Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dingle Peninsular

There is a lot of wild country in the south west of Ireland, most of it along the coastline and it is through that we have been travelling for the past two days. It was hard to imagine anything as sensually inspiring as the Ring of Kerry, but Dingle Peninsular has been at least it's equal. 

Leaving Killarney was difficult - the digs were pleasant and the scenery both beautiful and inspiring, especially walking back through Ireland's troubled and at times tragic past. For me, it should have been a joyous morning, after all, how often will I celebrate a birthday in such entrancing physical circumstances?

I'm aware many don't understand the mood swings which grip me so firmly that it takes an enormous quantity of my emotional reserve just to lift me eyes of the pavement and say hello. How can you? Most are kind enough to accept my moods and offer me the toleration of space. So when I talk of being down in these surroundings, it seems incredulous but what you may not grasp is that the circumstances may be different and beautiful and inspiring but I'm still the same me. I woke to the first birthday I have had so far from so many I love and especially my wonderful Dad, with whom I share the 8th September as a birthday and because of a technology failure and lack of access, it was the first time I had been unable to talk with him on "our" day in all of my 56 years.

Regardless, the day went on and we set out along the Dingle peninsular. The small green farms with their dairy herds and fences now made of stone where they had been hedge, clung increasingly to land which dipped alarming to wild seas and the Atlantic Ocean. Large lakes of freezing water spoke temptingly of fish who lay in wait and we stopped regularly to snap photos and play dodge with other coaches who had arrived minutes before and spewed their loads onto the landscape before re-digesting them and  moving on. In between stops, the endless anecdotes of Carmel, our tour director, provided the backdrop to our experience with notes which ran the full gamut from tragic to humorous.

The roads barely fit on the landscape and it has become necessary not to backseat drive because its too harrowing, especially when two coaches approach.

Mid morning we climbed into the mountains which spine the peninsular for a spectacular view of ice age gouged valleys and tall rugged mountains.

It was back to Dingle for lunch and although we walked past a statue of Fungie the Dolphin - the good luck charm for Dingle's small fishing fleet - Sue and I went straight to Murphy's Pub for Irish Stew and Guinness. 

Fungie, by the way, is a dolphin who swam into Dingle Harbour 28 years ago and has stayed ever since. He lives in a cave, has never been seen with a mate and is on first name basis with all the residents ... even naming the first born male child in every family since he arrived. As a result, there are many embarrassed males in their twenties who will only tell you their name when they have The Thirst, because when they do they sound like Flipper.  He has amazing longevity and I think he's the sea going transport for the little people. You can take a cruises into the Harbour where they guarantee a sighting, although how the authenticity issues are resolved wasn't explained.

To be sure, to be sure!  

Along the northern side of the peninsula after lunch, there were Ballywho's and somethingMore's and lot's of towns which sound like warm up exercises for choirs (Tralee, for instance) and more small holdings and tiny villages and each had its story. Ireland may the most anecdoted nation in the world!

We had a whistle stop in Adare (someone bet the Tour Director she wouldn't stop) to look at the new roof thatching being done but we had missed it by a week. We should've been there. Thatched roofs are up to a metre thick and only the top layers are ever changed and then only every twenty years.
King for the day

Drove past Limerick ...
There once was a group from down under
Who passed by going like thunder
They saw fields, cliffs and sea
but never a tree
and still thought Ireland a wonder.

... and on to Ennis, about twenty kms from Lahinch, on the west coast at Liscannor Bay. The Clan O'Connor had once held this land.

Her Majesty
The evening entertainment was to be a medieval feast at Knappogue Castle (Knap means "hilltop" and pogue means "kiss") and I should have known I was in for merriment when I was pulled aside by Herr Director as the group decanted the bus. Under instructions, I was invited to be one of four Kings who would sit on the main table, so with a better mood upon me than I had for days, I agreed. Sue and I were marched into the hall before more than a hundred people, as the King and Queen of Ulster. It made for a fun night! The food was great, the entertainment (traditional Irish singing and dancing) of quality, the MC witty and the wine was free and plentiful. By halfway through the evening,  I removed my crown and anointed Sue but kept my cape for protection from wine spilling Americans. One jug of red was upended over Sue and I and Sue's iPhone.

We returned, loud and mischievous, to the accommodation and went straight to the bar, where we were joined by others old enough to know better but young enough not to care. Sue, by now "in her cups" and still wearing her crown, ordered the band to play a jig, dragged her new best friend Amanda to her feet and did her best to put Michael Flattley to shame. The fact she didn't is not a reflection on her enthusiasm, just her skill level.

One of several videos of the event, can be seen on the video section of this website ... or on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

What started as a disaster, finished a triumph and an unforgettable birthday.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being posted.