- Intro to Ireland/UK Trip 2014
- Part 1: Pre-vacation vacation in Boston
- Part 2: Dublin and Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel
- Part 3: Galway (The G Hotel), Connemara, and the Cliffs of Moher
- Part 4: Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula
- Part 5: Killarney National Park and Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa
- Part 6: London, UK
It was tough to leave the incredible Cliffs of Moher, but we had an itinerary to stick to and were very much looking forward to Dingle after hearing rave reviews from a few of our friends. Our wonderful concierge at the G Hotel had recommended that we stop in Lahinch for lunch at O’Looneys after seeing the Cliffs. Lahinch is a small seaside town that attracts surfers, although we did not see any because the water was so calm. Alex ate a panini while I enjoyed a fresh and creamy Atlantic seafood chowder. I was very impressed with my meal because although I always enjoy seafood chowder, I sometimes find that the seafood soaks up the chowder flavor and loses its individual flavor. At O’Looneys, however, each type of fish and seafood maintained its distinct flavor. It was a perfect seaside lunch on the water!
We then set out on the long, but beautiful drive to Dingle along the Wild Atlantic Way. It took around 3 hours, including a ride on the Shannon Ferry. The cost for a car to ride the ferry is 18 euros (Pro tip: Book your fare online to save 10% if you know what day you will be traveling). Once we arrived in Dingle, we checked into our B&B and set out to find dinner. I’m not going to recommend our B&B because although it was fine, there are hundreds of B&Bs to choose from. You can either stay a bit outside of Dingle and drive into town or you can stay in Dingle and drive out to sight-see in the Peninsula.
We had heard that Out of the Blue was one of the best restaurants in Dingle, but unfortunately they didn’t have any reservations available for the night we were staying so we ended up eating at Doyle’s. Both have freshly caught seafood and are quite popular in the town. One advantage to Doyle’s is they were doing an early bird special all night (2 courses for 25 euros or 3 courses for 28 euros). Alex and I shared goat cheese bruschetta and Thai style mussels to start, and had seafood risotto and hake for our mains. Everything was excellent! We skipped dessert because we wanted to save our appetites for Murphy’s Ice Cream, which has been featured on several food and travel shows and in several magazines. They are famous for using the best ingredients, which are all natural and fresh. The cream comes from the rare Kerry cow, eggs are free range, sugar is organic, sea salt is made from the Dingle Sea, and all ingredients are hand-made. The shop workers were sweet and let us try several flavors, but my very favorite was Caramel Honeycomb. It was unique and flavorful. I wish I could buy it in the States!
After walking back to our B&B to walk off our meal and ice cream, we set back out to town in search of pints and live music. We had seen and heard about two famous bars in Dingle, Dick Mack’s and Foxy Johns. Both have a speakeasy vibe, where the bar is hidden behind a different storefront. Dick Mack’s is hidden behind a haberdashery storefront. Some leather goods are still made there today! The bar has been visited by many celebrities, although the owner pointed out in a featured article that Tom Cruise has specifically NOT visited. Foxy Johns is hidden in a hardware store. Both bars are great and so unique! At Dick Mack’s, I had a local craft beer from McGargles. It seems like it would be crazy on a busy weekend, but there are 2 bars and several rooms so there is plenty of space to hang out. We practically had the place to ourselves since it was a Tuesday night. After a few pints, we headed to Dingle Bay Hotel to listen to some live Irish/American music over Irish coffees, which may be my new favorite drink. Dingle has live music at several of the bars. All you have to do is follow the sound of music!
After having a lie in (the Irish way of saying sleep in), we talked to our B&Bs owner to ask about some of the sites on the Dingle Peninsula. She spoke to us for about 30 minutes about her favorite things to see in Dingle (side note: locals LOVE to talk about Dingle so be sure to build some extra time into your schedule). We spent the morning driving around the Dingle Peninsula, returning for a late afternoon lunch of fish and chips from a fresh seafood food truck in the harbor. The drive is very easy, but can take a half day depending on how many times you stop. You simply take Slea Head Drive in a circle around the peninsula. The road can be quite narrow in some places so it is best to drive the route clockwise as most do. We started our journey with a hike up to Eask Tower, which we learned was used to give out food during the Great Famine. It was somewhat difficult to find, but if you ask a local, they should be able to help you. The Eask Tower hike provides beautiful views of both Dingle Bay to one side and the North Atlantic Ocean to the other.
Next we drove by the beehive huts, Irish famine cottages, and Dunbeg Fort (which is currently closed for restoration). If you continue along the drive, you will reach a lookout point that takes you to the Westernmost point of Europe. We were some of the very few to hike out to the point, but the views made it very well worth it. As a reward, we dipped our feet in the beach afterwards to cool down.
After returning to Dingle, we took a quick walk around town to look for souvenirs before leaving for Killarney. My favorite shop was Dingle Candle. Dingle Candle makes its own all natural soy candles and soaps. The products are beautiful and the scents are based on experiences in the Dingle Peninsula. The candles make great gifts! After getting our shopping done, we drove to Killarney, passing through Conor’s Pass along the way. Conor’s Pass is the highest mountain pass in Ireland and is not to be missed as it provides incredible and dramatic views of Dingle. Also, trucks and buses are not allowed to drive on the Conor Pass so it feels much more remote and isolated than it actually is.
Next up, our last (and my favorite) stop in Ireland: Killarney National Park. Have a safe and happy Independence Day and I look forward to sharing more of our trip next week!
O’Looney’s, The Promenade, Lahinch. Co. Clare
Doyle’s, 4 John Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Out of the Blue, Waterside, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Murphy’s Ice Cream, Strand Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Dick Mack’s, Greene St, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Foxy John’s, Main St, Dingle, Co.Kerry
Dingle Bay Hotel, Strand Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Dingle Candle, Main St, Dingle, Co. Kerry