(D)angling in Dingle

August 14, 2013. Kilkee, Ireland – We departed early for two days of dangling in Dingle. Sorry about that, but I worked hard for that alliteration. At least it’s not dirty. In any case you get the picture.

I catch Three

Let me take a minute to give you an overview of the southwest coast of Ireland.  It sort of looks like a hand, except the thumb, the Ring of Kerry, is where the forefinger should be. The Dingle Peninsula is the uppermost finger. If it were fatter it would be the thumb of the right hand, faced palm up.

The point is that the “fingers” create a very long coastline with lots of dramatic views and picturesque fishing villages.  We have been essentially driving up and down these fingers.  For the next two days we would be exploring the last finger of the Gaelic “hand.”

OK, enough of the alliterations and metaphors.

Maybe it was my increasing comfort with driving in Ireland, but Dingle was my favorite finger… I mean peninsula.

Our day started out with a two hour fishing trip out of the harbor and off the coast. Now, I have only fished once before, catching a few small mountain trout in the Sierra mountains of California, but this was nothing like that. And Katherine had never fished anywhere before. I was sure that she would turn green from the tossing boat or from trying to get the wriggling fish off the hook.

Neither happened. Mostly she laughed – both of us laughed. I’m not sure why we found it all so funny, but we did. And we caught a load of fish! Almost every time we threw our lines into the water we came up with a fish, often two or three. Everybody on the boat caught plenty of fish, mostly mackerel but also pollack.

Katherine Catches a Fish

Katherine Catches a Fish

I catch Three

On the way back to the harbor, Fungie, a dolphin who has taken up residence the last few years outside the harbor, surfed the wakes of the returning boats.

When we docked, our captain cleaned and filleted our fish and wrapped it in a plastic bag, which we took to John Benny Moriarity’s Bar across the street from the marina. They grilled the fish and added some salad and chips and we ate the lot for lunch.

After that we headed to Paidi’s Bar in the Dingle Bay Hotel for a lesson in how to pull a pint of Guinness. I drank the homework. That was followed by a lesson on how to speak Irish (contact Bernie at cdagcaint@gmail.com). I almost fell asleep from the effects of the previous lesson.

We checked into the Greenmount Guesthouse, which is far enough away from the lively bars in downtown Dingle to get a good night’s sleep but close enough to walk to the bars and restaurants. Later that evening, we walked into town for a bite to eat and to pop into bars whenever we heard music that we liked.
We slept very well that night.

The next morning I drove 30 minutes to the tip of the Dingle Peninsula to visit the Blasket Centre and learn about the rich literary heritage of the Blasket Islands just a few miles off shore.  Katherine decided to stay behind and visit the annual Dingle horse races which were being held that weekend.

A 15 minute boat ride took me to the main island. After checking out the remnants of the buildings left behind when the island was abandoned in 1953, I hiked the loop trail around the island, a distance of about 4 miles. On the far side of the island, I was completely by myself. Looking in one direction I could see the rugged coast of the island and across the water to the Dingle Peninsula; in the other direction was the sea and the other uninhabited islands of the Blasket group. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip, a trip filled with favorite moments. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos since my camera was sitting on the bed in our room back at the guesthouse where I supposedly couldn’t miss it. I did! But I did get the photo I wanted from Micheal de Mordha, Director of the Centre).

View From Blasket Island to the Mainland (photo by Micheal de Mordha)

View From Blasket Island to the Mainland (photo by Micheal de Mordha)

The day and the favorite moments were not over. After returning to the Center to get my car, I drove a few minutes further along the coast to visit Louis Mulcahy Pottery and to meet Louis and his son, Lasse. I don’t think that words would do his work justice so I encourage you to visit their website to check out the artistry and quality of his work.

I was only planning on visiting for a half an hour – it had been a very long day – but I stayed for well over an hour. Louis is a fascinating character with a long, varied artistic career including musician, actor and poet, in addition to being a world famous potter. I could have talked to Louis and Lasse for hours. I finished with a tour of the factory and an unsuccessful attempt to throw a pot. I produced a very Dali-esque lump that might serve as candleholder if it wasn’t so ugly.

I returned to the guesthouse, and Katherine and I headed out to dinner at a restaurant we had passed the evening before, the An Canteen. What caught my eye was a sentence on the menu board posted outside, “26 craft Irish beers.” I am a big fan of craft beer so I couldn’t pass that up. Besides their menu looked interesting and the prices were right, at least 5 Euros less for main dishes than most of the other restaurants in town. The meal lived up to expectations – scallops with black pudding and chorizo, lamb chops from the owners’ family farm, and an outstanding desert called a raspberry rumble. Oh, yes, and the beer was excellent. A very satisfying ending to a great day.

Tomorrow – on to Killorglin for my 44 year reunion with the Puck Fair.