Ireland Day 6 – Dingle Penninsula

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Like the Pictures? Buy the Prints. For more Ireland photos, visit Brian Eden’s gallery.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 13, 2007

This morning I packed up and checked out of the Kenmare Bay Hotel for a trip around the Dingle Penninsula. The Dingle Penninsula is similar to the Ring of Kerry, but it features, among other things, a much sillier name.

Before leaving Kenmare, I stopped to see the Kenmare Stone Circle.
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The ancient monument was built by Druids during the bronze age. (between 2200 and 500 B.C.) This era was called “The Bronze Age” because first and second place had not been invented yet.

The picture doesn’t give much of a sense of scale, but each of the stones measured a few feet around and must have weighed several tons. It was kind of like Stonehenge, but without the henge.

According to Yahoo Travel, “All of the stones [in the Kenmare Stone Circle] are greenstone or brownstone. Both stone types cannot be found for many miles and were undoubtedly moved to this location.”

The move is even more remarkable considering the terrain. It’s one thing to schlep giant boulders across Kansas. It’s an entirely different story to drag them through the mountains while being chased by snakes, bears and leprechauns.

And yet, despite of the Druids’ epic struggle in moving the stones across the Irish countryside, despite their sacrifice and lifelong toil in the name of their god, the Kenmare Stone circle is ranked #4 on Yahoo’s list of “Things to do in Kenmare,” narrowly losing out to the Ring of Kerry Golf Club.

Sigh.

Misc. photos from the morning drive to the Dingle Peninsula:

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On the way to Dingle, I spotted this eerie Celtic cemetery and stopped to take pictures.

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The sky, which had been threatening all morning, finally opened up. As the rain started to fall, I jumped back in the car and continued along the Dingle coast.

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Fortunately, the rain didn’t last long. As it began to taper off, I stopped at the town of Inch to visit the beach – a 3-mile long finger of dunes that extend from the peninsula out into the sea. (The mountains that are visible in the distance are on the adjacent peninsula, the Ring of Kerry.)

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After a few miles of winding coastline, the sun peeked through the clouds and I arrived in the perky town of Dingle.

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Dingle may be my favorite little town in Ireland. It just feels fun. The buildings are a bit more colorful. The décor is a bit more whimsical. Even the sheep are a bit friendlier.

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For lunch I went to Murphy’s Pub at the recommendation of this gentleman, whose name I didn’t get because the accents in this part of Ireland are harder to crack than Ft. Knox.

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The Chicken Tikka Masala was one of the better pub meals I’d had on this trip. (Notice the lack of anything green on the plate.)

During lunch, I took an opportunity to page through the Irish Daily Mirror. The front page story read:

“The son of €115 Million Lotto winner Dolores McNamara deliberately drove a pickup truck at kids on a football pitch. McNamara said he did it because parents of the players had parked outside the entrance to the luxury home he is building beside the pitch in Castleconnell village, Limerick.”

Let that be a lesson to you, soccer moms: don’t fuck with the nouveau-riche.
Here are the rest of the photos from the afternoon in Dingle.

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(Despite their extremely targeted marketing ploy, I did not stop for a haircut.)

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(Zipper Fish would be an excellent name for a rock band.)

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(This photo was a happy accident. I didn’t see this guy coming when I pressed the shutter.)

After wandering the streets of Dingle for the better part of the day, I hopped back in the car and headed towards Killarney.

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I cut across the center of the peninsula, through a squiggly mountain pass and emerged on the north side to find a stunning landscape.

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The road weaved past towns with the most incredible names. Ballingarraun, Glanshanacuirp, Ballyhoneen, and Killanoordrane. The signs were enough to make my head spin. I was suddenly overtaken with an irresistible urge to move to Ireland just so when someone asks where I live, I can reply “Knocknagower.”

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At Castlegregory, I detoured to see a tiny sub-peninsula that stretched north from the Dingle Peninsula into the sea. I can’t seem to find what this mini-peninsula is called. So, I hereby declare it The Hoo-ha Headlands.

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The tip of The Hoo-ha Headlands is shaped like a hand making the letter “C.” It is a popular destination for kite surfers, who, unlike me, weren’t deterred by the cold and stormy weather.

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After snapping a few shots, I jumped back in the wrong side of my car and drove to see the windmill at Blennerville. because I’m fairly sure I’ve never seen a real working windmill.

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According to kerrygems.com, the 18th century Blennerville windmill “is Ireland´s only commercially operated windmill. It is also the tallest of its kind in Europe: 21.3 meters high.”

Take that Finland!

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For dinner, I went to The Laurels Pub in Killarney. The sign at the bar read “No bottles or glasses are permitted outside. Please ask for a plastic glass at the counter.”

They must’ve been out of paper glasses.

At the recommendation of the bartender, I tried the Potato Cakes.

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The cakes are kind of like mashed potato meatballs. The mashed potato is wrapped around chicken and bacon. They are then rolled in breading, deep-fried and smothered in a mushroom gravy sauce. Amazing. The salad on the side was a nice gesture, but let’s not kid ourselves.

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After some traditional Irish Music at O-something’s or Mc-somebody’s, I took my food coma back to the hotel to check in.

Tonight’s bed was courtesy of the Killarney Royal Hotel. Little did I realize, I had booked the creepiest room in the creepiest effing hotel EVER.

It was literally straight out of The Shining. As I walked across creaking floorboards to the front desk, the overly friendly woman reached into a drawer and handed me a key ring. The key was one of those old school skeleton keys – the long rod with about an inch of actual key on the end. The key jingled like a chain as I walked down the hallway to my room.

I turned a corner in the hallway, half expecting to see twin girls writing “Redrum” on the wall in blood.

Instead, I saw this painting. Which may be even scarier.

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I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but there are actually tear-stains on the girl’s cheeks. “Is that part of the painting?” I wondered. “Or does the painting actually cry?”

I decided it best not to stick around and find out.

So I walked a bit faster to my room, fumbled with my key and slid it into the lock. I turned the key and jiggled the door handle.

The door won’t open.

I could hear the lock turning. But nothing happened. The doorknob doesn’t turn. And it feels cold. Is it cold? Maybe it’s just me.

I try again. I take the key out of the lock, put it back in and turn it just as I’d done before. Magically, the door opened.

But it didn’t just open. It literally creeeeeeaked open.

Such a cliché.

I stepped inside. The room was huge. Dimly lit with pink lamps. It was a beautiful hotel room, but beautiful in a terrifying sense. Mass-murderer chic.
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Suddenly, the Druid Stone Circle and the eerie Celtic cemetery in the rain seemed like heavy-handed foreshadowing.

“I’ve seen this movie before.” I thought. “And it doesn’t end well.”

“This is it. This is where I’m going to die. The painting is going to cry, the door is going to creak open and then that’ll be it. Gruesome, cliched, horror movie death.”

That night, I slept with one eye open. Every creak of the floorboards, every groan of the bedsprings sent my heart pounding in my ears.

And then it happened. At 2:13 a.m.

A sudden noise.

After prying myself off the ceiling, I took a deep breath and tried to compose myself.

The noise was my cell phone. A text message from my friend Josh:

“Syracuse beat St. Joseph’s, 72-69.”

At least I would be killed on a win.

I climbed back under the covers and closed my eye.

In the morning I woke up.

That is to say, I didn’t die.

This was very, very good news.

Perhaps the evil spirits of the Killarney Royal Hotel have Tuesday nights off. I jumped out of bed and got dressed without a shower (hey, I’ve seen Psycho). I packed my bags and bid adieu to the terrifying room and the crying painting. When the elevator arrived to take me downstairs, blood didn’t even rush out of the doors.

It was going to be a good day.

Like the Pictures? Buy the Prints. For more Ireland photos, visit Brian Eden’s gallery.

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4 thoughts on “Ireland Day 6 – Dingle Penninsula

  1. Dad says:

    I am regretting more and more that I was not able to continue on with you to see and experience all of the sights, smells, tastes and adventures that you had. Its really wonderful to read about them on your blog. Here is hoping that we can take another trip soon. Love Dad

    P.S. Love the pictures!! Was the picture of the dental office an enticement for me to open up a satellite office in Ireland?

  2. smatt says:

    dingle does look like a fun town.

    i’m opening a british pub in seoul in a couple months. taking it over now, but won’t have my name behind it until everything is as we want it. so when it’s ready, you have to come and eat non-salad-good-meals.

  3. The Corkdork says:

    Brian, Great photos of Dingle. I especially like the one of the reflection in the car side mirror. I’m there right now and just had an amazing meal at Out of the Blue –some of the best seafood ever. I’ll keep checking in on your blog. Mine’s primarily a wine blog. John

  4. Dermot says:

    Your “tiny sub-peninsula that stretched north from the Dingle Peninsula into the sea” has a name: “The Maharees”.
    That’s a typical Engish attempt at a literal pronunciation of a Gaelic name [in this case Irish-Gaelic, “Na Machairí”] and it means “The Plains” or “The Low Lands”.
    Any of the locals would have told you, had you asked nicely. They are quite friendly, comprehensible if you ask them to speak slowly, and quite safe ever since cannibalism died out there a couple of years ago.

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