It also shows the steel supports within each wall.

Steel supports reinforcing brickwork:

The young men building the outer wall were supposedly some of the best in their field and were happy to explain what they were doing.

The stones saved from the original shed:

The mallet used to break them into smaller pieces:

Choosing a stone:

Seeing if it fits:

Knocking off a little bit:

Smoothing the mortar:

Laying the stone:

The other side, which was almost finished:

Giving the ponies some carrots:

It really is beautiful and we can't wait to see it finished. But, we had things to do, so we gave the ponies a few carrots and then we piled in the car and set out for Inch Strand! We were on the road a little after noon and got there just before 1:00pm.

Inch Strand
(this map was created by scanning in parts of surveyor's maps #71and #78 and stitching them together):

According to www.dingle-peninsula.ie: "The 5km long dune-covered sandy spit at Inch is one of the largest dune fields in Ireland. To walk eastward from the crashing waves of the Atlantic surf of Dingle Bay through these large active dunes to the quiet lagoons and mud-flats behind in Cromane Bay is to witness nature caught in a dynamic, yet harmonic, tension of wind, sea, and sand. Magnificent!"

When we got to the beach we were disappointed to see that Sammy's Café was closed for the season – no hot coffee and pastry after our trek – so we bundled up in the parking lot. Or, I should say, I bundled up. KC, who likes to be out in "weather" wore only jeans, a sweatshirt and windbreaker.

KC, dressed for the beach:

I, on the other hand, was wearing the following:

1. hairnet to keep my hair out of my face
2. ski goggles to keep the wind out of my eyes
3. ear mitts
4. balaclava to keep the wind off my face
5. Mongolian lamb scarf
6. a Barbour jacket to which I had sewn fur around the edge of the hood
7. fleece gloves.
8. leggings
9. waterproof Sorel boots with wool inserts

Underneath all that I was wearing a fleece jacket and a thin cotton tank top. Layers, in case I got a hot flash and needed to cool off quickly. I look like I was headed for the North Pole, don't I? LOL!

Barb, dressed for the beach:

For the very first time (and this is the third time we have attempted to walk to the end), I was warm and comfortable on this beach! I knew I would be able to walk as far as KC wanted to go without suffering. And what a glorious walk it was! The sun was shining, the wind was at our backs, and there were lots of waves which the wind whipped into spikes. We walked as close to the water as possible because the sand was harder there and easier to traverse.

Walking on the beach:

We walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. It seemed like the beach went on forever; and, the closer we got to the end, the further away it seemed. I started to peel. I flipped the neck of the balaclava over my head and unzipped the neck of my jacket. My scarf, which was attached to the back of the jacket, was flung over my shoulders, off my neck.

Getting hot:

Finally, we seemed to be nearing the end!

The end is in sight:

The end!

The dry grassy terrain near the dunes, very hard to walk on:.

Someone else was here! But we haven't seen a soul…

KC wanted to climb ONTO the dunes and when we got to the end of the spit we saw a path that seemed to go into them so up we went. We were amazed at how unique and varied the terrain was up here. Walking was difficult though. The ground was dry, in spite of all the rain we'd just had, and the sand was constantly shifting. I fell once when I misjudged the height of the floor, which was hidden by the grass, after which I tried to follow KC but I was pretty much crashing blindly along hoping nothing bad happened.

Onto (into?) the dunes:

The dunes:

Weird circles in the sand caused by the wind blowing the grass around, literally:

Slogging my way through the deep sand:

The scenery around us:

When we got back to the beach we had to decide which way we would go. I really wanted to return the way we came, on the Atlantic side, but I knew KC wanted to see the Cromane Bay side and, unaware of how far away that would put us from the car, I agreed to go along.

Inch Strand
Look how wide it is at the top, where the parking is:

I found the Cromane side to be deadly boring. The sand was rigid and hard to walk on, the wind was stronger, and there was no surf. The water was calm and uninteresting. Looking at the photos now I can see that it really was beautiful; but, at the time, it was tedious to walk along, compared to the Atlantic side.

The Cromane Bay side of Inch:

The hard deeply ridged sand on this side:

Bird footprints on the sand!

Again, we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. About one third of the way back (or so I thought) KC wondered when the tide would come in. Although the beach was wide, it was not steep, and if the the tide came in fast I would not be able to make it back to the safety of the dunes! Did that thought ever light a fire under my tired butt! I practically ran to the dunes.

I now also realized that, when the sun went down, it would not be visible from this side of the spit but would surely be spectacular on the other side. So, we walked along the base of the dunes, looking for an easy way across them. We came upon a marsh with little white dots on it that turned out to be swans! At this point there appeared to be a path across the dunes so we started to cross but realized that we were at the widest part of the spit so we returned to the trail along the base of the dunes until we were closer to the narrowest part. Thank goodness KC had brought the topographical map.

Inch Strand
I think the dotted line is the path we were following.
and that we started to cross where it begins (at the widest point of the strand)
and then eventually made our way across about one third of the way down:

The marshes where the swans hang out:

The path along the base of the dunes:

It was 3:30 now and I was really worried that I would miss the sunset! We found a sort-of trail and made our way laboriously to the other side. I found the dunes VERY HARD TO WALK ON! The sand was constantly shifting and there were deep holes everywhere. I used my sticks A LOT to determine where it was safe to tread. I wish I hand't been in a hurry to get to the other side because the views were stunning..

The path to the other side:

Looking back on the Cromane Bay side:

Slowly, picking my way across:

Stopping to cool off again:

A really interesting basin of sand that looked like the moon:

Barb, traversing the moon-like basin:

Always looking down to make sure I didn't fall into a hole:

I was SO tired of this…

Finally! The Atlantic side!

We finally made it over to the Atlantic side about one third of the way down the beach. Relieved, we now walked slowly back to Sammy's waiting for the sun to set. Walking was much easier on this side and the sound of the surf was so relaxing I could have walked forever. Although we were still walking along the water's edge, we were much closer to the dunes now so the tide was definitely coming in.

I love the way the sky looks at this time of day!

It was almost 5:00 when we got close to Sammy's Café and saw a CROWD of people on the beach! I guess I'm not the only one who wanted to see the sun set here. There were also a few people surfing.

The crowd at Sammy's Café :

We retraced our steps a bit so that we could get people-free photos. In many of them you can see how the wind was whipping the tops of the waves into finger like tendrils. I could have watched them for hours.

The sun setting on Inch Beach:

When we checked the map, we realized we'd walked 8.3 miles!

I tried to get a shot of Dingle at night but it didn't come out:

There was no one on the road ahead of us all the way into Dingle so KC had fun with the curves which are better here than the ones on Slea Head. We stopped at Murphy's Pub for dinner – fish and chips for KC and Dingle Bay salmon for me – and took our dessert home with us: sticky toffee pudding for me and chocolate fudge cake for KC. The to-go version of the sticky toffee pudding isn't as good as the eat-in version…there isn't enough of that delicious sauce they serve with it.

Murphy's Pub Fish and Chips:

Murphy's Pub Dingle Bay salmon dinner:

To-go sticky toffee pudding:

To-go chocolate fudge cake:

In retrospect, I think today was the best day of this vacation. We accomplished a long-time goal, it was as rewarding as we thought it would be, and there was some excitement as well. The only thing I will do differently for next year will be to get some goggles with prescription lenses. My eyes are very dry and I need goggles if it's at all windy but I missed not seeing with the clarity I get when I wear my glasses.

KC had a conference call at 8:30 so he jumped in the shower when we got back and I updated my journal. I wanted a cup of coffee but we had forgotten to put the cream back in the fridge before we left this morning and it was too thick to pour now. I noticed that my lips were chapped, so next year I need to remember to bring a salve for them.

Around 9:00pm it started to rain but there was no wind. KC took his call and was upstairs until 11pm! The call didn't go well. He'd been doing damage control and there was more required now that the call was over. It would be another late night for him and we had hoped to get an early start tomorrow. I went to bed around 12:30. KC took two more calls and then read for a while to calm himself down. He fell asleep after 1pm and said it was still raining.

EOD cribbage score: KC=7 BH=5

Hiking and Set Dancing

Wednesday, November 10

We got up just before 9:00am today to another gorgeous morning. It's wonderful that views like this are right outside our window:

Our updated list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Peddlar's Lake/Loch an Duin near Conor Pass
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)
Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

We had a quick breakfast and coffee with milk today because the cream was now butter. At 10:00am we were on the road to Conor Pass hoping to find Loch an Duin which came recommended by both Sean Daly and Michael's friend as offering a gorgeous view of the valley below, and to see Peddlar's Lake which we knew was just past the narrow part of Conor Pass.

The route from the cottage to Conor Pass:

The route from Conor Pass to Loch an Duin:

The weather at Conor Pass was the mildest it's ever been for us. In the past, the wind has been so strong I could barely stand up, but today I didn't even need my hood. It was also the first time we've seen sheep on the hills.

Sheep on the hill at Conor Pass Lookout:

Behind the parking area we saw a path up the mountain and assumed it was the one leading to Loch an Duin. We followed it as far as we could. It petered out fairly quickly so we wandered around off the path for about an hour but there were several small rivulets, the ground was very wet, and we weren't wearing our waterproof boots.

From the path, looking back on the car park at the lookout point:

Looking for Loch an Duin:

The weather was changing, too. The sky was overcast and the fog was so low that even if we had found the lake, we wouldn't have been able to see anything!

The fog closing in on us:

While we were on this mountain, in this fog, KC's phone rang. It was a colleague, asking to reschedule a conference call which had been planned originally for noon our time, or now. Could they reschedule the call for 3:30? KC gladly agreed to the change! Look where he was! (If the call had not been rescheduled, KC would have participated, here on the mountain, as we made our way down, and I would have had another story to tell.)

Right after that, we decided to give up our search for Loch an Duin and went back to the car. We drove on, through the narrowest part of the pass, to Peddlar's Lake.

Low-lying fog on Conor Pass:

When we got there, there was another car there and we could see 4 people making their way down. They didn't have walking sticks, were wearing street shoes, and they didn't seem to be having any trouble but they were much younger than I am. Although it looked very steep, I agreed to give it a try.

Looking up at where we were going:

I went very slowing and relied heavily on my sticks. The only time I fell was when one stick collapsed: it hadn't been tightened securely enough when I adjusted the length. KC re-tightened it and didn't have a problem after that. But, it took me a long time to get up there because I really did take baby steps.

Making my way up to Peddlar's Lake:

Almost there…it's just over that ridge….:

When I finally got to the top I knew it had been worth the effort: the lake is beautiful! But I don't think the view we had was as good as it could have been because of the low-lying fog which obscured the top of the surrounding mountain.

Peddlar's Lake (Loch an Duin):

I stayed at the base of the lake while KC went on up and around to the right. The photographs he took looking down on the lake are gorgeous but the lake was too big for our camera to capture in one frame so KC took several shots and I stitched them together in Photoshop. You can see where they are joined but you can also see what the entire lake looks like! What looks like a white camera malfunction at the top of each shot is actually cloud cover.

Looking down on the lake:

Making my way back down (backwards was easier somehow):

The waterfall at the bottom:

According to www.dingle-peninsula.ie: It's been only 10,000 years since the last of the ice melted here, and the signs of alpine glaciation are everywhere, from the mega-scale classic U-shape valley of the Glenahoo to the micro-striations on the corrie walls surrounding Peddlars Lake.

KC had a conference call at 3:00pm so we drove back to the cottage and had a quick lunch. KC took his call while I updated my journal, then I read my book while he sent emails via his phone. There is no Internet connection in the cottage – and there shouldn't be, we come here to get away. We lost track of time and suddenly it was 6:30pm, time to get ready for tonight's music experience: Set Dancing at An Droichead Beag !

We drove down to An Droichead Beag and played cribbage until the music started. We were thrilled to see that it was Jeremy Spencer, the young fiddle player we'd heard at John Benny Moriarty last Saturday, and his partner on the CD we'd bought, Sean Leahy ! They were so good, I was thrilled to be able to listen to them again. In fact, I'm listening to them as I'm writing this page!

Sean Leahy and Jeremy Spencer at An Droichead Beag :

There were some set dancing lessons being given in the back of the bar, with recorded music, but we didn't watch them. Sean Daly came in around 10:00pm and KC went to the back to chat with him and his son, Shane Daly, and his second cousin, an attorney who works in Waterford.

Around 10:30 a group of 8 set dancers gathered in front the musicians and started dancing! They were normal people, not professionals, but they were very good! Set dancing is a lot like square dancing but with more intricate footwork, quite a bit of jumping, and a lot of stomping/tapping. I want to learn set dancing now!

Set Dancing:

I have a wonderful film clip of them dancing but I have not yet figured out how to upload a movie.

They only danced for an hour because the musicians wanted to go home. I bought another CD (to give as a gift), bought them a round of drinks, and then went to the back and spent the rest of the evening chatting with Sean, Shane, and ???. I was surprised (and pleased) to learn that Shane is a long distance runner and might be coming to the US for the next Chicago Marathon . We offered to put him up but we doubt he'll take us up on it. He's an attractive young man and I'm sure he wants to be close to the big city bar scene. Although there are plenty of attractive young women in Naperville we don't normally hang out with them.

I had some basic questions about life in Dingle and this was the perfect time to ask them. Here are the answers:

1. The closest hospital is in Tralee which is over an hours drive away!
2. Emergency services number is 999.
3. The closest cancer treatment facility is in Cork.
4. Christmas week is a HUGE tourist time for Dingle.
5. Last year it snowed on Christmas.
6. The Half Door Restaurant on John Street is a great place to eat.

When we told Sean about our hiking experience, guess what he told us… Peddlar's Lake and Loch an Duin are one and the same! No wonder we didn't find a lake at the end of the trail across from the Conor Pass Lookout!

At midnight, An Droichead Beag closed the bars in the front and back of the room and moved everyone into the room next to where the live music had been. There was a DJ there now and he was so loud we truly couldn't talk. We kept moving further and further towards the back but it didn't make much difference so we left at 1:00am.

When we got back to the cottage KC grabbed a bite to eat and we played another round of cribbage which KC, again, won. I am getting creamed!

When I was creating this webpage and looking for information on Peddlar's Lake I found these pictures of the area taken by a Shane Daly. I suspect he is the Shane Daly we met that night. Even if he isn't, you should look at the photos – they will take your breath away.
Shane Daly's pictures of Peddlar's Lake

EOD cribbage score: KC=10 BH=6

Glanteenassig Forest Park and Loch Caum

Thursday, November 11

We woke up at 9:30 today. I had a slight migraine and my whole body aching. Too much indulgence last night? The weather was sunny when we woke up but quickly turned to rain and the seas were rough so there was lots of discussion on what we should do today.

Another dark and windy day:

Our updated list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)
Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

The forecast was for 128kph winds today but only 68kph winds tomorrow and intermittent rain on Saturday. We tried to call An Droichead Beag to find out who would be playing that night but they didn't pick up the phone. We finally decided to do Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes today and leave the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park tomorrow. We would save the Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain) for next year when, we hoped, our friends Em and Forrest would join us.

We were on the road at 12:07! We stopped at Morans Garage for half a tank of gas and then drove off through the Conor Pass to Castlegregory.

The route from Ballyferriter through the Conor Pass to Glanteenassig:

Close-up of Glanteenassig Forest Park
(This map was stitched together from surveyor's map #70 and #71):

According to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.:

Glanteenassig is a 450 ha. area of woodland, mountain, lake and peatland nestling in a sheltered valley among the Slieve Mish mountains. To reach it the visitor must step off the beaten track, travel up the valley and feel the remoteness of the mountains. Behind the trees the area abounds with streams, lakes, waterfalls and dramatic cliffs which characterise this untamed landscape.

At Aughacasla we turned onto the road leading to Glangeenassig. The road was very narrow and, of course, there were slow moving vehicles blocking our way. The first weren't a problem but when we pulled up behind a HUGE tow truck we wondered if we'd ever get around him (and how he'd ever get back down this narrow road). He soon pulled into a truck farm (or whatever they're called) and we were unencumbered the rest of the way.

Traffic on the way there:

Scenic road (these roads are probably stunningly beautiful in the summer):

Is this the forest, up ahead on the right?

When we got to the first car park we ditched the car and walked along the stream to the Loch. The wind was whistling in the treetops and blowing across the water but we were protected from it by the tall everygreens in the forest! According to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.:

The wood is approached through a small grove of beech between the entrance and a bridge that spans the Owencashla river. Just over the bridge is a car park. The forest, typical of those which were established in the 1950's and 60's consists mainly of Sitka spruce and Lodgepole pine. However, there are some pockets of silver fir, larch and beech in the more sheltered areas and some native species such as birch, alder, and holly. As areas mature and are clearfelled much of the spruces are being replaced with larch, alder and Mountain ash in keeping with the primeval forests that once colonised the area. The first opportunity to experience the beauty of Glanteenassig is about 1.2 km from the car park.

Just after crossing a wooden bridge, take a left along the trail to the shore of Lough Slat. This quiet and serene lake nestles below the imposing hill of Doon and the majestic rock face of Carrigaspanaig. This scene can be even more dramatic after heavy rain when "a thousand wild fountains rush down to that lake from their home in the mountains". ( J,J, Callinan ). It is easy to understand the origin of the name Glanteenassig or Gleann Ti an Easaigh which translates to the Valley of the Waterfalls.

Close-up of Glanteenassig Forest Park:
(This map was stitched together from surveyor's map #70 and #71):

The path through the small grove of beech to the bridge that spans the Owencashla river:

What I noticed was that there were quite a few trees either down or falling. The fallen trees, with their wide root systems sticking up vertically into the air, were covered with a gorgeous layer of moss; some of them were even growing a new trunk out of the uprooted roots. We saw one tree that was in the process of coming down: every time the wind blew it would lean over about 45°, the roots would hover 2-feet above the ground and groan. Fascinating.

Fallen trees:

Trail to shore of Loch Slat:

Bundled up – it was cold! Colder than Inch Beach….

Panorama of Loch Slat below the hill of Doon and the rock face of Carrigaspanaig:

Between Loch Slat and Lock Caum:

We returned to the car and drove down to Loch Caum. According to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.:

Back to the forest road and take the trail to the right which leads the visitor up along the bank of the river Owencashla and back on to the road again. Continue along the road to a T junction, take a left and after 100 metres you are on the shores of Lough Caum with a board walk right around the lake. This lake is a trout angler's paradise. From here the landscape opens up to a 360 degree vista of mountain, forest, lake and valley.

Close-up of Glanteenassig Forest Park:
(This map was stitched together from surveyor's map #70 and #71):

We got out of the car and fought our way to the boardwalk. The wind was so strong that I took one step back for every step forward and nearly fell over when I finally reached the edge of the lake. There was a space of about 3 metres with no railing that I would have to traverse and, even though the boards were covered with wire mesh to discourage slipping, I knew that with that wind I would be in the lake within seconds so I turned around to go back to the car.

The boardwalk around the lake:

Bundling up for the walk again:

KC noticed that the other end of the boardwalk had a railing that went all the way to the end so we crossed over and started moving in that direction. Once again, we came to an area with no railing so I told KC to go on without me. I waited there while he walked on ahead for about 5 mintues. He came back raving about the beauty and I knew he wanted to go all the way around so I went back to the car.

Waiting for KC (you can see mesh on boards in this shot):

In addition to the gale-force winds, I still had a headache, even after two cups of coffee, so today was not going to be a teriffic day for me and I didn't want to let that ruin KC's fun. I hadn't taken a Zomig because they make me tired AND they make me run to the bathroom every 5 minutes but, since I knew we were going to leave for home shortly, I took one, and napped until KC got back.

When he did, he told me that he had nearly been blown into the lake and that the wind had been so strong it had ripped the lens cap right off the camera. He'd gone running after it and retrieved it but that was further proof that I had made the right decision to stay in the car. We plan to return on a less windy day because the area is truly gorgeous.

KC's walk around Loch Caum from left to right:

Is this where the wind knocked the lens cap off the camera?

And was this the shot he was trying to take at the time? LOL!:

The end is in sight:

Looking back on the boardwalk:

The end/beginning of the trail:

We drove home quickly. The wind was getting stronger and the rain harder. On an impulse, we stopped at Clogher Beach again and the waves were bigger than before, but they were different, cresting over a big rock on the left this time. The spray was all over the parking area and even followed us up the road when we left! KC got out (with difficulty, the wind was so strong he could barely open the door) and took a few pictures. Then we took some through the car window. I could have stayed there the rest of the day but KC needed to get back.

Foam coming up the stairs and into the air:

The spray that hit the back of the car as we drove away:

At 4:00pm the waves seen from the cottage window were cresting over the promontory and the sea was very rough. The sun was still shining but clouds soon moved in and by 5:00pm it was solid grey. Inside the cottage the wind reverberated in the fireplace flue, it whistled past the windows, and it whipped the surf to a roaring frenzy. Through all that nasty weather, the stonemasons worked on the shed next door. Amazing.

The stonemasons working in this cold wet weather:

I went upstairs at dark and took a nap until 8:30pm with the rain beating down on the skylights (I love that sound!) KC started a load of laundry and said that the wind was still blowing but the rain had stopped. I wished it had been light enough to see the surf.

My tongue hurts! The hydrogen peroxide I've been using as a mouth wash seems to be stronger than what I buy here in the US. I've stopped using it and will check the solution strength when I get back (note to self: in the US the solution is only 3% whereas the one in Ireland was 6%!)

I read my book (The Unthinkable) and heated up the leftover stew while KC took another call. After dinner we played cribbage. Guess who won?

EOD cribbage score: KC=11 BH=7


Friday, November 12

I slept fitfully since I was still under the influence of the Zomig I'd taken and had slept too much in the afternoon. I woke up at 8:30 and got up at 9:30. It was another bleak day (good thing we LIKE bleak days!) but when KC got up, he saw a rainbow, and went outside to take some pictures:


I tried to make hard-boiled eggs but couldn't remember the recipe and it was too early to call my guru, Em. I covered them with water, brought them to a boil, and then removed them from the heat. How many minutes should I leave them in the hot water? After three, I peeled one and the white was still goopy so I gave them another two minutes and tried again. They were still goopy! After 10 minutes the whites were finally set but now the yolks were hard as a rock! I wonder what I did wrong.

When he came back in, KC cooked the rest of the sausages and potato cakes. For dinner we planned to cook the burgers Phil had left for us with the leftover potatoes, onions, and peppers, the aduki beans, and brussels sprouts in a mustard cream sauce so I started soaking the beans. We had bought pasta, too, but that would have been too much food!

Our list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)

Our list of things to do was dwindling and all that were left were whole-day trips. KC had work to do and coulnd't afford to be gone that long so we decided to make this a local day. I really wanted to go back to the Holden Leather Goods factory we'd visited last year and get a bag like the one Elke bought. I've been looking for something similar ever since and haven't found anything even close. I contacted them before we left and they said they did have another one in stock (last year, Elke had bought the last one they had).

Dingle Harbor and location of Holden Leather Goods Factory:

The long and winding road to Holden Leather Goods Factory:

KC was on a tight deadline – he needed to get to the Internet café by 1:00pm – so I promised to be quick and he agreed to drive me there. When we arrived, the house cat went right up to KC, did figure eights around his legs, and purred to beat the band! KC played with the cat while I bought my bag – a gorgeous crocodile-embossed black leather tote – and then we were back on the road to Dingle. I actually couldn't have stayed long even if I'd wanted to because I am allergic to that cat!

Animals love KC!

My Klingon friend, John, said these pictures reminded him of this YouTube clip clip, from the movie The Last Unicorn, and I had to agree! It even looks like the same cat!

Dingle Street Map

After we left Holden Leather Goods, KC went into the Internet café (which is at the bottom of Main Street, near the The Mall, and across from An Droichead Beag) while went off to do some last minute shopping. We agreed that we would have a late lunch at Lord Baker's restaurant when he was done.

On Green Street, I picked up some gorgeous water-color greeting cards by Dingle artist June McIntyre , and some ceramic Ogham horoscope pendants, at Dingle Art Works

At Lisbeth Mulcahy , I bought an alpaca scarf for KC in lavender and grey, and one for his father in black and tan.

When the woman in Lisbeth Mulcahy asked about my (new) bag and I told her I'd gotten it at the Holden Leather Goods factory she told me that she used to work there! She also said that they were having financial troubles, like many other retailers in the area, and might not be in business next year. I was glad I'd done my part to avert that. I will be really sorry if they do fold because the quality of their work is outstanding. So, please, if you visit Ireland, buy something from the Holden Leather Goods factory! It rained off and on while I was walking around sometimes quite hard but never for long. My new bag was a very stylish way to protect my new purchases, especially the greeting cards, and it was large enough to hold everything!

Finally, at Dingle Crystal , I choose two glasses in their newest pattern, Solus , which looks like tongues of fire, for KC to vet. The pattern will coordinate with with my old favorite, Dingle Flame, and I thought the Iced Beverage Glass would be perfect for beer….

I looked in at a jewelry store up the road, Niamh Utsch and fell in love with her work. Unfortunately, the shop was closed for the week but I will definitely stop by on our next visit.

Walking along Main Street I noticed that the light was on in Siopa Ceoil an Daingen so I went in and, lo and behold, I had caught Catriona during the 5 mintues she'd nipped in to collect the mail. We talked for a few minutes and then went our separate ways. I was so glad to have seen her, though, even if it were only for a few moments.

When KC was done working he met me at Dingle Crystal and approved my choice – two Solus beer glasses, and agreed that we should get the frosted version as it makes the pattern really stand out. We also bought KC a Kerry Freedom of the Road biker's t-shirt. The t-shirts Sean sells are the same stellar quality as his crystal – thick and luxurious.

Solus Beer Glasses, frosted

It was after 2:00pm now and the Lord Baker's restaurant, where we had planned to have lunch, closed at 2:00pm so we went to The Goat Street Café instead. I have wanted to eat there for the past two years – they serve organic fare – but they had always been closed when we'd been close. KC and I shared a delicious potato-and-leek soup, he had a bacon-leek-and-cheddar tart with a salad, and I had the lamb tagine. Everythng was delicious but it was a lot of food so I took most of the tagine home. KC had a glass of shiraz with his meal but we skipped coffee and dessert (although the latte being consumed by the gentleman at the table next to us looked delicious).

Potato Leek Soup

Bacon Leek Tart

Lamb Tagine

While we were eating, KC read an article in the paper which said that there had been some damage from the weekend's storm in parts of the country, particularly around Connemara and County Mayo. On our way home we passed a car which had the sun roof open and A DOG'S HEAD WAS STICKING UP OUT OF IT, ENJOYING THE BREEZE! It was the funniest thing! The dog was in heaven!

Joy-riding pooch!

When we returned to the cottage KC went upstairs to take another call (I did say this was a bad time for him to be away – he spent too much time working when he should have been relaxing) while I had a cup of coffe and finished my book.

When KC came back down, I started cooking dinner: the beans went into a pot with garlic, cumin, oregano and habanero (I brought the habanero with me). While they were cooking, I halved the brussels sprouts, sautéed them in ghee and then simmered them with a bit of water while I mixed the old cream-which-was-now-butter with some milk and hot mustard powder (I brought the mustard powder with me, too; we love spicy food). I poured the cream mixture over the sprouts and turned the heat to low.

Meanwhile, KC pre-cooked the potatoes. He took another call at 8:30 and then sautéed the potatoes with onions and peppers. He was going to add Phil's burgers but realized that we had way too much food! I washed the cilantro and sprinkled it over the beans. The entire meal was delicious, if I say so myself, but we had a lot of leftovers.

I never did get through to An Droichead Beag but, in retrospect, it wouldn't have made any difference who was playing tonight because we couldn't have gone anyway.

Around 11:00pm it started to hail and the lights flickered so we lit 2 candles. KC was upstairs on another call. At 11:30 the lights went out entirely. I took all 3 candles upstairs and, when KC finished his call, we got 2 more storm candles from the cabinet over the microwave but, even with 5 candles, the room was dark (it's a big room!) so I went to bed.

We didn't clean up the mess in the kitchen because 1) we didn't want to open the fridge door and 2) the hot water generator was off. KC stayed up and read. When the lights came back on around 1:15am they did so intermittently and caused the heat control to buzz (probably because the timer was now set incorrectly). He couldn't figure out why so he turned it from timed to constant.

EOD cribbage score: KC=11 BH=7


Saturday, November 13

When we got up this morning there was still no hot water so KC deduced that the pilot light had gone out on the boiler. While he went down to see whether he could re-light it I emptied the dishwasher and put last night's dishes to soak (yes, I know, I should have done that last night). I called Phil to find out what we owed her but didn't get through.

KC and I discussed what we should do on our last day. It was raining but there was no wind to blow the rain clouds away so the rain never stopped. KC had been unable to find the pilot light so I called Phil again for advice and I did get through this time. She said, "Yes, there was a pilot light," and she told me that Alec would be right over to fix it as KC would not be able to figure it out. She would be along, too, to sort out the bill.

KC had gone back to the utility room so I went down to tell him that Alec was on his way and Alec walked in! They worked on the water heater (a state-of the art high-volume unit) – a spanner (wrench) was required to turn on the pilot -- and then had a long discussion on alternative energy and the economy. It seems to be the same everywhere – politicians are corrupt, the economy is in the dumper, and alternative energy is coming down in price but still too expensive.

Alec and KC in the boiler room

We went inside and had coffee while we waited for Phil. We then had coffee with Phil while she regaled us with stories of the area – like the fact that she rode her bike 10 miles into Dingle every day as a 13-year-old to attend school, and that her mother would WALK into Dingle every Saturday to bring food to her children who were boarding there. I won't repeat them all here because they were long and involved but they were so interesting that we lost track of time. Phil "left" three times but we kept finding new things to discuss!

Our updated list-of-things-to-do:

Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park
Tomies Oakwood in Killarney National Park
Ring of Kerry ( Valencia Island, Fogher Cliffs and Geokaun Mountain)

By now it was 2:30 and still raining so we decided to stay in today and leave Killarney and the Ring of Kerry for next year. I gave the ponies the last of the carrots. Déaglán, Phil and Alec's son, was working on the shed today and told me that the horses needed to loose weight and would soon be moved off the grass. Was he trying to tell me not to give them carrots? From now on, I guess I should ask first!

KC heated up the potatoes from last night, I had the leftover stew. I started to get another migraine so I took 1/3 of a Zomig with a cup of coffee and had the last of the sticky toffee pudding. I felt better around 4:30. At 5:30 I went up and started packing. At 7:30 I came down for dinner – leftovers again – and made sandwiches for our road trip tomorrow from the last of the bread and cheese. We played cribbage which I WON!

EOD cribbage score: KC=11 BH=8


Sunday, November 14

Our flight left from Shannon the following morning at 8:00am so we set the heat to go on between 2:00am and 4:00am and set our alarms for 3:00am. We were in bed by 10:00pm. The next morning, we wrote a quick note in the visitor's book (why do I always leave that untill the last minute?!?) and were on our way at 3:40am.

It was pitch black when we left and there was almost no one on the road. To keep myself awake I started counting cars: we passed between 40 and 50 but only 8 were going in our direction. Most of them were between Tralee and Limerick, the shortest leg of the trip. We had forgotten to fill the fuel tank yesterday and were running low but there were no stations open at this time of day so I wondered what we would do if we ran out….call emergency services, now that we knew their number? KC said, no, we'd find the nearest station and sit there until they opened.

Fortunately, we didn't need to do that. The Hertz lot at the airport was closed and there was a sign on the gate instructing us to return the car to the short-term parking lot which was right by the entrance to the departure terminal – nice! We got there exactly on time, 5:45am, and breezed through check-in and security (we did a lot of breezing this trip, didn't we?), and then had a coffee in the café while I filled out the VAT refund forms (why do I always leave them until the last minute, too?!?) We dropped off the forms and went down to the gate area.

Aer Lingus departure lounge

We had lots of time and it was cold down there so we played one game of cribbage which KC won. At 7:20 we lined up, walked up the stairs to the plane, and took our seats. We were in the exit row again but this time we knew the drill and stowed everything overhead without being asked to. In the air, we bought drinks from the sky café with the last of our change and consumed the last of the sandwiches. KC read and I updated my journal. One hour later, we landed.

We waited a loooong time for our bags and ended up with one of those luggage carts that will only go sideways. We found a cambio, changed our last 50euros into British pounds, and grabbed a cab to the Marriott County Hall , in the former County Hall building across from Parliament and Big Ben and next to The London Eye, an enormous ferris wheel. The cab to the hotel was almost $100!!!

What a posh hotel!

Our room at the Marriott County Hall

Look at all the counter space in the bathroom!

A complimentary umbrella in the closet next to the minibar!

The unusual arched windows (and the London Eye right outside them)

The view (yes, that is Big Ben)

We checked in, dropped our bags, and then went right down to breakfast. I wish I had taken pictures of the common areas of the hotel – there were arches everywhere, lots of richly carved wood, and gorgeous. We both had the breakfast buffet and it was supberb. KC had eggs, bacon and potatoes; I had eggs and smoked salmon. Today was Remembrance Day (similar to our Memorial Day) and they observed two minutes of silence at 11am. Big Ben – which was right across the river – rang at the start and the end.

Breakfast Buffet eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, smoked salmon and, in the second pic, cappuccino

After breakfast we went upstairs to change and watched the Remembrance Day Parade on TV. It seemed to be behind the Parliament building, which was directly across the street from us, but it never occurred to me that that would mean mobs and mobs of people.

We had planned to spend the day in the British Museum but, in the cab on our way to the hotel, we had seen the line snaking out the door and around the block so we gave up on that idea and decided to just walk around. We ended up in a THRONG of spectators who had been watching the parade, which WAS behind the Parliament building. It was truly awful – crowded, slow-moving, the ground littered with trash, and lots of people were smoking.

Map of where we were:

KC managed to maneuver us out of it and into St. James Park , London's oldest Royal Park, which was wonderful – towering maples with leaves a big as a man's head, willow trees with their branches dragging on the ground, and ducks and geese looking for a handouts.

St. James Park
Look at the size of the people compared to the size of these trees

And the leaves, almost a foot across

We crossed over the Blue Bridge (above), with Buckingham Palace on one side and Whitehall on the other, and walked around to The Mall, the Queen's ceremonial route from Buckingham. We arrived in time to see the posting of the Guard!

Posting of the Guard

We walked up to Buckingham Palace (we saw someone exiting Marlborough House in a Rolls) and then high-tailed it back to the hotel because I had to pee!

Panorama of Crossing the River Thames

I had been wearing my hood up until now – it was raining steadily – but got a hot flash and threw off whatever I could. We had the complmentary Marriott umbrella with us but it did no good and I got drenched. I arrived at the super posh hotel looking like a drowned rat and barely made it to the ladies room. I'm sure they thought I was a bag lady, crashing the joint!

We went upstairs, I cooled off, and then we went wandering around the hotel playing cribbage. First we tried the (exclusive) Executive Room where the coffee was undrinkable; then we went down to the hotel's Rotunda Lounge where they had an extensive menu of unusual cocktails. We were in heaven! We each had three different ones (or 6 unique drinks in all) and they were as beautiful as they were delicious.

Cocktails in the Hotel's Rotunda Lounge
(I'm trying to remember how those lemons were suspended in that drink on the right…
I think they were threaded on a pick which was narrow enough to be hidden when the glass was full.)

I was feeling the effects of the alcohol so we ordered some food (fried squid for me and chips for KC). We continued to play cribbage and I ended up winning three games to KC's one. The score was now KC-12, Barb-11. I was still behind but I was closing the gap! At 5:30 we paid our tab ($100!) and went back to the room. KC fell asleep while I updated my journal.

The lounge we had been in for so long was full of Easter lilies, which I am allergic to. We tried to sit as far away from them as possible but I came upstairs with a migraine so I took 1/3 of a Zomig. KC had work to do so I took a short nap and then watched a fascinating program on the white Alba truffle.

When KC finally finished working we dined on the cheese and crackers the hotel had given us because of KC's status in their Rewards program and played two rounds of cribbage (we won one a piece). We repacked our bags slightly for the final leg home and ordered tomorrow's breakfast: a duck-egg omelet for me, pancakes with caramelized bananas for KC, and coffee with full-cream (not milk) and honey. The food here is really good and I don't trust the food on American Airlines so I wanted to fill up here before we left.

We had arranged for a car to take us to the airport at 7:00am so we ordered breakfast for 6:00 and were in bed by 11:00.

EOD cribbage score: KC=13 BH=12

Return home

Monday, November 15

Our breakfast arrived at 6:00am sharp and the coffee was very good but my omelet was overcooked and cold (and tasted just like chicken eggs, not duck) and KC's pancakes were very dense and heavy. We made our way downstairs at 6:55 and I used the ladies one last time while KC paid the bill. That awful breakfast was 36 pounds!

Room Service Breakfast

The ride to the airport was uneventful. We had a little time to spare, and some extra change, so I bought Linda some Smarties and we sat in the Admiral's Club until boarding time.

The movie selection on the return flight was not as good as the outbound – neither Avatar nor Star Trek – so I watched Sherlock Holmes and LOTR II. KC also watched 2 movies but I don't remember which ones. He ate the meals, I didn't. We left and landed on time but there was a HUGE line at passport control. The only ameliorating factor was the adorable beagle they had patrolling the line. Watching him made the time pass quickly.

Our car was waiting for us and we were home by noon. I should have started working on this web page right away, as I've done for every other trip, but the house was a mess and our cleaning crew was scheduled to come on Wednesday so I spent the next two days getting the house ready for them. No, I do not clean for them, I tidy. Right after that, I started preparing for Thanksgiving (we were hosting it this year) and after that I went right into the Christmas rush, so early January was the first opportunity I had to get it up.

I don't think I've forgotten anything crucial (I will add it if I find that I have) but I put this up in record time so I know there are both grammatical and spelling errors. I will correct them as I find them.

When we first got back, I felt like we had taken it easy and not done as many thngs this year as in previous trips and that the travelogue would be shorter, and easier to compose. Hah! It ended up being the longest one to date. I guess those few extra days which enabled us to relax inbeteween our excursions really made the trip more relaxing. The only drawback was that KC had to work so much of the time. So, although we enjoyed being here at this time of year, we won't be coming back in November until after KC retires!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog – I hope it helps you plan your next trip to Ireland!

EOD cribbage score:
KC=13 BH=12

(NOTE TO SELF: All the forms I filled out specified "no customs stamp, no refund" and I had seen no place in which to get a customs stamp so I wrote to their Chamber of Commerce and was directed to this WEBSITE (www.revenue.ie) where I discovered that (1) only those goods worth over 2000 Euros needed a customs stamp, (2) there are drop boxes inside the terminal where you can place those envelopes to avoid having to send them in and (3) you can have your receipts notarized in the US if you are unable to get a custom's stamp. All of this was good news. Keep in mind that it will take 2-3 MONTHS for your refund to be processed. I JUST got mine, two months after we returned. )

Page 1: Prep and Travel to London.
Page 2: Fri – Drive from Shannon to Dingle and Cottage.
Page 3: Sat – Dingle, Michael, and John Benny's.
Page 4: Sun -Storm.
Page 5: Mon - Storm.
Page 6: Tue – Inch Strand.
Page 7: Wed – Climbing and Set Dancing.
Page 8: Thu – Glanteenassig.
Page 9: Fri – Shopping.
Page 10: Sat:Mon – Return Home via London.
Original, all-on-one-page version.
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Most of the maps I posted here were created using screen caps from MapQuest and Adobe Photoshop. I found that MapQuest had more detail, especially in the shoreline, than Google. But, neither MapQuest nor Google was detailed enough for our nature hikes so those maps I created by scanning the Ordnance Survey maps we use when we were hiking and then photoshopping the scanned images together. Please do not rely solely on my maps if you travel to this area -- buy your own Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps they are invaluable.

Note to self: bring the following next time: knife sharpener, stainless pans, dry-bag for camera, lip salve, prescription goggles.
Things to do next year:

Dingle Whiskey Distillery
Dick Macks
Ogham stones outside Dingle – where are they?
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OOAKFolk, Inc., and artist Barbara Healy are not affiliated in any way with the original manufacturers of the dolls pictured in this site. No photograph, text or graphic on this site may be copied without written permission from Barbara Healy. Copyright © 2004 OOAKFolk, Inc.

Last Revised: January 14, 2011
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