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Our trip to London, England and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
March 11-24, 2014

The Year of the Lambs:

I have received many notes from strangers who have read our travelogues and used them to plan their own trips. If you are one of these people, know that we really love hearing from you and are gratified that you enjoy these webpages as much as we do.

Keep in mind, though, that I create these travelogues primarily to help US. They remind us what we did when, who we met, and what we would do differently next time, so they are full of things that most people don’t care about. They are personal, and that personalization might help make your trip a better one, but it makes for some very, very long webpages….

We came home with 1400 pictures of which 227 were chosen.

I normally put these travelogues up as quickly as possible after we get back. This time, though, I wrote the commentary while we were in Ireland and then added the pictures after we got back. It took me a looong time to add the pictures so there’s a bit of a disconnect. 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.

The web page was developed in Mozilla FIREFOX. If you use a different browser, it will not look as intended.

This travelogue is very long. If you prefer to read it in smaller pieces here are links to daily pages (they are repeated at the end of each page as well). A new window will NOT open.

Page 01: Tue – Prep and Travel to Dublin.
Page 02: Wed – Thames, Tower of London, Gilray’s Bar.
Page 03: Thu – Harry Potter Studio, Giraffe.
Page 04: Fri – Kensington Palace, Mint Leaf.
Page 05: Sat – Fly to Shannon, Drive to Dingle.
Page 06: Sun – Dingle and dinner at An Canteen
Page 07: Mon – Shopping in Dingle.
Page 08: Tue – Loch a'Dúin, Doyle’s Restaurant, Music at Courthouse.
Page 09: Wed – Cottage, An Canteen Restaurant, Michael & John at Mighty Session
Page 10: Thu – Fenit Pier and Bana Beach
Page 11: Fri – Inch Strand, Sammy’s Cafe, An Canteen, Music at John Benny’s.
Page 12: Sat – Dingle, Dinner at Michael & Dara’s, Music at Courthouse.
Page 13: Sun – Cottage, Global Village Restaurant, Dick Mack’s Pub.
Page 14: Mon – Dingle, An Canteen Restaurant, Pack and Return Home.
Original, all-on-one-page version.

Press here to return to personal picture menu.

This was our eighth vacation in Dingle!

This was our EIGHTH vacation in Dingle
so I will focus on those things which are unique to this trip.
It amazes me that 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 all the little tidbits that will make your visit more enjoyable.

Press here for 2015 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2014 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2013 Dingle travelogue (a new window will open)
Press here for 2012 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)
Press here for 2006 Ireland travelogue (a new window will open)


In the past, I have always created the travelogue as soon as we return, when my memories are fresh. This year, we travelled while I was in the middle of designing our new kitchen and, when we got home, I went right back into it, thinking I would do the webpage once the work started. Well…there were problems every step of the way and I didn’t start the webpage until over a year later! Fortunately, I had formatted most of the commentary while we were in Ireland so all I had to add were the photos and details, until I got to the last two days. For some reason, I didn’t do them, so they are mostly pictures.

I also no longer have time to add links and descriptions for every new thing we do. Therefore the following ‘disclaimer’ doesn’t really apply.

Again, 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. Everything! A picture might be worth a thousand words but there are some things they can’t convey, like the fact that if you order "bacon" in Ireland you will get what Americans call "ham" or Canadian bacon, which comes from the loin (back) area of the pig, whereas traditional American bacon is made from pork belly and is called "streaky bacon" in Ireland

Another tidbit a photo can’t convey is that if you want half-and-half with your coffee, you will have to ask for "full cream" or you will get milk. If those distinctions aren’t important to you, skip the commentary.


Most of the maps I posted here were created using 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.

This year we started our trip in London, England
with my sister and niece.
After 3 days in London, they went on to Paris, and we went to Dingle.

For details on the first leg of the trip, in London, England, press here (a new window will open)

I have repeated the end of our last day in London below as it was the day we travelled to Dingle.

London – Travel to Dingle

Saturday, March 15

We got up at 6:30 and met Linda and Dani for breakfast at7am. Because it was the weekend, they offered the full English breakfast as a buffet. I ordered the salmon benedict, Linda had waffles, and Dani had the buffet. KC wasn’t up for eating and had nothing but coffee and OJ.


At 8am we saw Linda to a taxi then went up to pack. We had a car scheduled for 11:30 which gave me about 3 hours. I managed to do it in 2 with each bag just under 20kilos, the limit for domestic European flights. I don’t know how we’ll manage the return when we’ll have souvenirs with us.

Once the bags were sorted, I turned my attention to my blisters. I took a needle from KC’s sewing kit, sterilized it using tea tree oil, and then lanced them both. After draining the fluid, I rubbed them with helichrysum italicum and covered them with the blister pads I’d brought for the purpose. They still hurt but I felt better that I was ‘doing something’. I put on my thickest socks and wedged my feet back into my hiking boots. My feet hurt for a little while and then the pain subsided.


Check-in was easy but TSA was a pain. We were required to take all liquids and electronics out of our bags but were allowed to keep our shoes on. KC forgot to take his iPad out so they went through his bag. Anything iPad MINI size and smaller can stay packed. For once, he slowed us down and I didn’t!

Before going through the TSA check they took our pictures. On leaving the terminal for the gate they took it again and compared it to the previous one. We had to look at the light until it turned green – were they doing an eye scan?

Once we were through TSA, we grabbed a quick lunch in The Tin Goose (our favorite restaurant at Heathrow) – croque madame for KC (grilled open-faced ham and cheese with fried egg on top) and I had a gluten-free hake fish cake with poached egg and dill cream. The fish cake was mostly potatoes with some veggies (peas? Green beans? Pickles?) , and the breading was cornmeal, but it was tasty. KC had coffee, I had a latte.

Lunch at Tin Goose:

The back of the plane boarded first and I was worried there wouldn’t be room in the overhead for my carry-on. The people ahead of us had to check their carry-ons and I wondered what I would do if they asked me to give mine up. The seats were very small and it was packed. I was in middle seat but I was tired and slept most of the way. We bought 2 bottles of water. The flight left half an hour late, at 2:48.

Leg clearance:

We were in the second row so we were first off the plane, our luggage came out quickly, and there was no line at the ATM. KC took out 300 euros and there was none left in the machine for me! I had forgotten to move the maps from the checked suitcase to the carry on so I bought a map in WHSmith plus a Cadburry flake and a bar of milk. We still had the 2 bottles of water from the plane.

KC forgot which company he booked the car with and tried Avis first but they had no record of him so he went to Hertz. We had a bad experience with Hertz last year but they must have read my blog because this year was a different story. So far. They gave us a Skoda Rapid, built in Czechoslovakia by VW.

The cost for the week was €330 including €116 fuel deposit and €16/day comprehensive collision. If we return the car with a full tank, we get the fuel deposit back. Compare that to the €40/day comprehensive collision we paid last year for the Audi A3 plus €100 rental.

Net-net, we’re paying €22/day this year versus €50/day last year. I guess that’s the difference between an Audi and a Skoda.

The car was parked outside the terminal – NO SHUTTLE – so if the return is this easy I’ll give them high marks for convenience.

Our Rapid had a turbo drive 200-horsepower turbo diesel engine
and a 5-speed manual transmission.

The car has a huge boot (trunk) and 4 doors. KC described it as a little twitchy but he likes the challenge of keeping it on the road. I don’t think I would like driving a ‘twitchy’ car.

We were on the road at 4:45, a little later than planned.

Route from Shannon to Dingle, 120 miles (191 km), approx. 3 hour drive:

St. Patrick ’s Day is this Monday and it’s a bank holiday here so this is a 3-day weekend in Ireland and there was quite a lot of traffic. We made good time but it didn’t pass quickly. It was a beautiful day. KC asked me if I would be disappointed if we didn’t get any rain this trip and I said, “Yes!” He admitted that he would be, too. We like rain because it gives us an excuse to stay in the cottage and watch the surf pound the shore.

Drive to Dingle, Garvey’s, Best Cottage on Earth

The weather was nice and the drive to Dingle was beautiful, as usual, although we did get stuck behind a few slow moving vehicles, as we always do.

Low lying clouds and big bus:

We stopped at Garvey’s Market for provisions but it was almost 8pm now and we had to hurry as they were about to close. When I returned the cart I didn’t realize that there were two sizes and I was trying to force the cart into the wrong stack. KC sat in the car and watched me struggle, realizing that I was reaching the end of my rope. I did eventually figure it out, we got back on the road, and arrived at the best cottage on earth shortly before 9:00 pm.

Location of The Cottage in Graigue (pronounced groig) northwest of Dingle:

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.

Tig Meaig – Meg’s Stone Cottage
our PHILOMENAL 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 EIGHT 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, which would add reams to this webpage, here is the link to the website I created for them with dozens of pictures and other information that anyone looking for a rental in this area would be interested in knowing:

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

The EXTERIOR IS 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).

The cottage is RIGHT ON THE COAST, another requirement for us,

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

Close-up location of the cottage with respect to the shoreline
(i.e. what you are seeing when you look out the window):

Here are pictures of the living, dining and kitchen areas, where we spend most of our time. Although the cottage has 4 en-suite bedrooms, and we have never used more than two of them, it is NOT too big for only two people.

Because of the incredible view from the living-dining room we would not want to stay anywhere else.

Pictures of the living, dining, fireplace and patio:


We always use the master bedroom, upstairs, because we like the extra space the sitting area offers (and the phenomenal view of the coastline when we wake up). We could just as easily use the large bedroom on the ground floor and reduce our heating costs by turning off the heat to the upstairs; but, the heat is so reasonable, we can’t justify the savings.

The master bedroom suite:

View from master bedroom:

Press here for additional (almost 100) pictures of the cottage (a new window will open).

We put the food away and set out a dinner of bread, cheese and tomatoes. I hooked up the hot spot and we both logged on. I set up the computer and was able to log on with it, too. The connection is slow and erratic but I was able to check my mail and send a few texts. Linda and Dani made it to Paris successfully (Eurostar was very fast but didn’t announce when they were in the Chunnel), they had a nice big hotel room with a balcony, and were enjoying the city. They went to Notre Dame, had a crepe on the street, and then failed to find a place for dinner. We’re glad they’re having a good time in spite of not being here with us.


I was so tired I went to bed a little before 11pm and KC wasn’t far behind me.

After brushing my teeth, I removed the blister pack on my toe, applied some more helichrysum oil, and put on a regular bandaid to allow the skin to air out overnight.

Dingle – Day in Dingle, Dinner at an Canteen

An Canteen

Sunday, March 16

There are three tiny lambs in the field by the house!

It was overcast when we got up, and hard to get a picture of them. When the sun burned the clouds away they weren’t together anymore although I did get some great picture of them gamboling.

We stayed in this morning to give my blister time to heal. I still had no pain but I walked around in my stocking feet as a precaution. I uploaded the pictures from the small camera and my phone, and started creating this year’s webpage.

Around noon, KC drove into Dingle to get the things we’d forgotten last night – milk, unsalted butter, more cheese and more water. He stopped in at Dingle Music Shop and said hello to Caitriona, the crystal shop and said hi to Liz, and An Canteen to read the sign saying they WERE open!

When he got home we decided to go to An Canteen for dinner.

I took a shower and then changed the bandaid on my toe. I continue to have no pain and the loose skin is starting to dry up. I’m amazed at how quickly it’s healing and can only attribute it to the helichrysum. A blister this size should not be healed overnight. Healed as in pain free – the loose skin will take a while to die and slough off.

We parked in front of the The Courthouse to facilitate going there after dinner and ran into Sean and Liz as we walked to An Canteen . Sean pulled out his phone and showed us that Bono had been in his workshop that morning! He had also placed a large order in the store. Wow! When KC mentioned that we bought our crystal where Bono did, Liz pointed out that we’d been coming to Dingle longer than Bono and the he bought his crystal where we did, not the other way around. What a nice thing to say.

They told us Bono was in Dick Mack’s if we wanted to see him. We thought about it, realized that he would be mobbed and that we really had nothing to say to him, so we went on to An Canteen .

We got there just before 6:30. It was packed! Phil and Alec were there with Declan and his family. I had the calamari I’d been coveting for the past year as well as a salad with butternut squash and pepitas. KC had several new craft beers and I had a Stonewell cider. We shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

When Phil and Alec finished eating they came to our table to chat a bit. When we told Phil about the ravens at the tower of London she told us they were watching the grey crows to make sure they didn’t kill the lambs. She said they go for the eyes first. How gruesome!

When we raved about the three lambs in the field by the house she told us to visit the ‘nursery’ up the street where they keep the pregnant ewes until they give birth. Declan said he was there every other day and offered to come get us when the next ewe gave birth. He said it might be as early as Monday morning. When I asked him what time, he asked us when we got up. I said I’d be up any time I needed to be for that so he said he’d be by around 6am. In retrospect, I think he was joking.

However…I was so excited I could barely sit still! I gave up music at The Courthouse so that I could go to bed early. I took my vitamins with some Cadbury’s and went to bed. KC watched a movie, set the alarm for 4:30, and then came to bed, too. I asked him to sleep in his clothes in case Declan rang. He’s such a sweetheart, he did! (I can’t sleep in my clothes – I’d die of heat!)

Dingle – Parade, Shopping, dinner in the cottage

Monday, March 17

I slept fitfully, afraid I would miss Declan’s call. 4:30 came and we were too tired to get up so we set the alarm for 5:30 and went back to sleep. I got up at 5:30, got dressed and worked on the web page while I waited. KC got up and made coffee. At 8am we realized the lamb wasn’t going to be born today. KC started a load of laundry. I was disappointed, and I was getting a migraine (last night’s cider?) so I took a Maxalt and went back to bed and slept until noon!

Although I had NO blister pain, we decided to make today a shopping day since all the stores would be open.

On the way in, we wondered whether we’d see the parade. There were a LOT of people in Dingle today and the parking lot was full, even the paid parking. We drove up Goat Street and ran right into the parade, about the start. The Garda motioned us to the side of the road and told us it would be OK for us to park there so we jumped out of the car and watched the parade go by. Collin Holden threw us a little key chain and Tom Crain gave us two cans of beer!


We walked down to Green Street, taking pix as we went, then went into Lisbeth Mulcahy for a scarf and mug. I also got two small espresso cups from Hedi O’Neill’s Dingle Pottery to match the set I’d bought two years ago.

Liz was in the shop and I hadn’t had any breakfast so we nipped in for coffee and pastry. Banoffee (banana toffee pie) for me and lemon-mint cake for KC. She invited us to dinner at their home on Wednesday – Liz is a fantastic cook so we accepted enthusiastically!

Breakfast at the Dingle Crystal Café

Sean has a new pattern – SOLAS – that he created for his 40th anniversary of cutting crystal. We love it, so we’ll be buying a decanter and some glasses before we leave.

After watching the parade pass by a third time, in the pouring rain, we left and went down to the Dingle Music Shop.

The shop was open but only two strangers were there and there was a heavy curtain where the clothes shop used to be. One of the women was from Massachusetts and told us she’d met ??? at the Big E, a fair in Springfield, where ??? sells her wares. Just then Dara and ??? appeared from around the curtain!

We talked for a little while about the Big E and our move to NE. Suddenly, Caitriona was there too! We arranged to meet them for dinner at Global Village at 7pm on Saturday. We discussed the price and feasibility of buying property in Dingle and Dara invited us to see his new home so we will stop by the shop tomorrow afternoon.

From the Dingle Music Shop we went to the woolen store where KC bought another jacket similar to the one he bought last year. It’s perfect for working outside and in the unheated garage in the cold NE winter.

We debated whether we should nip into Dick Mack’s for a pint but decided to head home. We were both still tired. We stopped in the Dingle Bookshop on the way and KC bought another book on the Irish Famine.

KC fell asleep as soon as we got home. I went back to documenting the trip. Linda texted me all the things they had done today – much more than we had accomplished – and I was responding. Dani will be taking a ballet lesson tomorrow! How exciting!

There were now 5 adult sheep in the pasture by the cottage and several of them looked big enough to be pregnant. Had Declan moved the expectant mothers closer so that we could watch them birth?

KC woke up and started fixing dinner – scrambled eggs for me, sausage and potatoes for him, cheese and bread for both of us. I had taken the cheese out of the fridge when we got home so that it would be room temp for dinner.


I had caught up the commentary on the website so after a delicious dinner, we played cribbage. KC got one double run after another while I got shitty cards so I started dealing him my hand (dealing to myself first) and he still got double runs! He ended up beating me by 9 points. At least I didn’t get skunked. We put the cards away.

I went to bed in case the lamb was born tonight. KC stayed up to read. While I lay in bed I could hear the wind raging outside and the rain beating down on the skylights. I hoped the lamb waited until tomorrow….

Dingle – Ventry, Couminole and Clogher Beach, Art Shop, Courthouse

Tuesday, March 18

I woke up around 6am and heard bleating. I wondered what it was but didn’t get up to investigate, which was really dumb. When I got out of bed, around 8am, there were two new lambs in the field by the house which had obviously been born overnight! I saw Declan walk over to make sure they were OK. The ewe didn’t like it but gave him a wide berth. I threw on my clothes and ran downstairs but Declan was gone. The two remaining sheep are rams so there will be no more lambs, unfortunately. Because there is a fence around them, and they

Newborn lambs!

There was a text on my phone from AT&T that I my data usage was high and that I should call to avoid suspension of service. I had been through this last year and thought I WAS already on a plan but I called anyway. Apparently those plans are only good for 30 days so I re-upped. The non-plan cost for one megabyte of data is $20 and I’d used 5 mb so far. They put me on a plan where I got 120 mb of data for $30 and back-dated it to remove the $100 charge. I need to remember to call before we leave next year.

KC got up about an hour after I did and brewed a pot of coffee. I received a distressing note from our kitchen designer, indicating that we would need to go back to the architect for certain parts of the new kitchen design, and spent the morning composing a reply. KC read his new book.

A little after noon we left to walk Ventry beach. The weather was clear and balmy and we figured it would be a good test run for my blisters. Before we left, I could not find the box with my goggles and other Dingle-walk things, so I brought a pair of swim goggles with me. They kept the wind out but they kept fogging up so I didn’t take many pictures.

We parked at the southern entrance but after we had walked a short way we encountered a rivulet(?) which was too deep to cross so we walked back. The sand near the water was deeply ridged and difficult to walk on. For the first time in 3 days I could ‘feel’ my toe. I didn’t have pain but I was aware of it so I walked up to the smooth stuff. A dog in the parking lot followed us and looked like it wanted to play so KC threw a stone a few times. It seemed like a nice dog but didn’t seem to have an owner. We were afraid it would try to get in the car with us!

Ventry Beach, South

We drove to the northern entrance and walked away from where we had just been. About half-way, we again encountered a rivulet, but this time, KC saw a bridge across it. It turned out to be a steel I-beam with rails – very narrow but useable. There were actually 3 of these bridges but one was sanded over so the terrain must have changed. Interesting. We saw a marker for the Dingle Way but didn’t follow it.

Ventry Beach, North

We walked as far as we could and then walked back. This beach is not as awe-inspiring as either Inch or Brandon but we were glad we had attempted it. The weather was perfect – cool enough to require a jacket but not so cold that I needed to bundle up. I did need my goggles, though, as it was pretty windy.

From Ventry we drove to Couminole Beach. We’d never been there and Caitriona had told us that all the sand had been washed away by the recent storms. The walk down is steep but not as bad as the path to the Dunquin Blasket Ferry pier. It looks like it was paved at one time but the asphalt has worn away and you’re walking on the stones that are underneath.

Couminole Beach

The cliffs in this area are really impressive – plunging almost vertically into the sea with jagged edges protruding here and there. It was windy enough to produce some good sized waves and we got some great surf pictures. We don’t know how big the beach used to be but there is very little sand there now and the waves covered it completely. There were too many people there for our liking so we didn’t stay long.

Sheep on Slea Head!

We took Slea Head drive home but when KC saw the turnoff for Mt. Eagle he took it. There were signs for an ‘art shop’, and we’ve been looking for art for our new home, so we decided to follow them. We ended up in a gorgeous clearing with two stone houses. A gentleman came out of one of them, Bob O'Cathail, the artist and owner of Danlann Solamar (Solamar Art Studio), and offered to show us his work.

The workshop was filled with brightly colored canvases. In one corner of the room I saw some greeting cards that I had bought several years ago in Lisbeth Mulcahey’s and asked if they were his work. He said yes. Isn’t that interesting? We’d bought his greeting cards years ago and now we could buy an original! There weren’t any pictures of musicians, my favorite subject, but we found one that reminded us of the black and white birds on Brandon Beach. It was a little more than we had on us but Mr. O'Cathail was kind enough to give it to us for what we had. The painting was done in 2008 in acrylic paint.

Danlann Solamar

We were very near the place where KC and Herb got stuck in a ditch in 2009…

We decided not to take the road up to Eagle and headed home instead. I suggested that we do a trifecta and check out Clogher Beach. We almost gave it a miss because the parking lot was full of cars but were glad we didn’t. The light was perfect and the wind was just strong enough to create some impressive waves. The would roll in gently for a few minutes and the big surge would appear with 3-4 large waves back to back crashing almost simultaneously one behind the other. Several people were sitting on the stone wall just listening to the water.

The stairs down to the beach have been cemented over. Apparently, someone slipped on them, broke his neck, and died from the injury. There is a ramp down to the beach which is all but gone now (the beach is gone, not the ramp). Phil said at one time there was so much sand at Clogher you could build castles.

Clogher Beach

We took several dozen photos and went home. KC managed to get close enough to the new lambs to get a few great shots and I texted Dara to find out what was on for music this evening. We are planning to drive the The Ring of Kerry early tomorrow, so we can’t make it a late night, but we will have dinner at An Canteen and then meet Dara at The Courthouse for a pint.

KC fell asleep while I updated the web page. At 6pm I woke him up and we were on our way. The restaurant wasn’t full so we had plenty of time to talk to Brian and Niall and we didn’t leave there until after 8:30. Brian told us the history behind Tig Bhric – the owner had drowned just after redoing the inside and it was put into trust for his daughter who was now coming of age. She wasn’t interested in running it so it was being offered for sale.

We mentioned the newborn lambs and he told us about a time when Declan had brought up a ram from another part of Ireland where the lambs are much bigger, and how the ewes were unable to birth those lambs without assistance. When I mentioned that I would have been happy to help, he stated emphatically that pulling lambs was a nasty job. The smaller Kerry lamb, what Declan breeds, is coveted by restaurateurs. It was on the specials menu so I had to try it.

Dinner at An Canteen

The food was delicious – lamb shoulder and calamari for me, mushroom soup and oxtail stew for KC. We were so full we didn’t have room for dessert. Before we left, Brian and Niall offered us a taste of the Dingle vodka, which is very nice, and some of their peach brandy which is heavenly. Really, the best peach brandy I’ve ever had. He said the secret is to macerate it for 6 months minimum and not to use too much fruit. He used Hennessey but he said you can use cheaper liquor.

We walked over to The Courthouse but we had missed Dara so we played cribbage until the music started. Liam and Matt were playing and I was amazed at Liam’s skill – how does he take such a small breath and then exhale for so long? And how does he get his fingers to move so quickly? I had two bottles of sparkling water, KC had a pint of Guinness and a shot of Midleton’s.

When they took a break at 11, we left. I took my vitamins with a few pieces of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. We plan to drive the The Ring of Kerry tomorrow and need to be up early. We were in bed at 11:30 but woke up in the middle of the night with a bad migraine. I took a Maxalt and fell back asleep.

Dingle – Louis Mulcahey, Holden, Distillery, dinner with Sean Liz

Wednesday, March 19

We got up at 9am and KC brewed coffee. A red van pulled up to the small cottage and we thought we might see Phil but it was only workmen.

We decided not to do the The Ring of Kerry because we didn’t want to risk being late for dinner with Sean and Liz. Instead, we lazed around the house trying to decide what to do. KC wanted to climb Mt Eagle but it was really too windy to hike anywhere. Just as we were going to call Phil and invite her over to discuss the small cottage, she drove up! We talked about the new lambs and I showed her the pix I had taken. She confirmed that they were born right before my first pic.

She told us that the gestation period for lambs is exactly 4 months and 4 days. When they’re ready to give birth, they go off into a corner by themselves. The other two sheep in the pasture, which have horns and which is why I thought they were reams, are pregnant ewes but I don’t think they’re due while we’re here.

Alec pulled up and went into the small cottage so we went over to have a look and it is really, really nice. Gorgeous, large bathroom on the ground floor with a multi-jet Jacuzzi tub and a sizeable walk-in shower. The kitchen has two ovens and a microwave and a 4-burner electric cooktop. The living area has a large picture window looking out on the ocean and the dining table is directly in front of it. A sofa and two chairs are between the kitchen and the dining area. There is a small patio under the picture window and another one, with wooden seating, just outside the living area. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bath.

We spent about ½ an hour over there; then they both left and we decided to drive into Dingle.

On our way in, we stopped at Louis Mulcahey and bought a pottery mask for the wall over the FP. He also had a large platter that would be perfect for the DR table. I took a picture of it and may get that as well. I loved the planters – and ours are so boring – but we’ll have to get those on our next trip. We looked at the large urns they have on the lawn but decided that we should test drive that idea with cheap terracotta pots before we invest in a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

From there we went to Holden Leather Goods and were amazed at the number of downed trees along the road on the way in. One of them was huge and it was obvious that it had been blocking the road until the top have had been cut away. The man in the store told us it happened while they were in the store and they couldn’t get home so they tried walking across the field which turned out to be a bad decision because of the wind and the rain. We had seen other trees down but not as many, or as badly, as the ones on this tiny lane.

Tree damage at Holden

KC bought a wallet and we each got a small notebook. I looked at their purses but I carry one so rarely these days that I decided to forego it. We were pleased to hear they had opened a new shop on Green Street. That means they’re doing well.

We drove on into Dingle and when we passed The Dingle Distillery I asked KC to stop. He wondered whether it would be OK to go in so I told him that if we didn’t ask, we’d never know. He turned around and parked outside the gate.

Dingle Distillery

We walked up to the guard house knocked on the door and asked if it would be OK to have a look around. The man who answered the door offered to give us a tour! He spent over an hour with us and gave the best distillery tour we’ve ever had.

First we watched two men shovel the malt out of the mash tun, a one-ton wood barrel. Then we saw the vat where the yeast was doing its thing covered with about 6” of white bubbles. He described the pungent odor and said that if we wanted to smell it we should remove our glasses at it would literally bowl us over. KC took a whiff and visibly recoiled. He recommended that I do NOT try it but I thought I should so I removed my glasses and took a small sniff. Nothing. I leaned further in and took a deep breath. Nothing. They told me to sniff closer to the edge of the vat so I leaned in and took another deep breath. WHAM! The smell burned so badly it took my breath away and I nearly fell over. It wasn’t a bad smell, it HURT! I should have listened to KC.

Dingle Distillery tour

Next we saw the vat where the yeast was done working. For there the liquid goes into the first of their three copper stills where the undesirable elements are distilled out. The term ‘making the cut’ is not a golf term, it’s a whiskey term referring to when they cut away to the pure stuff. After being distilled three times, the whiskey is diluted to 63.5% percent alcohol and transferred to wood casks to age.

Dingle Whiskey’s three pot stills:

Most of the casks are purchased from American distillers who, by law, are only allowed to use them once. The casks are made in Arkansas and Missouri of American oak and there are three different versions used – port, sherry, and bourbon. They also use some French/Spanish wine casks. Production started in 2012 and the first casks will be ready for sale in 2018.

In the meantime, the distillery is making vodka and gin. The 4x-distilled neutral spirit is imported from ??? and distilled a 5th time in the distillery. The gin is flavored with locally grown botanicals (amongst other botanicals, rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather) and it tastes heavenly. Its alcohol content is a bit higher than most gin and it’s quite strong but a little tonic brings out the flavors perfectly. The vodka is very smooth but not as distinctive as the gin. The gin was launched in the US last week, at a bar in NY. The vodka will be available shortly. It is also available in the duty free shops at both Shannon and Dublin airports. We will certainly bring home a bottle or two.

If you want to support the endeavor and get in on the ground floor of the new whiskey, they are selling Founding Fathers casks for €6100 ($8000) PLUS VAT and bottling.

There were a total of 500 Founding Fathers casks available for sale but only 100 are left at the time of this writing. If you buy one, the distillery will house it for five years at which time you can sell it back to them at a 4% per annum profit, or you can have it bottled, or you can arrange to have it age for a longer period for an additional cost. The experience will be a unique one as you get to watch them fill your cask, YOU get to hammer in the bung cork and keep the personalized hammer, and then YOU get to stencil your name on the outside.

Dingle Distillery Founders Casks

We looked at the casks currently in the warehouse and noticed that one of them belonged to “James Joyce”. When I commented on that, our guide told us that his name was also Joyce, Joe Joyce, and that he was an ex Garda.

We went into the gorgeous bar on the second floor and sniffed small containers of the various whiskeys. They were surprisingly different. The port version was my favorite – it was amazingly aromatic. The bourbon smelled good but not as caramelly as the port.

Tasting the gin and vodka

When your cask is bottled you’re given a Dingle Crystal decanter. Hmmm – we’ll have to ask Sean if he knows about this. We are seriously considering buying a cask. KC loves Irish whiskey, I love Irish coffee, and we both like supporting the local economy.

We picked up a brochure and continued on to the Dingle Music Shop.

Caitriona was there and told us about her last walk up Anascaul Lake. She showed us pictures of what you will see if you cross the ridge, and it is worth making another attempt. We’ll remember to bring a second set of clothes, as she did, in case we get wet, as she did.

KC went off to Garvey’s Market to restock our provisions and I bought 4 CDs – all the new ones since last year plus a Clancy Brothers for KC. I asked Caitriona about Méabh’s Children’s Christmas album “Amhrán is Fiche Don Nollaig” and she had never heard of it but looked it up on Google and it’s 30Euro! She offered to get it for me for next year. Méabh just recorded a CD with ??? but they didn’t have a copy .

We told Caitriona that we were planning to do the The Ring of Kerry tomorrow and she recommended that we do the Gap of Dunloe and Kate Kearney’s cottage instead.

We got home around 6:30, freshened up a bit, and then left for Sean and Liz’s home. It was dark now and I was sure we wouldn’t be able to find their house but KC drove right to it. Their two HUGE dogs welcomed us with wagging tails and Sean let us in. Liz was setting out appetizers – field salad with balsamic, sliced tomatoes, prosciutto and salami, and little cheese balls rolled in seeds that were beyond delicious (coriander, caraway, ???).

Their house is awesome! The walls are almost 2 feet thick and Sean says that under the plaster is a stone cottage. You can see the original stone around the fireplace in the living room. It’s heated with a redundant system – the wood-burning stove in the LR fireplace heats the ground floor, the radiators in the whole house, and the hot water, plus there is an oil tank backup. We are wondering if we could install something similar in our house.

Their dining room reminded me of an Italian country kitchen with exposed wood beams, and a huge wooden table and 8 chairs in front of a stone fireplace. The “chandelier” was made of iron but the ‘shades’ were cut crystal – so unusual and so perfect for the space.

For dinner Liz served us monkfish in a delicious cream sauce with steamed spinach, mashed potatoes, AND fried potatoes. I don’t know how she pulled off such a complex dinner after a full day at work, and it was all perfectly cooked – the fish was tender without even a hint of fishiness the spinach was bright green, the fries were crispy and the mash was rich and creamy. I would have had seconds if I hadn’t had so much of the appetizers.

After dinner, Sean showed us the stone cottage behind their house which is set up as a guest suite. It’s amazing how much is packed into that small space without seeming crowded – a bathroom with a shower, a small kitchen with a washing machine, a bedroom and a large sitting room. It would be perfect for a weekend in town.

We went back into the main house where Liz handed us large bowls of rice pudding, one of KC’s favorite desserts. It was perfectly seasoned and covered with a layer of meringue. Yum! Over the course of the evening we polished off 3 bottles of wine (well, they did, I only had one glass as any more than that will give me a headache) and tasted a delicious honey rum from the Canary Islands, all served in Sean’s gorgeous crystal. I’ll have to see if we can get that honey rum in the US.

It has been very windy this trip and tonight it was howling around the house.

The time passed so quickly we didn’t realize how late it was. We left at 11:45 and got home around 12:15. I took my vitamins with a few pieces of chocolate, updated the blog, and went to bed at 1am. KC was reading, fell asleep on the sofa, and came to bed very, very late! I woke up when he came to bed with another bad migraine. I wonder if it’s the chocolate that causing them. Tomorrow I won’t have any.

Dingle – Day in Dingle

Gap of Dunloe,

Thursday, March 20

KC was up before me and had coffee brewing when I came downstairs. We counted the lambs and they were all there in spite of the high winds and pounding rain from the night before. We had heard what sounded like something being blown around so KC went out to have a look but saw nothing out of place.

I worked on the webpage while KC read his book. It was still very windy and there was standing water on the grass so hiking was out. Around noon the skies cleared. Although the wind was still raging, we decided to drive down to Kate Kearney’s cottage. While we got ready, it clouded over again, it started to hail, and the seas got rough. The sheep huddled together for protection.

We started driving towards Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe, but when we got to Inch we realized that it was too late; so, after extracting a promise from me that we would get an early start tomorrow, KC turned around and we went into Dingle. It was really crowded today so we drove around until we found a place to park on Green Street.

We went into Dingle Crystal first but Liz and Sean weren’t there. Steven was and fixed me a latte and a scone which I ate while KC looked around the shop. Adam came in and KC placed an order for the square decanter and two small roly poly glasses in the new Solas pattern. Adam showed us the scar on his calf where he was gored by a teammate’s rugby shoe spike. It’s healed now but it took 6 weeks. They should have used helichrysum oil….

We went on to the Dingle Music Shop and spent an hour with Caitriona. Dara came in and sorted out our weekend – we’ll have dinner with Michael and Caitriona on Sunday at The Global Village Restaurant, and Dara will take us to those places in Dingle that we haven’t yet see, like the Blue Zone Jazz Lounge, Bonds, and Foxy John’s. While we were there, it rained and then cleared up again. The mail arrived and I bought a CD that Caitriona highly recommended as well as an EP(?) of Walking on Cars.

Caitriona and I discussed the foods and cleaning products I buy in an attempt to avoid both made-in-China and unhealthy ingredients. I will send her links to what I use. When we left, she told us that we should be able to buy the book, The Dingle Peninsula by Steve MacDonaugh, in the bookstore down the road, which we did. It’s just been reissued and is a fabulous resource on this area.

We went over to John Benny’s where KC had fish and chips – haddock in a yeast batter – that looked delicious and that he claimed was as good as it looked. I was still full from my scone so I just had some sparking water. KC asked how I would feel about living in Dingle full time, once he retires, and I wasn’t sure I could because the food I prefer to eat is so hard to come by. We discussed whether it would be possible to grow it ourselves, and I suppose we could, but we’d also have to have a cow, for raw milk, and some chickens. KC said he would be interested in doing that but I think we should try our hand at it in NH first. I wonder if geothermal HVAC and solar powered electricity are feasible in this part of the world.

We walked back up to Dingle Crystal and both Sean and Liz were there so we thanked them again for last night’s dinner and shot the breeze with Sean while Liz ran some errands. He had been at the workshop cutting the glass that Bono had ordered earlier in the week. Bono’s dining table is apparently 26’ long and Sean has a LOT of glasses to cut! Sean mentioned that Tony was hoping to have a pint with us so we’ll have to connect up with him before we leave.

We left Sean, promising to see him later in the week, and went up to Ré Nua . They didn’t have any fresh produce or milk but they DID have the gluten-free crackers I buy at home, Le Pain des Fleurs. They also had Dr. Bronner’s soap, which I use for some of our laundry (the eucalyptus version will kill dust mites and clear your sinus as you sleep), and they have the Pukka tea we buy.

I could have stayed for hours, checking labels and making mental notes, but I knew KC was bored so I grabbed a box of crackers and KC got a package of chocolate covered peanuts and we went on to the bank and then to Spar for milk and tissues. I also got some lettuce and a lime to fix a salad for dinner. It rained again on our way to Spar.

It was getting colder now and the wind was picking up. We drove home over the saddle and saw another rainbow between the three sisters and Brandon Mountain. I tried to get a pic but it was too far away and when we got home it had faded.

No rainbow

We were so glad to be back at the nice warm cottage. KC snacked on his peanuts and then fell asleep on the sofa while I checked my mail. The condo above my mother’s had a water pipe burst and did considerable damage to Mom’s kitchen. Fortunately we have some amazingly competent people looking after her and they are handling everything for me. I’m glad to be in the cottage, though, so that I can respond to questions.

KC went up to take a shower while I updated the travelogue and snacked on spicy pepitas and Equal Exchange chocolate which I know doesn’t give me a migraine.

Dingle – Gap of Dunloe, Valencia Island, An Canteen

Gap of Dunloe,
the Skellig Islands on the Iveragh Peninsula
Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney National Park
An Canteen

Friday, March 21

No migraine! It must have been the Cadbury’s. I wonder if there is MSG in what they call “flavoring”. I looked out the window and saw about 30 seagulls in the field below. Had they been blown in by the storm that had just passed?

We were up at 7am today, had a quick cup of coffee, and left the house around 8am. It had been sunny when we got up but it clouded over and we had hail while KC was getting ready! It was overcast when we got in the car and it was quite cold – the car said it was 6.5 out (43 Fahrenheit) – and there was SNOW on Mt. Brandon!

There was very little traffic. When we got to Inch, we stopped at Sammy’s Café looking for a bathroom but they were closed. It was very windy and the waves on Inch Beach were impressive but we were in a hurry and didn’t stop to photograph them.

The weather looked like it would clear up and we wondered if we were driving ahead of the storm. It clouded over again, poured, cleared, and poured again. There was snow on the mountain tops here, too. When we got to the Gap, our need for a washroom was becoming critical. We saw a man walking towards us and asked him whether Kate Kearney’s cottage was open. He said no, and told us we’d have to go back to the town for ‘coffee and a pastry’. He tried to sell us a ride in his jaunting car, and we agreed to do it, but only after we had found a bathroom. He offered to let us use his, so we parked the car and I watched him hitch up the horse while KC used the loo; then I took my turn.

The horse’s name was Barbie and the driver’s name was Ken! We piled into the jaunting car with KC and I on one side and the driver on the other. He gave us a quilt which I wrapped tightly around me. I also pulled up my hood and tightened it around my neck. It wasn’t enough though. I was freezing! We were moving into the wind and it kept blowing my hood off so I used one hand to keep it on my head but my fingers got cold. It started to rain so I pulled the quilt up to my neck and bent my head down. I was really miserable and there was no way I could take pictures.

Fortunately, KC and the driver weren’t bothered by the weather. KC took pictures with the big camera while the driver told us the history of the area and pointed out the interesting spots along the way. For instance, Kate Kearney was a real person who lived in the storied cottage. She made bootleg whiskey in a stone still just up the road. The purple mountain is made of slate. The Gap is just outside Killarney National Park and there are 30 families living in it. They can add onto their houses but no new construction is allowed. The McGillicuddy Reeks are so named because they resemble hay reeks (ricks). When we passed the echo chamber he called out so we could hear the echoes.

Ken told us he was a third generation Jaunting car driver and owned 5 horses, some of which were meant for riding and some for pulling. They were all fat and healthy looking and he seemed to care about them. When Barbie slowed down going up a hill he didn’t push her. We like that. We didn’t want to patronize someone who abused their animals and we felt good about riding with Ken. He doesn’thave a website so look for The Ferris Wheel Jaunting Cars.

The gap is 4 miles long but we didn’t go the whole way, thank goodness. I was glad to have the wind at our back and I enjoyed the return trip much more. So did Barbie, who practically ran back. When I mentioned this, Ken said the way back was mostly downhill and there was food waiting for her.

Ken pointed out the ridges in the old potato fields (which made them easier to harvest), and the peat bogs. When we commented on the electric lines he told us that the area was the last in Ireland to get electricity, 20 years ago. I wonder how they deal with water and sewage.

I asked Ken about the trees along the side of the road and he told us what they were – holly, ???, and a fairy tree or blackthorn which is used to make sloe gin. The fairy tree is also supposed to protect one against banshees, which come to the house right before someone passes away. Their wood is used to make walking sticks – we need to get a blackthorne walking stick!

It stopped raining and stared to clear but clouded over and we were rained on two more times. There was even a bit of hail so I know how those sheep felt! We asked Ken how the weather had been yesterday and he said it had been worse – rain all day – so we were glad we’d waited. We passed another jaunting car on our way home, driven by Ken’s cousin, but there were three people in the car so the ‘driver’ walked along beside the horse and I told Ken that I felt we’d gotten the better tour as his commentary had been extremely interesting. Remember that: two-to-a-cart so you’ll get the commentary.

When the tour ended, I used the washroom while KC settled up – 55euro plus a 5euro tip. It was worth every penny.

It was still early, not even noon, so KC asked if we should drive on to Valencia Island. Valencia Island? Where did that come from? It was the first I’d heard him mention it. Apparently, he’d read about it in the famine book he was reading. We asked Ken about it and he told us it was worth the drive as there was a lighthouse there and several other attractions.

Because we hadn’t planned to go there, we didn’t have the right maps, but we winged it and made our way to Portmagee hoping there would be a bridge or ferry to the island. We looked for a place to have lunch but nothing was open. There was a bridge and signs for the Skellig Experience so we drove over, hoping they would have a café.

The Skellig Experience is just over the bridge, in a very unassuming easy-to-miss building, but the gates were closed and a sign hung on them which read, “Closed Friday”. Bummer! We were having really bad luck! We drove on thinking there must be something open somewhere until we came to the Royal Valencia Hotel, which had a sign out front that read, “Serving food from 12:30 to 5:00. We jumped out and verified that they were, indeed, serving food, and then settled into a seat in front of a bay window.

It was cold inside so I kept my coat on. I ordered the salmon salad and KC had fish and chips and a Guinness. The hotel was fairly big and we figured they probably had guests which justified the extensive menu. We weren’t the only ones in the restaurant-bar but there weren’t many others. Our food arrived quickly and it was very good.

We paid our bill, asked the waitress how to get to the lighthouse, used the washrooms, and piled back in the car which, amazingly, was still warm, fortunately, as the temperature had dropped to 3.5 (38 Fahrenheit)!

The lighthouse was very easy to see but we weren’t sure we could get to it. We found a road with a sign that read, “Lighthouse” but it looked treacherous. Never ones to let that stop us, we turned and made our way down. The road was steep – 15% grade – and part of it had been washed away! Fortunately we had a crappy car and comprehensive insurance, and KC is an exceptionally good driver, so we risked it and were able to go all the way to the wall surrounding the lighthouse. We were hoping to go up into it but the gate was closed and the sign read, “Private Property.”. (NOTE: The Cromwell Point Lighthouse is now open to the public!)

The lighthouse sits on a spit of land jutting into Valentia Harbour and the jagged rock edges were being pounded by waves. I was glad we hadn’t let the weather stop us from coming out here – you would never see this on a clear calm day. KC got out of the car and walked around taking pix of the lighthouse while I sat in the car and watched the waves. I could have stayed there all day.

Here is a picture of the waves from The Cromwell Point Lighthouse website. Imagine trying to take a ship through there, into the harbour:

We made our way back up to the main road and continued on around the island. On the map it looked like we could drive all the way around but we ended up at what looked like a transmitting station and had to turn around. On the way back we saw a sign for Geokaun Mountain and a slate quarry so we took it.

We never found the quarry but we did see Geokaun Mountain , One of the Ring of Kerry’s highest points, and was that worth the detour! It’s privately owned but open to the public for a small fee. The road up is maintained by the family that owns it and is an easy drive. Along the way there are parking areas for the Fogher Cliffs, and the 3 views at the top.

We drove to the top. At the peak there are three viewing areas – The Miner’s View, The Shepherd’s View & Carraig na Circe. We went to Shepherd’s View. It was still raining and very, very windy so KC got out of the car to take pix. While he was gone the rain let up a bit so I got out, too, and took some pix with the small camera. What an incredible view! You can see the Skellig Islands on one side and the Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula from the other.

You can also see Foilhomurrum Bay, where the first transatlantic cable was launched in 1866.

It started to rain again so we got back in the car and drove down to the Fogher Cliff viewing area. Again, KC got out and I stayed in the car. In the pictures I took of him taking pix you can see how strong the wind was. He didn’t stay out long and we decided to come back here when the weather was better. What a nice ‘find’!

We drove back to the bridge at Portmagee and then back across the Iveraugh peninsula and home. Along the way, we could see theDingle peninsula.

We also saw a bad accident on the opposite side of the road. As we drove past, there was a car on the OTHER side of the fence with its nose in the ground and its rear wheels in the air. There was a police car but no fire truck or ambulance so we’re hopeful no one was injured. How on earth did you get a car into a position like that? I don’t think I could do it if I tried. KC thought that, perhaps, he’d had some help – an oncoming car making the turn too wide and forcing him to swerve off the road.

On the way back I took a call from the insurance adjuster for Mom’s water problem. I’m glad KC told me to leave my phone on full time since it’s the only way people have to get hold of us.

When we got back to the cottage I called my friend, Em, who had come with us to Ireland a few years back, to tell her about our amazing day. She told me about an app she has called Convertible which, among other things, will convert Celsius to Fahrenheit. I need to get that when we get back to NH. While we chatted KC lay down on the sofa and complained about being tired and bloated. Tired from too much driving I could understand, but why was he bloated? Too many potatoes and other rich food? We don’t eat this ‘well’ at home and I guess he isn’t used to it.

At 5:45 I chivvied him into taking me to An Canteen . I agreed to give up music tonight, since we’d be in the pubs tomorrow and Sunday, in exchange for an early dinner. The salad I’d had for lunch had long since worn off and I was starving.

We go to the restaurant a little after 6 and took the booth at the back. Brian turned on the faux fire to warm us up. I ordered the Glenbeigh mussels for my starter and fish and chips for my main. For dessert I would have sticky toffee pudding. KC ordered the hake with a side salad; and, of course, another craft brew.

While I was eating the mussels guess who walked in? Alec with his son Mícheál [pronounced mee-hawl], whom we had not met until now, and Sharon! It was so nice to see her again!

My meal was stellar, as usual, but there was way too much food – my eyes had definitely been bigger than my head. KC had eaten too much, too, having had such a big lunch. We were both really uncomfortable!

We said goodbye to Alec, Sharon and Mícheál. When we told them how we’d spent the day Mícheál recommended that the next time we visit Valencia we should stop at O’Neill’s fish restaurant and Skellig Chocolates. We’re definitely going back so I made a note of it.

We walked over to The Courthouse to see Dara for a few moments and the cold night air felt so good! KC had a shot of Power’s and I had sparkling water. Dara told us that Michael was coming home tonight so the weekend plan would be changing and that he would text us tomorrow to let us know where to meet them.

We drove home, and when we got out of the car, KC told me to look up. I did and saw the sky was filled with stars! When I looked down, the ground was still wet from the rain we’d had 10 minutes ago, and as soon as we got inside, it started hailing again. What weird weather!

Picture of hail congealing on the skylight at the top of the stairs:

When we got inside, we both took some Gastro-D Complex, and KC massaged Tummy Rub essential oil onto his abdomen. KC read, I went to bed. I was so full I had trouble sleeping. KC came to bed around 12:30 and said he made 5 trips to the bathroom that night. After falling asleep, I slept through until 8am, almost 12 hours.

Dingle – Day in cottage, dinner at Blue Zone with Michael, pubs with Michael and Dara

The Blue Zone Pizzeria

Saturday, March 22

I got up just after 8am and started updating the webpage. KC came down around 9 and made coffee. We hung out in cottage watching it rain/hail, clear up, and then rain/hail again. The sheep seem to be oblivious to the weather. At 10:00 I heard them bleating and looked out to see Declan giving them some nuts. He told me that the other two ewes were due to lamb any day now so I guess I’ll be up early hoping to see the birth. He was wondering whether he should put them inside due to the weather, but I guess he decided to leave them where they are, because they’re still there.

The weather continued to rage so we decided to stay in today. We had a light breakfast – vitamins and nuts for me, bread and cheese for KC – and continued to relax. Phil stopped by to give me the key to the small cottage so that I could take pix, and then stayed to chat a bit. She told me that there is central heating under the slate floor in the entryway and kitchen in this cottage but they only turn it on when the house has been empty for a long period because it takes so long to heat the tiles. I need to follow up on that since we are contemplating putting a heated stone floor in our new kitchen.

Some birds flew over while she was here and she told me that was a harbinger of bad weather. The birds on the field yesterday morning HAD been blown in by the storm.

The weather cleared and I was able to get about 100 pix of the inside of the new place but it started raining again just as I was getting the outside so I’ll have to do that later. Phil did an admirable job getting the small cottage picture-perfect and I think she will be pleased with the pictures I was able to get. I don’t think I could set up a rental cottage as quickly or as nicely as she has. It’s called, “An Scioból,” which means The Barn.

I just LOVE being inside this warm cozy cottage when it’s raining! Especially when KC is here, too. He alternated between playing scrabble on his iPad, reading his book, and trying to download his mail. The hot spot I brought with me was able to manage downloading the mail from my website, and bringing up simple sites on Google, but it couldn’t manage his company mail. The authentication process took so long that the connection timed out before it finished. Technology doesn’t seem to be National Grid’s strong suit – his phone STILL hasn’t been set up for international calling and our trip is almost over.

Dara called and asked us to meet Michael at Blue Zone at 9:00pm for pizza. After that we’d hit the pubs. This was fine by us – we were looking forward to a leisurely day and a simple dinner.

At 3:00pm, when the weather cleared for the 10th time, I looked up and saw a rainbow! A HUGE one! I ran out with the small camera but it wasn’t able to capture it so I raced back in for the big one and managed to get a shot or two. A minute later, the rainbow was gone. It’s was still raining and the wind was fierce but it was worth it! I wonder how many rainbows I’ve missed by not looking up at the moment they were visible….

I was feeling peckish and the avocados we’d bought at Garvey’s Market were now perfectly ripe so I put one in the fridge and made the other into a small salad with lettuce, tomato, lime juice and Himalayan crystal salt. It was delicious but somehow didn’t satisfy me – I wonder if there is something to this idea of eating seasonally – so I had a few pieces of chocolate and some walnuts and took my mid-day vitamins. KC had a ham and cheese sandwich.

While I was putting my plate away I watched two of the older lambs suckle outside the kitchen window. It’s so adorable the way their little tails wag frantically while they drink. Mom kept turning her head to keep an eye on me even though there was a house between us. The pictures below are of the two lambs born a few days ago. They look so big and strong now!

You can’t see it in the pictures above, but it was pouring rain, and they just ignored it

I finally finished the write-up on yesterday’s adventures and was plugging the camera battery recharger into the wall when I heard something bang against the house. I looked up and there was a huge wad of bird-poop on the sliding door! I guess I need to be careful when I crack it open to take pictures. That could just as easily have landed on me or my camera! I wonder if the rain will wash it away.

It continued to rain, clear, rain, clear and the winds go stronger and stronger. The waves crashing against An Drom were almost as high as the storm we experienced in November. Clogher beach will be amazing but I’m sure I won’t be able to rouse KC from the sofa.

There was a knock on the door and Phil was back! KC offered to make everyone Irish coffee so Phil went out and got Alec and they stayed for over an hour. Visiting with them is one of our favorite parts of our trip! I showed them the pictures and Phil pointed out that I had forgotten to turn all the lights on, which I had, so I will go over tomorrow and take more pix. I will also try the fisheye setting on the small camera. We went over some of the stats for the website and made recommendations (for instance, the website is getting a lot of referrals from dingle-peninsula.ie but they were about to cancel it). I will analyze the rest of the stats when I get home, consolidate them for Phil to review, and adjust the meta-data tags accordingly.

We were disappointed when they said they had to leave but I guess it was dinner time.

We had to be at the Blue Zone at 9:00 so at 8:00 I went up and took a shower. KC changed his clothes and we were on our way. When we got to the restaurant, Dara and Michael were outside waiting for us. It was so good to see Michael again! Dara had to leave – the courthouse had asked him to come in and help out for a few hours, so we would catch up with him later.

We went inside and Patrick, the owner, who hails from France, gave us a table by the bar. I really like the interior décor – it was very warm and comfortable with subdued lighting and comfortable seating. For a Saturday night, there were very few people, which I like. I was worried that it would be crowded wherever we went and I hate crowds.

Their menu was huge, with very UNUSUAL pizza, like duck, cockles, and smoked salmon!

Michael ordered the grilled beefsteak and KC ordered the meat-lovers pizza. When I couldn’t decide between the courgette pizza and the aubergine, they offered to do half-half which solved my problem! (I wanted the duck pizza but they were out. Michael ordered a bottle of shiraz, which was very good

While we waited for our food, Michael told us all about his recent trip to Dar el Salaam and his vacation in Biloxi/New Orleans last spring. KC warned him that if he ever visited us in NH he should not expect the same royal treatment as we don’t have 4-star hotels and spare jeeps at our disposal! He meets such interesting people through his shop.

I had one glass of wine (my limit or I’ll get a migraine) and the two of them shared the rest of the bottle. Our food came quickly and it was delicious! The pizzas had a very thin crust – our favorite style – and the toppings were perfectly seasoned. We’ve added it to our list of reasonable places to eat in Dingle. We didn’t have dessert.

We debated where to go next and settled on Foxy john’s even though Michael recommended against it. When we got there, I looked in the window and it was so crowded I didn’t want to go in, but in we went. We were there all of 10 seconds. When we couldn’t get to the bar, and realized that it was so loud inside we wouldn’t be able to talk, we left and went across the street to Currans.

Currans was perfect this time – just the right number of people to provide atmosphere but no so many that you were fighting for your space. KC and Michael each had 2 shots of Jameson’s and I had a sparkling water. Michael pointed out a gentle man who was in his 80’s and told us that he had been mentioned in a book called Vanishing Ireland about a breed of men that is disappearing. Curran’s is the only bar we’ve been in that is mostly locals. All the other bars are primarily foreigners – Americans – and they do detract from the ‘experience’ for us even though Dingle could not exist without them. Both Michael and Sean have told us repeatedly that Americans are what keep Dingle alive.

We left Currans a little after 11 and went over to the courthouse to see Dara. He had just knocked off and was having a pint in the corner near the door. KC and Michael continued to drink Jameson’s and I had another bottle of sparking water. Eoin Duggan was playing tonight and it was nice to be so close to the action but still be able to hold a conversation. We were so busy talking I forgot to take a picture.

Dara’s second cousin, Gearoid, came in with a friend and the conversation suddenly got very blue and very funny. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. KC had another whiskey and started a pint of Guinness which I thought was too much as he’d already had half a bottle of wine and 4 shots of Jameson’s. He nursed it until we left, at around 12:30.

We went right to bed when we got home.

Dingle, Cove, dinner with Michael and Caitriona at Global Village, Packing

The Global Village Restaurant

Sunday, March 23

I woke up around 6 but I didn’t get out of bed. I kept checking the ewes to see whether they’d lambed but they weren’t cooperating. Around 8:00am I got dressed and went downstairs. I fixed myself a cup of instant coffee with the organic grains I always have with me and started update the webpage with last night’s activities.

It was overcast when we got up but then it cleared so we decied to drive into Dingle. On the way out, we noticed there was SNOW on Mount Brandon! I managed to get some pictures but they were thru the car window, as usual, so they aren’t that good but they’re proof it happened.

We also saw that part of the cliff-face at Clogher Beach had sheared off!

KC went into the Woolen Shop to buy another jacket like the one he bought last year and then we walked around taking pictures of the town on such a gorgeous day! There was no one in the music shop but I got some great shots.

On our way home, we stopped at the pier opposite the three sisters:

From there we went to the Wine Strand to get some pictures of Mount Brandon but our camera battery died:

We met Michael and Caitrona for dinner at The Global Village Restaurant. Dara had to work and couldn’t make it.

For starters: Michael had mussles, KC had the carrot and buttermilk soup, Caitriona and I both had the goat cheese mousse.

Starters at Global Village :

For dinner, I had the John Dory and Turbot, and Caitriona had the braised Daube. I think Michael had the lamb, but I cannot figure out what KC had so he must have ordered from a different menu.

Entrees at Global Village :

For dessert, I had the profiteroles, which were sublime.

Dessert at Global Village :

After dinner we went to the Small Bridge, and then over to the Courthouse. Musicians at the Small Bridge:

We couldn’t stay out late because we had to be up at 3:30am for our drive to Shannon. I packed while KC napped, then I grabbed a few hours sleep myself. We left at 4:30am and were in Shannon before 7:00, in time for our 8:50 flight.

It was too dark when we got home to see whether the sheep had lambed.

Return Home

Monday, March 24

The drive to Shannon was uneventful and dropping off the car was easy. At that time of day, there aren’t many people around. Shannon airport lounge:

The flight to Heathrow was also uneventful. We hadn’t eaten all morning and we were hungry when we got in. We had some time before our connecting flight to New York so we grabbed a quick lunch at a huge café (I didn’t get the name) that was actually quite tasty. We both had coffee (mine was a latte), KC had bangers and mash, I had a curried lentil dish.

Because we were on American Airlines, and they don’t fly direct from London to Boston, we had to return via New York. Yes, this was a really long trip both ways! Fortunately, we were in business.

The food on the flight home to NY was good. The nuts were warm but still no pistachios or pecans. The starter was melon, prosciutto and salad; the entrée was a mild white fish – cod? – with rice and mixed veggies.

I watched 5 episodes of Big Bang Theory (Hawking, Stag Convergence, Launch, Countdown, Date Night), KC tried to sleep.

In NY, we had a 2 hour layover before our flight to Boston. We got in at 9:30 and we were home by 11:00pm. I fell right into bed.

I usually start working on the webpage the next day but I got right back into planning our new kitchen and the webpage didn’t get built until a YEAR later! Fortunately, I wrote the commentary as it happened, or I never would have remembered the details

=================================THE END=================================

What follows are basically notes to myself for next year’s trip.

Our wish list, from most to least important:

1. Climb to the top of Brandon Mountain, Cnoc Breanainn, highest mountain on the peninsula.
2. Climb to the top of Eagle Mountain, Sliabh an Iolair, second highest mountain on Dingle.
3. Cruach Mharthain, the 3rd highest mountain on the peninsula, behind Phil’s house where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed.
4. The other side of Loch a'Dúin valley
5. Coumaloughig (Valley of the Lakes) in Feohanagh River Valley

What we postponed for trips with friends:

Ballymaloe Restaurant in County Cork; and, possibly Dún Chathail, the star fort, on our way home.
The Ring of Kerry and the Skellig Islands on the Iveragh Peninsula.
Dún an Óir Fort at Smerwick Beach OR Brandon Bay Beach.
The Cliffs of Moher and/or the Aran Islands .
Gap of Dunloe, and Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney National Park
Ruins at Adare .
Wednesday night set dancing at An Droichead Beag .
Walk to the second peak on Great Blasket.
Glanteenassig Forest Park and Lakes.

NOTES TO SELF: 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 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:
warm waterproof/thornproof gloves,
rubber boots,
dry-bag for camera.

Things to do next year:
Call ATT before we leave next year.

Dingle Whiskey Distillery
Dingle Whiskey Distillery
Dick Macks
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