Wednesday, June 16:  Dingle Peninsula

Breakfast hours run late here, so we got a bit of extra sleep. Then Pat went into town on a mission to secure tickets for a folk music concert tonight and further information for the day’s driving tour, while I confirmed finally that the rental car had been picked up at Holyhead (it had!) and double-checked the flight times for our trip home.

Into the car for the 25 mile drive around Slea Head Drive, which managed to consume the entire day, while taking us to the most western points of Europe. We drove anti-clockwise, and just barely beat the tourist coaches to the first stop, the Galarrus Oratory. This is a 1200-year-old structure, used as a church, made entirely from piling up flat rocks. Since each rock is angled downward as it points outward, the rain all slides outwards. The structure stands intact today, and still keeps quite dry. Further down the road, we hunted on down a one-lane road for the remains of an entire site of such structures, only finding it on the way out after giving up searching. (Photo 93)

Lunch was in a small pub in the small town of Ballyferriter, about as local as we are likely to get, complete with an old Guinness advertisement in Gaelic. Matter of fact, many of the road signs now were only in Gaelic. Further along, we stopped at several scenic spots, climbing to the top of one of the sharp headlands, and examining a not-long dead sea turtle in a beautiful cove with a sandy beach. (Photo 224) We stopped at a new museum dedicated to the literature and people (in that order) of Blasket Island. Clearly visible just to the west, this island was once home to as many as two hundred people, who eked out a living from the sea via their extremely small “harbor.” But times changed, and eventually the island had to be abandoned in 1954. In the early part of the 1900’s many language scholars came to learn Irish as it was spoken and written here, and the island was home to several writers who wrote, in Irish, about life on the island. As the island became popular, more people visited, and it became easier for the younger residents to leave. Pat bought a copy of Islandman, while 20 Years A-Growing sounded like another interesting book.

We visited some intact “beehive huts” on the way back to town, as the road degenerated into a one-laner around the head, complete with one location where apparently a stream flows across the road bed permanently. (Photo 227)Back home a quick nap and journal writing took us to dinnertime. We tried a cafe off of Main Street, hoping for something simple and different. It looked promising, but they said they were now closed. When Pat inquired about where else we might find an inexpensive meal, she did an about-face and said she’d stay open. The others got chips with their lasagna, and I got a huge bowl full with my oriental chicken wraps. “Enough potatoes for two families,” I told her with a smile and a wink.

Across the street, we waited in front of St. James Church to be admitted to the folk music concert. We then enjoyed two hours of harp, fiddle, guitars, ukulele, flute, penny whistle and some sort of lap-piano-contraption combining in various ways for reels, jigs, lullabies and sun songs (it began raining during the sun song).