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Our trip to the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
April 7-18, 2011

The Four Musketeers in front of Graigue Cottage:

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This was our fifth vacation in Dingle !

This was our fifth 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
in order from the earliest to the latest since I don’t repeat the little tidbits that will make your visit more enjoyable.

Press here for 2010 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
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 over 1000 pictures of which 465 were contenders and from which 348 were finally chosen.

Most of the maps I posted here were created using screen caps from MapQuest, Google 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 HERE as they are invaluable.

Because I put these travelogues up as quickly as possible I’m SURE there are grammatical and spelling errors all over the place! I correct them as I find them but if 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!

This year we were travelling with
our friends Em and Forrest.

Prep and Travel to Dublin

Thursday, April 7

Although we had just been to Dingle 6 months ago we wanted to get ourselves back into a we-go-in-the-spring cycle so we invited our friends, Em and Forrest, to accompany us and booked the second week in April. This time, we hoped, all the people we know there would be in town.

Em has wanted to go to Ireland for ages and, in every picture of her she is grinning from ear to ear, she was so happy to be there (and incredulous that she actually was). Forrest, who has been reading the book, Hungry for Home , a fascinating book about the last of the Blasket Islanders, was looking forward to seeing the Blasket Islands and the other places mentioned in the book. KC’s mother had highly recommended the book to us and we had loaned it to Forrest earlier this year. Neither KC nor I had read it.

We booked our seats in coach and used KC’s system upgrades to bump us into Business class. At this time of year, AA is flying a 767-300 into Dublin so we didn’t have to make a pit stop in London to get a plane with an upgraded business class cabin (trust me, the old business class cabin on the 757 they fly from November to March is NOT worth either the points or the money they charge for it). Because this was Em’s and Forrest’s first, and probably their last, trip to Ireland we decided to go all out and spend our first night at Ashford Castle. I booked the cheapest room and Em upgraded to one with a view of the Loch Corrib.

I contacted Ireland’s School of Falconry and arranged a Hawk Walk for Em and Forrest (with me going along as photographer) and some time with Dingle (the owl, not the town) for me. We booked the walk for 3:30pm on Friday, the day we would arrive, so that we would have enough time on Saturday to stop at the Cliffs of Moher on our way to Dingle (the town). The following ten days we would spend in Dingle (the town), and our last night would be in Dublin, to facilitate getting to the airport for a 10am flight. KC used his Marriott points to book 2 rooms at The Shelbourne on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

The three areas we planned to visit, Dublin, Ashford Castle and Dingle:

Since our flight left at 6:45 pm I was able to get a good night’s sleep AND have the house clean before we left. Em and Forrest met us here and shared the limo to the airport. We left the house on time, arrived at O’Hare on time, and although the line through security was long, it moved quickly. We weren’t able to get into the Flagship lounge, which is reserved for international first class passengers, even though there is no first class on the flight to Dublin, so we hung out in the Admiral’s Club until boarding time. Our flight was only half full and left on time.

In the limo on the way to the airport:

I checked out the movie offerings as soon as they were available and was hugely disappointed to see that neither Avatar nor Star Trek were on the menu. I tried to sleep but couldn’t so I watched The Last Airbender which was a total waste of time. The special effects were good but the storyline was pathetic and the acting amatureish. Em watched part of it and agreed with my assessment. She also watched Burlesque and recommended it highly for the incredible dancing. KC watched True Grit and laughed through the whole thing! Forrest watched Get Shorty. Em and Forrest also tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep. Fortunately, KC was able to sleep, since he was our chauffeur.

Passing the time on the plane on the way over:

In December of last year I started a raw diet and, since then, the migraines which have plagued me for over 30 years have all but vanished. I knew it would be hard to avoid cooked food while traveling so I brought as much raw food with me as I could – sencha inchi oil, clear agave, spices, nuts and crackers – intending to eat it whenever we dined at the cottage. Therefore, on the plane, I eschewed all the cooked meals they served (I didn’t want a migraine and didn’t get one).

KC had the chicken tikka masala, Em and Forrest had the beef filet with red wine onion sauce, and Forrest also had the four-cheese ravioli in herbed wild mushroom cream sauce which I ordered but did not eat. I did eat the nuts, the smoked salmon, and the crudities. KC said his chicken was delicious and Forrest and Em loved their steaks saying they were as good as any they’d had in a restaurant. Forrest also thought the ravioli rivaled his former favorite. KC had the Chase’s Choice Cabernet Sauvignon, which was delicious. I had the Pinot Noir, which was good, but not as good as the Cabernet Sauvignon. For breakfast KC had the cheese omelet and I ate his fruit.

My meals:

Travel from Dublin to Cong

Friday, April 8

We landed on time, found an ATM and got cash, then KC went to the airport store and bought a soda and a bar of Cadbury’s. We picked up the rental car, and headed off to Ashford Castle in Cork, County Mayo a little after 9:00am The weather forecast for today was a scorching 20°C (68°F), much warmer than it has ever been for us at this time of year!

We used Avis this year and rented an Opel Insignia 2.0 Diesel .
It had a 2-litre 160-horsepower diesel engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.
The trunk was big enough for all our luggage and Em and Forrest said the back seat was comfortable.
(I must have the front seat because I am prone to motion sickness)
It was almost brand new: it had less than 500 kilometers on it. Remember that.

Our “best map ever” was starting to show its age – many of the N* roads are now M* roads, and the creases in the map are worn through in many places – so we made a mental note to buy a new one. The old map did get us to Cong, though, and with some from MapQuest, we found the castle. Thinking that the trip would take us 5 hours, and not wanting to miss our 3:30 hawk walk appointment, we took the faster route to Galway along M6, rather than the more scenic R* roads, and then went north on N84 through Headford where we took the R334/R335 towards Cong.

Route from Galway to Ashford Castle:

We turned into the Castle at Gortaroe, the road through the golf course.

Close-up of Cong in County Mayo:

The castle seen from Gortaroe Road, through the golf course:

When we arrived at the castle just after 11:00am, one hour before check-out time and almost three hours before check-in, we realized we’d made a mistake. The Castle staff were very gracious and offered us tea in the Drawing Room lounge, which we happily accepted, while we waited. And waited, and waited, and waited.

At 2:00pm they finally explained that, while our room was ready, Em’s and Forrest’s was not. The problem was that they had upgraded both our rooms and the people in the junior suite they wanted to give Em and Forrest had checked out late. They advised us that it would be worth the wait so we went for a walk around the grounds to pass the time. It was a beautiful day, the first nice one this year we were told. The sun was shining, the wind was calm, and it was a comfortable 17°C (63°F)

Forrest was very interested in the history of the castle , and in knowing which parts were the oldest, but we could find no documentation on that. We think it is the part on the far left in the photo below.

KC on the shore of Loch Corrib:

This is ONE tree:

There had been a wedding at the castle earlier that day and the guests and photographers were everywhere. We didn’t get a picture of the bride but I did take one of this beautiful horse-drawn carriage:

When we got back to the castle, Em’s and Forrest’s room was ready and it was indeed worth the wait. It was huge, with a separate sitting area, and a gorgeous view of both the lake and the river.

Em’s and Forrest’s room:

Our room:

We dumped our bags, then KC, Em and I headed off for the Hawk Walk . Forrest chose to stay in the room and catch up on sleep so KC came along as photographer and I took Forrest’s place on the walk.

It was a glorious day – warm and sunny with very little wind. The birds they gave us, both Harris Hawks, were Rua and Killory, the alpha female and a young male. Because we were the last appointment of the day, we got to give them lots of food and, therefore, got to see them fly a LOT! They almost seemed to be performing for us – swooping low and grazing our heads when they came in for a landing; landing when we didn’t have our fists out (a no-no for them); and landing simultaneously on one fist, rather than one on each – all of which made the walk very interesting. At one point Killory even landed on our guide’s shoulder, instead of one of our fists! It was a VERY entertaining walk. Our guide was from Boston, which was a bit weird, but she was very good.

A Harris Hawk:

Em started out with Rua, the large alpha female, I started with Killory, a young male:

As you leave the school compound, you hold their jesses (the leather straps around their legs) firmly between your fingers so they do not fly off before you tell them to (and, yes, they do try to!). To send them off you release their jesses and then throw your arm in the air:

They fly off into the trees, and follow you as you walk along, waiting to be called back:

To call them back, you extend your fist with your back to the bird…:

…then open your fist to give them the treat the guide has placed there (chicken parts):
They eagerly come back to your fist because they want that treat.

They fly low to take advantage of air currents near the ground:

Sometimes they land on the wrong fist!
There are two birds on mine here.
They were both on Em’s fist a moment earlier
but came to mine when Em, rightly, did not give them the food in her fist.
You can see our guide reacting to this unacceptable behavior, worried they would get hurt!

In this close-up you can see that my fist (with the chicken parts inside) is still closed
so they were not rewarded for this behavior. I threw them both back up into the air
and they had to land properly to get their treats.

We walked around for about an hour, then returned to the school and they brought Dingle out (Dingle is an Eastern Eagle Owl - you MUST watch this amazing video and this adorable one ) and we got to spend almost a half an hour with him. He had bruised his wing that morning so we didn’t get to fly him but we all got to hold him on our fists (boy is he heavy!) and his "step-mom", Deborah Knight, who had raised him from birth, spent that time with us and gave us lots of Dingle tid-bits, like the fact that he has four ears, each one positioned at a different place on his head and each one able to hear a different pitch, which he uses to triangulate exactly where his prey is. Because he depends so much on his hearing, his feathers are feathered so that his wings make NO noise when he flies.

Dingle’s step-mom, Deborah Knight:

Em’s turn:

My turn:

KC’s turn:

Deborah also showed us how Dingle is able to hold his head steady even when his body is moving (if he were sitting on a wobbly branch, for example) which makes him look like he’s dancing but enables him to better locate his prey. Amazingly, he can apply 200 square pounds of pressure with his talons…so we’re lucky he’s tame!

When he steps from one fist to another he has to make a conscious effort to ungrip his feet:

He really doesn’t like to be touched – birds think of our hands as feet and if you touch their body, especially their backs, they feel like they’re being attacked by a bigger bird. I didn’t try to hug him, although I wanted to, but I did stroke his gorgeous furry feet and he didn’t seem to mind. That half hour might have been the best part of the trip for me.

We left, reluctantly, at 5:15 because while we were waiting for our rooms KC had made a 6:00pm reservation for us at the Dungeon Bar , the pub at the Castle. We planned to have an early dinner so that we could get to bed early and make an early start the next morning. We had a long drive to Dingle and wanted to arrive before the grocery store closed. We went up to our rooms to freshen up agreeing to meet in the Prince of Wales Bar at 5:45 for a quick cocktail before dinner.

KC and I each had a delicious Pimm’s Cup cocktail in the Prince of Wales Bar and played cribbage while we waited for Em and Forrest to meet us.

We arrived at the pub a little late but at that time it was almost empty so there was no problem seating us. In fact, we had our choice and chose a table in a back corner. It was here that Forrest had his very first ‘real’ Guinness ! He agreed, as everyone does, that it tastes better in Ireland than in the US.

Forrest’s first real Guinness:

For our appetizers, Em had the butternut squash soup, KC had pork belly with boxty, Forrest had a selection of oyster preparations, and I had an organic salad. For dinner, Em had truffled fried fish, KC and Forrest had Irish rib-eye steaks, and I had pumpin seed pancakes. For dessert we shared a Guinness cheesecake.


Em’s soup was so good she asked for the recipe (but didn’t get it). My salad was also very good and KC enjoyed his boxty but Forrest was disappointed in the size of the oysters. It seemed to him that oysters around the world were getting smaller and smaller and these were no exception. We asked Niall about that when we were in An Canteen and he told us that there had been some GM experimenting done to force the oysters to grow large faster than normal, which had resulted in subsequent generations being smaller than normal, and that the oyster poluations were just starting to recover from that failed experiment. WHEN will people learn that GM food is bad for everyone and everything?


My entrée, the pumpkinseed pancakes with roasted vegetables, was excellent even though it was not what I expected – I thought they would be similar to a veggie-burger, mostly seeds held together with a bit of flour and eggs – but they were more like a breakfast pancake studded with pumpkin seeds. They were very tasty but had more gluten than I thought they would and I started to get a migraine right after eating them.

KC thoroughly enjoyed his steak. The prices were reasonable for the quality of the food, and the service was good until the place filled up, at which point the two girls working had trouble managing; apparently the wedding was monopolizing much of the staff and, in that back corner, we were sort of out of their sight. KC started nodding off (he’s able to sleep sitting up) and we joked about what they would do if they came to take our dessert order and we were all asleep, sitting up, at the table.

After dinner we took a quick walk along one of the roads leading up to the castle, took some gorgeous pictures of the castle at night, and then went back to Em and Forrest’s suite to try the gratuitous local sherry provided by the hotel. The room was very, very nice and the sherry was excellent; but, although it was not yet 9:00pm, we were really dragging, so we went back to our room agreeing to meet for breakfast at 9:00am. Our breakfast was included in the room rate and the dining room is only open from 8:00 to 10:00.

The castle at night:

A bad pic of the guys pretending to play chess at the gorgeous set on display in the lobby:

Back in our room, I went right to bed; but KC stayed up to watch The Quiet Man , which had been filmed in Cong. When I woke up, well rested and ready to face the day, I was surprised to see that KC was still up and the movie was still playing so I looked at the clock and was amazed that I’d only slept 1.5 hours. I was wide awake! I managed to fall back asleep and stayed that way until 5:30. I tossed and turned until KC woke up at 7:30 and we both got out of bed.

Travel to Dingle via the Cliffs of Moher

Saturday, April 9

We showered, dressed, and were downstairs in the George V Dining Room at 9:00am sharp.

WOW! What a spread! There was almost everything you might want – fruit (fresh and dried), cereal, homemade yoghurt, muesli, breads, jams, smoked salmon, cheese, sausage, bacon, creamy scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and a carved-to-order joint of the local ham. There was also an extensive a-la-carte menu featuring things like poached cod and a full Irish breakfast with eggs cooked to order.

Unable to resist, we dug in while we waited for Em and Forrest to join us. I am on a mostly raw diet now so I had fruit, yoghurt, and scrambled eggs; KC had bread, eggs, and every meat dish they offered. Em and Forrest tried almost everything, I think. On the juice bar, in addition to freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice they offered a smoothie of the day which, today, was black currant and apple and absolutely delicious. Between the four of us we must have drunk most of the container.

Our very elegant breakfast table:

Stuffed to the gills, we returned to our rooms, closed up our suitcases, checked out, and were on our our way to the cottage by 10:30. KC and I almost forgot our coats, which we’d hung in the closet, and KC almost left his cell phone in the bathroom; but, fortunately, we remembered them at the last minute.

I texted Phil to let her know we were on our way and she responded that she had had a rough week – the daughter of the women who had passed away the last time we were here had died of cancer the week before leaving 5 small children behind. Her husband was one of the men who piloted the ferry to the Blaskets so it was unlikely we would see them this year.

We left the castle via Cong, rather than the route we’d come in through the golf course. It was another very warm day today -- 18°C (65°F)!


Route from Cong to Dingle via Cliffs of Moher and Kilmer-Tarbert ferry:

The trip to the Cliffs of Moher was uneventlful until we got to the Black Point. Just south of Doolin Pier is a point of land jutting into the sea called An Rinn Dubh. I had originally thought the name came from the color of the rocks which covered almost the entire surface of the hill but this link mentions that a Spanish ship was wrecked on this "Black Point" in 1588.

In our case, because our car was fun to drive, and because Em and Forrest did not get motion sickness, KC was whipping around the curves and passing everyone moving slower than we were…until he hit a large pot hole and blew out a tire. It was a really bad one, too. We all heard a loud bang followed by a hissing sound and then the flap flap flap as the tire hit the pavement. So, this was certainly a "Black Point" for us!

KC pulled over and, in record time, he had the spare on the car. We were all amazed at the speed and grace (not a single harsh word was uttered) with which he accomplished this. We were also surprised that, throughout the entire process, Forrest was asleep in the back of the car. Apparently, for the first time in his life, he had motion sickness.

Yes, it really is flat!

Forrest’s first ever bout of motion sickness:

The rocks on Black Point:

What’s this? A hub cap? We are obviously not the first to have this problem in this place!:

The regular tire took up more room in the trunk/boot than the spare did, so all our bags no longer fit, and we had to bring some of them into the car with us. KC also had to tone down his driving, partially because Forrest wasn’t feeling well, partially because we had a "gimpy leg", and partially because we now had no spare and couldn’t afford another blowout. We also decided to take the N* roads rather than the more scenic R* roads because the N* roads were a little wider.

NEW Route from Cliffs of Moher to Dingle:

By now, it was almost noon, and I was worried that we might not get into Dingle, and Garvey’s, before they closed. Of all the things we needed from Garvey’s, facial tissues were at the top of the list. KC was recovering from a cold he’d picked up the week before we left and I had a bit of hayfever. The tissues I’d brought along were almost all gone!

We limped on to the Cliffs of Moher , arriving just after noon, and they were spectacular – visibility was not great and we could not make out the mountains of Kerry or the Twelve Bens in Connemara (also known as the Twelve Pins) but we were able to see the Aran Islands . Although it was warm, it was very windy and we didn’t stay long. We walked up to O’Brien’s Tower, built in the 1830’s as a viewing point for the tourists that even then were flocking to the Cliffs, we used the bathrooms, and then we got back on the road.

Cliffs of Moher:

The wind!

Our original plan was to have lunch in the visitor’s center, unobtrusively built into the side of the cliff, but we decided to press on to Dingle and have an early dinner at Murphy’s Pub.

Visitor Center and souvenir shops built into the side of the hill:

As we were leaving the Cliffs, I opened the bar of Cadbury’s that KC had bought at the airport and offered it around. Em took one bite and couldn’t believe how much better it was than the Cadbury’s we get in the US. She now understood the hoopla surrounding the Nestle buyout of Cadbury’s a few years ago. Forrest tried it and didn’t see any difference. So, we will bring a bar home with us and do a taste test when we get back.

We continued on to Killmer where we caught the Shannon Ferry to Tarbert . The 20 minute ride was so smooth that I couldn’t tell we were moving which was a good thing because, when I told KC that I didn’t want to get out of the car, he warned me, "If you ralph in the car you WILL be in trouble!" The car was new, remember. Em, Forrest and KC did get out of the car and got some nice pictures of the lighthouse at Tarbert. The fare for a passenger car, including passengers, was 18 Euros.

Killmer-Tarbert ferry:

Luckily, we had arrived in Killmer 10 minutes before it departed (they leave every hour on the hour) so there was a good chance now that we would make Dingle by dark. From Tarbert, we drove nonstop to the cottage, passing through Limerick and Tralee but without stopping in Garvey’s Market because we needed to unload our baggage to make room for the groceries. We did stop at Moran’s garage to get his emergency phone number (in case we had another flat) and his hours of operations for Monday. Opening time was 8:30am.

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. We were in a hury now so we took the shorter route.

On our way into the cottage we realized that, in adition to the Blasket Islands, Forrest would also have the opportunity to see Dunquin and many of the other places mentioned in the book Hungry for Home . We got to the best cottage on earth around 5:00pm.

I took some new pictures for this webpage (which are shown below), we dumped our bags, we checked the fridge to see if there was anything in it (Yes! There were some of Phil’s wonderful scones in the freezer!), and then we turned right around and went back into Dingle.

At Garvey’s Market we stocked up on staples – eggs, sausage, bread, cheese, mustard, mayo, beer, cider, salad and veggies. We also got some clotted cream and jam for the scones; plus lemons and honey for my salads and shakes. To my disappointment, there were only a few organic veggies this year – lemons, celery, carrots, onions, apples and avocados -- and almost no packaged organic products. I suspected this was due to the new organic store up the road from Michael’s shop, Ré Nua , and I was looking forward to checking them out.

Garvey’s coffee selection was meager – no organics at all and only one fresh (i.e. not freeze-dried) coffee – so I was glad that I’d brought some of our coffee with us. There were quite a few sugars, including some organic ones, but not as much honey as in the past. While there were a few raw manuka honeys there were no organics and most of them were in plastic containers so we bought the only one in glass.

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 products there because of their strict labeling laws. Why the US is so far behind in this respect is beyond me.

We went to Murphy’s Pub , hoping for an early dinner, but they were full! It was Saturday night and the place was hopping. The waitress told us it would only be 20 minutes so we sat at the bar to wait. KC and Forrest had Guinness , and I had an Irish coffee, one of the best I’d ever had. Em tasted it an ordered her own but it was made by the bartender (mine had been made by the waitress) and it was different – more whiskey and less cream. I preferred the one made by the waitress but a man might prefer the one made by the bartender.

Murphy’s Irish Coffee:

Not 10 minutes later the waitress told us there was an open table by the door so we grabbed it. She brought us menus and then disappeared! Another table opened up, further from the door, so we moved, wondering whether that would confuse our waitress, but she never returned. After about ½ an hour I finally went into the dining area and got her attention.

Fortunately, the food at Murphy’s is good and was worth the wait. KC and Em had fish (breaded, not battered) and chips, I had the Dingle Bay house-cured salmon salad appetizer, and Forrest had beef lasagna. Beef lasagna? In Ireland? I hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed. Em had a bottle of Bulmer’s mixed berry cider with her meal and, like me, thought it was too sweet. Everyone loved their meals, though, including Forrest.

He and I both had sticky toffee pudding for dessert and it was NOT up to par! It seemed like they forgot to mix the dates into the rest of the batter – there was a ½” layer of sticky date-like substance at the bottom and a very dry cake on top which even their delicious caramel sauce could not remedy. It was not as good as before and, if this is their new recipe, I will not be ordering it again. I intended to come back later in the week for a second sample.

While we ate, a group of young ladies came in, dressed to the nines, and went to the back room; and then a group of young men came in and hung out at the front. We thought it was unfortunate that neither group knew the other was there!

I texted Michael asking him what music was on for tonight and he replied with something like, “Saturday night is a bad night!”

So, we returned to the cottage and, when we put the groceries away, we realized that we’d forgotten the most important item – the tissues! The others tried to stay awake while I updated my journal. Em was the first to crash followed by Forrest. When KC started to snore, I gave up. We went to bed and were asleep around midnight. I woke up once and it was so dark out I could barely find the loo. When the sky is covered here, there is NO light!

Graigue Cottage
our home base for the next 9 days

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 four 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 additional (almost 100) pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).

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

Here are the pictures I took when we arrived. As you can see, they are almost identical to the pictures we took four years ago on our first visit here which is testament to the care Phil and her family take in maintaining the place.

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 was all stone, a requirement for us
and there is parking for at least 4 cars:

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

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

The foyer:

On the right was the living area:
(we spent many hours napping in those chairs and the sofa is wonderful to sleep on!)

The dining room with seating for 8:

Yes, those are fresh flowers!

The BREATHTAKING view from the living-dining area:

The view is gorgeous even when it’s overcast:

Location of the cottage with respect to the coastline:

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

The kitchen is huge:

The master bedroom (which has an attached bathroom with tub AND shower)
We do not take baths but I can tell you that the water pressure in the shower is nice and strong.:

The bedroom on the ground floor (which also has an attached bathroom):

In addition to this bedroom there are TWO ADDITIONAL 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).

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).

All day in the cottage

Sunday, April 10

When I woke up at 8:30 there was so much fog outside you couldn’t see anything!

I fell back asleep and stayed there until 10:00 am! The fog had lifted slightly and you could see the coastline. I turned on the heat and unpacked our bags. KC got up at 10:30 and went down to make coffee. Em heard him and came out to join him. She had been up since 9:00. KC and I had coffee while Em had some warm lemon-honey water. I tasted it and it was so good that’s what I drank the rest of the trip!

The clouds blew away just after we got up – you could actually see the edge of the dark cloud -- and it was now bright and sunny.

In retrospect, we should have taken advantage of the nice weather, but we had planned to stay in today, to recover from the trip (and because we had a gimpy tire), so we hung out in the family room until 1:00pm when KC fixed some breakfast and Em got Forrest out of bed (we were afraid that if Forrest slept all day, he would never get over his jet lag.) I had cheese, apples, tomatoes, and raw bread while the others enjoyed sauteed potatoes and onions, sausage, scrambled eggs, bread and butter. A veritable feast!

Right after breakfast, Phil came in to welcome us. She hadn’t rushed over yesterday because she knew that we knew the ropes and she was right, we were very comfortable. We assured her that everything was alright, as good as always in fact.

She told us that Alec was recovering from minor surgery and wasn’t able to bring the ponies down from the field behind their house but that we were welcome to walk up there and feed them a carrot or two. She also said we could play with the lambs if we could catch one. Déaglán, her son who owns the sheep, would not be back until the 12th but she offered to bring us some nuts and said that merely shaking the bag would cause the sheep to approach us. Nuts? We didn’t know sheep ate nuts. I will have to research what sheep eat .

We talked about Phil’s childhood again – how she hadn’t had electricity until she was 16. Phil isn’t much older than we are and we couldn’t imagine growing up that way! We asked whether Dingle had these things and she said she’d have to ask Alec, who had lived there.

After Phil left, we made a list of the things we wanted to do this trip.

On the list, in no particular order, were:

1. Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.
2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
3. Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park.
4. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort
5. Wednesday night set dancing at An Droichead Beag
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , the burial ground , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

It was around 3:30pm when Phil left us. Em did the dishes while KC changed into street clothes and then we walked up to Clogher Head . On the way, we ran into Phil, returning from her daily walk! I don’t remember how we got on the subject (Phil is so easy to talk to we start on one topic and end on another a thousand miles away) but when I told her I wanted to buy a woven piece from Sue Redican , the woman who conducts the eco tours on the Blasket Ferry and, while living on Great Blasket during the summer months, dyes, spins and weaves works of art from the island sheep’s wool, Phil told us that Sue is the step-grandmother of the children who lost their mother the week before and that she would probably have to give up her weaving business to care for the children. I couldn’t wait to get into Dingle to pick up, hopefully, one of her last pieces. Phil also told us that An Canteen was due to open on Thursday. Yay!

We said goodbye to Phil and started up Clogher Head .

Location of the cottage with respect to Clogher Head:

The weather had changed again and it was overcast and windy now but we forged on. From the top, Forrest got his first glimpse of the Blasket Islands! We also saw the cottage and got a better look at the hills behind Phil’s house that we hoped to climb. We clambered all around the peak, adding our stones to the wishing pile, and discussed the other things we wanted to do.

On the way down, we debated the origin and logic of Irish spelling and pronunciation which seems to have no relation to the sounds we associate with the Roman letters with which the words are spelled. If you look at the simple rules described here , there IS logic to it – many letters are silent, or are there to indicate how the rest of the letters are pronounced but are not pronounced themselves. (After looking at the rules I understand the spelling much better but I still cannot work out the pronounciation when faced with a new word!)

Forrest and KC charging ahead of us (of me, actually, Em stayed behind to keep me company):

The cottage, seen from Clogher Head:
(KC was taking this picture as I was taking the one above!)

Clogher Beach seen from Clogher Head:

On top of Clogher Head:

The Blaskets:

Back at the cottage, chilled but invigorated, KC made a turf fire and we broke open the Power’s whiskey we’d picked up in Garvey’s. The guys drank it straight, Em and I made Irish coffee. One part whiskey to 3 parts coffee tasted best to me, with sugar to taste and one part full cream on the top. Yumm! I think I’ll have some right now….

At 6:45pm someone knocked on the door…it was a young man from the Irish census bureau. If we were going to be in the area on the night of April 10th (we were) then we had to fill out a census form. What fun! We were going to be part of the census! KC filled the form out for all of us and we left it under the door mat, as we had been instructed to.

We had dinner at 8:00pm: bread, cheese, ham, smoked organic Dingle Bay salmon, leftover breakfast sausage, and salad. KC LOVES the homemade white bread they sell in Garvey’s. The guys had beer with their dinner and Em and I split a Strongbow hard cider. It was better than the bottle of Bulmer’s mixed berry cider she had in Murphy’s Pub but it wasn’t as good as the Devil’s Bit strong cider we’d had in November. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the Devil’s Bit anywhere this year.

After dinner we taught Em and Forrest how to play cribbage. Em had some knowledge of the game and enjoyed it so much she continued to play it with us for the rest of the trip. Forrest wasn’t enthused, even though he played really well, and went off to bed. The rest of us went to bed early, around midnight, because we hoped to be up early tomorrow. We planned to drop the car at Moran’s, to have the tire fixed, and then Em and I would spend some time in Dingle while KC tied up a few loose work ends at the Internet Café. Em asked us to wake her, if she wasn’t up in time to go along.

A Day in Dingle

Monday, April 11

I woke up at 7:00 and KC woke up shortly afterwards but we didn’t get out of bed until 8:00. It was a beautiful clear sunny day! I went down to wake Em and heard their shower running so I went back up and took one myself. KC went down and made coffee, Em boiled some eggs so Forrest would have something to eat when he got up, and we set off for Dingle around 9:20.

When we drove past Dingle Crystal (on Green St.) on our way to the tourist office on Strand St.), we saw Sean’s truck outside, so Em and I jumped out and KC went on to Moran’s. KC said he would call us when he was ready to go home. Inside the store, Liz was just making coffee, so we told her we’d be back shortly and walked down to the tourist office, on Strand St., for information on the ferries.

Dingle Street Map

On the way, we looked into Spar , a grocery store on Green Street, to see how they compared to Garvey’s. Although they were much smaller, they had some things that Garvey’s didn’t – lots of honey in glass jars, Cadbury Flake, and a very nice looking butcher’s shop (which Liz later recommended) – so we bought some Flake and were debating whether to go into the chemist or Garvey’s when KC called to say that the internet café didn’t open until 11:00am!!!

KC met us outside Spar , went in to pay our toll for the M6 we’d taken to Galway, and then walked down to the tourist office with us. The ferries had started running but would not be running today. They instructed us to call every morning for an update. We bought 2 maps (83 and all-Ireland) then walked backup Green Street to Dingle Crystal for coffee.

What a delicious treat! Em and I both had perfectly prepared latte. KC had coffee and a scone, which looked so good that Em ordered one, too. She said it was the best scone she’d ever had! We stayed there almost an hour, then KC left for the Inernet Café and Em and I hung out, sipping our coffee and discussing what we wanted to do next.

Em’s seat was facing a photo which looked like a very young Sean, holding a bowl in a pattern that Em loved, so she asked him about it and he said it was one of the first patterns he’d ever designed. Em like it so much that she asked if he would be willing to make her some glasses in that pattern and he agreed to so she ordered four roly polys. She still can’t believe that he was willing to resurrect an old pattern for her and she can’t wait to get them.

Before he left, KC asked me to order two martini glasses for us, but didn’t tell me what pattern he wanted so I gave Sean the tentative order and promised to return with the details.

Em and I walked over to An Gailearai Beag , on Main Street, where Sue Redican sells her work.

Sue wasn’t there but the door was open (there were two men on ladders rehanging the sign over the doorway), I did find her scarves, and selected two of them. I didn’t see any wall hangings so I asked one of the guys on the ladder if he could help me and he rang her up. She told me there were several larger pieces under the table where her other things were. While the guy who was helping me went to pull them out, I asked Sue about their ferry service and she said they wouldn’t be going out until after Easter. So, if wanted to go there, it would have to be on one of the other company’s boats.

I hung up the phone and turned to look at Sue’s larger pieces. There was only one that interested me – it was very large and the colors coordinated with the the other colors in our home – so I told him I would take it. Sue had told him that the edges needed to be finished so he rang Sue again and she told me to come back on Wednesday. I paid for it, as well as the scarves I’d chosen, plus a gorgeous mug.

Just then, KC called to say that the Internet Café STILL wasn’t open so he met us at An Gailearai Beag and we walked together down Main Street to Michael’s Siopa Ceoil an Daingen .

Fortunately, the shop was open and Caitriona was there! She told us that Michael had been looking for us at An Droichead Beag the night before but that we had not come in. Ack! I had not known that Michael always played there on Sundays and Tuesdays! I was so disappointed, both by the fact that I had let him down, and that I had missed an opportunity to hear him play.

Caitriona also told KC that he might have better luck at The Old Forge Internet Café on Holy Ground across from Garvey’s. There was also free WiFi in the new pub, The Courthouse , run by Tommy O’Sullivan and his new Texan wife, Sandra, if they were open this early. She gave KC directions to both places and off he went. He called to tell us that O’Sullivan’s place was closed so he was settled in at The Old Forge Internet Café .

Em and I stayed in the shop and and asked Catriona if there were any Blasket Islander’s left in Dingle. She said no but that several of their descendants were still around and that they would be happy to talk about life on the islands. She played for us a CD by two of those descendants, Mna an Oileain by Aine ui Laoithe and Eilin Ni Chearna, and also a CD that was recorded ON Great Blasket.

Catiriona also told us that the sister of one of these singers, Maureen Moriarty, and her husband, John Moriarty, were the owners of Lord Baker’s , the restaurant and bar across the street from Siopa Ceoil an Daingen . Lord Baker’s is believed to be the oldest licensed pub in Dingle, and we had wanted to try their food anyway, so we planned to eat there that night as a surprise for Forrest.

I bought 5 CD’s, including the two Blasket-related ones. Right after that, Michael came in, and told us he would meet us that night at O’Sullivan’s Courthouse , and again on Tuesday at An Droichead Beag . Since we were also planning to be at An Droichead Beag on Wednesday for the set dancing, that meant three music nights in a row for me. Yes! The music at O’Sullivan’s started at 9:00pm so we planned to be there at 8:00 to get a good seat.

We said goodbye, walked up to The Old Forge Internet Café , used their bathroom, and then we picked up what we needed from Garvey’s forgetting, again, the most important thing on our list – the tissues! We didn’t forget the Anascaul brand of sausages and rashers that Caitriona had recommended. It would be interesting to compare them to the brand we had bought on Saturday.

Back at the cottage we had a quick lunch: celery, pumpkinseed butter, and salad for me; sausages, potatoes and bread for everyone else. We had stopped in Ré Nua , the organic market, on our way from Sue’s store to Siopa Ceoil an Daingen but they didn’t have what I was hoping to find – ghee, chia seeds, raw almond butter, and raw oils. Most of what they had were packaged foods and very little of it was raw. They told me they are able to special order ghee but didn’t normally stock it as it was not a big seller which would explain why Garvey’s no longer carried it. Too bad. We did pickup a loaf of their homemade low-gluten spelt bread and some raw hazelnut butter in addition to the raw pumpkinseed butter I’d had for lunch.

Right after lunch we left for the Conor Pass via Dunquin and Slea Head Drive, hoping to show Forrest some of the places he’d been reading about in Hungry for Home . We saw the villiage of Dunquin and drove past Krueger’s but they weren’t open. We found the cemetery but KC said we didn’t have time to stop if we wanted to be at O’Sullivan’s by 8:00.

The route from the cottage to Conor Pass:

Slea Head Drive:

When we got to Conor Pass there was a dark cloud hanging over the valley which made its way towards us as we looked around! Behind us, it was bright and sunny. The temperature going up to the pass was 12°C (54°F); on our way down it was only 7°C (45°F), so the cloud had caused the temperature to drop by 5°C (9°F) degrees!

On our way back into Dingle, when we realized it was too early for dinner, we stopped at the cemetery so Forrest could have a look around. I’m not that interested in graves so I stayed in the car to call Elke while the others got out and walked around. They came back fairly quickly and said that most of the graves were new – there didn’t appear to be any Blasket Islanders buried there. So, we deduced that there must be another graveyard somewhere…However, none of them knew who Peig Sayers was and would not have recognized her as a Blasket Islander if they’d seen her headstone. I found out later, that Peig Sayers is buried in that cemetery.

It was only 5:00pm when we got back to Dingle, hoping to take advantage of one of the early bird menu specials offered by many restaurants. We had planned to eat at Lord Baker’s so that Forrest could talk to the Blasket descendant but he wanted to postpone that until he’d finished reading the book, which I understood.

We decided on The Half Door Restaurant , on John Street, because they were featuring Leek and Potato soup (one of Forrest’s favorites) and because Sean had recommended it. We choose a table in the back room and while I was afraid we’d be forgotten back there, as we had been at the Ashford’s Dungeon Bar, we were not. Service was excellent, as was the food.

Em and I both had a Pimm’s Cup which was served in a very unusual curvy glass and the fruits were cut so small that you got some in every sip which I liked a lot!

I started out with their spicy squid (quick fried and served on a bed of greens with a spicy tomato based sauce) which was easily the best squid I’d ever eaten, and then had the black sole, some of the best fish I’d ever eaten. They served me the entire fish and it arrived skinless but on the bone which they graciously removed for me.

The others all started with the leek and potato soup, then Em had a steak, Forrest had crab au gratin, and KC had fish cakes. The food was excellent but there was so much of it that we were too full for dessert so we shared an order of sticky toffee pudding. It tasted like gingerbread, seemed to have coconut flakes in it, and was very refined, unlike any other sticky toffee pudding I’d ever had. It was very good but it didn’t knock Murphy’s old sticky toffee pudding off its pedestal.

This morning, we had told Michael we would meet him at O’Sullivan’s Courthouse , which KC had checked out earlier that day, so Em, Forrest and I made our way up the street to the place KC pointed out to us while he went back to the car for the camera. The place we found had O’Sullivan’s clearly marked above the door; but, inside there didn’t seem to be any signs of music about to be played. There also seemed to be too few people inside and they were all young men.

I asked where was the best place to sit to hear the music and one of the patrons said something I didn’t understand so I just ignored it, thinking he must have been talking to someone else. Another patron repeated, very slowly, that, “…he said, you could sit there next to them.” My tongue was totally tied! Forrest came to my rescue with, “She has a big husband…and it isn’t me.” At that moment, KC walked in the door and feeling every eye in the room on him he said, “What did I do?” I nearly bust a gut laughing.

I asked the bartender what time the music started and I swear I heard him say 8:30 (Em says he pointed to a juke box in the corner) so we found a table by the bar (we had our pick of all of them, actually), ordered some drinks ( Guinness for the guys, Bulmer’s on tap for Em and I) and started playing cribbage. Wow…Bulmer’s on tap is much better than the bottled stuff!

Forrest kept saying that he didn’t think we were in the right place. I suspected he might have been right but I trusted KC and this was where he said we should be. KC, who had been keeping an eye on the others in the room (they were all big strapping young men) and noticed them getting rowdy, told us to pack up the cards. He suspected that we might need to make a quick getaway. The boys in the pub were all big, they appeared to be a sports team and, if they were rugby players, KC feared for our safety!

Just then, a middle aged man who called himself Jack (I can’t remember his last name) came over and started talking to us. He said he’d been a garda (policeman) for 20 years, he now owned a chip shop, and that most of the lads in the bar were his sons. He said they were celebrating a football win and were a bit pissed (inebriated) but they were harmless. One of them kept coming over to our table and Jack would stretch his arm out and tell him to, “Go back to your mates!” The young man really was loaded and we were afraid he was going to dump his beer on us. When he started to stagger, Jack told him to, “Sit down, Eoin, or we’re all leaving.” Then, all the other lads in the place said, “Sit down, Eoin!” but Eoin did not sit down and kept repeating, “I’ll tell you what…” but he never did tell us.

At 9:00, when it was obvious that we really were in the wrong place, we said good bye and went outside where I called Michael. He directed us to the O’Sullivan’s on The Mall, the one with the guitar over the door, but we arrived too late for a seat by the musicians so we took the last table in the back room.

Forrest went up to order our drinks – Guinness for himself and KC, cider for Em and me. We asked him to change our order from one pint (which Em and I would share) to two half pints. Something got mixed up in the translation (it was busy and the music was pretty loud, even in the back room) and we heard the bartender ask him if he wanted ice. Ice? In cider? No, thank you. The bartender then handed Forrest a brandy glass with some light brown creamy liquid in it. Forrest looked at the glass and said, with a very confused look on his face, “What’s this?” He handed the glass to Em and said, “Here, drink this.” It turned out to be Bailey’s, which explained the question about ice, but we were puzzled as to how we ended up with it since we also got our cider. We had a good laugh over it, though, so Em drank it.

All of a sudden who should appear but Eoin! He didn’t recognize us and disappeared shortly afterwards so we suspect he’d been escorted out. The bars here won’t serve you if you’re obviously loaded. From then on, whenever we entered a pub, we wondered aloud whether Eoin would be there. Unfortunately, he never was. We would have enjoyed meeting him.

Michael, who had been in the studio recording a track for a CD soon to be released, finally rolled in around 10:00 and spent the rest of the night at our table. We saw Tony come in but he didn’t want to sit so KC got up and spent the rest of the night talking to him about alternative energy. Michael introduced us to Sandra, Tommy’s wife, and we heard the story of how she met Tommy when she bought one of his CD’s after a performance and ended up owning a pub with him in Dingle. KC warned me not to get any ideas! As if I’d ever leave the most perfect man on earth.

Sandra told us that Thursday night there would be a phenomenal accordion player at The Courthouse (Better than Michael? We didn’t believe it.). Four nights of music in a row? I didn’t think that even the most perfect man on earth would tolerate that….

At one point, KC went into the men’s room and came out laughing. He said that inside there had been a line of men waiting for the only stall. It was one of those places with no urinals, you were supposed to pee against the wall, so he pushed his way through the line, and started doing what he came in for. All the men in the line looked at him, said, “Oh!’, and then followed his lead. They were Americans and had never seen that type of arrangement! Michael told us that most of the people in the bar were not locals. I hoped it was only this bar that the non-locals frequented….I didn’t want to be running into Americans everywhere.

Michael has a rib boat, moored in Dingle marina, and offered to take us out in it if the weather permitted. Forrest was afraid we didn’t have the right clothes, but Michael assured us that all we needed were hiking boots and a rain jacket, so we accepted even though the forecast wasn’t good. I know that Michael gets an awesome view of the cliffs around Dingle Bay so I was hoping the weather would change. We’ve been trying to go out on that boat for five years!

Around 11:30 the music stopped and they opened the back door so it got really cold inside. We hung around for a short while and then said goodbye. On our way home we didn’t see a single soul! Em went right to bed. KC had a sandwich and then he crashed, too. I tried to update my journal, but was too tired, so we were all in bed by 2:00am

Man Walk, Michael at An Droichead Beag

Tuesday, April 12

KC got up just before 9:00am. I woke up with a slight headache so I stayed in bed until 10:00. Em got up at 9:00 and joined KC for coffee. After dragging myself downstairs, I started pulling together a shake and updated my journal while I waited for my chia seeds to soften. Em helped me figure out the blender (a fancy Moulinex, which I would never have been able to use without her help – my blender at home is a simple 2-speed thing).

I drank the whole shake, plus two glasses of lemon water but the pain never subsided so I caved and took a Maxalt. Em had two slices of the spelt bread with hazelnut butter both of which we had purchased at the organic store. KC had leftover sausage and potatoes and Forrest had a scone, a banana, an apple, and 2 cups of coffee. KC then also had one of Phil’s scones and said it was as good as Liz’s.

Our list-of-things-to-do:

1. Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.
2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
3. Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park.
4. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort
5. Wednesday night set dancing at An Droichead Beag
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , the burial ground , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

Having made no dent in our list of things to do, and with the weather on the good side, we decided to go to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes but, as we were getting ready to leave, Em was hit with severe stomach distress and decided to say at the cottage. KC really wanted her to come along so we decided to walk down to Clogher Beach instead and took off down the field behind the cottage.

Clogher Head Beach with respect to the cottage:

I made it as far as the stone wall. It was too high and too long for me to clamber over, plus the Maxalt was making me run to the bathroom every 10 minutes, so I decided to stay at the cottage with Em. I had seen and heard the waves crashing against the rock wall below, which was truly impressive, and that was good enough for me.
Look at the size of those rocks! Who piled them up like that?”

When I got back to the cottage Em was feeling better and decided to join the guys but she, also, only made it as far as the rock wall.

The guys, however, made it all the way to the waterfall, almost 3 miles along the coast. They left around 2:00pm and returned just before 4:00.

Where the guys walked:

While the guys were gone, I started reading Hungry for Home . I had picked it up before we left and read the first 10 pages and it was so good I realized that if I didn’t put it down immediately, I wouldn’t be able to put it down at all, so I postponed reading it until we got to the cottage, and today was the perfect day for it!

The book tells the story of Ceit O’Cearna (Kate Kearny) and her family, one of the last families to live on the Great Blasket island and one of the last to leave. Ceit was still alive when the book was written (living in a cottage near Smyrwick Beach) and the author spent many hours interviewing her. Ceit’s younger brother, Seanin, dies of meningitis at the book’s start and his passing marks the beginning of the end for the islanders. I got halfway through the book today and now I, too, am interested in meeting one of the island descendants!

We decided to have dinner at 7:00 and leave for An Droichead Beag at 8:00. Around 5:00pm I fell asleep on the sofa and when KC woke me up at 6:00 they were half-way through dinner – bread, cheese, ham and rashers. I made a quick salad and then Forrest did the dishes.

We left the cottage at 7:30 so we’d have time to stop at Garvey’s. KC found a spot right in front of the pub and Em and I went in and grabbed a table while KC and Forrest went to buy tissues! We didn’t take my favorite table right in front of the musicians because of the draft from the door and the fact that none of the stools have backs on them. We decided to try the table in the corner by the rear wall and hoped that no one would block our view. Em and I played cribbage (using the little flashlight I wear around my wrist to illuminate the board) until the guys arrived and then KC joined the game. The guys drank Guinness , Em and I had cider.

John Browne came in first, then a banjo player, and finally Michael. John, the guitar player, is also the emcee and he was exceptionally funny today. He started by saying that , “…if today was your first day in Ireland then I’m afraid you’ve missed our summer…it was last weekend.” He then plugged Michael’s store and ended with a comment about the store opening at 6:00am. (if you know Michael, you know how funny that really is)! So we now know that John’s speil is not the same canned humor repeated night after night, it’s actually topical and composed on the spot. Every show should have a frontman like John.

The music started slowly but the room filled up quickly and, while there were some foreigners, there were a lot of Americans; too many of them for my taste (when we’re in Ireland, we want to see the Irish, not our countrymen). The group at my favorite table were older ladies from South Carolina, or someplace similar, and they were quiet and respectful of the musicians, but they didn’t stay long and when they left, a loud bunch of American guys moved to the prime spot blocking my view and talking over the music. What boors.

Suddenly, Michael announced that, “Em, from Chicago, will sing for us now.” She was really reluctant until someone else in the pub said, “Please, do,” and Em agreed to take the mike! Em doesn’t know any Irish songs so she sang Amazing Grace first and then Summertime, one of her signature songs. She did a beautiful job, especially given the impromptu invitation, the venue, and the fact that she had no warm up at all. The band members supported her perfectly.

I took a movie of her performance but because of the location of our table I wasn’t able to capture either the sound or the visual. The room was packed, no one left while she sang, and she got a big ovation. Brava, Em! (Em told me later that this was the highlight of her trip so, thank you, Michael, for making this happen for her!)

The musicians played my requests, I’ll Tell Me Ma first, then Galway Girl, and the boors in the front table talked so loudly that I could barely hear Galway Girl. This was one of those times when I was embarrassed to be an American. Unbelievably, one of the boors (Jack, from Connecticut?) asked to borrow John’s guitar and sang a song himself. You would think that, as a performer, he would have had more respect for the resident musicians. I also think it took a lot of gall to ask John to loan out his guitar. That’s how John makes his living and he should not have to risk having an amateur damage it. Shame on you, Jack. If you want to sing in Dingle, bring your own instrument.

When the muscians took a break I went up to John, told him how much we enjoyed his music, and asked him if he had gotten the postcard I’d sent last year. He said he had and seemed to have been pleased about it. I need to remember to ask Michael about it. When the music ended I asked Em, who was closer to the musicians, to give him 10 euros since he doesn’t drink and we couldn’t buy him a “round”. He seemed to appreciate it but I found out later that musicians in Ireland don’t expect tips and some of them see it as an insult. I’ll have to ask Michael about that so I get it right the next time!

Tony came in right before the music ended and sat down with us, talking to KC. Then Michael and the banjo player came over. Michael talked to KC, the banjo player entertained Em and Forrest, and Tony and I chatted for a while. I still think he’s a really interesting guy. He owns an accounting firm which caters to small business but he doesn’t look like or act like a bean counter. I told him all about Quark’s and he told me all about his new iPhone. He said that most of the bars have WiFi and that if you get the code for one of them, it will work in all of them. Wi Fi is supposed to be faster than 3G, which his phone will default to if there is no WiFi connection. We checked the weather forecast – cold and raining tomorrow then partly sunny for the rest of the week.

KC, waiting paitently for me to take the picture,
even though I was interrupting whatever point he was trying to make:

Michael asked Tony if he knew anything about the Tom Crean program which had been on TV the night before, and which KC could watch if he could access the internet (the station allows you to view past programs online). He did, and looked it up on his iPhone, so they could give KC the info he needed to watch it. The program is a documentary on some people who have tried to recreate Tom’s Crean’s journey to the Antarctic.

Right before we left, there was a large group of young people at the table behind us singing ‘the songs they learned in school!’ Although they weren’t as good as John Spillane, I recognized several songs.

We left the pub around 12:30 and were home before 1:00am. KC had a sandwich; I had some lemon water and some chocolate. Em went to bed first, then KC, then Forrest and, finally, me. We were all in bed before 2:00am.

Burial Ground, Dingle,
Goat Street Cafe, Set Dancing

Wednesday, April 13

I woke up with another migraine! Reviewing the things I’d consumed over the last two days, and realizing that the only thing I’d had on both days was the cider, I suspected that it was responsible and decided to give it up. NO food is worth suffereing through a migraine, or the side effects of the medication, even though the medication effectively eliminates the pain.

KC got up at 9:00. When I went down at 9:30 Em was up, too. I had a cup of coffee and 2 glasses of chia with cocoa and vitacherry. Em cooked some sausages – the ones we bought originally which, although not as highly seasoned as the Anascaul brand, were just as good in their own way. My pain hadn’t subsided so I took a Maxalt which seemed to take forever to work. Too much in my stomach I suppose.

It was overcast today, windy, and it looked like it would rain.

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

1. Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.
2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
3. Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park.
4. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort
5. Wednesday night set dancing at An Droichead Beag
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , the burial ground , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

We still hadn’t done a single thing on our list but we decided to drive into Dingle because I needed to pick up my weaving from Sue, and KC needed to pay the Internet Café another visit. We left at 11:00am This time, Forrest decided to come along so we took the Slea Head route through Dunquin where we found and followed a sign which read, “Burial Ground” to a small white church next to an old cemetery. There some very old graves here, with unreadable headstones, as well as some that were clearly Blasket Islanders. Was this the graveyard mentioned in Hungry for Home ?

Dingle Street Map

When we got to Dingle, we parked by the Internet Café and Em, Forrest and I went to Dingle Crystal (on Green Street) for lattes and a treat. Em had another scone, Forrest and I had banoffee – fresh bananas over a toffee covered chocolate biscuit crust topped with whipped cream. I thought it was absolutely delicious. Em doesn’t like bananas but agreed that the toffee and biscuit part was yummy. She wished she could have had it with the strawberry jam that came with her scone. Sean came in and recommended a valley near Brandon Mountain as a nice nature walk.

We walked up to Siopa Ceoil an Daingen (on Main Street) but the store was closed, then went up to An Gailearai Beag (also on Main street) for my weaving. In addition to the throw, I also bought a photograph taken on Great Blasket at my favorite time of day – just before dusk when the sky turns everything blue – a time of day that I would never be on the island to take the photo myself given the time of year we like to visit since the last boat back leaves before dark.

We walked back to the Internet Café where Em and Forrest checked their mail. KC was starving so even though the rest of us had just eaten we went to the The Goat Street Café (on Upper Main St.) for lunch. Although there was an open table for four, the ground floor was really crowded and the table was small, so they offered to let us sit upstais and we accepted. Em, KC and I ordered the fennel-parsnip-orange soup, Em had a salad with chicken, I had a squid salad, and KC had the leek-bacon-cheddar tart. Forrest was still full from the banoffee so he ate half of Em’s soup but didn’t eat anything else even though all of it was delicious.

We walked down to Dingle Crystal to pay for the martini glasses we’d ordered (and tell Sean we wanted the Celtic Flame pattern). Sean was there and gave KC directions to the incredible valley he’d recommended as a good nature walk earlier that day.

Em and I went down to Lisbeth Mulcahy (on Green Street) while Forrest and KC walked down to the marina. I bought a gorgeous sweater-coat in dark blue which coordinated perfectly with the scarves I’d bought from Sue. I think it’s my favorite sweater from that store, mostly because it’s the only one with pockets!

We then walked up the street to Niamh Utsch , the jewelry store which had been closed when we were here last November (and also on Green Street!). It was open, thank goodness, and we spent quite a bit of time drooling over her gorgeous handmade work. It was almost impossible to choose just one thing so I didn’t. I came out with one pair of studs and one pair of drops, both in silver since I don’t wear gold earrings. The design on the studs looks almost Elvish and the drops match the ring we bought from J. Cotter in Vail.

The VAT receipt that Niamh gave me was different than any I’d ever seen – it was accompanied by a credit card on which the refund had, supposedly, already been loaded, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the paper forms at the airport as I had in the past. What a great system! I wondered whether Lisbeth Mulcahy was able to do the same thing (Niamh didn’t think so, it’s a new system and many stores don’t have it yet) so we returned and were told that it hadn’t been implemented there yet. Unfortunate, for this year, but I’m sure that eventually it will be the norm and make the VAT refund process so much easier!

From there we went back to Siopa Ceoil an Daingen where we met up with Forrest and KC. We arranged to meet Michael at An Droichead Beag then drove home for a quick dinner of salad and sandwiches.

We returned to An Droichead Beag (on the corner of Main and Spa) around 8:30 and Em and I watched the set dancing lessons in the back while Forrest and KC grabbed a table in the front room, the same table we’d had the night before. The lessons were interesting but they were clearly for people who had some prior knowledge so we didn’t participate. Right before the live music started we rejoined the guys. They were drinking Guinness . Em had cider and I had water with black currant.

The musicians tonight were Jeremy Spencer and Sean Leahy , the same duo who had been here last November. They were as good now as they were then. It’s too bad one or the other of them isn’t as verbally entertaining as John Browne, it would make their act even better than it already is.

Around 10:30 the dancers cleared a space in front of the musicians and performed for us for almost an hour. Because they aren’t a professional group the participants change each week and, this week, there didn’t seem to be as many experts as there were last November. It was still enjoyable even though they weren’t all stepping in time to the music.

“Jack, from Connecticut” was here again, with his family this time, and was just as obnoxious as he’d been last night. He asked Sean if he could borrow his guitar for one song and Sean, rightfully, told them that he’d, “…be done in four minutes.”

Sean (Daly), Tony and Michael had come in earlier and KC and Forrest had gone to the back bar with them so they wouldn’t disturb the musicians. When the music ended, Em and I joined them. We spent most the the evening talking to Sean. He told us how important American tourists are to this area and explained why the locals love them. Apparently, European tourists don’t buy souvenirs, so places like Dingle Crystal and Siopa Ceoil an Daingen would be out of business if not for the Americans. I can appreciate that, but I still don’t want to be there when all the pubs are packed with foreigners. Irish tourists are OK but I’d rather not listen to French, Italian, or US English while I’m there.

Everyone was tired so we made this an early night and were home by 1:00am. Em went right to bed, KC unloaded the dishwasher and we were all in bed by 1:30.

Glanteenassig and An Canteen

Thursday, April 14

I woke up this morning at 8:30 with NO MIGRAINE! So, it must be the cider, because I made a point of avoiding it last night. The sky was clear when I woke up but had clouded over when I finally got out of bed at 10:00. It was overcast but fairly warm and there was no wind!

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

1. Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.
2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
3. Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park.
4. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

Wow…our trip is almost over and we’ve only done one thing on our list of things to do! Since Em and Forrest had no preferences with regard to what they saw/did, and Glanteenassig was at the top of KC’s list, we had to see the lakes, which would be much more enjoyable when there was no one else around, today since the Irish school’s Easter vacation would start tomorrow. We would go to Killarney tomorrow, since that would never be tourist-free, and see the Blaskets on Saturday, hopefully. Midleton and the star fort would have to bite the dust.

Our plan was to go to Sean’s workshop in the morning, have lunch at An Canteen, and then go on to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes. If An Canteen wasn’t open for lunch then we would have dinner there. I was pretty sure I was going to be screwed out of hearing the music at the Courthouse tonight. Four music nights in a row was too much to hope for.

We left the cottage at 10:30 and were at Sean’s workshop around 11:00. I tried to text him when we left, as he had asked us to, but my phone wasn’t getting a signal so we hoped he would be there. He was, thank goodness, and gave us a quick tour. We got to see him cut one of our martini glasses! The stem had already been cut – it is the weakest point and most likely to break -- so Sean does them first. The glass had been marked with a grid to facilitate cutting the design evenly.

Cutting the design on the bowl:

Cutting the design on the foot:

Making the flat dots on the bowl:

Washing off the guide lines:

The finished glass, ready for polishing:

From there we made a pit-stop in Dingle to use the bathrooms on the pier, which were surprisingly clean, and then drove on to Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

The route from Dingle through the Conor Pass to Glanteenassig:

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

At Aughacasla we turned onto the road leading to Glangeenassig. There in the middle of the road were a bunch of sheep! KC told Em and Forrest that we’d arranged this just for them!

The park was closer than I remembered and we were there just before noon. We decided to do Loch Caum first, on the left in the map above, the one with the boardwark around the perimeter. I had checked my phone periodically on the way up and it never picked up a signal so I turned it off when we started our walk.

There were 4 cars in the parking area when we got there but three of them left as we were getting out of the car, thank goodness. The walk around the lakes was indeed gorgeous, as KC had promised, and we took our time.

There are signposts along the way with interesting information about the park

I was so far behind!

Taking these pictures of the trees around the lakes which were more interesting to me than the lakes were:

There were many places with no railing which are treacherous if it’s windy!
I was really glad there was no wind at all today.

The interesting thing, to me, about the next picture are the rocks UNDERNEATH the exposed roots of this tree. How do you till, or grow anything, in soil that is as rocky as this appears to be?

We stopped at the picnic table near An DuLoch and shared a bar of Cadbury’s, then returned to the car.

It was still early so we drove to Loch Slat, on the right on the map below.

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

Counting the rings – the trees in this forest appear to be between 40 and 50 years old.

KC peering through the hole in the roots:

This tree seems to be surviving purely on the few shoots that enter the ground at the bottom edge of that huge root system:

Forrest’s arthritis was bothering him so he waited at the end of the path in while KC, Em and I waked to the end of the lake where we saw two sheep that didn’t seem to be afraid of us.

When we got to the car I turned my phone back on again and there was a text from Michael that, today, the weather permitted him to take his boat out. Ack! We were so far away! I sent off a quick text asking if it were too late for us and the next time I looked at my phone there was again no signal. RATS! It looked like we had missed the perfect opportunity to see the cliffs of Dingle Bay from sea level.

I had also received a text from Phil that An Canteen would be open for lunch so we made our way there. On our way out, there was another sheep on the road!

When we got to An Canteen, at 3:00pm we were the only ones there and were able to spend some time talking to Brian and Niall which was nice.

We ordered Fish and Chips all around and Em had the chicken and mushroom soup. Almost as soon as we sat down, Niall appeared with an amuse bouche of boxty, served on rémoulade with truffle oil, which was perfect – crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. When the soup arrived, Forrest tasted it and immediately ordered one for himself. It came with some of Niall’s unbelievably delicious bread.

As soon as they were done with their soup, the fish arrived, light, crispy, and so hot we couldn’t eat it! It was served over a minted pea puree with a delicious housemade tartare sauce which was so good we asked for more. The chips were real chips, not french fries, and they appeared to have been double fried so that they were brown and crisp on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside. I ate them all and I normally give them to KC.

We were going to skip dessert until we heard that it was blueberry crème brulee. Em and I each ordered one, she had a cappuccino, I had a latte, and KC had coffee. Forrest didn’t order a dessert or coffee but he ate most of Em’s crème brulee and while Em was putting sugar into her coffee he asked her to, “…hurry up fixing that coffee”. We had a good laugh over that.

After lunch we rolled ourselves over to Garvey’s (with a loaf of Niall’s out-of-this-world bread under our arms) where we ran into a bicycler who latched onto Em, talking and talking and talking until we checked out. We picked up more chocolate (boy that Cadbury’s is good!), bread, ham, lemons, and apples and some cheesecake for Forrest. On the way out I saw some Black Magic and bought a box for my sister.

When we got back to the cottage Em put the groceries away and then fell asleep on the sofa. She had taken a maxalt that morning and it was affecting her the same way it affects me. KC and Forrest took turns snoring (I missed a hilarious shot of Forrest looking at KC when he heard that first zzzzzzz) and even I took a short nap.

After updating my journal I went outside to cool off (it was really warm in the cottage) and noticed that the lambs in the field next door were chasing each other all over the field. I was amazed to see that they really do gambol!

Panorama taken just after we got home”

At 8:00pm the sun went down (although we couldn’t see it from the cottage) and KC put out the bread, cheese and ham. Forrest had a sandwich but having just read an article in West Kerry Live on “bowel cancer” which recommended that all cured meats be eliminated from your diet, he said he didn’t enjoy it quite as much. LOL! Now he knows how I feel about cooked food.

The unusual sunset we had that night:

Although the cottage faces northwest, you can see the sun set through the window in the dining room:

And if you’re on the patio:

At 11:30 we played two rounds of cribbage, Em called her sister, and Forrest called his nephew, Bennett, to wish him a happy 11th birthday. At 12:30 Em started the dishwasher, I updated my journal, and then we all went to bed. Another early 1:00am night.

Killarney and Inch Beach

Friday, April 12

I woke up this morning at 8:30 and got up 9:30. I had coffee and chia gel for breakfast, then I tasted Em’s slice of Niall’s bread with clotted cream and black currant jam. Delicious!

Our list-of-things-to-do:

2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
3. Ross Castle and Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park.
4. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

Our plan today was to drive to Killarney. When I realized that both Em and Forrest were dressed and ready to go I ran upstairs and pulled on some clothes while Forrest finished his breakfast. We were on the road at 11:00am and the temperature was 11 C. The drive to Killarney was fast and relatively straight. This time, we didn’t get lost, like we did last time. We decided to do Ross Castle first, then have lunch, then do Muckross Abbey.

Route to Killarney:

Killarney National Park:

KC pointing to the place where human waste exited the castle:

At the castle, the next guided tour didn’t start for another 40 minutes so we read the panels in the exhibition room and, I have to admit, after reading them and learning that most of the castle had been restored in the 70’s, I was less interested in seeing it, but I didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s fun so I went along and was very glad I did.

The guide was excellent and we learned a lot. Although the castle had been restored, it was done with local artisans using the same building methods used originally, and it took them almost 20 years to do it. Much of what now makes up the Killarney National Park was at one time under the ownership of the Earl of Kenmare but the 25,000 acre Co. Kerry estate had been purchased in 1950 by a consortium and was going to be turned into a vacation community. In 1959, John McShain, an American, bought the others out and “took over an exemplary stewardship of lands that included the ruins of Ross Castle .” When he realized how difficult the task was going to be, he donated the land to the Irish government and, with their help, it was turned into the National Park it is today. (Muckross House and it’s estate was donated in 1932).

We also learned a lot about medieval life. For instance, because of the tallow in the candles they burned for light, the lime in the walls, and falling plaster they all had respiratory problems and slept sitting up, which explains why all beds from that period are so short. They didn’t wash so there was no ‘bath’ room but they did hang their clothes in the garderobe, the hallway leading to the toilet, because the ammonia fumes from their waste would kill the bugs in their clothes – medieval drycleaning. They used pewter plates because, when polished, they shone like silver; but, because of the lead in the pewter, they developed lead poisoning and most didn’t live past 30. It really sucked to live back then, even if you were ‘royalty’.

The small thin windows, called Arrow Loops , were usually covered with animal intestines, stretched thin and then oiled, which created a clear and water resistant “pane”. Whatever water got past this barrier was funneled out via a down spout which chanelled the water away from the exterior walls. These spouts were also used to shower attackers with unmentionables! The vaulted roofs were built by erecting a scaffold, covering it with a wattle , a frame of woven branches and reeds, and then constructing the stone arch over the frame. Plaster was poured over all and the wattle left in place as a decorative element. Ingenious…but I’m still wondering how a wooden frame could support all that stone.

The most impressive part of the castle was the wooden ceiling on the top floor. The planks were planed by hand using an adz and then assembled with mortise and tenon joints and wooden dowel pegs. It was beautiful and functional. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of anything and I could find none on the internet.

The view from the top floor window (they did allow us to take this):

There were LOTS of other little tidbits but I’m not going to repeat them all here…you’ll have to take the tour if you’re interested in them! The tour was 6 Euros and worth every penny.

Horse carriges near the parking area:

We left the castle and drove to Muckross House intending to have lunch in the cafeteria in the visitor’s center but when we passed Molly Darcys Pub and Restaurant on the road in, we decided to eat there instead. The inside was very pub-like but their bathrooms were the first we’d seen that had tempered water (two valves but only one spout so that you do not have to choose between cold or hot water, you can create warm water).

Service was slow – I think our server was being trained. KC had vegetable soup to start. For lunch, I had warm goat cheese on seasonal greens with honey and almonds, and everyone else had fish and chips. It was the first place we’d been in that offered bangers and mash so Em ordered them as a side dish. KC ordered a Smithwick’s ale and educated all of us on the correct pronounciation – it’s SmithIcks, you drop the “W”. My salad was excellent, KC wolfed down his fish, and Forrest loved the bangers and mash.

It was a short drive to Muckross House and it was cool and misty when we got out of the car so we brought our umbrellas with us for the walk to the Abbey; unnecessarily, as it turned out, because it never did more than mist. The walk through the yew forest was much lighter than it had been when we were here in October which is probably due to the fact that most of the trees didn’t have all their foliage yet. The trees were still impressive but I prefer this walk in the fall.

This tree is huge (see the horse carriage to the right of it):

Looking under one branch at another tree that had fallen years ago:

The trunk:

Killarney town (across the lake):

Many of the trees are covered with vines – they must be beautiful in the summer (too bad I will never see that):

Some old stone walls:

Finally, the abbey!

The abbey was more impressive this time, than it had been last October, because all the scaffolding was gone and most of the upper level was open to the public! It’s a huge place, bigger than the castle, and it seemed like a nicer place to live, too, since the windows were bigger and it was much lighter inside. It was founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary but it has had a violent history having been damaged and reconstructed many times.

Ground Plan for Muckross Abbey:

Muckross Abbey groundplan:

The Chancel:

The Sacristy? (it was right off the Chancel):

The upper level, for which I found no ground plan, but I think was the dormitory
The floor is obviously concrete but without it we would not have such a great view of the details on this level:

KC attempting to climb up the tower (you can see him looking out the window, which is as far as he got):

Interesting stonework over the fireplace:

The Cloisters
(Em said she was unable to enter these dark rooms alone, she felt like there might be ghosts in them.
With the rest of us along, she was fine. It was only when she was alone that she felt creepy!
Note that the flash makes the room appear much brighter than it really was):

Wattle over the Cloisters:

On the right, an old tree had been cut down:

These trees look like they were planted along a path:

We were hoping to see some old graves but here, too, most of them were more recent. What happened to the really old ones? Are they underneath the newer ones?

We walked back to the visitor’s center intending to use the bathroom in the restaurant but it was just after 5:00pm now and the restaurant was closed! The gift shop was still open so Em ducked in and bought some souvenirs for her family. We then walked down to the public bathrooms by the parking area, which were clean and well stocked even this late in the day, and headed for home.

The route home:

Still smiling after all these days!

We had planned to have dinner at An Canteen again but no one was hungry except me. On our way through Anascaul, KC suggested we stop at Inch Strand.

It was too late to walk its length, as we had done in 2010 , but we would at least have an opportunity to look. When Em saw the water she nearly jumped for joy because she would get to touch the Atlantic. She and Forrest visit Rehoboth Beach, Delaware every summer, on the other side of the Atlantic, and she was excited to be able to touch the water on this side. I walked part of the way down with them, past a dead seal and an old tire – it’s amazing what the sea washes onto the shore, and it was obvious now why they were having an “Inch Beach Clean Up Day” next Saturday – but I stopped short of the water.

Sammy’s Café was open so we went inside and had dessert – homemade cheesecake for me, fudge cake for KC, and apple tart with ice cream for Em and Forrest. My cheesecake was sublime, more like a cheese mousse actually, and Em said her ice cream was the best she’d had in Ireland.

We drove home over the mountain road but it was too early for the sunset. On the way, I managed to take a picture of a vista that I’ve been trying to capture for 5 years now. The ONLY reason I was able to get it this year was that before we got to that bend in the road, Em warned me that it was coming up so that I could get my camera ready. I then held the camera our the window and held the button down so that it would take a continuous stream of shots as we drove past, hoping that at leat one of them would be usable. Here’s what I got:

The gorse, which is in bloom at this time of year, made the rock walls really stand out!

When we got home, I updated my journal while KC and Forrest read. Around 8:00pm Em went out to take a picture of the sun going town over Clogher Head and inadvertently deleted all the picture in her camera! That’s why this year’s travelogue has so many picture gaps – the missing ones were on Em’s camera, which took much better close-ups than mine. She also captured things from a different perspective. She was devastated and I was disappointed but there is no way to restore an SD card once it’s been reformatted, is there?

The sunset Em was trying to capture:

For dinner, Em fixed a salad for Forrest and herself; then I fixed one for KC and myself. We made two because I use raw sacha inchi oil and lemon juice and they prefer olive oil and balsamic. Bread, cheese, and cold cuts rounded out the meal. We were on our third wheel of St. Killian’s cheese now – that stuff is so good!

After dinner we tried to locate Balintemple on our surveyor’s map. According to the book Hungry for Home , that is where many of the Blasket Islanders were buried, but the closest we came was a place called Baile an Teampe. We wished there was someone we could ask for a more definitive answer on the location of the Blasket grave site. We went to bed at midnight, earlier than normal, because we intended to climb the hills behind the house tomorrow morning before going into Dingle for O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Texas Barbeque.

Hill, Dunquin Pier, An Canteen,
Lord Baker, GoodByes

Saturday, April 13

The sky when I got up:

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

2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub , and the pier
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island
8. Cruach Mharthain, the hills behind Phil’s house

Em, KC and I got up at 8:30, had a quick breakfast, and were on the road to the hills at 9:30. Phil had said there was no defined path but had given us general directions. The first part of the walk was really muddy and there was lots of green poop everywhere which almost made me turn back. Em kept saying, “that’s what boots are for” but it didn’t help!

The hills behind the cottage that we intended to climb
The one on the right is 234 meters high (768 feet) and the one on the left is 260 (853)):

The beginning of our hike:

Bundled up:

Em, convincing me to keep going:

KC, checking out the path and waaay ahead of me:


Once we got through the muddy bit, the ground was dry and relatively flat for a short while and was a pleasure to walk.

We climbed over the first fence Phil had told us about.

Then, after climbing over the second fence, the way up became so steep that we had to zig zag diagonally across in order to ascend. I had to, anyway; KC and Em could have made it straight up but they did it my way.

At the top of the first hill the views were amazing! We had a 180 degree view of Clogher, Graigue, the Blaskets and Dunquin and the sky was so clear we could see it all. I asked KC to take a panoramic shot but he wanted to wait until we got on the next hill. In retrospect, I think this view was better but how could we have known.

All the way up that steep hill I kept saying that it would be very hard for me to get back down it and KC kept saying that if we made it to the top of the next hill there would be a pathway. He even showed it to me on the map. So we went up the next hill, too. It wasn’t steep but the ground was “hummocky” (I don’t know if that’s a real word but it’s what KC was using to describe the soft bumpy nature of the vegetation) and it was difficult to walk on. The grass was also very sharp and kept poking my legs through my leggings. Jeans, which I never wear, would have been a better option for this hike.

At the top of the second hill KC took his panoramic shot but, although it was now greater than 180 degrees, it wasn’t as good, in my opinion. I don’t know if the weather had changed but the sky didn’t seem as blue and there was too much of the brown hill and not enough of the green fields. We’ll have to do this walk again to capture the view we had seen earlier.

At this point KC really wanted to climb Cruach Mharthain, the huge 403-meter (1332 feet) high peak which was directly in front of us now, but it would have taken the rest of the day, we weren’t prepared for it (no water or food) and we wanted to be at O’Sullivan’s Courthouse for the 6-hour music-fest-cum-texas-barbeque.

So we started back down. We couldn’t see the path KC had promised us so we kept walking forward (we knew it wasn’t behind us) but we never found it!

At this point we saw someone come UP the mountain towards us (the first person we’d seen all day!) and figured that was where the path was so we made our way down in that direction.

As you make your way down you actually see more and more:

After wandering around for a while we finally found the pathway down and came upon two sheep which, instead of running away from us, stood their ground.

We inched towards them and one even snorted at us! KC also heard it clicking its teeth. What was going on? We figured there must be a lamb around but we didn’t see one so we inched forward again. Suddenly, three tiny white lambs bounded up the side of the hill and all five of them ran off down the path!

We followed them down:

As we made our way down we kept seeing them ahead of us but we were never able to get close enough to pet them. They were so adorable but they weren’t worth getting butted! KC told us later that he wondered what he would do if they charged us and decided that all he had to do was run faster than Em and I!

After a while, the path disappeared! We had no choice but to make our way down through the farmer’s pastures (avoiding the one with the big bull in it) and eventually found the road by going through his barn!. We were quite far from home now but walked along the road towards Clogher Beach, past Phil and Alec’s other cottages .

When we got to Clogher Beach we had the option of taking the longer route along the road, or the shorter route through the field so we opted to go through the field. A good decision because it gave Em an opportunity to see Clogher Beach and both of us gals the opportunity to see the beautiful terrain between the beach and the cottage. There are so many little treasures hidden in this area I don’t think we’ll ever get tired of it.

Clogher Head Beach with respect to the cottage:

When we got to the large rock wall at the bottom of the pasture and I realized I’d have to clambor over it I almost went back to the road! The rocks are huge and the tread on my boots was not grippy enough but I was able to make it over with Em’s and KC’s help. The sheep didn’t run from us this time but they did keep their distance. They must think KC is ‘family’ now since he’s been filling their water trough.

Finally, home! Look where we’ve been!:

I was hot and sweaty so I jumped in the shower. When I came downstairs Phil was there with her new grandson! He’s a real cutie and was very well behaved but I won’t post a picture because they have not given me permission to do so. It was 3:00pm now and we were all starving so we high tailed it to An Canteen for one last meal.

On our way in, we stopped at the pier in Dunquin so Forrest could see where the Blasket Islander’s landed their curraghs (tarred canvas canoes).

The steep pathway down:

The coffin rest to Em’s right, with the Blaskets in the distance:
(so we know this “new” path was build while there were still people living on the Blaskets)

Curraghs (tarred canvas canoes):

I was dreading the walk back up – in the past it had taken me ages with multiple stops along the way, but Em suggested I walk backwards and it was a piece of cake! I couldn’t go very fast – maybe that’s the reason why it works – but I didn’t have to stop once. We piled back in the car and drove on to Dingle.

The view as you approach Dingle on the Slea Head Drive route (taken through dirty car window):

A garda who stopped us on the way and told us that the car didn’t have the proper documentation!:

As we had expected, Dingle was very crowded today, Saturday, but we were able to find a parking spot by the Internet Cafe and walked up to An Canteen. We were pleased to see that there was another family in the restaurant even though it was way past the lunch hour. We ordered the boxty as an appetizer this time, KC ordered the ham terrine, and the rest of us ordered fish and chips. I also asked for a small salad. I felt bad ording the same-old-same-old thing but their fish and chips are so good I couldn’t resist. Everything was just as good this time as last.

After we had eaten, Niall and Brian came over and we chewed the breeze with them for almost 2 hours! We asked Niall about the small oysters Forrest had at Ashford and he said they must not have been Irish because Irish oysters, which come from Cromnane Bay on the Iveraugh peninsula, are huge.

We asked him about the 16-hour beef that had been on the menu last year and he said he’d just finished cooking it so we asked for a sample to prove to Forrest how tasty beef cheeks are. The meat was so tender and flavorful, as was the sauce, it was hard to belive where it came from! I should have taken a picture but I was too busy enjoying it.

All of a sudden, Phil walked in the door! Here’s a picture of her with two of her sons:

Niall then brought out some chocolate brownies that were probably the best I’d ever had. They were dense and fudgy but moist and delicious. Much better than the fudge cake KC had at Sammy’s Café. We really wished we could have stayed longer but we still hoped to catch the end of the music session at O’Sullivan’s so we said good bye and made our way to the Courthouse.

There were no seats by the musicians but there was an open table in the back room so we grabbed it. The patio behind the restaurant was open today – it was a beautiful day – and I thought I had seen Sean sitting outside so I asked KC to have a look. He didn’t return so I assumed it was Sean and I was right.

While we waited for KC who should appear but the bicyclist we’d seen in Garvey’s the day before. He sat down at out table, introduced himself as Phillip, and then promptly asked all the women around him to dance! One of them obliged, he said her name was Jessica.

KC came in to tell me to go out and say goodbye to Sean and Liz who were about to leave so I did. Em came with me. When we returned inside, Jessica was sitting at our table discussing sustainability with KC. She worked at ??? before quitting her job to travel the world.

Jessica mentioned that there was another American living here, a retired colonel who just happened to be on the patio, so she introduced him to KC and they commiserated on the constraints of army life.

At 7:30 we walked over to Dick Mack’s, another place mentioned in Hungry for Home , so that Forrest could have a pint there. It was packed today so we decided not to go in and, instead, have a pint at Lord Baker’s.

The restaurant was very warm and cosy even though the fireplace was not lit tonight. We took a seat at the bar and I asked the young man behind it whether the woman Caitriona had told us about, a Blasket Island descendant, was there. He said, yes, she was his mother, and brought us two framed photographs, one of Ceit and one of her brothers, Micheál and Muiris, who had been featured in the book! Wow! What a treasure trove! Not only was she a Blasket descendant, she was a descendant of the woman featured in Hungry for Home . It couldn’t get much better than that!

KC had been looking at the menu and suggested that we have dinner there. Although we weren’t really hungry, we’d had lunch only 4 hours ago, we agreed to a light meal. They gave us a large round table in the front room. I ordered stuffed mushrooms in garlic cream for a starter and hake with butter sauce for my main, KC had leek and potato soup and the hake, Em had half a live lobster from the tank in the back, and Forrest had leek and potato soup followed by half a dozen Cromane Bay oysters. KC said the soup was delicious as were my mushrooms, especially the sauce they were in. Forrest’s oysters were huge – as Niall had told us they should be.

After seating us at that nice big table it took them a long time to take our order and we realized that it was because they were looking for Maureen. Maureen, who looks like she should be Ceit O’Cearna’s (Kate Kearny’s) grand-daughter, is actually her daughter. We were now talking to the daughter of the woman featured in Hungry for Home .

Our first question, of course, was the location of the burial ground. Maureen said it was that little cemetery by the small white chapel in Dunquin. When I asked her where Balintemple was, she said, “Balintemple IS Dunquin!” Below is what I found on Google maps when I got home:

We asked her many other questions which I won’t repeat here but I will say that the biggest one on my mind concerned why the Islanders stayed on the Island at all when they could just as well have lived on the mainland. She told us that, in those days, except for the need to transport their livestock by boat, life on the island wasn’t that much different than life on the mainland. This website even says that, “...There were times when the islanders were swimming on the high tide of fortune and able to live well when the whole countryside was famishing in extremity. Most often this happened when a shipwreck would leave them with palm-oil, timber, wheat, or brass and copper bolts to take to market in Dingle… “ . Unlike the mainlanders, when the potato famine hit, the islanders had fish and seals to fall back on.

When I mentioned that I had bought a CD by two other descendants she said that one of them was her sister, also one of Ceit’s descendants. How cool is that! I can’t wait to bring Elke back here! She’s the one who turned us on to the book and I think she would really appreciate the opportunity to talk to Maureen. Thank you, Caitriona, for giving us this invaluable tip!

I had been texting Michael throughout our dinner, trying to find a time to meet up with him to say goodbye, and I finally got a response that he was in Doyle’s, just up the street. We were going to make this an early night, since we still had to pack and wanted to be on the road early tomorrow so that we’d have some time in Dublin. It was almost 10:00pm now so we walked up to Doyle’s only to be told that Michael had already left! We suspected that he was in O’Sullivan’s Courthouse so we walked over there (thank goodness everything is so close!) and found him on the patio with his son. We said a tearful goodbye – Michael is a good friend – and returned to the cottage.

Right after dinner KC had developed a severe sinus headache which was bad enough that he agreed to take a Maxalt. It hadn’t eliminated the pain so he took a Sudaphed when we got home and then went to bed, swearing off alcohol for life (yeah, right!). I tried to pack but I was exhausted so I went to bed, too. It was early enough that I knew I’d be able to finish packing in the morning.

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

2. The Old Midleton Distillery and Dún Chathail, the star fort OR Blarney Castle in County Cork.
6. Dunquin specifically Krueger’s Pub
7. The Blasket Islands OR Valencia Island

So, at the end of the vacation, we’ve managed to most of the things on the list, more or less…. Inch Strand was more of a drive-by than a visit but they did get to see it. Forrest decided he didn’t want to do the ferry to the Blasket’s because of the precariousness of the piers and although we stopped at Kreuger’s several times, they were never open.


Sunday, April 17

We both got up at 7:00am today. KC went down to tidy up the kitchen and I started packing. I did a terrible job, knowing that I’d be able to redo it that night, and threw into a paper shopping bag all the things I hadn’t been able to fit into our cases. Em and Forrest got up and helped us tidy the rest of the house. If the house wasn’t clean there was a 50Euro surcharge and we didn’t want to pay it!

Phil and Alec came over just before 9:00am and we talked to them for over an hour! Alec told us all about the sheep rearing industry, how most lambs are slaughtered at either 6 months or 2 years and how births are controlled by separating the rams from the sheep and moving the sheep to different types of pastures to encourage them to mate. It was fascinating listening to him. We asked Alec when Dingle had first gotten electricity and he said that before the power lines were installed one of the bars had a big generator which had supplied everyone with power, as it was in most small towns.

At 10:30 we reluctantly said good bye and hit the road hoping to be in Dublin by 3:30. Our last glimpse of the gorgeous view from the cottage:

The route from Graigue to Dublin:

It was mid-day on a Sunday, there was a lot of traffic, and it was moving slowly. Even though we were on an N* road, there was so much oncoming traffic that we were stuck moving slowly as well. We resigned ourselves to not seeing much of Dublin.

In Tralee, we stopped at McDonalds for lunch. I did not approve – I think you should eat local food whenever you travel (except that this stop gave me an opportunity to use a bathroom) -- but KC thought it was permissible to see the difference between an Irish Big Mac and an American one. Forrest didn’t care what we thought, he was hungry!

KC had a double cheeseburger, Forrest had a cheeseburger and Em had a hamburger. KC though there was no difference, Em thought the Irish version was better (there’s a flavor in the American one that she doesn’t like which was missing from the Irish one), Forrest thought the American version was better (he missed that flavor that Em doesn’t like) so, in retrospect, it was an interesting experiment. I don’t eat fast food – it’s loaded with MSG – so I had some of my raw snacks.

We were on the M7 now and traffic was moving quickly. At one point we passed a semi that looked like it was much taller than the ones we have here in the US but, looking at the picture, it doesn’t look that much taller, so it must have been an optical illusion created by the fact that it was much narrower than a US semi, to better negotiate the narrow Irish roads.

Amazingly, even though we lost our way briefly when we got to Dublin, we recovered and were in the hotel at 3:00pm! It helped that this hotel was not on a one-way side street and impossible to get to. There are no right turns in Dublin and most streets are one way making it very difficult to get around if you don’t know the way. The street names change every block and the street signs are on the sides of the buildings. It’s very confusing but KC’s sense of direction and driving skills are both excellent, thank goodness.

The streets around St. Stephen’s Green: (I think this is the route we took)

The Shelbourne:

The hotel is on the corner of St. Stephen’s Green and Kildare Street, two blocks from Grafton Street. We checked in and were both given an upgrade, again! We went to our respective rooms agreeing to meet in 10 minutes to go down to the No. 27 bar where we would decide what to do with the little time we had left. Here are pictures of our room:

This is the first hotel I’ve been in where they had an outlet for every different kind of plug!

Em and Forrest met us at our room. They said they had been given a handicapped-access room – the bathroom was like the one I had hated so much in the London Airport Hilton, with no lip around the shower – but they didn’t want to hassle with moving so we didn’t ask for a different room. I think they regretted that, though, as there was over an inch of water on the bathroom floor after taking a shower. Some upgrade.

On our way down to the bar, we located the Heritage Lounge which had a very nice view of St. Stephen’s Green. We actually had a LOT of trouble finding the lounge. You have to take two different elevators, wend your way through winding hallways, and then go up (or down?) a set of stairs. We went up AND down these stairs several times until we found the right doorway so I’m still not sure which is the right direction.

There was nobody in the lounge, and no food, only a coffee machine and some bottled water. Em grabbed a bottle of carbonated and then reminded Forrest that it was time for him to call his father (he called every day between 3:00 and 3:30) so I gave him my phone and then KC and I went on the the bar so he’d have some privacy.….

We found a table towards the back and looked at the menu. Wow! What a nice selection of cocktails! I was spoilt for choice but decided on a Toblerone – Bailey’s, Frangelico, cream and honey which was so good I nearly drank it down in one gulp! KC ordered an Irish Ice Tea which was basically a standard Ice Tea made with Irish brands. We waited so long for Em and Forrest to join us that we knew they’d gotten lost and almost went looking for them. When they finally showed up (yes, they had been lost) Em ordered a Pimm’s with white lemonade and Forrest ordered an Amaretto Stone Sour.

I had printed out a list of pubs in the area and recommended that we check out the Brazen Head which was supposed to be the oldest pub in Dublin, established in 1198. We checked the map and it looked like it was walking distance so we finished our drinks (agreeing to return after dinner) and set out on foot.

The route we took:

We walked down Grafton Street, which was really popping, with a street performer every 20 feet or so. Some of them were good, like the guy singing in falsetto, and some were mediocre, like the gal using her guitar as a drum, but all of them were entertaining.

We walked over to the Liffey and continued along the river’s edge all the way to the pub. It was much further than we thought it would be (Google says it was 2.3 K or 1.5 miles!) but we made it and found a table in the room next to the one with the live music. Surprisingly, the room with the live music was full of locals! I like that.

We placed our order (fish and chips for Em, bangers and mash for KC, beef stew for Forest and greek salad for me – Em was on the fish and chips tour, I was on the salad tour) -- and then we asked our server which part of the pub was the oldest. She said she thought that we were in the oldest part of the building (of course) but that the cobblestones in the courtyard were thought to be the only things left of the original 12th century pub. There was live music in the other room but it was packed so all we could do was listen.

The food was very good – Forrest almost licked his plate, KC ate all the bangers and mash but left most of the Yorkshire pudding they were served on (too much food), Em inhaled her fish, and my salad was delicious once I removed the enormous amount of red onions that were in it. After dinner Em had a coffee with Bushmills that was probably the best Irish coffee we’d had this trip. The table we were sitting at was reserved from 7:00pm onwards so we paid our bill and returned to the hotel. We took a cab this time.

We returned to the No.27 bar and found a seat at the very back. We ordered another round of drinks – Coffee with Bailey’s for Em, Coffee with Jameson’s for KC (it did not arrive flaming, as I thought it would), and a chili-orange-chocolate martini for me. The waitress asked me whether I like spicy food when I ordered it so I knew it was going to be good and it was! When we started playing cribbage Forrest – still not interested in the game – went up to their room to sleep as he’d had to get up much earlier than usual this morning.

Cribbage again!

The table we had was perfect because the light coming in from the window beside us provided enough light to make the cards easy to see. We each won one game and KC won the tie breaker. Halfway through our match I was getting looped…my drink was delicious but it was pure alcohol and all I’d had for dinner was a salad so I ordered some French fries and stopped drinking. When KC finished his coffee he ordered a Guinness mojito which looked beautiful – a regular mojito with a Guinness float. At 9:00pm we put the cards away and agreed to meet downstairs at 6:30am the next morning.

We went up to our rooms and KC watched TV while I repacked. I put my hiking boots, which I had cleaned as well as possible, in the small checked bag as they would not have been comfortable on the plane. Big mistake. I also deleted some pictures from my small camera because the card was full. I couldn’t find the outfit I’d intended to wear on the way home and figured I’d left it at the cottage. It was my favorite outfit so I was devastated and hoped that Phil hadn’t thrown it out when she cleaned. Since it was late, I sent her a text and hoped for the best.

I went to bed but KC wanted to read so I switched off the light on my side of the bed and *blink* every light in the room went off! That was nice, if you wanted to turn off every light in the room, but I didn’t, so I pressed the switch again and again and nothing happened. KC was getting impatient so I found the little flashlight I wear on my wrist (it was pitch black in the room!) and let him try. That flashlight has sure come in handy.

KC tried every switch in the room and none of the lights worked! He finally called the front desk which sent up a handi-man to flip the breaker on the fuse box (which was inside the ceiling of the closet in the foyer!). Just after the handiman left our room I heard KC call the front desk, again, to tell them that, “…your man dropped one of his tools…”. When we were finally alone again I was asleep in minutes.

Return home

Monday, April 15

Our alarm went off at 5:55.
Our wake-up call came at 6:00.
Our alarm went off again at 6:05; and yet again at 6:10.
LOL! KC made SURE we wouldn’t miss our flight!
We closed up the bags, got dressed, and were downstairs at 6:30 on the dot.

While KC was settling the bill, Em and Forrest came down, as bleary eyed as we were. KC got directions to the airport from the concierge, we piled in the car, and made our way to the airport without incident. After going through security, we had a few extra minutes so we walked through the shopping area.

While KC bought a lottery ticket from Best of the Best , Em went off to spend the last of their euros and came back with 3 flutes for her nieces and nephews. I wanted to get a gift for our neighbors, who had accepted some of our mail for us while we were gone, so I ducked into the candy store to take care of that (and get some for us, too). KC was getting antsy…he wanted to see the new AerLingus lounge and needed a cup of coffee. But, there was no time for that as the concierge had told us that we needed to be through customs pre-clearance by 8:15 or we might not make the flight.

It was almost 8:00 now so we forewent the lounge and made our way to pre-customs. Em and Forrest went through without a hitch but KC and I were sent to “the agriculture people” where they asked us where were the boots we’d been wearing when we walked through that sheep pasture that we’d checked on our customs form. KC’s were on his feet but mine were in our checked baggage so they had to call the bags up to the agriculture department, which took almost half and hour, and then they went through them with a fine tooth comb.

I think we were in that room for over an hour, while Em and Forrest waited outside, not knowing what was happening and all of us worried that we wouldn’t be allowed to leave! Em asked one of the gate attendants what the hold-up was and she explained that if you went into that room and they called for your bags, it could be an hour before you emerged and she was right!

Fortunately, we had plenty of time and, after they had cleaned both of our boots, we were released, about 20 minutes before they started boarding the plane. KC had a massive caffeine-withdrawal headache now and was furious with me for having packed my boots so he went off in search of coffee while I explained what we’d been through.

We boarded right after he returned, cup in hand, and took our seats, the same ones we’d had on the inbound flight. I was still miffed that they had rifled through our bags and then mashed them closed with no regard for their contents. I was sure both of the pictures I’d bought would be ruined AND I was worried that the zippers on the luggage would not hold. But KC was laughing at me now that his headache was gone.

The flight attendants served the main meal right after take-off. Chateaubriande with peppercorn sauce and sautéed leeks and au gratin potatoes for Em, Forrest, and KC and cheese tortellini in mascarpone sauce for me. I also ate the salad and had a glass of Chase’s Choice Chateau Neuf du Pape. The salmon on the seafood appetizer plate was as good as the one on the way over but the nori-wrapped halibut was really fishy even after removing the nori. I passed on dessert but the three of them had ice cream sundaes. Again, Em and Forrest thought the meal was as good as any restaurant, but my tortellini were just average.

We didn’t try to sleep on the way back even though we’d gotten up early. I watched Burlesque based on Em’s recommendation, and Get Shorty on Forrest’s, and enjoyed both of them. I started watching The King’s Speech but only had time for the first half. It was a very good movie so I’ll have to find a way to watch the rest of it.

Having pre-cleared customs in Dublin our flight arrived at the American Airlines terminal, rather than the international terminal, which was nice. The limo company we use had a woman waiting for us at the baggage claim who took care of our bags and called the car for us when we had them all. The flight had arrived at 12:35 and I think we were home at 2:00. Em and Forrest collected the things they’d left here and the trip officially ended when they left our house at 2:30. Boo hoo!

I started working on this travelogue immediately and tried to stay up until 8:00 but I crashed between 6:30 and 7:00. KC was flying to D.C. at 6:00am the next morning and came to bed after I did but I don’t know how late it was. I do know that he was awake at 3:00am, as I was, when we both heard a loud noise downstairs. We turned to each other and said, “What was that?!” The ADT perimeter alarm was on and we didn’t think it was an intruder so KC went downstairs to investigate and came back up a few minutes later to tell me that one of the Quark’s signs had fallen. When I expressed surprise that it had made so much noise he said that it was a big sign. Ah ha! The Tongo sign must have fallen.

I tossed and turned until KC left at 4:45am (I’d had 8+ hours sleep), got up, and continued to work on the blog all day Tuesday. I managed to stay up until 8:30pm on Tuesday, sleeping until 5:30am, and lasted until 11:00pm on Wednesday. I got up at 5:30 on Thursday because KC was coming home early and I wanted to unpack before he arrived so I didn’t get back to the travelogue until after noon and had not finished it when I left to check up on my mother. I was too tired to stay up late on Thursday and finished the travelogue Friday. The written part, that is. The pictures were added over the weekend and then I worked all day Monday and Tuesday adding captions.

Reiterating my NOTE ON THE MAPS:
Most of the maps I posted here were created using screen caps from MapQuest, Google 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.

Press here for 2010 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
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)

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NOTES TO SELF: In order to receive my refund on the nifty credit card offered by NU, I first had to register it with www.shoptaxfree.com. and I got a page not found’ error message while attempting to do this. In spite of the error message, it did accept my registration. When I tried to claim my refund I again got a message, this time stating that the service was unavailable (and please try again later). Nevertheless, it did send me an email with an attached PDF file that I was to print and have notarized and then return to them. Under the old system, I filled out a form and dropped it in a box at the airport – no notarizing required – so this new system is actually more cumbersome than the old.

(Old refund protocol: 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 got mine two months after we returned.)

Link to a universal travel adaptor
Link to Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps
Bring the following next time: dry-bag for camera, 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: May 2, 2011
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