By Lynn Strough
This time I got lucky on a farm (at least in terms of accommodations). I was a little leery after my other nightmare stay on a dairy farm, but Murphy’s Farmhouse, my B&B for the night near Castlemaine, was delightful. It’s a lovely place, perfectly situated at the start of the ring around Dingle, and they had a single room available which is something you find quite often in Europe that I rarely find in the US. As a solo traveler, single rooms are much appreciated.
It was a day of beauty overload. From the start — after a very tasty scrambled egg and salmon breakfast — my day was filled with stunning scenery for nine hours.
First stop out on the Dingle Peninsula was at Inch Beach, which should be more aptly named Mile Beach. The sand is so hard-packed you can drive on it, although I walked across a wet shimmering sea bed so smooth it reflected the clouds and sky and you couldn’t tell whether you were standing on earth or in the air.
An old woman walked her little dog and a surfer carrying his board made a dark silhouette against the sea.
Surfing schools operated out of a couple of trailers and although a very small part of me thought how cool it would be to try surfing in Ireland, the bigger part of me said OMG that must be friggin’ cold! I didn’t want to leave but there was a whole big peninsula to explore.
The road was lined with huge banks of bright-orange flowers as well as many scenic viewpoints, so going was slow for a shutterbug like me. The winding pavement periodically narrowed down to one lane with cliffs of rock on one side and low stone walls barely providing protection from sheer drop-offs on the other, some of it pretty hair-raising.
I followed a series of even smaller roads to a “castle” but it turned out to be more ruin than fortress. Patchwork quilts of green fields stitched the landscape together, and then the town of Dingle appeared, all rainbow-colored shops of Celtic souvenirs, jewelry, sweaters, t-shirts and lots of pubs and restaurants.
It’s a great town to wander and I stumbled on a little artisan cheese shop that had a sign saying they make sandwiches, so I decided to purchase a picnic lunch. I ordered an Irish Brie, tomato, olive tapenade and artichoke heart sandwich, and added a piece of artisan chocolate with a creamy toffee center for dessert.
But then on my way to the car, I got sucked into the Murphy’s all-natural ice cream shop and ate a sea salt dark chocolate and honeycomb caramel cone BEFORE my lunch, as an appetizer.
As I drove off along the winding coast, sun and gray skies took turns following me until I came to a fantastic lookout across from the Beehive Huts (some ancient stone houses). A large seagull sat on a fence post right in front of my car hoping, I’m sure, for a handout. So I had the birds and the bees, and a deep blue sea view while I ate my very tasty picnic.
Then I hiked up to the Beehive Huts to check them out and to use the most scenic outhouse on my trip, which also had an interesting sign.
And, of course, by the next scenic turnout, the sun was shining again and it was one of the most beautiful vistas I’ve seen in Ireland, all craggy shores with a foaming inlet, waves crashing against rocks, and green grassy slopes sliding down to the cliffs.
The road heads around the loop at the end of Dingle, then I crept up over the Conner pass, where luckily for me it wasn’t raining. Others told me when they’d crossed it was so misty and gray you couldn’t see a thing but when I reached the top, I could see out to the coast as well as a beautiful waterfall in full force.
Heading back, I ran into a sheep jam — a farmer had blocked the road with a truck full of sheep that were running out of the back end. He apologized, but I just grinned — it was fun to watch, especially when the last one wouldn’t come out and they banged on the truck; it was like trying to shake loose the last jelly bean in a jar.
Later that night after hours of driving around the whole peninsula, I stopped in a pub to hear a little music, where a gifted young Irish girl sang and played the flute, accompanied by an equally talented young guy on guitar.
Dingle is definitely a good place to dawdle for fine views, great food and musical entertainment, another worthwhile stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.
“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”
Reprinted with permission