Dingle to Kenmare to Wexford

     Friday evening in Dingle was the most fun I’ve had on my own. I went to a pub called Dick Mack’s, traditional Irish with cosy snugs, wood paneling, and raucous locals. Everyone was very friendly and I had some good conversation with the bartender and some others, then I met a kind older British gentleman named Peter, who was also a writer. We had a good chat, then realized we were both going to a restaurant, John Benny’s, to see a band called Lumiere play. They are two Irish women, and absolutely stunning singers! Apparently they play every Friday evening, and Peter and I found seats front and center. It was nice to have a little company and some music before heading to Kenmare Saturday.

            Kenmare is another lovely little tourist town on the West coast, in the middle of the Kerry mountains, which are more like rolling green hills to me but the Irish are proud of them as mountains. Kenmare is a great place to stroll around, have some tea, and walk a few minutes outside the town to take in the scenery. At the end of the town is the largest stone circle found in Ireland…I was geeking out a bit at the thought of seeing a real stone circle “in the wild.” For those of you who are wondering, I did hear humming. 😉  I sat for awhile in the stones and did some good writing, and got a few minutes there without any tourists. It is definitely a little interesting to me to be traveling at such high tourist season; I’m not used to it! I stayed at this B&B owned by a man named Tom, who said he has lived there for thirty years. He cooks a great Irish breakfast!

            I’m now here in Wexford and enjoying another side of Ireland yet again: non-touristy, working people who enjoy good craic and love life. I’m staying with a friend of Claire’s, Jess, and she took me to her local pub and introduced me to some really fun people. We had a grand time listening to music and chatting away. I’m picking up some of the Irish “isms,” I’ll have to start incorporating them into my everyday speech. As the people in Wexford say, “That’s totally class.”

            The farther south you go the thicker the accent gets, people in Kenmare were incredibly difficult to understand! Everyone is patient though, and tries to slow down a little bit. I’m starting to understand the accent more and more, and am beginning to use some of the speech patterns, which I already kind of used before, but are now much more pronounced!

            I can’t believe that only have a few more days in this country. I’m thinking perhaps it is a good thing that Jacob did not come with me as I’m looking forward to seeing him, and therefore do not have a solid reason to never return to the States. This journey has been completely memorable in so many ways.

            Oh! And today it rained. Ireland is back to normal. So finally, I felt some Irish rain on my face.

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County Kerry

     It is said that the Irish love to talk about weather. I share in their affinity for knowing what the weather is like and what temperature it will be. I don’t think, however, I’ve had one conversation with an Irish person in which the weather wasn’t mentioned, partly because all this sunshine and warmth is incredibly rare. I’ve had at least a dozen people tell me that it hasn’t been this sunny and warm consecutively for about 25 years. I find it terribly ironic that the moment I get to Ireland it decides not to rain for three weeks! I’m okay with it for now, though, as the sunshine lends itself to adventures in hiking and biking, and makes getting around with luggage that much easier. Although, there is pretty much zero air circulation/conditioning in any of the buildings, so inside is quite warm! The restaurants and pubs would be perfect when the weather gets colder, though.

            Yesterday (Thursday) I biked Slea Head Loop, a stunning drive/bike that takes you along the edges of the Dingle Peninsula, showcasing the westernmost point in Ireland. I still cannot get over the color of the water, the green of the hills, the sheep dotting the landscape, the sweeping views. I could look at this countryside forever and ever and never tire of its beauty. The bike ride was fairly intense, and I think I sweat off every last ounce of water in my body, but it was worth it. This area is also Gaeltacht, so in the little towns Irish was being spoken everywhere. I stopped for a much needed pint in the town of Baile an Fheirtearaigh (Ballyferriter) and had a lovely chat with a gentleman named Philip. We talked about music, teaching, etc., and the countryside that surrounded us. He told me where to go to get the best pint of Guinness in Dingle (really, they’re all good…I’m never having another Guinness in the states ever again. It truly is better here) and was genuinely fun to talk to.

            As I biked through the countryside it became very clear why the Irish mythology involves faeries and mystical beings. The hillsides feel like magic; I imagine at night it’s even more mystical. There’s all sorts of stories about people not wanting to move or disturb the many Iron Age forts (duns) and beehive huts and things for fear of bad luck following them from the faerie folk; I’d believe it if I lived here. This place would be the perfect place to move to and write…you can still get to larges places in an hour but you can definitely lose yourself in the quiet hillsides and spectacular views.

            True to form, everyone here has been so welcoming. The hostel I’m staying in is very nice (Hideout Hostel, recommended by Lonely Planet for good reason!), and I would probably meet more people if I was ever here…but I was gone for most of the day and that’s really okay with me. I can’t travel and justify just sitting in my hostel all day, although there’s plenty of people doing that!

            The Dingle Peninsula is a place I will come back to. It is just stunning. I’m just trying to process the beauty that is around me! It feels a little bit like backpacking in the mountains around Colorado for a moment, except with much more sheep and the hills and rocks crash down in the Atlantic Ocean, which is just perfect. Perfect aquamarine beaches dot the coast, as well as rocky points and sheer cliffs.

    There are plenty of historical sites that I visited as well, including some famine cottages. The peninsula was hit hard during the famine as it is so remote. It was overwhelmingly sad to tour around the cottages and think about my own family who had to emigrate during the 1840’s. Lord Ventry was the lord in charge of rents, and now his house is an all girls Irish-speaking boarding school. I am starting to recognize some of the place names in Irish now!

     Today (Friday) I had a leisurely morning and had tea and eggs at a lovely café, did some reading, and toured Dingle Harbor on a boat to escape the heat. There is a bottlenose dolphin, Fungi, who lives in the harbor all alone. It’s rather sad, but he has lived here for about 25 years. He came right up to the boat and swam by! Apparently it’s rare to go out in the harbor and not see him. There are some charter companies that will give you your money back if you don’t have a dolphin sighting!

   As with most towns by the ocean, Dingle is all about the sea. We went to a rocky outcrop today in the boat and I could’ve sworn I heard singing. 🙂  Kerry is a lovely place and I highly recommend it to anyone coming to visit Ireland! I’ve just been poking about this afternoon, and had a stop in at a local pub and had a chat with the woman bartender, who is a native of Dingle. She gave me loads of good places to go, including one pub for the finest whiskey.

  This evening entails dinner with fine sea food, and music of course! It’s hard to believe that I have less than a week in Ireland. Personally it feels like it’s going way too fast, although it also feels like ages ago that I was in Durango. I’m going to have culture shock for sure!

   Even with the incredibly sunny weather, I think it’s impossible for this country to disappoint me!