Friday, May 04, 2007


Main Street, Dingle After leaving Dublin, I took a train to Mallow, another to Tralee, then a bus out to the Dingle peninsula, which is nearly as far West as you can go and still be in Europe. Dingle itself is a very small town on the coast, and is also known as An Daingean. Technically, since it's in a Gaeltacht, it's supposed to use its Irish name. It's opted not to, however, since the tourist the town relies on would probably just start calling it "the town formerly known as Dingle" anyway.

Colors Dingle has a little aquarium called Ocean World, which is like a baby Monterey Bay Aquarium and includes both native and tropical fish. The tanks and displays are all very nicely done, though there's a severe lack of information anywhere, beyond simply the names of what's in each tank (and even those were incomplete sometimes). The touch pool was interesting, because a lot of the rays, and even a bottom dwelling fish like a flounder or a sole, were all swimming up to the top of the water, almost as if they wanted to be petted. Very convenient, but definitely seemed unusual. There were also some eels that were acting strange. Normally, eels wedge their bodies in between some rocks and just leave their heads out to grab passing fish. In the open ocean tank, though, a green moray eel seemed to have gotten things backwards. It appeared to have its head stuck in a rock, and its entire long body and tail just dangling straight down the outside. Maybe he was new at this, or maybe his head was poking out the other side and he didn't realize he didn't have a whole cave to be hiding in. There was also a leopard moray eel that I actually saw swimming, completely in the open. Again, very unusual, but a swimming leopard moray eel may be one of the most beautiful things in the ocean.

Sarena Indian Restaurant, 2007 For my dinners in Dingle I ate takeout Indian food on the pier. The place I got it from was called either Sarena or Sareena , depending on whether you believe the sign or the menu. Yummy food, but this place was also interesting for a large sepia picture it had on its wall. Sarena Indian Restaurant, c. 1917 It's a photo of the same building 90 years ago, when it had considerably fewer shades of purple on it and didn't serve Indian food. The guy in the picture next to the horse cart was the grandfather of the current landlord, who is now 77 years old.

While somewhat on the subject of food, I'll mention Murphy's ice cream parlor, which had some excellent ice cream with some interesting flavors. The ginger latte was unfortunately much more latte than ginger, but the honey almond cardamon was wonderful.

Going 'round Slea Head The center piece of my time in Dingle was my trip around Slea Head Drive, a 30-mile loop around the end of the peninsula with some lovely scenic views of ocean, cliffs and islands. I rented a bike in town and cycled it all, which was a bit of an adventure on narrow, cliff-edge, one-lane roads. Also, it turns out that 30 miles is rather more biking than I'm used to doing in one day, so it left me a little jelly-legged at the end of the 6 hours or so that I was out. But it was a great little tour and much more fun that it would have been in a car, I think.

Me in a Stone Hut Aside from scenic views, the other main points of interest around the peninsula were things made of rock. Some of them, like these beehive huts, date back over 2,000 years. The Gallarus Oratory is over 1,000 years old and still waterproof, even without any mortar or anything else besides stone. There are also some good places to see church ruins, and even an old Ogham stone.

Beach One of my favorite spots along the ride was this beautiful little beach. I spied it from a higher lookout point, and decided I should find my way there for my lunch break. Turned out to be non-obvious to find, but an unmarked road leading between two cow pastures (there are lots of both of those in Ireland) got me there in the end. When I got there, I found that a rocky little stream fed into the ocean there and had some lovely grassy areas around it, still in view of the beach and perfect for picnicking. That put one of my favorite environments right next to one of my favorite views and made me very happy.

Relevant Tunes:
  • Dingle Bay
  • The Dingle Regatta
  • The Dingle Polka
  • The Rose of Tralee
  • The Kerry Man
  • The Star of Munster

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