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Our trip to the Dingle Peninsula, and Dromoland Castle, Ireland
April 20-30, 2015

Dromoland Castle:

The view from Cruach Marthain:

We often receive notes from strangers using our travelogues to plan their own trips. We welcome comments and questions. I put the travelogues up quickly, while the memories are still fresh, with little regard for grammar or punctuation, and I’m SURE there are many errors. If you find one, please let me know! If you find any broken links, please let me know that, too. The web page was developed in Mozilla FIREFOX; in a different browser it will not look as intended.

That said, 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. The personalization makes for some very, very long webpages…. We came home with 1200 pictures from which 387 were chosen.

If you prefer smaller pages, 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: Mon – Prep and Travel to Shannon.
Page 02: Tue – Drive to Dingle, Treehouse Cafe, Murphy’s Pub.
Page 03: Wed – Archaelogy Tour, Eilish @ JohnBenny’s.
Page 04: Thu – Inch Beach, An Canteen.
Page 05: Fri – Shopping, An Canteen, Pool.
Page 06: Sat – Dara, Dingle, Global Village, Foxy John’s, Small Bridge
Page 07: Sun – Cruach Mhartain, Louis Mulcahey Cafe.
Page 08: Mon – Goat St. Cafe, Dunquin Pottery, An Canteen, Music at Courthouse.
Page 09: Tue – Michelle, Sean’s workshop, Goat St. Café, Blue Zone, Kennedy’s
Page 10: Wed – Drive to Dromoland, Hawk Walk, Dinner
Page 11: Thu – Return Home
Original, all-on-one-page version.

Press here to return to personal picture menu.

This was our ninth vacation in Dingle!

This was our NINTH 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)



We have been coming to Ireland for so long that the minutia I used to record has become redundant and unnecessary. If you are a first-time visitor, I recommend you read the older blogs as they have information that will help make your trip more enjoyable. Starting this year, the blogs will be much shorter and will be primarily pictures. I no longer have time to add links and descriptions for every new thing we do. Therefore the ‘disclaimer’ no longer applies. The examples below will give you an idea of the type of information found in the older pages.

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 useful bit of information is that if you want half-and-half with your coffee, you must ask for "full cream" or you will get milk.


Most of the maps I post 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 were travelling alone.

Pre-Travel Preparations

Almost two years ago, KC switched jobs and we moved our household halfway across the country, to southern New Hampshire. He no longer travels every week (thank goodness) so we don’t have frequent flier miles and system upgrades to enable us to travel in business class. I was dreading the trip – crossing the Atlantic in coach was hard enough when I was young and tolerant of inconvenience – now, I thought, it would be unbearable. But, I was wrong!

We booked our seats on Aer Lingus which flies direct from Boston to Shannon and the flight is only 5.5 hours long! You can pay a little extra for premium seats, which we did, and we had plenty of leg room. We booked two aisle seats across from each other, so neither one would be stuck in the middle.

Every year, we try and visit one new part of Ireland. This year, we chose Dromoland Castle, outside Shannon, for three reasons: (1) we love castles, (2) Dromoland has a falconry program, and (3) we wanted to eliminate the midnight drive from the cottage to Shannon Airport. Dromoland is only 10 minutes away. The castle was offering a “Spring Madness” special where we got a Queen room, dinner, and breakfast for the same price as the room alone. I booked the castle for the 29th , and a Hawk Walk for 2:00pm that afternoon.

I contacted Brian at An Canteen, to make sure the restaurant would be open. I crave their calamari all year long. He assured me they were open, but they are closed Tuesday and Wednesday until the end of May. He promised to have calamari on the menu for Thursday, April 23.

Travel to Dingle

Monday, April 20

Our flight left at 7pm which gave me the whole day to finish packing, wash, dress, and tidy the house. I have NEVER been able to do this before!

We took all three suitcases again this year, because we couldn’t fit everything into one bag, but the big one was half empty. NOTE TO SELF: We really need another medium size case.

I took my Baggallini A la Carte Bagg inside the Tumi Just-In-Case Tote because they work so well together for travelling. I brought two Acme ReUseIt bags for shopping in Dingle.

The location of our new house enables us to get the majority of our food from local biodynamic and/or organic produce, meat and dairy farms. As a result of the superior nutrition in our food, I was able to discontinue my morning smoothie and most of my supplements. Although I knew I wouldn’t be getting the same quality food eating in restaurants, I figured I could tough it out for the 10 days we were gone. So, the only food items I brought along were snacks – chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, and US Wellness Meats extra-spicy beef sticks . That’s probably why the big suitcase wasn’t full….

Neither of us wanted to eat airline food, though, so I brought 2 egg-salad sandwiches for KC, and carrots and fruit for myself.

We were going to hire a limo to get us to the airport and back but, after doing the math, KC decided to drive.

KC and I were both recovering from the colds we picked up at Smuggs two weeks ago, and I woke up with a migraine for the seventh day in a row. Then, it poured all day long. This was not an auspicious start!

We left the house at 4:00pm. Traffic was not heavy but it was moving slowly due to the rain. We got to the airport at 5:00. KC dropped me and our bags at the terminal and parked the car. There was no one, literally no one, in line for check-in or security and we were through in minutes. Monday evening is definitely the right time to travel!

We had time to kill now, so we stopped at Vino Volo, a wine bar. Amazingly, they had a biodynamic/organic wine flight, which I enthusiastically ordered! KC had a white flight, and then a glass of Riesling. He was a bit peckish so we ordered the charcuterie plate and shared it. The wines came with cheat sheets you can write notes on and then take with you.

Vino Volo:

The flight boarded at 6:30. Paying for the upgraded seats got us priority boarding, and we had no trouble stowing our carry-ons. The plane was only half full so KC moved to the window seat next to me, on the left side of the plane. Right after take-off we watched a beautiful sunset OVER the clouds!


I had a new book – The Way of All Fish by Martha Grimes – which I read all the way to Shannon. KC watched LOTR Five Armies. He had one of his egg-salad sandwiches, and then succumbed to the beef stew the flight attendant was plying. He said it didn’t taste as good as it smelled. I had my carrots, apple, banana, and a meat stick. KC tried to sleep, but couldn’t, and before we knew it we were there! It was 6:05am.

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

Tuesday, April 22

It took our bags a LONG time to get to the carousel! They both made it, intact, so we loaded them on a cart and got our rental car. We used Hertz again this year and they gave us a Silver VW Golf TDI which was well-worn (35,000 miles) but zippy. The boot only held the two large bags; but, with 4 doors, putting the carry-ons in the back seat was no problem. This car was very economical – we only filled the tank once.

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. Net-net, we’re paying €22/day. We used an American Express points coupon.

Our VW Golf TDI had a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 engine
(EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg)
and a 6-speed manual transmission.

The car was parked outside the terminal – NO SHUTTLE!

We were on the road a little before 7:00, took the longer scenic route along the coastline, and got to Dingle a little after 9:00am.

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

Low lying clouds:

We have never been in Dingle this early! We hoped to have breakfast at John Benny’s but they didn’t open until 10:30! John was outside setting up tables and suggested we eat at Harrington’s, next door, but it didn’t have the ambiance we were looking for.

We stopped at Garvey’s Market for provisions but they were in the middle of a massive renovation and the place REEKED of adhesive! I couldn’t stand being inside. KC suggested we try LIDL, the Aldi-like store at the edge of town.

We forgot to bring change for the cart, so I waited by the door while KC went back to the car to get it, and who should walk out but Brian! We caught up on family news and then asked him where we could grab a bite this early. He recommended the Treehouse Café , near the butcher. We’d eaten there before and it was good.

We went in to LIDL, and it is a cavernous place, but 99% of it is conventionally grown and most of it is their private lable. I did find organic eggs, but no cream. There was also no Cadbury’s for KC. When I walked through the liquor section, they told me they couldn’t sell it before 10:30. Aha…so that’s why John Benny’s wasn’t open! There was hardly anyone working and, the ones that were, were pretty surly. As KC put it, they offer, “Service with a Snarl.” We picked up the minimum and moved the car to Green Street by Dingle Crystal . We stopped in at Re Nua for some organic staples like coffee, crackers, and coconut oil, and then walked over to the Treehouse Café .

I ordered a latte and a blueberry-lemon scone; KC had a latte and the full-Irish breakfast.


While we were eating, Sean and Liz walked in! We caught up with them, got back on the road, and arrived at the best cottage on earth shortly before noon.

The weather was amazing, warm and clear:

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. Although it was a gorgeous day, we took the shorter route.

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 KC noticed that the fridge wasn’t on. He found the fuse box (in the kitchen, over the small table) reset the breaker, and we were good to go! He then fell asleep on the sofa while I unpacked. Coming to this cottage feels like ‘coming home’ for us.

Phil stopped by around 2pm. She told us there was a young couple in An Sciobol! We were worried they might compromise our privacy but, in retrospect, we never saw or heard them. Not once!

We didn’t want to go to bed too early, and we didn’t feel like cooking, so we drove into Dingle for an early dinner. We stopped in at Siopa Ceoil music shop to say hello to Mícheál, Dara, and Caitriona. Caitriona said she would be biking Slea Head Drive tomorrow and would be passing right by our cottage! Unfortunately, we had planned to do an archaeological tour tomorrow and would miss her. Dara, who had arranged the tour, called the operator and we arranged to meet him here, at Siopa Ceoil , at 10:30am tomorrow.

Mícheál recommended the Marina Restaurant for a decent meal but we had our hearts set on Murphy’s Pub so we headed over there. KC had fish and chips and raved about it; I had the grilled hake which was tasty but a bit under-cooked and had a few bones. The sticky toffee pudding and Irish coffee were excellent, though, and made up for the fish. (KC LOVED the potato salad and ate mine as well as his!)

Dinner at Murphy’s Pub:

Back at the cottage KC read, and I did crosswords, until the sun went down. I was so tired I went to bed a little before 9pm and KC wasn’t far behind me.


Dingle – Archaeological Tour, Dinner at John Benny’s, Eilis

Sciuird Archaeological Tours

Wednesday, April 22

Another gorgeous day! KC got up around 6am and made coffee. I got up at 8:00 with a slight headache but it went away after ½ a cup of coffee. Come to think of it, the 7-day migraine I had when we left seemed to be gone…. What’s more, I’ve NEVER slept 11 hours straight withut a bathroom break!

We met Tim Collins, of Sciuird Archaeological Tours at 10:30 and had a wonderful day discovering hidden archaelogocal treasures. My favorite was the ring fort, KC’s was the wishing well. Tim knew SO MUCH about the area, we learned more than just where the hidden archaeological sites were. For instance, farmers used to bring their cows to the dairy at the edge of town to be milked. These days, Kerrygold dairy drives a milking truck directly to the farm, but the farm must be large enough to justify the stop, so the small farmer is no more. The milk is all pasture raised, but it’s also pasteurized and homogenized. We actually saw the milk truck on our way to the castle on Wednesday, but I didn’t get my camera out fast enough to get a picture.

Here are pictures of the sites we saw today.

Village ruin at base of Conor Pass – we plan to hike to this:


Reeds used to make thatched roofs:

Rock that looks like a horse’s head:

Rock with circular patterns in cow field:

Ancient artifacts, like this rock, are protected by the government. If one exists on your property, you must make it accessible to the public, as this farmer did by cordoning it off from the cows in the field. I suspect that visitors feed the cows because they were very interested in us. This was another one of my favorite stops.

To highlight the circular patterns in the rock, Tim took bits of grass and rubed them where the depressions were. You can see them in some of the pictures.

Another rock in a farmer’s field:

Minard Castle, outside Anascaul:

Like most castles in Ireland, this one was attacked by Cromwell’s armies – you can see that the corners have been damaged making it unstable. It’s on private property and the owner has surrounded it with barbed electrified wire. The cliffs beyond appear to have been mined or eroded but they are actually 380 million year old fossilised desert sand dunes. The beach is one of the finest storm beaches in Ireland

Coast Guard office where Tom Cream joined the Navy:

St. John’s Well (Tobar Eoin) and rag tree:

An ancient spring where pilgrims would come to ‘leave their troubles behind’. They would circle the well while saying the rosary (dropping a stone or berry into the well after each round) and then leave a rag on the tree behind it. The rag represented your trouble(s) and by leaving it you would be cured of whatever ailed you.

The area was recently restored: A gorse-lined path leads to wide earthen steps which take you down to the shaded clearing where the well is. You can see the Atlantic through a break in the trees. I was amazed at how many bird’s nests there were in the trees.

Tires covering hay:

Some farmers bale their hay, others cover it with plastic and weigh it down with tires.

We passed a large asphalt mine outside Lispole, with shipping all over the world, but I didn’t get a picture. Here’s one from their website:

Ring fort:

I was AMAZED by this site. It was HUGE! The fort was perched on the edge of a cliff and surrounded by a stone wall, which I managed to clambor over. Each room was much bigger than I expected, and they were connected. I could almost imagine living there. In the last picture, you can see how tall the ceilings were – I am 5’3” tall and they towered above me!

Kilmalkedar Church and graveyard:

We had been here before but learned so much from Tim. Of note are the finials and the archways.
Press here for excellent description of every detail.

(There are MUCH better pictures of this church elsewhere – it’s a beautiful ANCIENT place worth visiting.
I captured only the details we missed when we came without a guide.)

The image below is of an ancient sun dial.

Ogham stone (left) and ancient cross:
The base of this cross is buried 1.8m in the ground!

This is an alphabet stone, read top to bottom:

The letter “b” is barely visible at the top, followed by c, d, e, f.

It’s a little easier to see in the horizontal version but the letters after “f” are hard to make out either way.

Animal’s head to right of arch:

The eye of the needle:

A ‘canoe’ shape built into the side wall using different color stones (the yellow stones form the canoe shape):

A gravestone for “Kevin Kennedy” (no relation, illustrates Irish spelling of the names):

“St. Brendan’s House”, in reality only the local Priest’s house, renamed to make it appear more important:

This is also on private property, and we were prevented from going inside.

St. Brendan’s “house”:

Furze / Gorse:

Tim says this bush is called gorse in England, furze in Ireland.

It’s in full bloom at this time of year and I thought it was beautiful. But, it’s invase and extremely hardy. Locals burn it when they’re reclaiming land but even that doesn’t kill it and it eventually grows back. Phile once told us they sometimes us it as firewood and the flowers can be used to make dye.

There is one property in Dingle with a Monkey Puzzle Tree in the front yard.

We were back in Dingle around 3:30 where we settled up with Tim (€200 plus €20 tip). The tour was worth every penny!

We hadn’t had much breakfast and we were hungry so we went to John Benny’s for a late lunch; shepherd’s pie for KC, and scallops (with their coral!) in smoked tomato cream for me. Riona is a waitress there! We hardy recognized her – she’s all grown up! We confirmed that Eilis would be performing that night and told them we’d be back.

Dinner at John Benny’s Pub:

We went back to Siopa Ceoil where we met Caitriona’s friend from MA, and Mícheál’s friend, Kristine, from CO. We agreed to meet Mícheál and Kristine for music at John Benny’s Pub.

We got to the pub early, to grab a good seat, and found one at the end of the bar with a great view of the musicians. KC worked his way through their whiskey menu. Green Spot single still was his favorite. I had foregone the chocolate mousse at lunch and ordered one now. It was so good, I ordered a second one! I also had an Irish coffee but it wasn’t as good as last year’s. I really need a touch of sugar in mine.

The session was WONDERFUL: Eilis Kennedy, Matt Griffon, a second guitar, and a French bodhran player. There was a group of men in the front room making a lot of noise. We found out later they were sailors from the corvette, a small Irish warship, we’d seen earlier that day.

Eilis at John Benny’s Ppub: :

Mícheál and Kristine came in late and didn’t stay long. Mícheál asked Eilis to sing Candeeio but she couldn’t remember the words. They went over to The Courthouse , but I wasn’t leaving! We left at 11:50, after the music ended, but The Courthouse was closed. When we got home, KC was hungry and fixed himself a sandwich. I went to bed.

Dingle – Inch Beach, dinner at An Canteen

An Canteen

Thursday, April 23

Another beautiful day! The two things we really want to do this trip are Inch Beach (yes, again, we love it!) and Cruach Mhartain, the mountain behind the cottage. We figured the beach would be crowded on the weekend, but the mountain wouldn’t, so we decided to do Inch today and Mhartain on Sunday.

I slept until 10:00am today! I don’t normally sleep this much but it sure feels good! KC fixed himself some sausages for breakfast, I nibbled on some cheese. We left around 12:30.

The beach was REALLY crowded today! We’ve never seen it like this - there were cars and people everywhere.

People on Inch Beach

That’s what happens when the weather is nice, and is why we prefer to come earlier in the year, even though the weather can be iffy. We hoped to have the beach to ourselves farther from Sami’s, and started on our way.

When we got close to the water, I noticed the waves were moving the sand into an interesting ‘plaid’ pattern:

We walked to the end of the strand, and then a little past it, before turning back. We (I) weren’t willing to cross the dunes again. Caitriona says there is no short or easy way across them. We noticed the dunes were sandier this year, due to the bad storms they’ve had. The grass was trying to reclaim them but walking across would have been extremely difficult! There were many tide pools this year – we were glad to be wearing waterproof boots.

Inch Strand Beach

On our way back, we decided to climb up ONE dune, just for the view. I made it half-way up, KC went all the way to the top. It was definitely worth it.

View from the dunes:

Here’s where we were:

For once, I was dressed properly. I was bundled against the wind but my layers were thin and were tied around my waist most of the time. I also had Smart-Wool arm-warmers I could pull up or down. I forgot my goggles but remembered my hairnet and Tibetan scarf . I know the hairnet looks dorky but it keeps my hair out of my face better than a scrunchie yet isn’t hot like a hat/hood would be. I was comfortable until the end. When we got home, I noticed I had a sunburn on my chest and face.

The walk back

When we got back to Sami’s Café, KC had a piece of carrot cake, which had been moist and delicious in the past, but this piece was really dry. He didn’t finish it. We shared a bottle of sparkling water and drove back to Dingle. We had walked almost 8 miles! We started at 1:00pm and finished just after 4:00.

In Dingle, we picked up a few things at Garvey’s (which didn’t smell as bad today since they had finished laying the floor) including some organic cream. The cream from LIDL tasted weird. We debated whether to go back to the cottage and change, or go directly to dinner. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast and we were looking forward to dinner at An Canteen. It was almost 5:00pm already, and we really didn’t want to drive home and back, so we went directly to the restaurant and hoped we didn’t smell too bad…

It was early and we were the only ones in the restaurant which meant we got to talk to both Brian and Niall! Niall’s having a lot of trouble with his back, so we were lucky to catch him. I asked him about the infusions he posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page and he brought out two flavored oils for us to taste - rosemary-garlic, and chilli-coriander-thyme. Both were sublime. He should sell them.

For dinner, I had two (2!) orders of calamari and one order of fish-and-chips without the chips. Niall’s chips are delicious but I no longer eat potatoes. I shouldn’t eat gluten, either, but I’ll make an exception for Niall’s fish, it’s that good. KC had chorizo croquettes, pork belly and two craft beers. For dessert, he had sticky toffee pudding and a latte; I had blueberry crème brulee and hot chocolate. When we were done, Niall offered us some home-made peach liqueur that was out of this world! The food was so good, and we ate so much, we were really uncomfortable when we left. When will we learn?!?!

Dinner at An Canteen

We waddled to the car and went straight home!

I went to bed, KC stayed up to read.

Dingle – Day in Dingle, Lunch at Marina, Dinner at An Canteen, Pool at O’Connor’s

Friday, April 24

I slept over 12 hours! It was pouring when we got up so we decided to make today a Dingle day. KC had leftover sausages for breakfast, I had cheese. We left around noon and parked by Ré Nua, the health food store on John Street.

While KC got cash, I went into An Gailearai Beag and bought two scarves from Sue Redican , the weaver who lives on Great Blasket , and dyes her local fleeces using wild flowers and plants. The wool is so soft, and the colors are sublime.

At Dingle Crystal we visited with Liz before going up to Hedi O’Neill’s Dingle Pottery . I bought 6 mugs this year plus a café au lait cup.

My new mugs!

We went to The Little Cheese Shop for some garlic pesto, fresh mozzarella, and fenugreek cheese, then over to Siopa Ceoil .

The Little Cheese Shop

Caitriona had her adorable dog with her. I spent a LOT of time petting the dog, and tried to take pictures, but she wouldn’t sit still! When we told Caitriona about the calamari at An Canteen she suggested we try the café at the end of the pier. We walked down there but they were closed so we ate at The Marina, which Mícheál had recommended earlier. KC had bacon and cabbage, I had fried brie. The food was good, the service was attentive, and it had a nice atmosphere. We’ll definitely be back.

Caitriona’s adorable dog, Bailey

Lunch at The Marina, (I forgot to take pictures of the food)

We killed the next 3 hours bumming around Dingle – first at Siopa Ceoil , where Caitriona recommended Dingle Pottery Café, on Slea Head Drive, for great food AND unique locally made pottery; then, at Dingle Crystal to chose the pieces we would buy this year, then at The Courthouse for a pint with Dara. He offered to take us around this Saturday!

At 5:30 we went back to An Canteen for dinner. Yes! Two nights in a row! I was in heaven! This time, I had calamari as my entrée and a small salad; KC had fish and chips (with the chips), and we shared the sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

Dinner at An Canteen

We went back to The Courthouse now, for pint with Mícheál and Kristine. Riona was there, too. Her name is pronounced “Ree-nah”; the ‘o’ is silent, just as it is in Caitriona. We chatted with the bartender, Conor, who is getting on his MBA in Spanish and will be spending the summer in Chicago, working for a moving company that recruits at all the Irish colleges, looking for hard-working farm boys – Gentle Giant Moving Co .

Mícheál and Kristine left for dinner and we agreed to meet later at O’Connor’s Pub, up the street from The Small Bridge, for some pool.

Pool? We don’t play pool….

At least, I don’t. KC, apparently, does. Or, he did, when he was in college. And, he isn’t bad! Watching them play was great fun. Kristine seemed to be the best of the four of them. While we were waiting for them to arrive, we watched some “football” on the TV and I was totally baffled by the rules; and, the fact that piling on is so prevalent. What an odd game.

Playing pool at O’Connor’s Pub

We went back to The Courthouse for a bit of music – Tommy on guitar, an accordion and a flute (not Liam). We left early, at 11pm, and I was in bed before midnight.

Drive with Dara, Global Village with Mícheál, Small Bridge

Saturday, April 25

We got up at 9am and KC brewed coffee. It was very good, now, with the organic cream from Garvey’s. KC cooked the potatoes we bought at LIDL, and made a sandwich. I had cheese and mangoes.

We had agreed to meet Dara at Siopa Ceoil at 1:00pm so we had a lazy morning at the cottage. It was overcast and windy when we left. Dara drove and it was wonderful having him to ourselves, without interruptions, to pick his brain about things like owning rental property in Dingle.

At Menard Castle, we ran into a friend of his, walking her dog, and I fell in love with the dog! He’s a Jug, a Pug mixed with a Jack Russle Terrier and he was a bundle of energy! Look at him pulling on his leash.

Gizmo, a jug, , at Menard Castle

We drove down to Inch beach and did donuts on the sand! KC must have set the camera to “super vivid” because all the colors are weird in these pix…

Inch Beach from a car

This is the old road into Dingle, a boreen. “Bo” is the Irish word for “cow”; and, as it was cows that made the old roads, “bo” is now also the word for “road”. Boreen is a small road, only wide enough for one car. If you meet another car going the opposite direction, one of you has to back up to a space wide enough where you can pass.

The old road into Dingle

We passed a house with cows grazing the front yard. Dara admitted that was unusual even for Ireland:

Then we drove to Anascaul Lake and Caitriona’s house. What a gorgeous house!!

Lake Anascaul

We returned to Siopa Ceoil around 4:00pm. Mícheál told us that his neighbor, the reknowned artist Liam O’Neill, was in his shop! We hurried over to meet him and see his paintings. We fell in love with his painting of Clogher Beach but we can’t justify buying art until we’ve got our new house in order. Liam gave us a signed poster of a scene on the Blasket Islands!

Liam O’Neill’s Studio

(Dara, Liam, Mícheál, KC)

We were meeting Mícheál and Kristine at Global Village for dinner tonight so we left to finish our shopping. KC noticed that Murphys Ice Cream was open and had to go in. He had a salted caramel sundae and a latte; I had cocoa and a chocolate brownie with ‘Kerry Cream’ flavor ice cream. According to their menu, they make their own sea salt….

Murphys Ice Cream

We moved the car to The Courthouse , since we knew we’d end up there, and then walked to Kerry Woolen Mills on Mail Road. We usually go to the wool shop next to Garvey’s, but their renovations have taken over that space. This store had some gorgeous capes, and several organic sweaters, but the sweaters weren’t soft enough for my sensitive neck or I would have bought one. I did buy some organic wool socks for Sharon and Damon, as thanks for taking care of our mail while we were gone.

Next, we went into Strand House where KC bought 2 caps, and I admired a cardigan with zipper pockets. We stashed our purchases in the car and walked to the restaurant. On the way, I got some great pictures of Dingle.


We were to meet Mícheál and Kristine at Curran’s Pub at 5:30 but they didn’t arrive until almost 6:00 so we went directly to the restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir for the table, and gin-and-tonic for KC and Kristine. Actually, she had gin-and-soda.

Menues at Global Village :

For starters, KC and I had salad, Mícheál and Kristine had a trio of brown crab. For dinner, KC had hake with snow crab, I had skate wing and lemon sole with cockles (I’ve never had cockles before!), and Mícheál and Kristine had black sole with prawns. For dessert, we shared two orders of profiteroles.

My meal was very good but I didn’t like the cockles! They are very small clams and were a bit chewy. I’ve also never had skate wing served with the bones. They’re so unusual; I took a picture, but didn’t post it because half-eaten food is unappetizing. You can see it here.

Everything was perfect, and pleasingly refined. As much as I LOVE the casual comfort of An Canteen, there are times when formality is a welcome treat. After dinner, when they offered us a post-prandial drink, we all ordered sambucca.

The flowers on all the plates are garlic flowers and they were delicious!

Dinner at Global Village :

Dessert at Global Village :

Mícheál suggested we go to Curran’s Pub now, since we missed it earlier, and that was a good idea. A man with a guitar played I’ll Tell Me Ma for me! Mícheál, Kristine and KC each had a Guinness and then wanted to move on, even though I was happy where we were.

We went across the street to Foxy John’s, which was super crowded. I hate crowds but KC liked the energy. A hen party came in wearing multi-colored wigs and carrying a blow-up doll. There was also a soccer team from Cork. One of the players told KC they come to Dingle because they have no problem getting into the pubs. In their home towns, the pubs won’t allow large groups.

The saving grace, for me, was when Mícheál introduced me to an older gentlemen featured in the book, “Vanishing Ireland” about the generation that’s dying out. I didn’t understand a word he said and wished I had read the book before meeting him.

Vanishing Ireland

From Foxy’s we went to the Small Bridge, because Maebh Begley was there, and I love her. Unfortunately, the crowd was not condusive to the kind of music I wanted to hear, and what they were playing, although it was accordion and guitar, was pretty raucous. Is this what they call “Progressive Trad”? Dara and Catherine were tending bar.

Mícheál asked each of us women to dance but the only one who accepted was a Canadian from Manitoba. She was pretty funny. We ended up sitting with her and her friend. I kept suggesting we go to The Courthouse , but they refused because they were meeting another friend. When the other friend finally arrived, she had come from The Courthouse ! Her name was Pria. I really liked her – she was so enthusiastic about the music!


Mícheál was chatting up the Canadian, and another young woman he picked up at the bar, who was also now sitting at our table, but I didn’t get her name. Kristine was in back, playing pool, so KC went to keep her company. The awful hen party from Foxy John’s came in and danced with their blow-up doll. I couldn’t wait to leave….

We did eventually get to The Courthouse but it was so late the session was just ending. Tommy was on the guitar, and someone we’d never seen before on ullean pipes. Mícheál was there, the bartender we met last year who is studying alternative energy. He was amazed we recognized him. Dara’s cousin, Gearoid, was also there so we caught up with him until they turned the lights off and sent us home. Gearoid is so interesting – I could listen to him all night!

It was late when we got home, but we stayed up to have a snack and discuss the day’s events. KC had a sandwich, I had walnuts and mozzarella. We finally got to bed around 2:00am.

Cruach/Chruach Mhartain, Louis Mulcahey Café, dinner at home

Cruach Mhartain
Louis Mulcahey Café

Sunday, April 26

Wow! What a gorgeous day! We can see all the way to Ballyferriter!

We slept until 10:00am today. I felt great! Except for one glass of wine with dinner, and a few sips of Sambucca, I drank sparkling water last night. KC felt “OK”, having slept off many pints of Guinness!

We had a quick breakfast and left the house at noon for our trek up Cruach Mhartain. We had to go back twice – once because I’d forgotten the carrots for the ponies; and once because I’d forgotten my sunglasses. I was wearing a camisole, a fleece vest with a turtle neck that I zipped all the way to protect my sunburnt chest, my arm warmers, a wind breaker, and my tibettan wool scarf. Oh, I also had my hair in a hairnet. I can’t stand having the wind blow my hair in my face and it was very windy today!

Our goal, the top of this mountain

We found the horses quickly – they’re in the field across from Sharon’s house – and they sauntered over when they saw we had carrots. The big one knew what to do with the carrots, but the little one kept dropping his, and then the big horse would bully it out of the way. We found out later, from Brian, that you have to break the carrots into bite-sized pieces for the little horse. It IS a horse, not a pony.

The horses

We took a different route this time than the one we took with Em. Instead of trying to climb straight up along the edge of the field, we followed the path over to Dunquin and picked another path (a road actually) that took us almost all the way up. The ground was much drier this time and a pleasure to walk on.


We passed a few people going the other way; but, for the most part, we were alone. We did see lots of sheep.

The top looks so far away

Finally, we came upon the site of Kirrary Village, from Ryan’s Daugher. We’d passed by it in 2011, and wondered what it was. Now, we knew what it was, and took lots of pictures.

site of Kirrary Village from Ryan’s Daughter

View of the coastline from Kirrary Village :

At this point, we picked up a new path up to the top.

We weren’t happy with the pictures the camera was taking so KC took a few with different settings:

Look how far we’ve come!

It got windier, and colder, as we got closer to the top. I was glad I had my scarf and windbreaker.

Look how far we still have to go!

The view from here, almost to the top:

At this point I was really tired. I told KC I would go as far as those rock outcroppings; but, once I got there, I realized I couldn’t come this far and not go all the way, so I forced myslf to the top. I was glad I brought 2 walking sticks – I could not have done it with only one.

The last few feet:

As we crested the top, triumphant that we had finally made it, another couple appeared from the other side, at the exact same moment! They stole our thunder, as I’m sure we stole theirs. They told us they were from Cork, and had parked their car at the base of that trail. We hoped they would turn around and leave, but they sat down and waited for us to leave, so we took pictures of the view and started down. It had taken us 2.5 hours to get to the top.

The view from the top:

The view from the top, taken with my iPhone:

The way down:

On the surveyor’s map, there is supposed to be a path down to Louis Mulcahey Pottery , starting at Kirrary Village. I wish I had remembered, from last time, the path does not exist! We followed the stub of the path until it petered out, and then struggled down the side of the mountain, the same way we had last time.

Where we were headed:

We don’t have any pictures of this part of the trip because we were focused on getting down without twisting an ankle (Phil broke her leg on this hill several years ago). The grass was so high we couldn’t see the ground, which was very uneven, so we used our sticks to feel for holes. KC steered us away from a large gully to our left, as we headed for what looked like a path behind the pottery. We managed to avoid the gully; but, the ‘path’ turned out to be a garbage pit, so we back-tracked to a wire fence we could climb over.

The ‘path,’ which was really a smelly garbage trench surrounded by furze, and KC looking for a way past it:

We squeezed between thorny furze (gorse) bushes, and finally came to the bottom of the field just as the owner came out of her garage. We apologized for trespassing and explained how we had lost the path. She seemed totally unconcerned and merely asked if we had a nice time on the mountain.

Where we finally came off the mountain:

The side of the mountain we came down, and the gully we avoided – you can see there is NO PATH:

Louis Mulcahey Pottery at the base of the mountain:

It was 4:15 now – it took us 1.5 hours to get down – and we were thankful the pottery café was still open. KC had a flapjack and coffee, I had carrot cake and cocoa. His flapjack looked like a nut bar; it was not a pancake!

Coffee and pastry at Louis Mulcahey Pottery Cafe:
(The promotional material under the glass tabletop was disconcerting.)

Picture of the café from Louis Mulcahey Café Facebook page:
We had the farthest table on the left.

We walked back to the cottage. KC estimates we hiked 4.5 miles total and the mountain is 1100ft high.

We had planned to listen to music at The Courthouse tonight but were too tired. I’m glad we stayed in, because Sharon stopped by with Declan’s youngest son. It was wonderful to see her again.

KC took a shower and then did laundry. I took a shower and changed into my PJs. My limbs were weak and it was nice to sit and chill out. I made a cup of ginger-chile-rosemary tea and dined on cheese and nuts. The Appenzeller (REAL Appenzeller!) was phenomenal. The fenugreek cheese was too strong for me. St Killians, as usual, was mild and delicious. KC had Bulmer’s, sausage, and the potatoes he cooked yesterday.

I updated the journal, did a few crosswords, and went to bed at 11.


Goat Street Café, Slea Head, Dingle Pottery Café, An Canteen, Courthouse

Goat Street Bistro
An Canteen

Monday, April 27

KC got up at 8:30 and the sun was shining. I needed more sleep so I stayed in bed and heard it pour before I got up at 10:00. It was overcast when I came downstairs and the sun would go in and out. Rain forecast was 60%. It was cold and windy.

My muscles weren’t sore but my eyes were red and burning – I guess I should have worn goggles to protect them from the wind. I had a half cup of coffee, a banana, and some walnuts for breakfast – a delicious combination!

There was MUCH discussion on what we should do today, given the unpredictable weather. KC wanted to check out the ruin at the base of Conor Pass but I didn’t want to get wet. We decided to go into Dingle and finish our shopping.

On our way in, we noticed there was SNOW on Brandon Mountain! So…rain in Graigue = snow on Brandon. What’s interesting is that there was snow on Brandon last year, too, just before the end of our trip (I know this because I use last year’s write-up as the starting point for the current year’s). KC refused to stop, as usual, so the picture was taken through the car window and looks like a painting.

Snow on Brandon Mountain:

We parked by O’Flaherty’s and walked to Strand House where I bought a navy hand-knit aran cardigan WITH POCKETS. I buy a sweater in Dingle every year but I rarely wear them. When KC asked why, I explained that none of them had pockets and I NEED pockets. So, this time, I got smart. I’m think it’s a man’s cardigan but that’s OK (the woman’s cardigan with zipper pockets I admired a few days ago was made in Italy, and I prefer to support the local economy).

The tag says, “hand knit for Carraig Donn ” so I hope it’s hand knit IN Ireland. The wool is 100% merino and very soft. According to Tim Collins, Irish wool is coarse. So, either the wool is imported, or the whole sweater is. If it was made in China, as I suspect, at least I’m supporting a local store (Strand House). In any case, I love it, and wear it every day. It has a high collar, which suits me, and a zipper closing.

We walked to the café on the marina and it was closed, again ! Not surprising, given the weather; but, I guess, I’m not meant to try their calamari. Dingle Crystal was closed, too. Monday must be a slow day…. Thankfully, Goat Street Bistro was open. We started with lattes to take the chill off. They serve them differently here, than in the US, with the milk on the bottom and the coffe on the top, which you stir together.

Latte at Goat Street Bistro :

My vegetarian Thai green curry was delicious but it was such a big portion that I didn’t eat the rice or potatoes. KC had them in addition to his bacon cheddar quiche which came with a small salad.

Lunch at Goat Street Bistro :

We stopped at the ATM, then Garvey’s, then went to Siopa Ceoil . Mícheál and Dara were there but not Caitriona. I guess we won’t be seeing her today.

We drove home via Slea Head Drive so we could stop at Dingle Pottery and Café. You can see how windy it was from the picture of me trying to control my clothing after getting out of the car!

Slea Head Drive:

Dingle Pottery and Café was a real treat! The view is phenomenal, especially if it’s nice enough to sit outside. It was too windy today.

Dingle Pottery and Cafe:

Inside, there is a small shop FILLED WITH BOOKS! Many of the books are unusual as the owners frequent auctions and estate sales. They also sell pottery, which they make locally using clay from Staffordshire, England, and a local limestone glaze. The walls were lined with mugs featuring every name imaginable; except, as luck would have it, “Barbara,” because that’s not an Irish name. They did have “Kenneth”, which we bought.

We also bought two small containers labelled, “Mir” and “Sub” which mean “Honey” and “Jam”.

Caitriona had recommended their food so we passed into the dining area and took a seat by the windows with a view of the Blasket Islands. KC had a Blackberry Apple crumble, which he inhaled. I had a Porter Cake, which was fruitcake soaked in Guinness. I love fruitcake, and this one was very good, but it was a huge slice and I wasn’t able to finish it. We both had coffee which was served with a nifty plastic filter sitting on top of the cup.

Coffee and dessert at Dingle Pottery and Cafe:

Coffee at Dingle Pottery and Cafe:

We got home just after 4:00pm. We had hoped to have dinner with Caitriona tonight but she wasn’t coming into town so KC agreed to let me have one last meal at An Canteen ! They didn’t have calamari, so I had salmon, and KC had hake. We split the chocolate mousse cake for dessert. The sugar they serve with the desserts is like Pop Rocks!

The beer KC ordered was a Bitter Sable Black American IPA. Some Irish microbreweries are trading recipes with American microbreweries rather than shipping their products overseas. This recipe was from Weasel Boy Brewery in Ohio and it was delicious!

Dinner at An Canteen :

While we were waiting for our meal, KC noticed that the picture on the wall behind me was of Kirrary Village! We found a comparable view from our hike up Cruach Mhartain. Notice the cleft in the mountains in the upper right corner of the old picture. Here is the comparison:

Kirrary Village then and now:

After dinner, we walked to The Courthouse and snagged the table opposite the musician’s corner. I recognized the woman Mícheál had been chatting up in the Small Bridge Saturday night, Michelle Morgan, and invited her to sit with us. She told us she lived in North Carolina but was moving to Boston later this year. She was so nice – she described herself as “aggressively friendly” – and was so interested in the music, we hit it off instantly.

Sean told KC he would be by tonight, and he was true to his word. When he arrived, KC moved to the back with him, while Michelle kept me company listening to music. Earlier in the week, she heard Tommy sing a song, and hoped he would sing it again. When he didn’t, I encouraged her to ask for it. She did, he sang it, and I captured it with my phone. The song she requested was “The Welcome”, a glorious song written by Tony Small from Galway, recored on Tommy O’Sullivan’s Legacy CD .

We had such a good time with Michelle, we invited her to join us tomorrow morning when we toured Sean’s Crystal workshop . When the pub closed, we drove her home before returning to the cottage, so we’d know where to pick her up tomorrow. She was staying at a small B&B behind the gym, walking distance to The Courthouse .

Dingle – Sean’s Workshop, Goat Street Bistro, dinner at Blue Zone

Dingle Crystal Workshop
Goat Street Bistro
The Blue Zone Pizzeria

Tuesday, April 28

When we got up, around 9:00am, we texted Michelle to see whether she wanted to visit our cottage. She did, so we picked her up at 11:15 and brought here here via Slea Head Drive. We also showed her Clogher Beach and the snow on Mount Brendan. She had hiked Mount Brendan on Sunday, before the snow came, and made it to the top!

Slea Head Drive with Michelle:

Sean had told us he would be at the workshop after noon so we drove directly there and he cut one of his new whiskey tasting glasses for us.

Sean Daley in the Dingle Crystal Workshop, marking the glass:

Sean Daley in the Dingle Crystal Workshop, cutting the glass (sorry, pic is blurry!):

Sean’s son, Steven, adding the circles:

Sean Daley in the Dingle Crystal Workshop, cutting a harp into a mug (amazing, how fast he did this!):

We left the workshop and went to Dingle Crystal to place our order. KC wanted 2 of the new whiskey tasting glasses, in the Solas pattern, and I wanted a small pitcher I’d seen in the workshop. We’re so glad Sean ships, so we don’t have to worry about hand-carrying those delicate pieces home with us.

We were all hungry now, and Michelle had never been to Goat Street Bistro. The ground floor was full but there were tables upstairs. She and I started with a latte; KC had a Tom Crean’s beer. For lunch, I had the sweet potato strata, Michelle had the vegetarian curry, and KC had the curry with chicken. When I had the curry yesterday, it was perfectly spiced, but they both thought it could have been hotter today.

Lunch at Goat Street Bistro :

We said goodbye to Michelle, promising to see her when she moved to Boston, and then went to Siopa Ceoil .

Mícheál had been talking all last week about a surprise he’d been planning for Tuesday, today. When we got to the shop, Mícheál, Caitriona and Kristine were eating crab claws in the back! Mícheál told us he helped bring them in several weeks ago. He cooked them right away and then froze them. He offered some to us but we were full from lunch! We arranged to meet Caitriona for dinner and returned to the cottage to pack.

I packed as much as I could, given that we still needed clothes for tonight and for the drive to the castle tomorrow. Phil stopped by and stayed almost an hour! We were so glad to see her again. She had been ill but looked great and was in good spirits. We settled up and told her we’d see her again next year.

We met Caitriona and her friend, Sebastian, at the The Blue Zone Pizzeria at 7:30. We all wanted a low-key dinner and pizza fit the bill. Mícheál was watching a pool tournament on TV and didn’t join us. KC ordered the meat lovers pizza, of course, Caitriona and I had veggies with smoked gouda, and I don’t remember what Sebastian and Kristine had. We shared a bottle of red wine.

Dinner at The Blue Zone Pizzeria :

I was a little upset at having to ‘share’ Caitriona but Sebastian, her friend, was a lot of fun! He lives in Holland but spends a lot of time in Dingle. I really enjoyed his company and hope we see him again.

After dinner, we decided to go to Kennedy’s Bar, across from Goat Street Bistro, for a nightcap. As we were leaving, Dara’s girlfriend, Catherine, came in to pick up a to-go order and offered to drive us. We squeezed into her car, laughing uproariously (KC took a funny selfie but I can’t find it!).

Kennedy’s was super gemütlich! In addition to the bar, there were several small rooms where you could sit and not be bothered by other patrons. There was also a snug with a pass-through to the bar! The whole place was lit with candles. It’s only been open a year or so.

Kennedy’s Bar :

We got home at 12:30 and KC realized he’d left his new hat in the pizzeria! We texted Caitriona and she promised to retrieve it for us.

Drive to Dromoland Castle, Hawk Walk, Cocktails, Dinner

Dromoland Castle

Wednesday, April 29

I got up at 8:30 and finished my entry in the cottage guestbook while KC caught up on sleep. We finished packing, tidied up the cottage, and got on the road at 11:00am, much later than we had hoped, so there was no time to stop in Dingle and get KC’s hat, or say goodbye to Mícheál.

We had arranged for a Hawk Walk at the castle for 2:00pm and the drive can take 2.5 hours, so we were going to be cutting it close! Fortunately, it was a nice day and we were there at 1:40 with plenty of time to check in before meeting our guide, Sara, in the lobby.

The entrance to Dromoland Castle is clearly marked:

The drive in is much shorter than Ashford or Waterford and the castle comes into view quickly:

We pulled around to the main entrance and parked the car in the loading zone at the base of the stairs:

Check-in was quick and easy (they upgraded us to a king!), the porter valeted our car and helped us carry our bags to our room (in the section across courtyard), and then we walked back to the lobby to meet Sara, our guide. Our bird was tethered to a post in the center of the courtyard. We retrieved him and set off into the woods. The weather was overcast, and we did get rained on briefly, but it cleared up and was dry the rest of the afternoon.

We started our walk with Bruce, a 10-year-old male, and finished it with ???, a 9 month old female. Sara had done her thesis on hawk’s eyesight and had just been accepted into a master’s program. She knew so much about these birds it was fascinating to hear her descriptions of what they’re capable of.

For instance, they’re able to see ultraviolet light and use it to track mice. Mice don’t have a bladder and excrete urine as they move around. Hawks can see this trail. They’re also able to see/sense their prey’s heart and veins, beneath the fur, which helps them locate and dispatch prey efficiently. Hawks are related to dinosaurs, and are perfectly constructed. The hole in their beaks allows air to cross ventilate, enabling them to breathe while diving without inhaling or slowing down. Modern jets are designed the same way.

Hawks are the only raptors which hunt in packs. They will stand on each other’s shoulders to create a better vantage point. The top hawk will locate the prey while the lower members look for predators. When the top bird flushes out the prey, the others encircle it and coordinate their attack, each one going for a different organ. Their talons can puncture a lung or liver, and their beaks pierce a jugular. A team of hawks can take down a fox!

Our hawk walk at Dromoland School of Flaconry :


The young female:

You can tell she’s young by the white feathers on her chest. She will lose these as she gets older and will turn all brown, like Bruce. When hawks moult, they loose one feather at a time, because it takes energy to grow new feathers and they need that energy to hunt. In the wild, it can take a year to complete the process. Falconers speed the moult by keeping the birds warm and “feeding them up”. In this condition, when they are safe and full, they refuse to fly or hunt and will moult in 3 months. This is the origin of the term, “fed up”.

In the picture below, she is standing on one foot.

When a bird is really comfortable, it will raise one foot to conserve heat. I was amazed she felt comfortable on my fist.

We flew her a few times, then went back to the mews, where we met Dave, the director.

We met both owls; Pickles, the barn owl, and Alan the Bengal eagle owl,.

Pickles was really friendly and didn’t mind petting, even on her head. She was amazingly soft. The ‘dish’ arrangement of the feathers around her eyes acts like a receiving station, concentrating sound waves for her sensitive hearing. Owl’s eyesight is not good – they hunt with their ears, and can hear a mouse’s heartbeat!

Alan was not friendly and would peck your hand if you tried to stroke his chest. He was adorable,though, like all eagle owls.

Next, we met their falcons. Falcons are divers, and can’t land on a fist like hawks can. Hawks, which have longer tail feathers, use their tail to break their speed, and can hunt on the ground. Falcons hunt in the air and use their prey to break their speed before landing on the ground. That’s why the falconry schools offer hawk walks and not falcon walks. Notice the short tail feathers on the bird below.

Dave offered to fly a falcon for us! He took her off her perch and hoodwinked her (yes, the origin of that term, too) before walking her over to the driving green behind the castle. Dave removed the hood and she soared above the castle before returning to look for her meal. Dave was swinging the ‘bait’ around to draw the bird back, and prevented her from catching it to give her more exercise. After the third or fourth pass, he let her have it and waited patiently while she ate it up. He then hoodwinked her again and took her back to the mews. Fascinating. (It was very hard to get pictures of this!)

A crowd had gathered around and one woman recommended we read the book, H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald .

PRESS HERE for a great FAQ page on falconry.

Other common terms that originated with falconry:

Under my thumb or around my finger – from holding the jesses while the bird is on your fist
Turn tail – fly away
Rouse – shake ones feathers
Lure – device used to train birds which was associated with a reward
Hawk it up – expelling indigestible parts of a meal
Pounce – springing or pouncing to catch prey
With bated breath – attempting to fly while restrained (to bate) resulting in shortness of breath
End of my tether – attempting to fly while restrained and frustrated by the tether
Gorge – from filling a bird’s throat, or gorge, with great amounts of food to be eaten later
Haggard – an older bird, caught at the end of a migration, when it’s thin and bedraggled from the long journey
Cadge (a free ride) – being carried on a cadge, or perch
Codger – a retired falconer tasked with carrying the cadge, or perch
Cadger – carrying the cadge was an unpaid job which required begging for tips
Callow – meaning bare or bald, refers to a young (inexperienced) bird
Chaperone – from the French word for hood, chapeau, meaning protector
Boozer – when birds drink, it’s called bowsing. I heavy drinker is a boozer
Mantlepiece – originated with “mantling” or protecting their food

We thanked Sarah for a wonderful tour, and went into The Gallery, the hotel bar, for a late lunch.

The side entrance of Dromoland Castle, near the falcon demo:

The Gallery didn’t look quite as lush as the promo pictures on their website, but it was clean and comfortable. We snagged the table in front of the fireplace ( moved in the promo pic to expose the fireplace ) and started with two cocktails, an irish coffee for me (which KC drank most of since he hadn’t had any caffeine today) and a French 75 for KC. For lunch, KC ordered a burger; I had cocoa and scones. Look at the price of those cocktails…€20 for one drink!

Brunch/Lunch at Dromoland Castle (it didn’t look quite like the promo pic below):

In the picture above, there is no cloth on the table. As soon as we ordered food, they brought a cloth and set the table. Very classy!

We went back to our room where KC watched TV while I took pictures, repacked, and changed for dinner.

Our room at Dromoland Castle :

If we had time, it would have been nice to walk around the estate. Perhaps even rent bicycles like we did at Ashford. As it were, I didn’t get any pictures of the outside of the castle or the grounds so here are some I found on their website and facebook page:

The part of the castle where our room was:

At 8:30 we went down for dinner. They gave us a table next to the firsplace which enabled me to see the stunning wall “paper” – it looked like carved velvet! The rest of the room was beautiful, too, and the wait-staff was gracious but not stuffy. Most of them were young, but they were competent, conscientious, and enthusiastic. The only thing I didn’t like was that the Maitre’d put my napkin on my lap. Why do restaurants do that?!?

I started with a Bellini, KC had Campari and soda. The kitchen sent a shrimp amuse bouch, which KC wouldn’t eat, so I had them both. I didn’t get a picture of the menu, and I didn’t make any notes when we got back to our room, so I’m only guessing at the rest of the meal.

It looks like KC started with a terrine studded with asparagus, and I had something with salmon. For our second course, KC had soup and I had salad. For the entrée, KC had chicken breast, and I had white fish (cod?) with tarragon and celeriac puree. They brought our dinners with great fanfare, hiding them under silver domes. For dessert, KC had ice cream/sorbet, and I had some kind of mousse. With our coffee, they sent a selection of small sweets.

Dinner at Earl of Thomond Dromoland Castle :

We went back to the room and I went to bed. KC watched a little TV and then came to bed, too.

Return Home

Thursday, April 30

Our flight left at 11:00am, so we needed to be on the road at 9:00. The castle is only 10 minutes from the airport!

We got up at 7:30 and went for breakfast at 8:00. It’s been 10 days now and I haven’t had a single migraine! I wonder if it’s because I’m getting so much sleep.

After placing our order for breakfast, we filled out the VAT refund forms. We won’t be getting much back this year because we shipped most of our purchases.

The Earl of Thomond dining room, where we had dinner last night, and breakfast this morning:
The Waterford chandeliers were installed in honor of GWBush’s visit in 2004.

I had poached eggs Florentine, which were delicious; KC had two eggs sunny side up with sausage and onions. All the eggs were expertly prepared. There was a small buffet where we served ourselves grapefruit and orange juice. He had coffee, I had a latte. I took a picture of the sugar because I’d never seen dark lump sugar before.

We enjoyed our stay at the castle, and the drive to the airport was indeed 10 minutes, so we’ll be back next year.

Hertz is located right by the terminal. We had some trouble with the drop-off, though, because they didn’t credit the American Express coupon correctly. There is a shuttle, which we used, but it was totally unnecessary because the terminal is so close.

The line for check-in was much longer than in Boston, and we learned that if we had checked in online earlier, we could have avoided some of it, as they had a separate, shorter, line for passengers only checking baggage.

After passing through security, we dropped off our VAT forms and bought some Dingle Gin and Sticky Toffee chocolate in the duty-free shop, before proceeding to our gate. Here, as in Dublin, you pass through security a second time to get to the gate area. We boarded as soon as they opened the gate.

We had seats in the same row on the return flight as we had on the outbound, except there was someone in the aisle seat, so I sat in the middle. KC watched Into the Woods, I finished my book. I didn’t eat anything but KC had the curry.

We left and landed on time, our bags were some of the first onto the carousel, and we were in the car at 2:00pm.

We were parked in a spot with no one in front of us, so KC pulled straight out. At least, he tried to. When he gave the car gas, it lurched forward! I looked at him in alarm and he looked back in amusement. He tried again, and it lurched again! I was sure the car was broken; but, on the third try, KC was able to ease it out of the spot. Aparently, the rental car had a very loose clutch, and he had to adjust to the tight clutch on his car. We had a good laugh over that!

Traffic wasn’t bad and we were home by 3:00pm. Everything is still brown here, but our daffodils are up.

I forced myself to stay awake until 9:00pm and then slept until 6:00am.

I usually start the webpage the next day; but, I let it go for almost a month, and I had forgotten a lot. Next year, I’ll do the commentary real time, like I did last year.

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

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

Our wish list, from most to least important:

00. Ruins at base of Conor Pass lookout
01. Climb to the top of Brandon Mountain, Cnoc Breanainn, highest mountain on the peninsula.
02. Climb to the top of Eagle Mountain, Sliabh an Iolair, second highest mountain on Dingle.
03. Ballymaloe Restaurant in County Cork; and, possibly Dún Chathail, the star fort.
04. The Cliffs of Moher and/or the Aran Islands .
05. The other side of Loch a'Dúin valley
06. Coumaloughig (Valley of the Lakes) in Feohanagh River Valley
07. the Skellig Islands off the Iveragh Peninsula.
08. Kate Kearney’s Cottage in Killarney National Park
09. Ruins at Adare .
10.Walk to the second peak on Great Blasket.

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

Things to do next year:
Call ATT BEFORE we leave next year and sign up for international plan. They’re only good for the duration of your trip.

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