August 10, 2013. Dingle, Ireland – Day 3 had a little bit of everything – history, scenery, hiking, luxury accommodations and, of course, memorable meals.
We started with a leisurely exploration of the old graveyard and church ruins we could see from our hotel window.
That was followed by a brief tour of Baltimore and a quick run down on its colorful, made-for-Hollywood history, which includes a raid by Barbary pirates in 1631 that essentially wiped out the town. Over 100 men, women and children were taken and sold into slavery, never to be heard from again. The ending would probably have to be rewritten for Hollywood.
Our next stop would be more suited for a BBC production on public television, Bantry House – a stately 18th Century manor house with lush gardens and a gorgeous view overlooking Bantry Bay.
Our guide Sophie, a descendant of the original owners, was born and raised in the house, still lives there, and manages the tea room, B&B, event space and other enterprises necessary to keep the house maintained and open to the public. I’m sure that if they ever decided to sell, it would be snatched up in an instant by a Saudi Arabian prince, a Russian oligarch or a Silicon Valley billionaire.
It will not surprise anyone who knows me or has read the last couple of posts that we also ate. Lunch was at Mannings Emporium in Ballylickey, a small market by the side of the road with a fantastic selection of meat, cheese, produce, fine wine and other gourmet items. If you pumped out the self-important pretentiousness of Whole Foods and compressed it to the size of a neighborhood market, you would have Mannings Emporium.
Andrew Manning, another in a succession of warm, charming Irish men and women we have met on this trip, hosted us for lunch. We were also joined by Jeffa Gill, the dean of West Cork rind-washed unpasteurized cheese. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but her cheese was great. By the way, the “dean” part is my description – Jeffa is far too modest for that. The rest is from her.
To flush out the just ingested cholesterol from our system we went on a hike guided by Markus Baeuchle, the owner of Wanderlust, a hiking company in Glengarriff, West Cork. It was an easy hike on a remote finger of land on the Beara Peninsula across Bantry Bay from Sophie’s house. We were surrounded by blue sky and the sun sparkled off the water as we hiked on the soft, spongy ground, carefully avoiding the many deposits left by the sheep, the only inhabitants in the area.
As much as I like to eat and as much as I like history and friendly people, this was the highlight of the day.
The day ended at Sheen Falls Lodge, accommodations that were even more luxurious than the Hayfield Manor in Cork. Set on Kenmare Bay and by the Sheen Waterfalls, it was the only building in the area. We continued our exploration of the new Irish cuisine with a creamy seafood chowder with succulent chunks of fresh seafood and a plate of grilled mussels, scallops, prawns and fish. My only regret was that we were only staying here for one night.