I Found My True Love In Dingle

OK, that is not really the case, but Nic assured Sarah that this would make an excellent song to include on our travel album. And honestly, if you are to find a true love, it might as well be on the most beautiful Dingle Peninsula.

After leaving our sweet cottage in Sheep’s Head, we headed into the most widely touristy-traveled area of our adventures thus far. Using suggestions and advice from trusted locals, i.e. the Bonars, we decided to skip the full Ring of Kerry drive and enjoy only a small portion as we continued north. The eastern portion of the ring includes a stunning drive through the rugged McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland rising over 1000 meters and settling among the lakes and streams of Killarney National Park. Nic opted to drive this leg of the journey, and was forced to slow to a snail’s pace after flying past a beautiful old church ruin surrounded by waterfalls and mossy woods never to be seen again. It was one of those drives where each turn introduced another jaw dropping view that really couldn’t be missed.

Sarah perused the maps and books for good stopping points along the drive as Nic stoically navigated the tiny windy roads, happily stopping as Sarah called out a new and not-to-be-missed site. We discovered a beautiful and secluded spot along the road with a mucky path down to Lough Leane, and a short hiking trail that climbed up along the edge of a river to some  waterfalls. This part of Ireland was so similar to the Pacific Northwest, Sarah wanted to post side-by-side photos and let you guess what country we were in!

Ireland? Oregon? Crazy huh?!

We’ll never tell!

We also made a stop to stretch our legs at the Muckross House, built in 19th century and surrounded by acres of beautiful gardens, lakes and Nic’s favorite tree. After a quick bite, we had only a short drive around Dingle Bay and out onto the peninsula.

The town of Dingle is known for its ridiculous number of pubs per capita and crazy roads that wrapped up and around a large hill. We decided to stay out of the madness and opted for a small guesthouse located down on the bay, within walking distance of town.

For dinner that night, we ventured into town to check out the local cuisine. The menu exclusively held such delights, including duck, lamb and rabbit. Sarah opted for the duck and Nic selected the steak. Both were deliciously prepared, of course! The highlight of our meal, however, began when a large group of gentlemen arrived and took a table near the back of the room. About halfway through our meal, the singing began. Although a rather stuffy couple next to us fled in disgust, we pulled out our cameras and enjoyed the entertainment. You can enjoy it too!

The next morning, we loaded up our car and made our way slowly around the Dingle Peninsula. What a treat! What truly amazed us were the differences each of the Cork Peninsulas supplied. Each had the glorious sheep spotted hills with ragged cliffs jutting out of the tropical green sea, but saying they were all the same would be like saying that all cheese tasted the same! To truly appreciate the splendor, all we had to do was take a deep breath and savor it.

Sarah took this chunk of the road, so that Nic could sit back and enjoy the day. The Slea Head drive is a 30-mile drive that wraps around crazy drops and steep farmlands. Along the drive, we visited a wildly remote beach lagoon, paid a woman 1 euro to explore 4000 year old beehive huts on her property, crossed a stream, checked out the Blasket Islands (because apparently Dingle was not remote enough for some), and managed to pass a broken down tour bus with only minimal paint scraping. Again, we were so glad we opted for a small car as larger vehicles had to turn around and abandon the loop!

Once back in Dingle, we made our way out of town and headed ever northward.

but not that way.