The Dingle Peninsula is in County Kerry. It’s the farthest west you can go in Ireland. It’s a place of steep cliffs dropping into the sea, sandy beaches, and green pastures dotted with a lot of sheep. There are archaeological ruins, including ogham stones and Dunbeg Fort, an Iron Age promontory fort built right above the sea. We were blessed with warm weather and sun our first day, then rain and a blast of wind the following morning.
The Slea Head Drive is a circular route around the edge — in some places the very edge — of the peninsula. It’s traveled in a one-way manner in a clockwise direction, because the roads in some places are narrow enough they won’t fit two cars. If you do encounter someone going the opposite way, one of the vehicles must back up until there’s a wide spot. This happened twice while we were there, once while we were a few feet away from a low stone wall on the edge of the cliff. That was unnerving. I’m glad I wasn’t the driver!
There were a few bicyclists as well, on what must be an extremely demanding ride.
Dingle Town itself (An Daingean) — permanent population about 2,000 — is crowded with tourists in the summer. It’s got a harbor with a permanent dolphin resident named Fungie. We didn’t take a boat trip to see Fungie, but his statue is in the town center, so we feel we know what he looks like. Fungie was first seen in the harbor in 1983, and is known for being friendly to humans. Is it still the original Fungie? Here’s a link to a story in the Independent on that subject.
Dingle Town itself is the base for tourists wanting to explore the region. In spite of being a Gaeltacht, a place where Irish is the official language, English is commonly spoken in town. The Gaeltacht was created to preserve the Irish language. I’m told schoolchildren from around Ireland spend time here in the summers, learning their native tongue. It seems the use of Irish is declining, though. Here’s a link to a 2008 article discussing the challenges of trying to preserve the language.
In July, Dingle was full of flowers. Fuchsia, in particular, bloomed everywhere.
And below, a last look at the green hills of Ireland. The sheep had mostly been shorn when we were in Dingle. Many were marked with blazes of color — bright reds, blues, greens — so the owners could distinguish their own sheep when it was time to retrieve them again from common fields on the mountainsides.