Day Seven
Dingle and Slea Head Drive

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today would prove to be probably our most ‘favorite’ day of the entire trip, and it would introduce us to yet another part of Ireland that we hope to disappear into again someday – Dingle. Initially, we were only going to Dingle because, well, face it, it’s got a funny name. But, as irony and luck intertwined would have it, it was an awesome experience.

To start the day, we grabbed breakfast in the hotel restaurant. It was thankfully much quieter than the last castle restaurant we ate in for breakfast. The folks from Philly sat at a table behind us, and I did my best to ignore them. The breakfast setup was the same as Cabra – a buffet with breads and fruits on it, as well as juices, and then the waitress took our order for a hot meal. Jill had the pancakes – which really weren’t all that good – and I had the full Irish, which was okay except for the black pudding which I just couldn’t eat.

With the Garmin fully charged, and camera in hand, we set out for the Ring of Dingle, or Dingle Peninsula. It was about a 45 minute drive or so from Tralee to Dingle, but it took us through some of the most breathtaking scenery we had seen all week long. On arriving in Dingle, our first stop was at the tourist information building. We wanted to confirm the best route to take around Slea Head Drive. In two different spots, we had seen two different answers – clockwise versus counterclockwise. The ladies there were great for information, and told us in fact the correct route would be clockwise. At points, the road was extremely narrow, and the last thing we wanted was to be going in the opposite direction from everyone else (especially the tour buses).

Outside of the tourist information building, we found a bronze statue of Fungie the Dolphin. This was another suggestion Donal had made, stating that everyone stops to get their picture taken with Fungie, so we became one of the mass of people that had done so!

The drive around Slea Head Drive was about an hour and a quarter, per the folks at the tourist info place, or slightly less if you didn’t go all the way around. Being that it was just after noon at this point, we figured we’d do the drive first, and then come back to Dingle to take in the shops and grab a bite to eat.

Slea Head Drive proved to be a wonderful continuation of the scenery that we had already experienced up to that point this morn. Most of it skirted right along the bay, so you had a good view of the waterside all the way up into the mountains. The ‘thousand shades of green’ shone the greatest here, and it afforded us many opportunities for some great scenic pictures. There were ‘tourist stops’ along the way, including another visitors center and a couple of bee hive hut spots, but they all cost to see or get into, so we skipped those and instead just enjoyed the free views! We did finally reach a point though where we had seen what we could, and we took the cutback road to Ventry, and then back into Dingle.

We found a parking spot along one of the side streets in Dingle, and from there walked through the town, hitting the various shops along the way. We tried in earnest to find Jill a nice woolen sweater, but none really jumped out at us as the one that she would like.

Deciding it was time for a late lunch, around 3:00, we settled on Murphy’s Pub, along the main road, for our last lunch in Ireland. The saying ‘save the best for last’, yeah, this was it! Perfect little corner of Dingle, and the world, to just swallow ourselves up in. I had a pint of Murphy’s (seemed appropriate since we were, in fact, in Murphy’s Pub), and Jill had an Irish coffee. For lunch, Jill had an awesome and fresh seafood chowder, and I had (what else) fish and chips! As we had done quite a few times before on this trip, we took our time and took in the ambiance that this pub afforded us, and once again decided that this was yet another place we would visit again someday.

We ventured out into Dingle after lunch, hitting some of the other stores, and grabbing some dessert as well at Murphy’s Ice Cream (Kerry cream – yummy!). We also went into the grocery store in the middle of Dingle and bought Mike a couple of drinks and some candy bars.

With it getting later in the afternoon, we hopped back into the car and made the drive back to Tralee, again through the awesome countryside we had seen in the morning – stopping along the way again to take some more beautiful pictures.

At night, we took time to pack up for the trip home so we wouldn’t have to worry about it later or in the morning. Then it was back towards Tralee. Jill actually found a bar in another hotel – The Meadowlands – that got great reviews, so we decided to try it out. The name of the bar was Johnny Franks Bar.

We each ordered off of the chef’s special menu. I had the chicken wings for the first course, and grilled salmon for the second. The chicken wings were ‘different’ than what we’re used to here, more like a baked chicken than anything, but good none the less. The salmon was perfectly done, and a very nice piece of fish! Jill had a mushroom vol a vant for her main course, and profiteroles for dessert. All in all, a good meal.

We drove downtown after eating dinner, and parked in pretty much the same spot we had the night before. We tried going to Michael Og’s again tonight, and even though they advertised music at 9:00, it was after 9 when we got there and no music. Instead, we walked up to Bailey’s Corner where the musician was just setting up. This was a very nice, quiet pub. There was a group of four in one corner, and three other gents sitting at the bar, but otherwise (when we first got there) we had the place to ourselves. Jill had a Bulmer’s and I had a Smithwicks. When I ordered the drinks, the bartender (and older gent) asked me where I was from. I told him New York, and he said he was just there last week. Apparently he traveled quite a bit to New York. We had a nice conversation about the city, and he said he liked going to the different restaurants – off the beaten path – that the locals suggested to him. I of course put a plug in for Bobby Flay’s place, Bar Americain.

Jill and I had our drinks and sat and listened to the music, and did a fair amount of people watching. It’s pretty incredible how you can meld into the woodwork in some places where you are the ‘outsider’. No one paid much attention to us, but from our vantage point (sitting on a couch against a wall) we were able to take it all in, surmising the different relationships between all of the people in the pub. A great storyline, and some great characters, were borne from sitting there – hopefully I can make that come to fruition some day!

After a couple of drinks, we bid Bailey’s Corner, and essentially our Irish adventure, goodbye. We drove back to the hotel where we hoped to get a couple hour nap in before the long road ‘home’ began in the wee hours of the morning.

Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry

The car, day seven, in the exact condition they gave it to us in

Blennerville Windmill, Blennerville, Co. Kerry

Along the N86, Co. Kerry

Along the N86, Co. Kerry, before Dingle

What? It was windy :)

Dingle, Co. Kerry

Looking back towards Dingle from waterfront, visitor information building on the right

Do you think he barks with an Irish brogue?

We found Harrington's in Dingle!

The plaque honoring 'Fungie the Dolphin'

Jill with Fungie

Tim and the Dolphin

Along Slea Head Drive, Co. Kerry

Bee Hive Hut along Slea Head Drive

Beware of falling....sheep....

The Blasket Islands

In all of Ireland, we saw one black sheep, and this was the best pic I could get of it

A bit more liberal with some stuff here in Dingle :)

Think Jerrod's been to this one in Dingle?

Tim, contemplative, drinking a pint of Murphy's at Murphy's in Dingle

Jill with a tasty glass of Irish coffee - light on the coffee, heavy on the whiskey!

Murphy's Pub in Dingle - this place is a keeper!

'Dingle' in Gaelic

It's Barry's Dingle...dinglebarry?

Along the N86 back to Tralee - one of the best views of the entire trip

The last pub we visited on our trip to Ireland, another keeper!

Our room name (no numbers) at Ballyseede Castle

Outside of our room at Ballyseede

The hallway outside of our room at Ballyseede

Total Miles Travelled:
187,788 Miles!

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Page Last Updated: October 22, 2010