Day 6 in Ireland coming to an end meant we had finished up the spectacular “RING OF KERRY” DRIVE, and were nearing our choice town of Dingle to stay the night. Dingle you say? Yes DINGLE; Dingle Town, and it is as quaint as it sounds (Lonely Planet convinced me this was a worthwhile stop on Ireland’s west coast). Our destination was Murphy’s Pub/B&B (I highly recommend) which had everything our hearts and stomachs needed. I had booked the room in advance & we settled into the B&B just upstairs from the pub, our beautiful room with a little window view overlooking the fishing boats. . . and promptly came back downstairs to grub. We had worked up a serious appetite from all the driving and from the cold, and what better to EAT in this town than Fresh Seafood? Fish and Chips all the way!! YUM! & the local beer, CREAN’S, was a bonus.
I love how proud the Irish are to recommend something local that they hold dear, something as simple as a PINT. A CREAN’S PINT. We were quite satisfied.
Evening came and we had just enough natural lighting left outside to capture the essence of the town. Colorful, Welcoming, Cozy and nearly all ours (Remember this is the OFF SEASON in Ireland). Dessert anyone? Would you believe me if I said we chose an Ice Cream shop in the dead of winter in Ireland? Murphys Ice Cream was just a short walk from our B&B. **Sidenote** I have no idea why all our favorite places in Dingle start with Murphys, as I don’t believe they are affiliated. The Ice Cream shop had little to no customers at this hour, but at least had a very friendly Irishman behind the counter (friendly AND CUTE Irishman actually). I was happy we found this place. His name was Matthew (pronounced Ma-chew) “like ACHOO when you sneeze” he told us. **Bonus** he was funny too. Anyways, back to the Ice Cream!! Lalalalaaaaaa Murphy’s Ice Cream!! At this time of night, it was Fookin’ Freezin’, meaning only foreigners/tourists would be crazy enough to be eating it, at least that’s what Matthew said. That explains why the place was empty, as I can assure it was in no way a reflection of their product. THE ICE CREAM WAS HEAVENLY! I thought I died a little when the flavors of Dingle’s Sea touched my mouth. I was eating the Sea Salt Ice Cream Flavor, and it’s a Must. Yesssss this had to be one of the single most delicious scoops I had ever had! Ahhhh I floated back down from my cloud to Dingle town slowly, with a newfound appreciation for the salty & sweet.
Isn’t that what life is about, after all, finding the blissful balance between the “salty and the sweet”?
Matthew assured us the Ice Cream was freshly made with the best ingredients (I didn’t doubt him) and the Sea Salt flavor in particular, was made with Sea Salt collected right there in Dingle’s waters. Momma ordered Salted Caramel flavor, another Winner!
We decided to chat it up with Matthew who seemed like he needed some entertainment. He asked us where we were from and what brought us to Ireland. We told him the BEAUTY OF IRELAND brought us to Ireland. He asked us why we decided to come in the Winter (like so many Irish had asked us already). We told him, why not? It was cheaper, it was less packed with tourists, it was just the right timing for us. We shared some of our favorite stops in Ireland so far, like all the castles and towns, the scenic drives, including driving the Ring of Kerry that day, and I made the mistake of mentioning my favorite Castle at Ballycarbery. He wasn’t familiar with it. And he countered with,
“So you’re just driving around looking for Castles?”
Funny Guy!! Funny Irishman! As a matter of fact, we weren’t driving around looking for Castles per se, but there happened to be a lot of Castles on our planned route. I mean, there are indeed a lot of Castles in Ireland, and I wasn’t ashamed to say each new one made me giddy. He taught us some Gaelic too, which was awesome! I’m quite sure I butchered the accent/words. The Gaelic accent varies so much from Region to Region in Ireland, so wherever we had learned to say THANK YOU:
Go raibh maith agat
(**pronunciation in Gaelic / guh rev mah a-gut) didn’t even necessarily sound like the regional Gaelic pronunciation in Dingle. No harm in trying and we could laugh about it later. Matthew then started googling other castles and some tips for our further travels. I think he liked us! He saved us a few hours of driving to the Cliffs of Moher by recommending a Ferry Ride. Matthew, like all the Irish we had met thus far, was Amazing. Entering some of Dingle’s little shops for souvenirs allowed us to interact with more locals. The sweetest woman ever greeted us with a traditional Céad Míle Fáilte (A hundred thousand welcomes). She then spent the next 10 minutes teaching my momma how to say A thousand thanks in Gaelic, which is Go raibh míle maith agat. They practiced and practiced, to get the accent just right (we forgot the accent the next day). Another local, a talented artisan, told us that we had to take the famous SLEA HEAD DRIVE. We had done A LOT of driving in Ireland already, nearly all of which had been scenic, and epic. Gorgeous sights. Gorgeous seas. We had several hours of driving to the Cliffs of Moher the next day and eventually to Galway to sleep. What was so special about the Slea Head Drive? Should we even squeeze it in? He said, “If you come to Dingle and don’t do the Slea Head Drive, you didn’t really see Dingle.” Fair enough.
As Dingle is known for its Gaelic roots and traditional Music, we were told there would be plenty of opportunity to hear some Live in various pubs. Sadly though, a few of the places recommended to us were closed, and then there was the cold. We were freezing our as***s off and we had not the will to keep walking because the temperatures were quickly dropping. This happened to be the coldest night we experienced in Ireland the whole trip, so we turned in for the night. The car was full of ICE come morning. . .
After some more yummy grubbing at our B&B’s breakfast, we set out for that famous drive, The Slea Head Drive. I cannot stress it enough, ALWAYS TRUST THE LOCALS. We were impressed. We were in love all over again with the views.
I even managed to capture one shot of the roaming sheep (we saw dozens though) roadside, and immediately after he proceeded to jump down the cliff; no fear. They certainly enhanced our experience. Then we found an unexpected turnoff to a beach! It took some convincing, but my momma agreed it would be nice to go down and see the water. Finally, here was my chance to touch Irish waters. I’m a water sign (Cancer) and my heart beats to discover new waters/seas often. I collect shells from all the different seas in the countries I visit, so I was not going to miss this opportunity. I ran to the water! I wish it had been warmer that day; I would have walked on the sand and beach barefoot, absorbing the energy of these waters, BUT IT WAS COLD! I settled for picture taking and running and jumping around.
I think we accomplished about half the drive, or maybe a third. I don’t know how much of it we drove, I was too busy taking it all in. I didn’t want it to end, but we had to turn back, drive back through Dingle town and on our way. . . I will forever remember Dingle, the Slea Head Drive, & my first view of Irish waters up close. CHEERS MY FRIENDS!