On the road from Ballydavid to Kenmare, we traveled along more coast and then went over the mountains. Not sure who Moll was, but she has a beautiful gap. When we weren’t on the coast we passed several loughs (Irish for loch (Scots for lake (American for body of water))).
Kenmare is unusual in that it it laid out as as “X”. Took our dirty clothes to a laundry, took a short walk, had soup for lunch (puréed vegetable for Marilyn, seafood chowder for Bob), went to the visitors center to see the heritage lace center and visit the old church. We then stopped at a bar, sat outside on the street and watched the world go by.
Pubs have had a fairly limited menu. The food has always been good.
Interestingly, we have eaten most of our meals inside, but it seems that one needs to drink outside.
In addition to the driving tour of the peninsula, Rick Steves has a walking tour of Dingle Town. We postponed doing this until after the bank holiday as the town was mobbed. Today it was quite lovely.
This pedestrian bridge was part of the original train line coming into Dingle – the western-most train station in all of Europe from 1891 – 1953.
This is Fungie who moved into Dingle Harbor in 1983 and stayed for 37 years. He became a celebrity and served as training buddy for local swimmers, a companion to fishermen and greeter to boats in Dingle’s bay. Sadly, he was last seen in October 2020 (another victim of Covid???).
These buildings are on land reclaimed from the sea.
This is Temperance Hall, dating back to the 19th-century church-promoted movement attempting to cut down on the consumption of alcohol. Interestingly, today it is a meeting place for AA groups, youth clubs and other social and support groups.
This is a snug. While in town (from the farm) to shop, the men drank in the main room and the women could discreetly nurse a sherry in these little rooms on the front of the pub. Until the 1950s, the women weren’t really welcome to drink in the pubs.
This is the window of Dick Mack’s Pub. This was once a tiny leather shop that expanded into a pub at night, originally established in 1899. It retains its old leather-shop ambience. Other pubs in town started as shops (general store, hardware store).
Benners was Dingle’s first hotel where the old Tralee stagecoach route ended.
The house to the left was to be a safe house for Marie Antoinette escaping the French Revolution but she refused to leave Louis XVI and the children.
Site of a former Celtic Holy Well, a sacred spot for people here 2,000 years ago.
St. Mary’s Church is a beautiful, modern-but-old-looking church. The convent described below is on the grounds.
Read about this convent here and Presentation Sisters here. This was a beautiful and moving place. Some of the graves date to the early 20th century but we could not see the older ones.
We stayed in a lovely Bed & Breakfast near Ballydavid (bally is Irish for town or village). There must be a rule that the larger the room, the smaller the TV. Breakfast was too good and too much, but we ate it anyway.
There really was an old pier across the street from our rooms. The water has been crystal clear and not too cold.
The view from the inn looked across the water to the Three Sisters in our little bay. In the distance one can see the Dead Man (Inishtooskert) — notice the dagger/sword in his neck and Teareght. These are part of the Blasket Islands. It was a beautiful location.
Today we started with something we had not done on the Dingle Peninsula drive yesterday. Kilmalkedar Church or Cill Mhaoilcéadair is a ruined 12th-century Romanesque church that was a parish church until the 16th century. Very moving, as are all the churches and ruins we have seen.
The stone cross (just to the right and in front of the church).
The carvings apparently attest to the wealth of the parish.
The “eye of the needle” – if one can fit through it, one is certain to go to heaven.
The alphabet stone carved 550-600 CE.
The Ogham stone dates to 600 CE. Note hole in top.
The Dingle Peninsula is considered by some to be the most beautiful part of Ireland. The peninsula is about ten miles wide and about forty miles long. The Slea Head Loop covers almost all the highlights in only thirty miles. It did take almost five hours with stops.
The Gallarus Oratory was built about 1300 years ago. Shaped like an upturned boat, it’s finely fitted stone walls are still waterproof. Some details here.
Not very large inside, probably room for a dozen or so monks.
It is thought that the altar was under the only window.
A name has been identified with the headstone but nothing is known about the person.
The lintel stone is huge.
It may be waterproof, but it’s not dirt proof. Plants grow in the cracks between the stones.
The stone masons were so skilled in shaping the stones that no mortar was needed and the structure has stood for over 1300 years.
Bob doesn’t understand why the larger stone is on the bottom of the window. Marilyn doesn’t understand why he finds that surprising.
This lios or ring fort or fairy fort is an excellent example although this one is unexcavated. The circular interior is enclosed by an earthen bank and contains traces of three or four huts and a souterrain (underground structure) probably used for food storage and hiding place for the leader and family. It’s not very clear from the pictures but the bank rises almost fourteen feet above the interior.
The entry fee included the opportunity to pet and feed sheep and other animals. The sheep were fairly aggressive but turned away quickly when they realized that one had no food for them. Marilyn wanted everyone to see the dark brown sheep at the right of picture below. Bob was drawn to the black sheep. The donkeys are included just for fun.
Murphy’s Castle is an example of a ring fort with beehive huts (well, at least the foundations). It has a souterrain (defined before, read everything or miss some things) where the families stored food and hid from their enemies. As the sun enters the souterrain in the spring and autumn (through one of the doorways) it lights up a stone at the back of the tunnel.
The souterrain on the right was lit through a doorway like the one above.
The alcove on the right is probably a cooking space.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Great Blasket Center. This is an excellent modern cultural museum about the life and times of the island. The largest of the islands, Great Basket, was the only inhabited island, with the exception of the lighthouse on Teareght (which looks like a pyramid). Life on the island was very primitive — no doctor, no priest, and little except about 100 acres of arable land and the bounty of the sea. More about the islands in general here and Great Blasket in particular here.
Great Blasket Island.
The only inhabitants lived here in the wind shadow of the mountain.
Teareght no longer has a lighthouse.
Almost every little harbor has a beach and, if the weather turns balmy, almost every beach has people enjoying the sun and the water. The stone houses are just filler. Actually, while awaiting dinner the night before, Bob went down to the pier and tested the water. It was not as cold as some of the springs or mountain streams we’ve been in.
Bob wanted to visit the Cliffs of Moher for reasons that he could not articulate. Marilyn always (well, almost) lets Bob go where he wishes — sometimes she even goes along. This time she went along.
It is really hard to capture the magnificence of these cliffs. For the real feel of their height, watch Princess Bride; these are the Cliffs of Insanity early in the film (we had to look it up!). Some details here.
There is a tradition of buskers playing for money. Most had accordions of varying sizes.
Marilyn sat on a step near this guy while Bob went up to the tower. He thanked Marilyn for her (she says, under-her-breath) singing along with his Amazing Grace.
Another busker and the only picture we got of some of the death-march of steps to the top.
A rich Englishman (of course) had the tower built to impress his wife — not sure how that turned out.
We thought the cows above were Orr cows until we saw the ones on the right. You know, always trying to find the highest viewpoint.
The ferry was supposed to save us an hour — so of course we missed it by only a minute or two.
We were first on the next one and had time for an ice cream before.
One of the vehicles on our ferry was probably the biggest RV we have seen in Ireland. A Winnebago, of course.
On the advice of the innkeeper’s daughter, we went down to the sea to have dinner. But it was a bank holiday and we had to wait forty minutes for the kitchen help to “cool” down after working non-stop. The food was good and the shandy made the wait easier.
Actually saw some people swimming here. Not these, though.
The water is very clean and clear. I guess visibility is twenty feet or so.
The harbor from the restaurant.
Ireland must have a million of these small harbors. They are every where we go — of course, we ARE following the coast.
This fort is 2000, 3000, or 4000 years old depending on the source. Excavations indicate that there was building circa 1100 BCE. It sits atop a 100-meter (330 foot) cliff of which Bob did not get good pictures because he is scared of heights in his old age. More about the fort here.
Start of the path.
Doesn’t look so far?
At right: Marilyn girding her loins for the climb.
Also a stone style. We’ve never seen the like before.
Halfway up. Looks longer than from below.
If you can’t make the climb, they just bury you where you fall — maybe a little off the path.
Took a short break to listen to an authentic Irish piper. Not a bagpipe, but a tin-whistle. Sample tune for Granny here.
Almost there. The first two-thirds of the hike was mostly gravel and not too difficult. After that, it is rocky with primitive, irregular steps of varying heights some of which were smooth and slippery.
Made it to the top!
And a well-earned rest before the trek back. Marilyn said her legs had not had this kind of workout in a long time (where is coach Roy?).
This is an incredibly defensible fort. By the time the enemy reached the fort at the top, they would be half dead already.
As close as Bob would get to the edge. He says it hurts his stomach just to look at the picture!
Over the wall in the direction away from the path.
Cliffs back toward the harbor. If they had built the fort on one of these the hike would have been shorter.
Marilyn has been really good at finding us places to stay. However… In Galway she found that hotel prices were exorbitant, except for The Westwood — which turns out to be listed in another place as The Westwood/Student Accommodations. Turns out it is/was once a hotel and is now part hotel, part student housing. Very dorm-like with the bed against the wall, small wardrobe, and a desk. The bathroom is small but well-arranged with a nice shower. It also has a full kitchen and sitting area only a few steps from our very small room. It is shared space, but we’ve not seen anyone else using it. All in all, not too bad.
The main reason for staying in Galway was to visit the Aran island of Inishmore (details here). The chief attraction is Dun Aengus “the fort” which deserves its own post so see next (or previous if you’re reading this backwards).
We left Galway for a forty-five minute drive to Rossaveal to catch the ferry. We had time for a quick breakfast at a delightful B&B nearby and boarded the ferry. We arrived at Inishmore at low tide and had to depart from the upper deck.
As one can see, the tide is out and the dock is even with the top deck of the boat.
Very pretty beach. In the right-center of the middle picture, a boat ramp can be seen. Note that it doesn’t extend into the water.
Our guidebook suggested a minivan tour of the island, but as we were leaving the quay, a gentleman stopped Marilyn and asked if she wanted a tour in a horse-drawn wagon. For some reason, Marilyn decided that that was a good idea. Turned out to be delightful. The minivans “zip” one from place to place, but the wagon went slowly, allowing time for pictures and comments from the driver. If you should ever visit, we suggest you find Michael McDonagh (with horse Picasso or the alternate Robin). He has been guiding tours since he was 15 or so and his family has been on the island for 300 years. A little hard to understand sometimes, but delightful, knowledgeable, and patient. We shared the wagon with a family of five from Tempe, Arizona: father, mother, son (10), daughter (8), and son (4). The family sat behind us on the ferry and the youngest talked non-stop. This continued through most of the wagon ride. Delightful family.
One of the stops on the tour was a small bay where seals often sun at low tide.
Picasso with Michael sitting in the shadows of the wagon.
The only picture we have of our traveling companions. Somehow we missed having the mother in the picture.
Because of a scarcity of freshwater on the island, many steps are taken to capture rain water. Cisterns are built with a slanted area which directs the rain water into the trough for the cows.
There are several (many?) abandoned churches on the island. At least some of them are protected by the National Trust. While there are no plans to restore them, nobody is able to modify or tear them down. The landowner can graze cattle (sheep are too much trouble) around them, but that is about all. The last picture is one of the few thatched roofed buildings left on the island.
Inishmore is known for its famous beach. We didn’t test the temperature of the water, but only saw a few do more than just wade.
There are also a few freshwater ponds. This one had a swan with cygnets. If Bob had a better camera, you might be able to see them.
And at least one heron.
More stone than we’d ever seen. All fences…
And, most, with no mortar.
With this much to choose from, even the entertainment includes rocks.
While we were touring, the tide came in. This boat ramp does not reach the water at low tide. It’s much longer than it seems here.
And the beach is a shadow of its former self.
Hard to see, but the red and green channel markers are on the “wrong” side. “Red right returning” is NOT a saying in Ireland.
After Westport, we travelled though the Doolough Valley, site of a tragedy during the Irish Potato Famine (more here). Several persons died after walking several miles to ask for help and being refused (more here). The cross below is a memorial.
It’s an easy, and beautiful, drive in the car. We wouldn’t want to walk it, especially in March.
Just before we got to Leenane, we discovered that we hadn’t really seen rhododendrons. They were everywhere and BIG! It’s hard to see the color so far away, but the profusion is obvious.
Aasleagh Falls from a distance.
And up close. There are people above and below the falls for perspective.
A tree and more rhododendrons.
The pub where we had lunch. Found out later that it was suggested in our guidebook.
Killarney Lough, a tidal inlet which elsewhere would be called a fjord.
Kylemore Abbey was built in the 1860s by an Englishman for his wife. Since 2015 Norte Dame (the Indiana one) uses it for summer programs.
Before continuing on to Galway, we stopped in Westport for a short walk through the middle of town. Every town we have been in is similar but different. We have enjoyed them all so far.
The octogon (right) is topped by St. Patrick. He is said to have driven the snakes out of Ireland by ringing a bell on top of a mountain – since there were no snakes in Ireland, it worked very effectively.
Cost Joe’s pub has an outside display of some of the whiskies they offer. Almost as many as our son-in-law, Jeff.
The streets of Westport remind us of an American pedestrian mall. Only with crazy Irish drivers!
The shop on the right has caused distress to some residents because the ice cream cone is unsightly. Must be an HOA.
So famous that it is on an Irish stamp.
House with the red door is in the dictionary next to “ivy covered”.