Our trip to Waterford, Killarney, Dublin
and the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
October 1-12, 2009
Ponies and Blasket Ecotour
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Ponies and Blasket Ecotour
Monday, October 5
We slept until 9am this morning and I did not have a migraine when I woke up! While I was having my coffee, KC saw a man outside the cottage with 3 horses! I stepped into KC’s shoes and ran outside. It was Alec, Phil’s husband, with Leah and her two foals, but by the time I came out the two foals had run away and he was walking the mare in circles trying to get them to come back. It wasn’t working so he went off to find them. When he came back, he had Phil with him, and their border collie, Sadie!
This is what I mean about Phil’s and Alec’s efforts to create the most picturesque vacation setting. They could easily leave the horses in the pasture by their house but they go out of their way to bring them down to the cottage for the enjoyment of their guests. Amazing.
Once they got the horses into the pasture surrounding the house, they came to the door to say hello. We invited them in for coffee and they accepted! We learned that Sadie had been hit by a car and had almost been put down but that she had rallied at the last minute and eventually pulled through. She’s an outside dog and wasn’t allowed in so she stood in the doorway and relished the attention I lavished on her.
Leah’s second foal, born this spring, has the same father as the first and is just as adorable. His name is Timmy and the first foal is named Sasha. At one point Timmy was ON TOP of the wall grazing and KC saw him getting a bit of milk from Leah. He did that several times but we were never able to get a photo of it. Phil told us that the ponies love apples and carrots... we need to get some the next time we go to the store..
Leah, the mare:
All three ponies:
Timmy, the youngest, born this spring:
Sasha, born last spring:
We asked Phil about her son (his name is Déaglán - pronounced Deklann - she said) and his sheep and she told us that he butchers about 6 every year so we were lucky to be here the week he decided to do it. She also said that he’ll give two to his fiancée’s family (he’s getting married, in Dublin, in 3 weeks) and that Phil will be lucky if she gets one. I guess we shouldn’t be holding our breath for a few chops….
When we asked about the cottage, she told us that her husband had inherited it from her uncle, who had married the woman whose family owned the land. They had no children so he left the house to Alec. The original house had two large rooms and one bathroom on the ground floor, and two bedrooms upstairs. They had torn it down and rebuilt it in 2001.
Alec told us that it had not been as difficult to build as his sons make it out to be but he did confirm that the new walls were 22” thick! Nine inches of stone, 4 inches of insulation, and 9 inches of concrete block. So, it’s as sturdy as it looks! This was the first time we’d met Alec and were impressed by how personable he was. I wish I’d gotten a picture of him and Phil – the quintessential Irish couple!
When Phil and Alec left, I called the Blasket Ferry to ask if it was still running. Sue told me that it was not but I left my number in case anything changed. She called back 10 minutes later to say they had 6 people interested and would sail if they got 10. She would call back at 1pm and let me know either way. We decided to spend the morning in Dingle doing errands – bank, music, etc… -- and go to Inch Beach if the ecotour fell through.
We dressed for wet weather and drove into town around 11:30. Before we left, I called Michael to let him know we were in town but no one answered so I left a message. We parked right in front of his store and I went in, while Herb went to the bank next door, and was relieved to see Caitriona! I had sent her a wish-list of CDs before we left, and she had pulled most of them, so I bought a few to play in the CD player in the cottage. KC found a CD by the Saw Doctors, which we bought, and a humorous Guinness poster, but Caitriona didn’t know the price, so we left that for later.
Michael will be at An Droichead Beag tomorrow; Pauline and Elis, who have been signed by Sony, will be at John Benny Moriarty on Thursday. Caitriona was off to Scotland on Wednesday but agreed to meet us at An Droichead Beag on Tuesday, to catch up, since we’d be gone when she got back.
From Michael’s we went into the antique store across the street, then up to Green street so that I could nip into Brian de Staic so that I could talk to Jerry about my custom order but he was at the workshop so I took his number. When we passed the bookstore we’d been in yesterday, I nipped in to pay for that book on Kerry – the one I thought was the free version but discovered, after I had cracked the spine, that it was 9 Euros and that it has not been included in my bill!
By now we were close to An Canteen so we decided to go there for lunch. On our way in, Sue called to tell us that the ferry would be running. We were starving now so they agreed to give us an hour to eat.
KC, Herb and I had fish and chips – the best fish and chips we’d ever eaten served with pea puree and homemade tartar sauce – and Elke had a soup and the ham hock terrine appetizer which came with the best salad she’d ever eaten. The food was so good we decided to celebrate Elke’s birthday here on Friday. We asked Brian about the friend of his who had done the drawing of the cottage in the dining room and he gave us her website, www.carolcronin.com
, but told us that she was quite well known now and that a commission would probably be expensive. I’ll contact her when we get back.
Drawing of stone cottage we’d like a copy of:
The best fish and chips in Dingle
Soup, ham hock terrine and salad with buttermilk dressing:
The best brown bread we’d ever had:
They had given us another slice of that delicious bread, and gave us three more when we checked out, which we wrapped up for later. Then the three of us went to the pier while KC ran back to the car to get our gear – hats, scarves, coats, and backpacks. We found the ferry office with no problem (long white building, first office at the end) and Herb paid for our tickets (40 Euro each!) while we waited for KC. The ferry left just after he joined us, at around 2:30.
The Blasket Islands in relation to Dingle Harbor
The Blasket Islands Irish names
Waiting to leave the harbor:
Looking back on Dingle harbor:
Our guide, Sue, who lives on Greater Blasket during the summer:
Stone “arm” pointing to the mouth of the harbor:
The folly, a useless make-work project built after the war:
Another boat in the harbor which was our bait for Fungi, the local dolphin;
apparently, he likes to swim in a boat’s wake and we DID see him cavorting:
The wake of our boat, which was larger and more powerful than the ones from previous years:
Our ferry also had plastic panels on all sides which could be lowered
to protect its passengers from the spray along the side of the boat. KC
positioned himself so that he was gently misted. He said his rain jacket
kept him dry while he enjoyed the feel and taste of the salt water on his face.
KC, loves to be on the water:
The rest of us were glad the panels were there because, at times, the spray was so
intense we would all have been drenched if they weren’t there. In fact, two other
passengers DID get drenched when they were on the wrong side of the panel:
One of the passengers who got drenched by the spray:
The wreck of the Ranga,
a 1586 ton container ship wrecked at Dunmore Head on March 11, 1982
The ship was a total loss, creating oil pollution as she broke into two parts.
The stern was removed for the filming of Far and Away in 1991 but the bow
and other scattered pieces of wreckage are still visible.
A newborn (one day old) seal tests the water for the first time on the beach at Great Blasket
while its mother hunts for food nearby. The mothers give birth away from the rest of the herd
because they are ready for mating again immediately after giving birth and a bull could crush
the pup if not kept away:
The rest of the herd:
Two seals postulating in the water:
The village on Great Blasket, just above the beach where the seals were:
The weather was overcast but calm:
Interesting rocks (What is the difference between a rock and an island?
A rock, also called an islet, has no or minimal vegetation and is uninhabited):
The awe-inspiring Cathedral Rocks of Inis na Bró:
Cathedral Rocks, the other side:
Cathedral Rocks, from afar:
Two more new-born seal pups on Inisvickalaun:
Seal pups at base of Inisvickalaun, what a secluded beach nursery!
Inisvickalaun , the home and the island, owned by the
family of former Irish Prime minister Charles Haughey .
Along the top ridge, you can see some of the herd of Red
Deer, introduced by Haughey some years ago:
Amazing bird – is this an eagle?
On the way home, which was a looooong straight shot, at top speed, powered by the boat’s two large engines, I nearly fell asleep. As I was about to keel over, KC, who was watching from behind, gently pushed me upright. I laughed about that visual for days afterwards.
I had on six layers (2 tanks, cotton cardigan, windbreaker, and my Barbour jacket with its zip-in lining) plus a fleece balaclava, my new alpaca scarf, and the hood of the Barbour and I had been comfortable for most of the trip; but, towards the end, it was pretty cold and I gladly accepted one of the blankets they passed out. I was wearing my new hiking boots, by Asolo, and they were not very effective on the slippery floor which was treacherous because the ride was very bumpy in spite of the fact that today was, supposedly, an uncharacteristically calm day. Next year, bring boat shoes!
My new hiking boots:
Lord Ventry’s Estate – he was responsible for importing the palm,
trees, hydrangea and fuchsia that are seen all over the island now:
According to Rick Steves: “Lord Ventry, whose family came to Dingle as post-Cromwellian War landlords in 1666, built this mansion in about 1750. Today it houses an all-Irish-language boarding school for 140 high-school girls. The Gulf Stream is the source of the mild climate (it never snows), which supports subtropical plants. Consequently, fuchsias – imported from Chile and spreading like weeds – line the roads all over the peninsula and redden the countryside from June through September. More than 100 inches of rain a year gives this area its “40 shades of green.”
Gorgeous shot of Dingle Harbor as we pulled into it:
After the tour, before starting for home, we ducked into Murphy’s Pub for a quick pint. Elke
ordered an Irish coffee, the first of many on this trip. It was soo good I also had it on several
occasions. This one, though, was the only one which was served with a cinnamon shamrock.
Next to it are the remains of my last sticky toffee pudding as this was our last visit to Murphy’s.
The ecotour had lasted about 3 hours and we were back on land at about 5:30. On our way back to the car, after our pit stop in Murphy’s, we ran into Sean and Liz who were just leaving their shop. They agreed to meet us at An Droichead Beag the next night. On our way home, we saw the most amazing sunset, over the islands we’d just visited!
The sunset over the Blasket Islands (Herb’s camera):
The sunset over the Blasket Islands (KC’s camera):
For dinner, Herb boiled the Kerry red potatoes we’d bought on our way in and, although they were very soft, they were delicious. KC fried up the salmon sausages we’d bought at the festival but they were awful! The texture was more like bread pudding than sausage and they didn’t have much flavor. Cheese and bread completed the meal.
Dinner is served, with a peat fire blazing.
After dinner we played another round of cribbage, which Herb and I won 2-0 with no skunks, bringing the score to HB=3 EK=1. Elke’s luck held and KC’s improved. Herb and Elke went off to bed at 11pm. KC read until midnight and I updated my journal. I made a pot of tea and water heated up instantly in that electric kettle – need to look into getting something like that for us – and had another scone. When I went up to bed at 1pm KC was already in it.
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Note to self: bring the following next time: boat shoes, knife sharpener, speakers for MP3 player, adaptor plug.
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Last Revised: October 20, 2009
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