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Our trip to the Dingle Peninsula, and Wicklow, Ireland
April 12-24, 2012


The Round Tower at Glendalough in County Wicklow:



Press here to return to personal picture menu.

This was our sixth vacation in Dingle !

This was our SIXTH 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 2013 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2011 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
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)

Disclaimer

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. After doing this for five years in a row, I suspect these travelogues are getting repetitive, so this one will have much less commentary.

We came home with over 900 pictures from which 340 were finally chosen.

A 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 HERE


These maps are also available on Amazon.


Usually, I put these travelogues up as quickly as possible after we get back. This time, life got in the way, and I’m doing it in March 2013, just days before our return, in April. I’m typing on my laptop, which is not as familiar as my desktop, so 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
my mother in law, Elke, and her husband, Herb.

Herb and Elke:



Prep and Travel to Dublin

Thursday, April 12

Easter came early this year, on April 8th, and the Irish school holiday was April 2-13 so we decided to go the week after, to avoid the Easter crowds. We were originally going to leave on Friday and booked the the best cottage on earth around 5:00pm. for April 14-24 to give us as much time in Dingle as possible. Herb and Elke, who were going to Frankfurt and Scotland in addition to Dingle, planned to fly to Dublin on Friday and stay overnight at the airport Hilton where we would pick them up on Saturday.

As usual, we booked our seats in coach and requested system upgrades for Business class. Two weeks before we were supposed to leave, the Business Class cabin was FULL, and the only way we would get an upgrade was if we left one day early. Since we knew that Herb and Elke would be arriving in Dublin on Friday, it was an easy decision for us. We didn’t really want to spend our first night at the Dublin airport Hilton but it was a feasible backup plan if we couldn’t find anything else at such short notice.

After researching many options, we decided on the Lough Dan House, in the middle of the WICKLOW MOUNTAINS, an area we had never visited. Thankfully, they had two double en-suite rooms available so we grabbed them. Our plan was to drive there via Laragh where we would stop for lunch. After checking into the house, we could then drive down to Glendalough and visit the monastic ruins.

Because our flight left at 6:35 pm I was able to get a good night’s sleep AND have the house clean before we left. We left the house at 3:45, arrived at O’Hare at 4:45, and although the line through security was long, it moved quickly. We hung out in the Flagship lounge where KC tasted a South African Seven Sister’s wine, that he loved, and I had very good Pinot Grigio.

Right before we were due to board, someone paged KC…it was a woman from the Concierge Key service that American now offers some of their frequent fliers and she was there to escort us to the plane. We rode on one of those carts normally used by disabled passengers and bypassed everyone waiting in line. It was pretty embarrassing.

On the plane, my bag didn’t fit in the bin over the center seats! We ALWAYS request those seats and I don’t remember having that problem in the past so they must have made the bins smaller. (Or, my memory has gotten smaller, which is more likely.) Fortunately, we managed to find space in a bin over the window seats, but I need to remember that for next year.

Entertainment in American Airlines International Business Class:



I checked out the movie offerings as soon as they were available, hoping to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but had no luck. The movie selections seemed really poor this year. The only thing that appealed to me was Puss in Boots.

For dinner, KC had the turkey meatloaf and said it was very good. The chicken curry smelled delicious but I had the grilled shrimp because I know from past trips that it doesn’t give me a migraine. KC had dessert and two glasses of Seven Sister’s sauvignon blanc.

After dinner, I watched Puss in Boots and he watched Sherlock Holmes. I read until midnight and then tried to sleep but couldn’t. Fortunately, KC was able to sleep, since he was our chauffeur. He didn’t wake up until after breakfast.

KC sound asleep:



I am still eating clean – no gluten, starch, sugar, or soy – so I had fruit for breakfast which was very good.

Travel from Dublin to County Wicklow

Lough Dan House

Friday, April 13

We landed on time, at 8:04; we were first in line at customs; and we got our bags within 10 minutes of our arrival at the carrousel. In the terminal, we got cash from the ATM, picked up the rental car, and returned to the terminal to wait for Herb and Elke. It was only 9am and they weren’t due to arrive until 11:50 so we went to the airport Bar Restaurant where KC was able to get a breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans, and sausage. We both had a latte.

I continued to read and KC played with his new iPad. He pointed to a tower next to our seats and told me it was a charging station. I’d never seen one but thought it was ingenious:

Charging Center in the Dublin Airport Bar Restaurant:



At 12:15 we walked down to the arrivals lounge where we met Herb and Elke, folded ourselves into the car, and were on the road at 1pm.

The car we got this year was a VW Passat.
It had a 2-litre 160-horsepower diesel engine and a 6-speed manual transmission.
This car must have been smaller than the Opel we had last year because we weren’t able to get all our luggage into the trunk. Three small soft-sided bags ended up in the back with Herb and Elke.
(I must have the front seat because I am prone to motion sickness). KC really enjoyed driving this car, though.


Before we left I had ordered the Discovery Series Ordnance Survey Maps for Wicklow County, 56 and 62, and I printed out directions on MapQuest. There are two routes, and we planned to take the longer one, through the Wicklow Mountains, stopping at Laragh for lunch.

Route from Dublin to Lough Dan:



It was a cold day and mostly overcast. As we climbed into the Wicklow mountains, the scenery changed from lush and green to barren to gorsey and then back to green again. (All the pictures below were taken through the car window and are not as clear as I would like.)

Looking down on Dublin from the road to Wicklow:



The changing scenery:






Lough Dan House, seen from the road, was inviting in spite of the dreary day:





Lough Dan House lobby:



In spite of multiple maps and printed directions, we had to retrace our steps twice, we totally missed Laragh, and arrived at the Lough Dan House around 2:30.

The proprietors, Sean and Theresa, were both there and showed us around their comfortable home. It was light and airy with lots of natural wood trim. It was also immaculate.

The bedrooms are all upstairs and they had given us two identical rooms with queen size beds, which were more than adequate, but when we saw the large room at the front of the house with an oriel window looking out onto the Wicklow Mountains, we asked for an upgrade. It had a small second bed in it, which we didn’t need, but we LOVED the view!

We offered the room to Herb and Elke but they chose to stay in the room they were given.

Upstairs looking down to the lobby:


Upstairs landing:



Herb and Elke’s room:


Each room has an electric coffee pot:



Our room:



The wonderful view from our window:


One of the reasons we chose Lough Dan House was the promise of "delicious home cooking, serving all locally produced meats and vegetables from the farm, game from the mountain and fish from the lakes and rivers. Four course evening meals with exciting choice of menu served with wine or other refreshments." I had been in communication with Sean before our arrival regarding my food issues and he assured me they could be accommodated.

The evening meal is not included in the room price but is available for a nominal charge of €25 per person so we arranged dinner for four at 6:00 pm that evening. We unloaded the car and then headed off to Glendalough, an early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin.

Glelndalough from the road:



None of us had eaten lunch, but we didn’t want to ruin our dinner, so we stopped in the restaurant overlooking the river for coffee and a little snack.

Restaurant in the guest house at Glendalough:



Off we go to see the ruins:



The settlement itself was fascinating, but it was very crowded so it was hard to get good pictures. The commentary below in italics is plagiarized from Wikipedia. The descriptions made a lot more sense to me when interspersed with the photographs we took. There are some buildings that we did not photograph so I have omitted the commentary for them. You can read the entire write-up HERE.

The Gateway to the monastic city of Glendalough is one of the most important monuments, now totally unique in Ireland. It was originally two-storied with two fine, granite arches. The antae or projecting walls at each end suggest that it had a timber roof. Inside the gateway, in the west wall, is a cross-inscribed stone. This denoted sanctuary, the boundary of the area of refuge. The paving of the causeway in the monastic city is still preserved in part but very little remains of the enclosure wall.

The Gateway:



The Causeway:



The Round Tower, built of mica-slate interspersed with granite is about 30 metres high, with an entrance 3.5 metres from the base. The conical roof was rebuilt in 1876 using the original stones. The tower originally had six timber floors, connected by ladders. The four storeys above entrance level are each lit by a small window; while the top storey has four windows facing the cardinal compass points. Round towers, landmarks for approaching visitors, were built as bell towers, but also served on occasion as store-houses and as places of refuge in times of attack.

The Round Tower:






I’m sure this unusual tree is hundreds of years old:



Some of the Healy graves in the cemetary:



The largest and most imposing of the buildings at Glendalough, the cathedral had several phases of construction, the earliest, consisting of the present nave with its antae. The large mica-shist stones which can be seen up to the height of the square-headed west doorway were re-used from an earlier smaller church. The chancel and sacristy date from the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The chancel arch and east window were finely decorated, through many of the stones are now missing. The north doorway to the nave also dates from this period. Under the southern window of the chancel is an ambry or wall cupboard and a piscina, a basin used for washing the sacred vessels. A few metres south of the cathedral an early cross of local granite, with an unpierced ring, is commonly known as St. Kevin's Cross.

The Cathedral:



St. Kevin's Church or "Kitchen", a stone-roofed building, originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The upper part of the window can be seen above what became the chancel arch, when the chancel (now missing) and the sacristy were added later. The steep roof, formed of overlapping stones, is supported internally by a semi-circular vault. Access to the croft or roof chamber was through a rectangular opening towards the western end of the vault. The church also had a timber first floor. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower.

St. Kevin’s Church:





Right next to St. Kevin’s Church are the remains of St. Ciarán's (Kieran's) Church. The remains of this nave-and-chancel church were uncovered in 1875. The church probably commemorates St. Ciarán (Kieran), the founder of Clonmacnoise, a monastic settlement that had associations with Glendalough during the 10th century.

Remains of the foundation of St. Kieran’s Church
(on the right in the picture below, between St Kevin’s and the bushes):



After walking around the settlement, we followed the boardwalk around both lakes, an easy walk of about 3km.

The pathway to the lakes:



Scenery on the way
(we were fascinated by the trees on that ridge and could visualize an army on horseback waiting to charge down the slope):





Glendalough from the other direction:



While on the path where the above picture was taken, we did see St Saviour’s Church, but didn’t know what it was, and I don’t have a photograph. On the far east side of the site (on the other side of the visitors’ center from the lakes) is St. Savior’s Church. Accessed via a 1km walking path and a short trek through an overgrown field, this is the most recent of Glendalough’s churches. It dates from the 12th century, probably during the time of St. Laurence O’Toole.

It was getting close to dinnertime now so we returned to Lough Dan House.

Stone walls on the road between Lough Dan House and Glendalough:



We were famished and really looking forward to dinner. We waited by the fireplace in the lobby until it was announced. The fireplace is warm and cosy when you’re sitting in front of it but it is open to the lobby on one side so it doesn’t feel cramped and there is room to pull up additional chairs if necessary. We were the only guests here tonight, and it was perfect for us, but it would easily have accommodated more people.

If you’re curious about the trophies on the mantle – they were won by Sean and Theresa’s daughter, a talented Irish step dancer, who competes worldwide.

Fireplace in the lobby sitting room:




The dining room:



Dinner was delicious!

Our starter was a small butter lettuce salad with smoked salmon and homemade (!) mayonnaise, followed by venison stew, and ending with rhubarb crumble a la mode (vanilla and cinnamon ice creams). I forgot to take a picture of the crumble. For wine we were offered a South African Chenin Blanc and a Chilean cabernet sauvignon. After dinner we had Irish coffee that was so good it set the bar for the rest of the trip!

Toasting a great meal:



Salad:



Venison Stew:



Irish Coffee:



Back in front of the fire in the lobby, we drank wine and Irish coffee, and got into a spirited discussion on the wisdom (or folly) of owning a gun. Sean came out to mediate and from there we moved on to renewable energy and other topics – what an interesting and knowledgeable man. He told us some very interesting stories. We’d had a long day, though, and retired around 10:30.

We slept really well that night. The pillows in Ireland are wonderful. They’re about 4 inches thick and rather firm – not those awful foam things we have in the US that are either so big that your head is held in an unnatural and unhealthy position, nor the ones that are so soft they offer no support at all – these pillows were perfect. All the pillows in Ireland are like this…I have to remember to bring some home.

Before falling asleep, we opened our drapes so that we’d wake up with the sun the next day (watching KC try and open them without being seen was hilarious), and it was so dark out that when I got up to use the washroom I couldn’t find the toilet!

Travel to Dingle

Saturday, April 14


We woke up at 6 but didn’t get out of bed until 7. It was overcast again today, and a bit drizzly; the perfect day for the drive to Dingle. Well, not perfect, but I’d rather be driving in the rain than trying to hike a mountain in it. More importantly, though, I did not have a migraine!

We showered, dressed, and were downstairs at 8:00am.

Breakfast was as good as dinner had been. There was a self-serve table with cereals and juices, but we opted for a hot meal. KC and Herb both had an Irish breakfast with ham and sausage (KC’s without black pudding), I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and Elke had scrambled eggs with bacon, toast and jam. We had tea and coffee while we waited for it to be served.

As you can see, everything was expertly prepared. My eggs were moist and creamy, theirs were a picture-perfect over-easy, and Elke loved the bread. Amazingly, everything was hot. I don’t know how Theresa managed to do that.

Our breakfast table:




Self-serve table of cereals and juice:


Full Irish Breakfast:


Scrambled eggs and salmon (taken after I started eating):


Toasted bread:



After breakfast, while I was closing up our suitcases, KC took some pictures of the sheep in the pasture next to the house. Almost every one had a lamb or two and they were tiny.

Lambs suckling:



Oriel window from the outside (on the right are the windows for Herb and Elke’s room):



We were sorry to be leaving. This area is beautiful and there are lots of hiking paths so we will return someday to explore them and we will definitely be staying at Lough Dan House . When I come home after a long day in the hills, I love knowing that the food I’m eating is fresh and additive-free; and Theresa’s cooking means it will be delicious, too. Sean and Theresa are wonderful hosts and their home is super clean and comfortable. Five stars from the Healys!

We were on the road at 9:00am and took the route through Tipperary, intending to stop there for lunch. We weren’t a long way from Tipperary but we had come a long way to see it! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Route from Wicklow to Dingle, 360km, 4.5 hours:




Frost on the hillside:




What many of my pictures look like, taken through the car window:



Fields of golden canola

Look! It’s starting to clear up:


Signpost for Tipperary:



We had lunch in Kickham House, a typical Irish pub, whose only offering was toasted cheese sandwiches and cream of vegetable soup, so that’s what we had.

Kickham House:





Cows on the road:



Driving into Dingle – the first time I’ve been able to capture this shot:



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 drive is a 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. Today we took the shorter route and got to the best cottage on earth around 4:00pm.

It was a beautiful day and I got some great shots of the view from the living area!

Living-dining area view:



To-die-for view:



Graigue Cottage
our home base for the next 9 days

New Pictures This Year!

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 five 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 on the morning of April 23, 2012 (the larger ones), followed by pictures from previous years (the smaller ones). As you can see, they are almost identical to the pictures we took five 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 (and cabinet under the stairs where utilities are located):




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 landing upstairs and entrance to master suite:




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 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).

Second bedroom on second floor, with an attached bathroom:





Third bedroom, second floor, with an attached bathroom:




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).

Monday, April 14, continued

We dropped off our bags, checked the fridge, and then drove to Dingle for provisions. KC went to into Spar , to pay our tolls, and then met Herb, Elke and I in Garvey’s Market where we stocked up on staples.

Back at the cottage, we had a simple dinner of bread, ham, cheese, and pizza while we discussed what we would like to see and do this year.

KC trying a slice of Irish Pizza:



Our activity option list from most to least important:

1. The Old Midleton Distillery and Ballymaloe Restaurant in County Cork; and Dún Chathail, the star fort on our way home.
2. Climb to the top of Brandon Mountain and/or Eagle Mountain.
3.Gap of Dunloe and Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney National Park.
4.The Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Islands on the Iveragh Peninsula.
5. Beach on Inch Strand OR Smerwick Harbour Beach and Dún an Óir Fort OR Brandon Bay Beach.
6. The Cliffs of Moher and/or the Aran Islands .
7. Adare .
7. Wednesday night set dancing at An Droichead Beag .
8. Walk to the second peak on Great Blasket.
9. Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.
0. Cruach Mharthain , the hills behind Phil’s house.

Option one, the old Midleton distillery in Cork, was non-negotiable for me. They sell a 12-year whiskey with labels that can be imprinted with whatever name you choose and I wanted to bring some of these back for the sci-fi party we throw every year. The only decision was whether to go while Herb and Elke were with us. They said they DID want to go if we could combine the trip with a meal at Ballymaloe House, which I wanted to do as well. We agreed to attempt that on Monday.

Elke wanted to see Brandon Bay Beach so we scheduled that for Sunday, weather permitting.

Beyond that, we agreed to wait and see what the weather would be like.

After dinner, Elke and I teamed up against KC and Herb for cribbage and each team won one game. Then, KC-Herb beat us by the skin of their teeth – they got EXACTLY the number of points they needed. Bummer.

Herb and Elke went to bed at 10:30. I updated my journal and KC played Scrabble on his iPad.

Our plan for tomorrow is to tackle Brandon Bay Beach, have dinner at An Canteen, and then music at An Droichead Beag. On Tuesday, we hope to see the Gap of Dunloe, and on Wednesday drive to the Midleton distillery in County Cork and have lunch at Ballymaloe House .

KC and I hit the hay around midnight.

Brandon Bay and dinner at An Canteen

Sunday, April 15


Woke up at 7:30 today. I had tea (hibiscus and olive leaf), cheese, and an apple for breakfast. Elke had toast and jam. Herb made fried eggs and ham sandwiches for himself and KC.

Breakfast:



We left the cottage at 10:30 for Brandon Bay, stopping at the lookout point at Conor Pass.

Conor Pass:



Conor Pass, the view across the road, looking down on Dingle:



Brandon Bay from car window:



At Brandon Bay, we parked at the eastern-most end. KC wanted to walk the entire length but we didn’t think we’d be able to manage that and walk all the way back to the car.

A long way to go….:


Elke, forging ahead:


Funny squiggly things from worms burrowing into the sand:




We crossed over several fjords, a dead ram’s body, and lots of large crab shells.

Crab:


Seaweed:


Fjord:




We walked to about the halfway point and decided to turn around because of all the fjords. KC and I were wearing waterproof hiking boots and had no trouble walking in ankle-deep water, but Herb and Elke were wearing walking shoes that were not waterproof, and we didn’t want them to ruin their shoes.

On our way back, we saw several flocks of small black and white birds that were absolutely gorgeous when they flew.

Birds:









The final stretch:



Elke told us later this walk was her favorite part of this year’s trip.

We drove into Dingle and found Michael and Caitriona’s new Dingle Music and Coffee Shop and – wonder of wonders – they were both there!

What a nice place they have now. It’s much bigger than the old shop, it’s full of light, and there is a small café serving home made pastries and warm beverages. Michael’s son, Dara, who manages the store, served us Irish coffee on the patio. They have two patios, actually, one in front and one in back. We chose the one in front.

Dingle Music and Coffee Shop:



The left side of the shop:



The coffee shop at the back
Look at those cute coffee pots on the counter:



The patio in back of the shop:



The patio in front of the shop:



I so liked the mugs they were using to serve coffee that I bought a set to take home – two mugs and a small teapot with a whimsical lid – made especially for the café by Hedi O’Neill, a local artist, with little musical notes worked into the design. Elke bought us two small plates to go with them.

Tea Service by Hedi O’Neill of Dingle Pottery for Dingle Music and Coffee Shop:




Just inside the front door, there was a sign for a John Spillane concert later that week at John Benny’s Pub, and I LOVE JOHN SPILLANE, so I asked Caitriona to reserve two tickets for us. He’s one of her favorite musicians, too, and she hoped to be able to join us. I spent a lot to time talking to her and drooling over pictures of her home in Annascaul. She lives the life I wish we did, nestled into the mountainside, with room to raise her own chickens, a vegetable-herb garden, and the most adorable dog you’ve ever seen. I am SO jealous.

As usual, we asked for advice on new places to hike and, once again, Caitriona recommended Coumaloghig in Feohanagh River Valley.

We arranged to meet Michael at An Droichead Beag later that night and then go with him to The Courthouse .

We left the shop and walked down to Murphy’s Pub for a late lunch: salmon appetizer for Elke and me, fish and chips for Herb and KC. Elke and I had Irish coffee and then shared a sticky toffee pudding. It was as good now as it used to be!

Irish coffee at Murphy’s Pub:



Salmon appetizer:



Fish and Chips:



Sticky Toffee Pudding:



Before heading home we stopped in Garvey’s and were back at the cottage at 4:30. KC called Adriane, Elke called Heidi, and I tried to call Phil and An Canteen, to make sure they were open, but couldn’t figure out how! I really need a new phone….

KC communing with the sheep behind the cottage:



At 7:00pm we left for An Canteen.

An Canteen, our favorite restaurant in Dingle:



When we got to the restaurant guess who was there – Phil and Alec!

Phil and Alec:



We chatted with them for a short while and then left them to finish their meal. Phil’s entree looked delicious…

Perusing the menu:



While we were waiting for our dinner to arrive, KC had a local Irish beer, and was thrilled they were serving it, Herb had a cabernet sauvignon, and Elke and I had a sauvignon blanc.

Craft Beer at An Canteen:



Elke ordered the ham hock terrine and warm salad, KC the Thai soup and warm salad, Herb the pork belly, and I chose a new veggie selection. Herb and I also shared an order of fried calamari. The fried calamari was easily the best I’d ever eaten – meltingly tender with a light crisp breading. Elke LOVED the warm salad and KC raved about his soup. Herb cleaned his plate and everyone else’s! Everything was so good, I get hungry just looking at the pictures.

Warm Salad at An Canteen:



Fried Calamari at An Canteen, the best I’ve ever eaten:



Thai Soup at An Canteen (and Niall’s incredible bread!):



Ham Hock Terrine at An Canteen:



Pork Belly at An Canteen:



D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S Vegetarian Plate at An Canteen, front and back:




For dessert, KC ordered chocolate mousse cake, Elke chose the apple-pear crumble, and I had a blueberry crème brulee. Herb, who never orders dessert, had some of each. Not only was everything delicious, it was beautifully presented.

Chocolate Mousse Cake at An Canteen:



Apple Pear Crumble at An Canteen:



Blueberry Crème Brulee at An Canteen:



After dinner, I hightailed it to An Droichead Beag to grab a table. While I was gone, Niall had a long chat with KC, Herb and Elke. He told them that many Irish have celiac disease and that his bread is low gluten. He gave us a loaf to take home as well as some of his out-of-this-world salad dressing.

There weren’t many people at An Droichead Beag this year and I had no trouble grabbing the table in the front. The guitarist was the guy Em and Forrest met last year, NOT John Brown! The new guy is a good musician with a nice voice but he doesn’t have John Brown’s charisma. They did play both my requests – I’ll Tell Me Ma and Galway Girl – but I prefer John Brown’s interpretations.

It was pretty late when the show ended so, rather than go over to The Courthouse with Micheal, we agreed to meet Michael there tomorrow for an open session and went home.

Tomorrow, we plan to drive to County Cork to visit the Midleton distillery and have lunch at Ballymaloe House .

A Day in Dingle

Monday, April 16




I woke up at 8, got dressed, and came down to breakfast. Herb and KC were having soft boiled eggs, sausage and toast; I had cheese and an apple. The eggs they were eating were from Phil and Alec’s hens. Last night, she told us they have 5 chickens now and that the white eggs have the best taste. I wish I had taken a picture….

As you can see, it was overcast today, foggy, and it threatened to rain. We didn’t mind since we planned to be in the car, driving to Cork, not out hiking.

Herb called Ballymaloe House and made a reservation. Dinner wasn’t served until 7:00pm, which would get us home too late, so we opted for lunch at 1:00pm which would give us plenty of time to eat and still get to Middleton before the last tour left, at 4:00pm. We would do the tour before returning home.

In the past, the drive has taken us 2 hours so we left just before 11:00am and stopped at Moran’s Garage to fill the tank.

Moran’s Garage



KC inadvertently put gas in the car instead of diesel!

Thus began the debacle of 2012. Fortunately, he realized his mistake before starting the car. He asked what needed to be done and they told him the tank had to be drained, which would take 2 hours; so, to make the best of a bad situation, we decided to spend the morning in Dingle.

We walked over to Dingle Crystal to say hello to Liz.

Café at Dingle Crystal:



Since we had JUST had breakfast we decided to walk around a bit and come back later for coffee. We went to the bank, stopping at a bookstore on the way where I bought an archaeological book – the one that used to be in the cottage – Herb bought a book on the Blaskets, Elke bought Peig Sayer’s Collection, and KC bought a book on the Celts and a map of Cork.

From the bank we went to Ré Nua , the organic grocery store, and got some fresh lettuce – grown right up the street – some mayonnaise, Irish chocolate, and a few snacks.

Our breakfast fullness had worn off so we returned to Dingle Crystal for coffee and a pastry. Elke had a scone and KC ordered banoffee. He then left to pick up the car. If he didn’t get it before 1:00 he would have to leave it there until 3:00 while they took their lunch break (note to self: Morann’s is closed between 1:00pm and 3:00pm).

He made it back in time to scarf down what was left of his banoffee, which the three of us had been nibbling on and which was out of this world delicious! He’s lucky he got even one bite. I wish I had taken a picture but I was worried about the car.

The cost to repair the damage to the car was €140 or around $200: €20 for the gas in the tank, €60 to drain the tank and clean the pipes, and €60 to refill the tank with pure diesel. The €60 to refill the tank we would have spent anyway, so I shouldn’t include it in the total, but from a cash flow perspective, we spent $200 on fuel that morning! DO NOT PUT GAS IN A DIESEL CAR!

KC had parked the car by the pier so we walked down past the woolens store where he bought a wonderful cotton shirt. It’s made of unbleached heavy cotton ticking with thin stripes (KC’s is green but they are available in blue and brown as well), and shaped like a night shirt. It’s very comfortable, and when tucked into jeans, it looks sharp. He has now practically worn it out so we’ll have to get another one next year.

KC’s new shirt:



We stopped at the Tourist Office on Strand Street to pick up timetables for the trains to Dublin from Killarlney, Tralee and Limerick; and to inquire about the best route. They told us that only the train from Limerick runs nonstop to Dublin, the others all require a change.

Tourist Office on Strand Street:



Outside, KC asked us who had the bag of groceries from Ré Nua . Ack! I realized I’d left it in Dingle Crystal so we walked back and collected it (thank goodness Liz looks out for us, this isn’t the first time I’ve left a bag behind!) As we were leaving, Sean pulled up, and we arranged to meet that night at The Courthouse .

On our way back to the cottage, we made a detour into Holden Leather Goods , where Elke had found that gorgeous brown shopper the last time they were here, and which I had subsequently custom-ordered in black the year after. Conor’s work is meticulous, the leather is high quality, and the designs are timeless. Plus, he’s such a nice man. KC bought an iPad holder and I bought a shoulder bag. It’s shaped like a man-bag, actually, but it has a nice long strap that can be worn as a crossbody bag.

My Isabel Bag from Holden Leather Goods:



Inside Holden Leather Goods:



Holden Leather Goods parking:



When we tried to pay, our card was declined! KC sorted it out (I don’t remember what the problem was), but what a day this has been!

Near the entrance on the road that leads to Holden is the Ventry Estate, which has a collection of Ogham stones, brought there from their original site in Baile an Reannaigh and Baile an Istinigh by Lord Ventry in the mid-19th century. We stopped to look at them and heard live music coming through the windows of the main house…is it now a conservatory?

Ventry Estate:



Ogham Stones at Ventry Estate:




English portion of signage for the stones:



Beautiful landscaping at Ventry Estate; look at the size of that fern:



We took Sleahead Drive and stopped at the Stonehouse Restaurant for a late lunch around 3:30pm. It’s a LOT different now than the first time KC and I ate there 6 years ago. It’s much bigger and has lost that cosy feeling I loved. The interior is no longer stone, it’s white plaster, and a bit sterile. Everyone else loved it because it is now light and airy.

The food, however, is still excellent. Herb had a cheeseburger and everyone else had tempura cod, chips and mushy peas. Elke and I had Irish coffee while we were wating for the food to arrive. We both prefer it with a little more cream and a touch of sugar. The fish was very tasty but there was way too much of it for me – three huge pieces – and mine had bones. KC and Elke raved about theirs and cleaned their plates as did Herb.

Irish Coffee at Stonehouse Restaurant:



Tempura Fish at Stonehouse Restaurant
(I had already eaten one piece, hence the somewhat messy picture):



Cheeseburger at Stonehouse Restaurant:



When it came time to order dessert, I thought about having a slice of cheesecake, which I adore; but, when the couple at the table next to us ordered it, and I saw how big it was, I decided to pass. If you like huge portions of good food, this is the place for you!

After lunch we walked over to Dun Beg Fort, across the street from the restaurant, but it was raining hard now so we didn’t stay long.

From here we went to the Blasket Centre, hoping they would still be open.

Blasket Centre:



The mural inside the rounded area, right next to the entrance:



We arrived at 5:00pm which gave us less than half an hour. Elke bought another copy of Hungry for Home , intending to have Maureen Moriarty, the co-owner of Lord Baker’s restaurant autograph it. We then took in as much of the centre as we could for that half an hour.

The best part, for me, was the short film on how they built the currach/naomhóg the black canvas-covered canoe-like boats they used to navigate. I found similar videos on YouTube and they are FASCINATING – I highly recommend you watch them:

Similar videos on You Tube
reference to Dingle/Kerry starting at 7:00 on part 1:







At the Blasket Centre, we learned that the crab shells we saw on Brandon Bay Beach were from spiny spider crabs, Ireland’s largest native crab. I wonder if they serve them in the restaurants, as the flavor of the meat is supposedly superior to its more famous cousin, the king crab. They’re in season the middle of spring. We also learned that the islanders used gorse for fuel.

When we got home, just after 6:00pm, we checked the weather report and they were forecasting rain and gale-force winds for tomorrow. We decided it would be a good day to drive to Middleton.

After a short nap, we left the house again at 8:15 for our rendezvous at the The Courthouse . Even though we got there early – 8:30pm – there were still no open seats at the front of the house! We got a table at the back and played cribbage until Michael came in. There were 9 musicians – mandolin, ullean pipes, 2 guitars, 2 banjos, bodhran, flute, and bass but we could barely hear the music.

Musicians at O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub:



I had an Irish coffee which was very good, but very strong, and although we’d had a looooong day, it kept me up that night. The wind was very noisy and I wished I could see the waves.

County Cork

Ballymaloe House and Midleton’s Distillery

Tuesday, April 17




I woke up late this morning, at 10:00am but I was ready to leave at 10:30, hoping to get an early start. KC was NOT ready so I had cheese and an apple while he got dressed and we were on the road at 11:00. I worried that we would be cutting it close….

In the past, this drive has taken us two hours. Today, however, was a different story….

First, we had to find a restroom for KC to relieve himself of the 4 cups of coffee he’d had with breakfast. The first station we stopped at didn’t have one and KC was getting more and more irritable the longer he had to wait. The mood in the car was tense and somber.

Second, there was road construction everywhere. At one point, we had to double back because of a construction roadblock that had not been posted at the point where we could have avoided it.

Roadworks on the way to Cork:













And then there was the weather, which was surprisingly volatile, changing from overcast to sunny to rainy to SNOW, then sun, and then rain. There was a LOT of traffic. That, coupled with the rain and roadworks nearly doubled our travel time

Weather on the way to Cork:

















When it got close to 1:00pm, and we weren’t more than half-way to Cork, we called Ballymaloe House and cancelled our reservation. I was hoping we’d be able to have dinner there, or at least tea, but they wouldn’t be open, and the day had deteriorated.

We stopped at Dan Sheahan’s Bar and Restaurant for lunch, which would have been very good, if we hadn’t had our hearts set on an elegant healthy gourmet lunch at Ballymaloe House . I had scrambled eggs, Herb had black bean soup, KC had a ham sandwich, and Elke had a roast beef club.

Dan Sheahan’s on the way to Cork:



Roast Beef Club at Dan Sheahan’s:



Ham Sandwich at Dan Sheahan’s:



Black Bean Soup at Dan Sheahan’s:



Scrambled Eggs at Dan Sheahan’s:



We drove straight to the distillery and caught the 3:00pm tour . The entry fees were: Adults: €8.50, Family: €22.00, Children: €3.95, Senior Citizens and Students: €7.00.

Midleton’s Old Distillery:





The tour was mostly outside, and it was a very cold and drizzly day, but it was very interesting and informative even though I’d been through it before in 2008 . We gave the tasting a miss but did cash in our coupons for a free shot. KC paid $30 for a shot of Jameson’s Rarest Vintage Reserve Whiskey, aged for 18 years, which we shared. It was beyond delicious, probably the best whiskey I’ve ever had, and we wondered what a bottle would cost.

Pub at Midleton’s Old Distillery:



Toast:



Once we had warmed up, we made our way to the store where we ordered three bottles of the 12-year reserve that is only available on site, one for KC’s brother-in-law who had a birthday coming up, and two for our yearly Sci-Fi costume party, Quarks Qantina. We LOVE the fact that the label on each bottle can be printed with a name of your choosing and we took advantage of that free service. The Rarest Vintage Reserve was over $300, more than we wanted to spend, and it IS available in the US.

We drove on to Ballymaloe House to find that the café had JUST closed, at 5:00pm! We have had the worst luck on this trip. The restaurant didn’t open until 7:00 and no one wanted to wait around for two hours (and get home after midnight) so we piled in the car and headed back to Dingle.

Ballymaloe House and menu (what we missed out on):





On the return trip, even though it was rush hour and there was a LOT of traffic, KC drove at break-neck speed, and it only took us two hours to get home. Elke said she felt like she’d been in a blender for most of the day. In the future, we need to allow at least three hours… IF KC will ever drive me back there….

Traffic on the way home:



Huge castle – where is this????:



We stopped at Clogher Beach to check out the waves, given the gale-force winds, and the surf was impressive but it was too windy to get out of othe car. In fact, the waves at the cottage were as good OR BETTER than the ones we’d enjoyed when we were here in November and I almost wished we’d stayed home and watched them…

Waves at Clogher Beach:



Waves from the cottage. Look at that surf!:







Back at the cottage, I fixed a lettuce salad, Herb made scrambled eggs, KC made sausage, and Elke put out the cheese and bread. It was actually a delicious dinner but, again, not the gourmet fare we would have had at Ballymaloe House .

Dinner:





We played cribbage until 10:30 when Herb and Elke went to bed. I updated my journal and then, finally, finished my book.

I made a note that I want to include here about how to get to the Middleton’s distillery: do NOT turn at the first roadsign for the distillery; go past it, and take the second exit. The entrance to the distillery is across from the church so go slowly as you approach the church or you will miss it.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is cold (51F), rain and wind. I wouldn’t mind staying in the cottage but Herb gets cabin fever so I wonder what we’ll do….

KC and I went to bed at midnight.

Coumaloghig in Feohanagh River Valley and Brandon Creek

Wednesday, April 18




Woke up 9:00, well rested after a full night’s sleep, and the sun was shining!

After much discussion as to what we should do, we decided to check out Coumaloghig valley, with Brandon Creek as a back-up if the rain materialzed. Elke asked that we be back at 2:00pm so she could do laundry and fix dinner. We had a quick breakfast and drove to the valley.

Rain at Coumaloghig:




When we left, the sky was blue, but it soon clouded over and started to rain. It was pouring when we got to the valley so we drove on to Brandon Creek and the pier where he launched his famous voyage. By now, the rain had passed and the sun was shining but it was very cold – I was very cold this trip – so I ran ahead of everyone trying to get warm. Then I ran back to them, then ahead again, over and over. As long as I was moving, I was OK. Next year, I think I will bring a warmer jacket.

Brandon Creek:





At the head of the pier was a small cottage with a for sale sign. KC went inside to see whether it was worth buying and was startled to find a squatter!

Cottage for sale:



Brandon Pier:







We debated whether to return to the valley, as it had stopped raining, but that would have gotten us home after 2:00pm so we decided to return to Dun Beg Fort.

Dun Beg Fort:













It was still cold and very windy. I can handle the cold if I’m moving around, hiking for instance, but standing around looking at ruins in this weather was not fun!

After walking around the fort we went up to the Famine Cottages, behind the Stonehouse Restaurant. They were sort of creepy. They each have manequins depicting how miserable life was in those days and the effect is really depressing. It was very well done, though, there is a LOT of information presented, and I would recommend seeing them. The E3 entry fee was more than worth it.

Famine Cottages:















Next to the Famine Cottages is an outdoor zoo, for lack of a better word, of penned-in ruminants – llamas, deer, miniature ponies, donkeys, horses, and some goats. We enjoyed walking around but wish we’d been dressed for the weather. Next year, I’m bringing a warmer coat!

Animals:















It sounds heartless to say this, but after touring the cottages, we had lunch in the Stonehouse Restaurant. Tempura fish and chips again for KC, cream of vegetable soup for Herb, open face crab salad for Elke, and Dingle Bay crab salad for me. All of it was delicious!

Lunch at the Stonehouse Restaurant:



Crab Sandwich at the Stonehouse Restaurant:



Cream of Vegetable Soup at the Stonehouse Restaurant:



Crab Salad at the Stonehouse Restaurant:



Tempura Fish at the Stonehouse Restaurant:



We drove into Dingle to pick up our tickets for the John Spillane concert, invited Michael to join us for dinner on Saturday, ran into Garvey’s for a bottle of Power’s whiskey, and headed back to the cottage.

On the way, KC, Herb and I decided to do the Ryan’s Daughter Schoolhouse Walk while Elke fixed dinner so we dropped her at the cottage and drove to the Blasket Center.

There were markers, but there appeared to be two routes, and we were unclear which we should take so we went inside to ask for directions. They explained our options and recommended we go up the road first and return by the trail, which turned out to be excellent advice becauses the trail is fairly steep and would have been harder to walk up than the road was.

The path is marked by green signposts (as opposed to the yellow ones used for the Dingle Way) .

Green signposts:



After complaining about the cold earlier in the day, I got so hot on my way up the road that I almost didn’t make it. I had to remove my fanny pack and inner jacket before I was able to press on. After that, I was fine. I guess, what I can’t handle is standing around or walking slowly in cold weather, I need to be moving.

Starting out:



Looking back on the beginning of the trail:



We passed a paddock with two small horses that looked exactly like Sasha and Timmy. I’m SURE they were but, since we didn’t expect to see them, we didn’t have any treats with us.

Horses:



KC saw a small hill with a ruin at the top that he really wanted to climb. Taking it slow and easy I managed to make it to the top!

Hill:









Much of the path is along the cliff edge and the wind made the surf interesting even as it made walking more difficult.

Pathway along the cliff edge with view of the Blaskets:











FINALLY, we saw the the Schoolhouse . It was built in 1970 and is still standing. Unfortunately, it’s a ruin, which is a shame because it’s a huge tourist spot for movie and 70mm film buffs. HERE is a website describing every aspect of the Schoolhouse that describes what each room was used for.

The house was also seen briefly in the movie Far and Away. Next year, I will ask Phil to show us the movie locations close to the cottage.

Schoolhouse from Ryan’s Daughter:









Shrine of some sort behind the schoolhouse:





Almost at the end of the trail:



The Blasket Center (notice the dark clouds overhead):



The walk turned out to be one of my favorite parts of this trip, except for the bit at the end: The sky was party clear until about 10 minutes before we reached the end of the trail when it clouded over and spilled its guts on our heads as we ran for the car. It let up just as we reached it so we threw our wet clothes in the boot and went home.

By the time we got home, the sun was coming out again:



We were all famished and were glad to see that dinner was almost ready. KC put out cheese, salami and crackers while we waited. Dinner was delicious – oven baked pork chops, green beans (the package said they were from Kenya!) with olive oil and red onion, and garlic potatoes. I forgot to take a picture.

After dinner we played cribbage and Elke and I skunked the guys thanks to her two high count hands – 16 and 22 points. Then, they skunked us!

This was Herb and Elke’s last night in Dingle. Tomorrow we would drive them to Tralee where they would catch the train to Dublin and from there continue their vacation in Scotland. We then planned to tackle the Loch a'Dúin valley

They went to bed at 10:30, we read until midnight.

Tralee, Coumaloughig, Dingle, and dinner at An Canteen

Thursday, April 19

We were up at 9:30 today. After breakfast we packed some snacks for our planned hike and left for Tralee at 11:00am.

Tralee railway station:



We had no problem finding the train station but LOTS of problems buying the tickets: the fare for two tickets from Tralee to Dublin was €164 and they wouldn’t accept any bill larger than €100. All Herb had were €500 notes and the station’s credit card processor wasn’t working so Herb had no way to pay. KC and Herb walked to the nearest bank but they wouldn’t cash the note either. In the end, Herb gave KC the note, which we used to pay our bill at the cottage, and KC paid for their tickets. This trip has truly been one issue after another!

Covered platform:



The waiting room was quite small and very cold but there was nothing else we could do for them so we left Herb and Elke at around noon and headed home.

I had forgotten the hood to my jacket. KC had removed it from my jacket the night before to insure it would dry, and I hadn’t noticed it wasn’t attached; AND, I had forgotten my camera; so there was no point in attempting the valley, as it was already threatening rain. We drove to the Dingle Music and Coffee Shop.

We said hello to Michael. Caitriona wouldn’t be in until later so we went over to Dingle Crystal to order two shot glasses. We also indulged in a latte and pastry.

We stopped into Lisbeth Mulcahy and bought a new scarf and some greeting cards. I usually buy a sweater here but I didn’t see anything that caught my fancy.

Back at Dingle Music and Coffee Shop I had a short bodhran lesson with Michael and arranged for a full lesson with Liam at 11:00am the next day. We said we’d probably be there at 10 to take advantage of the free wi-fi in the shop.

We went home, read for a few hours, and left the cottage at 5:30 for An Canteen.

An Canteen:




We were the first ones in the restaurant today and Niall invited us into the kitchen to see the pork belly which had just come out of the oven. It’s coddled in its own fat for four hours, and then the juices are poured off and made into gravy. He gave us a plate of succulent ribs to nibble on.

Pork Belly cooking at An Canteen:









KC ordered another craft beer. Brian brought us two bowls of mushroom soup, which was delicious, but we were really getting full now and hadn’t even started our meal! I couldn’t decide between the hake and the sea bass so he made me some of each. KC had the pork belly for his dinner. Although we were stuffed to the gills, we split a chocolate mousse, and both had a cup of coffee. Mine, of course, was Irish and it was delicious.

Craft Beer at An Canteen:



Mushroom Soup at An Canteen:



Hake and Sea Bass at An Canteen:



Pork Belly at An Canteen:



Chocolate Mousse at An Canteen:



Coffe and Irish Coffee at An Canteen:



Good Home Cooking:



We can’t recommend this restaurant highly enough. The food is absolutely delicious and so reasonably priced. Niall is a phenomenal chef and Brian is a fabulous host. I would eat every meal there if we could. Although the sign in front proclaims "Good Home Cooking" I’ve never had food this good in anyone’s home!

We were so full we went right back to the cottage. We called Herb and Elke to make sure they got to Dublin and they said the trip was pleasant and uneventful. From Tralee to Mallow the train is one class; they changed trains in Mallow and were in first class from Mallow to Dublin. Thank goodness…the Barb and KC spell of bad luck had been broken.

Bodhran Lesson, Coumaloughig, and John Spillane Concert

Friday, April 20

It rained all night!

We got up just after 9:00am and left the house at 9:45. I went into Dingle Crystal to order two champagne glasses for our friend, Boguslaw, then ran back to Michael’s in time for my lesson. Liam Stapeleton was an excellent teacher and I had a very good lesson. It’s a LOT harder than it looks, and I’m not sure I’ll ever pick it up, but it was fun trying.

The front of Dingle Music and Coffee Shop:



My bodhran lesson drew quite a crowd:





We bought a 14-inch bodhran with two sticks and a teaching CD to refresh my memory.

We hung around talking to Dara and Michael. In one corner there was a young French woman taking a violin lesson from Liam and on the patio another student polishing up his accordion skills. KC had a coffee and a scone, I had a latte. It was a lively, fun and interesting place to be and we hated to leave, but Coumaloughig was calling.

Latte at Dingle Music and Coffee Shop:



We parked the car and started our walk but I turned around several minutes later when it started to rain. KC went on without me, to reconnoiter, but gave up when he got to a stream with only large rocks to enable one to cross it. We would have to tackle this valley in better weather….

Our second attempt to hike Coumaloughig:






We drove home via the coast and got some great shots of the three sisters from the pier at ???.

The Three Sisters:











At home, we grabbed a bite to eat, then read until 9:00 when we left for the John Spillane concert at John Benny’s Pub. I was afraid that KC wouldn’t enjoy the concert but John is very, very funny and every song has an interesting introduction. The room was packed and our seats were towards the back (close to the bar), but we could see and hear everything. KC had a Guiness in John Benny’s Pub while we waited as they didn’t let us upstairs until right before the concert started.

John Spillane in concert:



Towards the end of the concert, they announced a special guest, and Pauline Scanlon came from the back of the room to join him for the remainder of the concert.

John Spillane and Pauline Scanlon:



It started to rain when we got in the car but stopped when we got to the cottage. We read until 1am and went to bed.

Coumaloughig and dinner at Global Village with Michael

Saturday, April 21

Finally, a bright and sunny day!



We got up at 8:45, KC made his breakfast using the lelftover potatoes from Elke’s dinner, and then he did a bit of work while I tidied the cottage and updated my journal.

Here is our plan for the day:
Coumaloughig in Feohanagh River Valley
nap
Meet Michael at Curran’s
Dinner at Global Village
Music at The Courthouse

We left the cottage at 11:00am and as soon as we got to Coumaloughig it started to rain! Aaarrrggghhh!!!

Not just rain, but POURING RAIN!
This is our windshield, seen from inside the car.



Rather than give up, we decided to wait it out and the rain did let up. Here is a write-up I found on this phenomenal website: The name Feohanagh comes from an old Irish word for a windy place, and when a gale is blowing the wind sweeps with tremendous force across the flatlands. A large, deep bog covered much of the land to the east, and turf from the bog provided the main fuel for the fires of Dingle until the end of the last century. In earlier centuries the area enjoyed a remarkable reputation. Less evidence remains here of early Christian settlements than between Reask and Kilmalkedar, but literary sources suggest that it was a famous monastic centre and even some kind of Garden of Eden.

Further down the page is this description of Coumaloughig: Turning left off the main road into the village a road continues into the valley of Coumaloghig and becomes a rough track. Waterproof footwear is needed, as on most walks, but an easy stroll along the track brings one deep into the valley and up to the massive headwall of Ghearhane. There are signs of tillage on the right and on a spur above stood a spectacularly isolated farmhouse until late in the last century. On the left there are pre-bog field fences on the northern side of the river.

(The website quoted above is itself quoting Steve MacDonough’s book, The Dingle Peninsula: History, Folklore, Archaeology: which I have just purchased because, based on the excerpts above, I’m sure it will come in very handy on future trips. If it’s available in Dingle, I will also purchase a copy for the cottage.)

Clearing up!



We weren’t able to get across the stream near the car, with the small stones, but we were able to ford it further up where the stones were larger. Once across, and off the paved road, the ground was very boggy – it had been raining every day – and it was imposible to avoid the sheep poop although we didn’t see many sheep.

Making good progress, in spite of the boggy ground



The only sheep we saw!



We forged ahead with difficulty until we came to another stream, which was too wide and there were no stones to walk across, so we stayed on the northern side using tufts of grass to avoid getting our feet wet. We found two old beehive huts and one house without a roof. We saw two waterfalls but they were too far away for us (me) to get close to. It would be wonderful to return here in dryer weather and spend the entire day.

Rock ruins



Beehive huts!



Size of beehive huts, using KC for reference, are pretty small



Waterfall in the distance



We got as far as the spur and then started back. It seemed shorter somehow and also a bit wetter. We were walking along the base of the hill now, rather than the center of the valley. We saw some turf that had been cut. When? Recently, or hundreds of years ago? Fascinating.

Turf



Right before we got back to the road, KC stepped into some water up to mid-calf. In order to avoid that area, I went around it and ended up in a bog with water in both boots! Ick. If that had happened at the beginning of the hike I would have turned right around, now I had to slog it out all the way back.

When we got to the road I was unable to cross the stream, even though the water was lower now, because my boots were too slippery. Were they caked with sheep poo? Why didn’t I use my walking sticks IN THE WATER to steady myself – was the water too deep? We made our way to the other ford with smaller stones and I managed to get across although I DID almost fall in. I scrabbled across the rocks by grabbing KC’s legs. Fortunately, they are long and strong, and his balance is excellent. Why were HIS boots NOT slippery?

Huge stream, with slippery rocks, we had to cross to get to our car



Once across, though. , we had another problem: I couldn’t get over the wire fence between us and our car! I was laughing so hard at KC’s attempts to help me, and my inabililty to manage the crossing, that I nearly wet my pants. I did eventually, make it over but I don’t remember how.

Wire fence



We were both wet and dirty so we went home, washed, had a late lunch, and took a nap.

We woke up at 6:30 and left the cottage at 7:00 to meet Michael.

On the way there, we passed a cow that had just given birth to twins, and her owners, walking her down to another pasture. She was very wary of us….

Cow with two newborn calves







Michael met us at Curran’s – what an odd place – and we went together to Global Village .

Curran’s



Wow! I had heard of to Global Village but it had never been open when we wanted a meal. According to their website, they’re open from 5:30 until 11, and the sign on the door says they’re closed on Monday and Tuesday, but I’m pretty sure that in previous years they were only open on the weekends.

We will definitely be going back there because, unbeknownst to me until I read their website while creating this page, they serve only "fresh fish from inshore local fisherman, fresh meat from farmers who operate a sustainable farming policy and the seasonal vegetables grown in the Global Village chemical free vegetable garden run using biodynamic principles."

Sample menu from Global Village
(this was not the menu the night we ate there, I forgot to take a picture of it)





Apparently, Michael eats there a lot because everyone in the restaurant knew him.

Nuala Cassidy of Global Village manages the front of the house



Michael started with oysters on the half shell and had a beef filet for his entrée. KC had a salad and hake, I had goat cheese salad and black sole. We opened a French Pinot noir.

Cromane Oysters at Global Village



Goat Cheese Salad at Global Village



Hake at Global Village



Black Sole at Global Village



Beef Filet at Global Village



For dessert, I had a lemon posset and coffee-cardamom crème brulee. KC and Michael both had a flaming sambucca with coffee beans and we all had Irish coffee. It was good, but I prefer mine with a bit more sugar.

Lemon Posset and Coffee-Cardamom Crème Brulee at Global Village



Flaming Sambucca at Global Village


I can see why this place has won Food and Wine’s restaurant of the year award -- everything was delicious, and meticulously presented. I need to find dishes like the ones they used to serve the veggies….

Veggies at Global Village



Not only was the food good, so was the company. Michael was born on the Dingle peninsula, unlike many of the town’s inhabitants, yet he’s more sophisticated than many foreigners and has led an amazing life. He held our attention for three hours! At one point, he offered to drive us around on Monday, showing us where he grew up, where he went to school, the B&B he used to own, etc… and we accepted his offer enthusiastically.

In retrospect, it turned out to be the BEST part of this year’s trip.

We left the restaurant at 9:30 and walked over to The Courthouse . It was surprisingly empty but they had had music all day for the Guatemalan relief benefit. Tony called Michael while we were in global Village and said he’d meet us at The Courthouse . I was looking forward to that – he is such an interesting guy! He came in right after we did and stayed for one beer.

Michael attracted the attention of a young French girl, Melanie, and introduced her to us. She was from the mountains north of Nice, lives in an apartment in Ballyferriter, and works at a restaurant in Ballydavid. She’s here to brush up on her English. I thought she was beautiful and a pleasure to talk to, full of life and laughter. She told us she bought a car for €800!

Melanie and Michael



Michael invited her to join us on Monday, for our tour of the area where he lived, and she accepted tentatively, based on whether she had to work. We hoped she would come along.

Before leaving The Courthouse , we agreed to meet Michael at his shop at 11:00am on Monday. We got home at 1:45 and went straight to bed.

A day at the cottage

Sunday, April 22



It was a beautiful day but I did not feel good. Migraine. Too much wine? Wine and then whiskey? Whatever caused it, I wasn’t going out.

We stayed in all day, reading, and I’m glad we did because Phil stopped by and we always love talking to her!

When we mentioned that we thought one of the sheep had lost a lamb, she told us that particular sheep actually had three lambs because one of them had lost its mother and Declan had worked to get her to accept the orphan. I need to ask him how he managed to do that as I didn’t think sheep would nurse lambs that weren’t their own.

Re-uniting ewe with her lost lamb






Phil then told us about a music session she organized for a priest who had rented the cottage several years ago. To celebrate his birthday, he paid €100 for two musicians to play fiddle and flute for several hours, for him and his guests. I would love to do that, but I would want a bodhran player, too!

After Phil left, KC went into town to download his mail. Dingle Crystal was closed but Dingle Music and Coffee Shop was open so he hung out there. My migraine was not going away so I took a Maxalt around 4pm and, while it did work, it took 3 hours. I went to bed at 11:00 and KC came up around 2:30.

It rained all night!

Dingle Tour with Michael – THE BEST PART OF THIS YEAR’S TRIP!

Monday, April 23



I woke up at 8:30 migraine free, thank goodness! And what a beautiful day it was.

KC wrote performance appraisals and drank coffee while I took the photos of the cottage, bathed in sunlight, which are shown futher up in this travelogue.

We left the house at 10:00 eager to meet Michael and start our tour! We got to the café around 10:30 and they were just setting up so we helped them do it. I had a latte and read while KC worked. Caitriona came in around 11:30 and we left just after noon, with Michael, in his car.

First we drove through the Conor Pass to Brandon Point, and the area that was Michael’s playground when he was a kid. It was a stunningly beautiful part of the peninsula that most tourists never see.

Michael’s Tour of Dingle






There was a dog on the pier that would have spent the day playing fetch with KC if we hadn’t had other things to do.






Michael’s Tour of Dingle continued





Brandon Bay




We drove up the hill along the beach, and past a house that was once rented by Sara Miles . We stopped at a gorgeous rental mansion on the same hillside, overlooking the bay, and peered in the windows. There were some cars in the back with German license plates, so we assumed it was currently rented and didn’t stay long. I’m fascinated with how the other people live and this was a gorgeous, gorgeous property.

Mansion on the hill overlooking Brandon Bay
(I think the view from our cottage is better)




Attempt to capture the greenery covering the road leading to the Mansion



From there we went out to the end of the spit between Brandon Bay and Tralee Bay and we saw where Michael lived – his family farmed carrots, onions and parsnips – and where he went to grade school. We heard about how the headmaster of the school would drive the bus to pick up all the children, and how Michael hated that ride into school.

Towards the end of the spit there is a herd of wild horses and they come right up to your car hoping for a handout. We had nothing to give them, unfortunately.

Horses on the spit between Brandon Bay and Tralee Bay




We visited Michael’s mother’s grave, right at the end of the spit overlooking both bays, and then stopped at his brother’s house where his brother’s wife offered us tea and scones. That’s something you read about in Agatha Christie books but it really happened to us and it was great fun! KC ate everything; I was still cautious, given yesterday’s migraine, and abstained (out of respect for their privacy, I have no pictures of this.)

The end of the spit between Brandon Bay and Tralee Bay








We saw all the areas where Michael used to play and every one had breathtaking views of the sea. What a wonderful childhood that must have been.

On our way back into town, we stopped at the house Michael used to own and run as a bed and breakfast. It is on Dingle Bay, RIGHT on the water’s edge, with a private beach. I don’t remember why he sold it – it’s a private house now, not a bed and breakfast – but it must have been a gut-wrenching decision.

The beach by the house Michael used to own




All of a sudden, the tour was over and we were back in the café. It was 4:30, Dara had left, and Caitriona said it had been dead all day. Right after that, ten people came in! One of them told us she had stayed at Emlagh House, a 10-room bed and breakfast right on Dingle Bay, and highly recommended it. It looks like a very elegant, and expensive, property but the location is ideal if you want to be within walking distance of Dingle town. In April, which is when we like to travel, their cheapest double room, overlooking the garden, is €150. A single occupancy room is €95. The deluxe double room, which overlooks the bay, is €190. Per night.

Back at Dingle Music and Coffee Shop



I was FINALLY able to buy 3 CD’s and one t-shirt in Dingle Music and Coffee Shop. We helped them close up the shop, said a tearful goodbye, and went back to the cottage.

One last look at the Blaskets



One last look at the Clogher Head



Our flight tomorrow leaves from Dublin at 10:00am so we had to be on the road by 3:00am at the latest. KC planned to get 3 hours sleep, I was sure I wouldn’t get any. KC ate whatever leftovers he found in the fridge and I had the last of the cheese and trailmix.

One last sunset



Phil and Alec stopped by and stayed for about 1.5 hours, helping us finish the last of the wine and cider. We love their company and talked about so many things I couldn’t possibly mention them all here.

We paid €720 for almost 10 days in the cottage which is quite a bargain compared to Emlagh House, isn’t it? And, we have a lot more room, a lot more privacy, and a breathtaking view. Next year, we’ve invited KC’s older daughter and her family to join us.

When Phil and Alec left I finished packing and was done by midnight. KC slept while I watched the clock. I was afraid we wouldn’t wake up and couldn’t sleep.

Return home

Tuesday, April 24

I woke KC up at 2:45, we loaded the car, and were on our way at 3:00 am.

The route from Graigue to Dublin:



We drove straight through to Dublin stopping three times to allow me to spill my guts.

I don’t know what upset my stomach – the ONLY things I ate yesterday were cheese and trailmix -- but we had to stop almost every hour. On the small roads outside Dublin where there was little traffic that early in the day, it wasn’t a problem. Once we got closer, and the rush hour started, it was impossible and I barely made it to the airport. KC dropped me at the terminal before turning the car back in so that I could worship the porcelain god once again.

Fortunately, it was the last time. It’s possible that KC’s driving on those winding roads, coupled with no sleep, is what set me off, even though it’s never done that before, as long as I’m in the front seat. I’ll never know, but I hope it doesn’t happen again!

We checked in, went through security and customs, and then went straight to the Aer Lingus lounge. I don’t remember much about the return flight as I slept through most of it.

Having pre-cleared customs in Dublin our flight arrived at the American Airlines terminal, rather than the international terminal, and I think we were home at 2:00.

I would ordinarily have started working on this travelogue immediately but I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I unpacked and went through the mail that had piled up while we were away.

After that, one thing led to another, my mother took a turn for the worse, and after several months of 24/7 in-home care we made the decision to move her in with us (if she were living with us we’d only have to pay for 24/7 care when we’re on vacation). I spent most of the next 4 months getting our house ready for that until, all of a sudden, it was March 2013 and we were packing for our next trip!

There is no way I can create two travelogues back to back for two different trips – I would get them hopelessly confused! So, I packed my laptop, went to my sister’s house where I could work without interruption, and pushed this out in two days. My notes were pretty cryptic so I hope I remembered everything the way it actually happened!




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.


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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 (this is NOT a voltage converter, only a plug adapter)
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

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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: April 26, 2013
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