Rucksack Foodie

Eat good – Live well – Enjoy life !

Dingle for a Day…Not Long Enough!

The scenic beauty of Kerry Co. Ireland presented its lovely welcome just on the other side of Tralee,  where the wetlands stretched out into the bay and the Slieve Mish Mountains rose majestically, guiding my way out the peninsula to Dingle.

Looking back into Dingle Harbour

Looking back into Dingle Harbour

Dingle is a remote part of Ireland and despite the hoards of tourists that summer here, has retained much of it’s old world charm. A small village in size, the streets are lined to no end with colourful shop fronts (all occupied which is rare in most small towns)

Dingle along the Quay

Dingle along the Quay

and mostly pubs, art retailers and restaurants, many of which were still closed for the season on my visit. (A few of my favourites will be shared over the next couple days).

Accommodations are plentiful with the full range of comfort and convenience from boutique hotels, charming B&Bs, homey Farm Stays, and very affordable Hostel stays. I had the pleasure of resting my weary bones at the Hideout Hostile. Located down a quiet, yet commercial side street, this hostel exceeded  any preconceptions I had! Michael (pronounced Meehal in Irish) is the proprietor. A local young man who has mastered the art of hospitality and provides a very clean and

Main Street Dingle

Main Street Dingle

comfortable space that is safe from crazy weekend bashers and was full of friendly travellers of all ages and nationalities. And only €20  with continental breakfast!!!

Most every local still speaks fluent Irish on the Dingle Peninsula, intertangling english with

Paddy a local sheep farmer, enjoying pints and conversation in Curran's Haberdashery & Bar in Dingle Ireland.

Paddy a local sheep farmer, enjoying pints and conversation in Curran’s Haberdashery & Bar in Dingle Ireland.

irish throughout the conversation and the Kerry accent being fast and furious, with r’s steam rolling any remaining consonants. Accustomed to strangers, the locals were more than hospitable and willing to sit long spells chatting with this traveler about curious sites I had noticed, sites I need to come back and see and just life in general. I am in awe of the number of wonderful people I met in the day and a half I was there. From the fisherman who shared their stories over pints and cards to the old farmer in the corner reminiscing about his trip as a young man to America, to one of Irelands leading culinary movers and shakers meeting me last minute to talk about the Dingle Food Festival (another blog to come…)….. Hospitable is an understatement!

The Dingle peninsula, on the western coast of Ireland, has beckoned man for over

ALMOST to Slea Head!

ALMOST to Slea Head!

6000 years and much of his ancient past can still be found dotting the peninsula’s beautiful landscape. It’s preserved beauty has been praised by the likes of National Geographic, CNN and Rick Steves. Rocky earth has made agriculture near impossible, though the growing season comes sooner to this part of Ireland than most and today the dairy from a Kerry Cow is some of the finest in the world. imageSheep is the bulk of what is found on the Dingle peninsula, with the mountain grass adding to the mild and distinctive flavour found only in Dingle lamb. The rich fishing waters are indisputable, and it was so refreshing to see the locals not only talking up the fresh selection available but eating it most meals as well (Which i have found is not so much the case in central east Ireland). Sadly due to EU regulations and poor decision making on part of the Irish government, the commercial fishermen of Dingle Harbour are suffering to lost rights of fishing, harsh quotas and the smothering on-slaught of other EU nations (Spain, Portugal, France, and even Egypt) swarming the Irish waters fishing beds, depleting the source, and even hauling back to their own countries not even for Ireland to profit. There are now only 4 Irish fishing boats amongst 20 others from other countries, in the relatively quiet Dingle harbour where twenty years ago one could find upwards of 40 Irish-only boats, day and night unloading the catch, preparing nets and awaiting the tide. imageBesides government over regulation and foreign vessels, the Irish fisherman also have to contend with a massive seal population inhabiting the Blasket Islands near by . Strict conservation protection laws as well as no natural predators have caused the seal to become a threat to the fishing population, to the fishing industry and  to themselves from  near lack of food supply. It was sobering to visit with these men so much a part of the sea, many of whom were 4th generation fisherman; now with their hands tied, their pockets empty and their hearts broken….but still going out to sea every morning before dawn to do what others from the Dingle coast have done before him for thousands of years and loving every cold, back-breaking moment.

A car is a must to explore the vast coast line of Dingle peninsula and discover it’s 2000+ monuments & ancient structures.

Gallarus Oratory, one of the finest original early Christian churches, built in completely of stone a style that was typical of the Dingle Peninsula (on the list for my next visit!)

Gallarus Oratory, one of the finest original early Christian churches, built in completely of stone a style that was typical of the Dingle Peninsula (on the list for my next visit!)

I unfortunately was on foot (well, after the cross country bus ride to get to Dingle) and only saw a small 10 mile stretch of the 30 mile coastal loop known as Slea Head Drive. The long tranquil walk down the narrow farm road was exhilarating, with occasional side steps of curiosity as rock formations or interesting paths would present themselves. At one point i ventured out in the direction of the sea on an old farm road to where i noticed  a break in

the land, able to determine it was a imagecliff top, upon approach i could hear the sea hitting the rocks far below. A soggy trail led down a narrow path way, and soon guided my bum as i slid down part of the way to get a better view. Later i learned in the pub from my new fisherman friend Pòl, that this hidden cove was known as cuasa tower, and had not been used by

fishermen for near a century  and at imageone point had a landmark tower perched high upon the cliff. As the day grew shorter and the road kept winding, I was getting wore down. I at least made it just 2 miles short of the most western point of Ireland and decided i better start making tracks back to town. Half way home, a friendly local and Irish dance teacher at the nearby school took pity on me and gave me a lift back to Dingle. The rest of the day was spent visiting with  Sean Daly, Master Craftsman and owner of Dingle Crystal (blog to come soon) wandering the streets and shops, and discovering the hidden gems known as “Spirit Grocery”s (vlog to come soon!) and the wonderful people within.

August I will return to Dingle and give it the proper visit it deserves; to indulge in its numerous award winning eateries, to take a local fisherman up on his offer of going along solo fishing off the coast, to hike and camp a night out on the Blasket Islands, and to further explore (by car!) the countless natural wonders and ancient sites to be found on the Dingle Peninsula.

A vision of aspirations for my August visit back to Dingle.

A vision of aspirations for my August visit back to Dingle.

This pub alone is reason enough to come to Dingle! (Blog on this and other 'Spirit Grocery's in Dingle to come soon!)

This pub alone is reason enough to come to Dingle! (Blog on this and other ‘Spirit Grocery’s in Dingle to come soon!)

Glorious views!

Glorious views!

The BEST way to get to know the locals!

The BEST way to get to know the locals!

Another delicious meal of local tastes as I sampled the Dingle Brewing Company's Tom Crean Lager and feasted on locally caught baked cod topped with baby prawns lying on a bed of mashed spuds and drowned in garlic butter!! So simple and so perfect...proof that it's not about the recipe and technique as much as it is most importantly about the quality of the ingredients. Don't miss this dish on your trip to Dingle, found on the main Quay at the Marina Pub.

Another delicious meal of local tastes as I sampled the Dingle Brewing Company’s Tom Crean Lager and feasted on locally caught baked cod topped with baby prawns lying on a bed of mashed spuds and drowned in garlic butter!! So simple and so perfect…proof that it’s not about the recipe and technique as much as it is most importantly about the quality of the ingredients. Don’t miss this dish on your trip to Dingle, found on the main Quay at the Marina Pub.

8 comments on “Dingle for a Day…Not Long Enough!

  1. Mary Sullivan
    March 7, 2013

    So jealous! Don’t you love it when the menu has the catch of the day and the boat is tied up right outside? We loved the entire Kerry area! The pubs have local music sometimes too! Try to make it to the Beara peninsula too if you can….breathtaking! Stay warm!

    • Rucksack Foodie
      March 7, 2013

      It was deliciously awesome (the special of the day board!) and yes the traditional music is everywhere in Dingle. it was a Monday night in the off-season and there were at least 6 pubs with trad.music going!

  2. Sally
    March 8, 2013

    Just makes we want to visit. Very interesting comments on EU fishing policies which frankly are a disgrace as is the CAP. Inspiring blog rucksack foodie, thanks.

  3. Steve
    March 8, 2013

    Very interesting article and a knowledgeable insight into the plight of the Dingle Fisherman and their extended families. To the many young people who have had to leave the Dingle in recent times reading articles like this about home can only draw them back sooner than later

    • Rucksack Foodie
      March 9, 2013

      Thanks Steve for your comment. Hopefully nostalgia in the young comes to light before the important past ways are lost.

  4. Petra Haynes
    March 9, 2013

    What a wonderful entry! I feel as though I was along with you as you explored the Dingle area and the wonderful seafood offered at the many local eateries made my mouth water. I like the option of staying at a hostel, a private room at surely a fraction of the cost of a B&B or hotel room. More and more I think we must plan a trip to Ireland! 🙂

  5. Rucksack Foodie
    March 9, 2013

    Petra you do need to come, it’s so inspiring on so many levels!!

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