“If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.”
When we first arrived in Dingle it turned out to be completely different than we imagined. Sometimes the unexpected can throw me into a tailspin, but it turned out to be one of my favorite adventures during our most recent trip to Ireland.
Dingle is the name of a town, a peninsula and a scenic drive. It is part of the Gaeltacht region; an area where Irish Gaelic is the predominant language. Most signs are in Irish Gaelic and you’ll hear Irish Gaelic songs and ditties spilling from the pubs. It’s really charming and beautiful. We fell in love with the pastel colored buildings and busy streets in this fishing town, and can’t wait to go back for a second visit!
We drove to Dingle on a sunny July day, after a three day stay in Kenmare. First thing you should know is that Dingle is a rather large town. Almost a city, in my opinion. There are one million pubs in Dingle, and if you should happen to be there when the World Cup is going on (as we were), you can expect a. LOT. of pub noise all through the night. It didn’t bother us too much, and in fact, added to the flavor of our experience there.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Dingle is a popular tourist destination. Bus loads of people arrive there, and it’s crowded. If we ever go back, I’d like to do it on the off season, when it’s just the Dingle-ites and a few of us lookie-loos.
We stayed at Sraid Eoin House B&B in Dingle, and it was lovely. The room was clean, fresh and inexpensive. It was bright and we had plenty of room to spread out. The hosts were warm and friendly, and we were very pleased with our choice.
The REAL treasure of Dingle town, is that you’re at a natural starting point for an adventure around the Dingle Way. Dear readers, this drive is worth every bit of the time you take to traverse it! I can highly recommend Rick Steves Ireland guide as a wonderful road map to this adventure. He kindly includes distances to each stop and a brief description of each. We decided on the must-see stops as a family, and started out after breakfast and a cup of coffee to go.
One of the things that impressed us was just how ancient some of the sites along the Dingle Way really are! We stopped at several ring forts (also known as fairy forts) from the Iron Age (600-500B.C.), and my kids were fascinated by their construction and purpose.
As an added bonus, one of the ring fort sites included some darling farm animals that we were able to pet and enjoy! This really made an impression on my daughter who loves animals of all kinds.
There are also several groupings of beehive huts which are fun to explore. Be sure to carry some cash, because many stops require payment of two or three euros per person.
What we appreciated about the Dingle Way is that we could stop and spend as much time as we liked at the sites that interested us most. Being stuck on a tour bus, or being herded through the sites holds no appeal for us, and is the primary reason we prefer to rent our own car.
The views are spectacular, and we stopped often to look around and smell the clover.
After a full half day exploring the Dingle Way, we stopped for some lunch in one of the small villages along the way. The area is quite popular now, as scenes from Star Wars were filmed there, and the local pub had two sculptures; one of Yoda and another of Darth Vader. It was cute without being commercial. My daughter and I shared AMAZING fish and chips, while my husband and son split a yummy pot roast lunch.
After lunch, we headed north toward the Cliffs of Moher. This drive yielded one of the most interesting driving situations we had in Ireland! The “highway” out of Dingle is a single lane “two-way” road, with cliffs and mountains on either side. It was truly beautiful, and I’m so glad we went ahead and drove that way, but there were a few hair-raising moments along the way!
You know, there are places we visit that are a huge hit with all members of the family, and this was one of them. I got to see my kids excited about hiking around and exploring some really incredible sites, and we all walked away with the feeling that we had seen something we might never see again. This area is chalk-full of magic and intrigue. Don’t miss it!
Taisteal sásta! (which means “happy travels” in Irish Gaelic)