Monday, 12 November 2012

Dingle Drive

 Dingle Drive
Inch

 It was the second Saturday in November, yet we enjoyed a brilliant drive on the Dingle Peninsula. First stop, it almost always is, was the long Inch Beach that juts out into the bay.  As I parked, I spotted three cats sunning themselves near a wall and, later the three, joined by at least as many again, were fed by a man.

The waves, quite big ones, were rolling in the from the ocean and, near to the beach, a surfer was trying his luck in the big rolling waves. Further out, a bunch of people were trying their luck in the water, with a jet skier in the immediate vicinity. This intrepid bunch were more easily seen from the high road when we resumed the trip west.

Inch

Had quite a walk on the beach before turning back in a hurry. Heavy showers had been forecast and we spotted one coming in over the mountains to the south. Not sure the shower ever quite made as we were on our way to Dingle.

Tom Crean

But not before a coffee stop. That came at Lispole. Many of the major attractions are closed up for the winter, as you’d expect. But the very handy Fáilte Ireland book, South West (one of a series), indicated that the nearby Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary was open. It wasn’t but the cafe, Blúiríní Blasta, was.

Blúiríní Blasta
This is well worth a call. There is some lovely food here, including lights meals and an excellent children's menu. They also do some great home baking and our scone was top class, enhanced by their home made jam and an excellent coffee.


Spider crab in Aquarium
 On then to Dingle itself and our “replacement” visit: the Aquarium, overlooking the harbour. Quite a while since I’ve been here and I enjoyed it especially as we hit feeding time in the colourful Amazon area. There is a new highlight in honour of explorer Tom Crean (we had also called to his birthplace Annascaul) where a bunch of lively penguins catch the eye. So too do the sharks in a nearby pool and then there are the rays that you may touch though be careful of the fellow with the thorny back!

Penguins in Aquarium
 Back on the westward route now, rounding Ventry Bay and heading for Slea Head. Some heavy showers rolled in with even the sturdy gulls staying put on the sea walls. The showers soon passed and we were able to enjoy the spectacular scenery, including that prone Blasket island man, with his big belly (full of spuds and craft beer maybe!).
Slea Head

 Not a day to be visiting the islands so we turned north and drove through the Dunquin area to Clogher Head and more fantastic views as the lively sea battered the cliffs below. Time now for a hot fire and taste of some craft brew and no better place than Tigh Bhric, a brew pub in Ballyferriter, where we supped some refreshing golden ale with proprietors Paul and Adrienne (the brewer).
Waves crash in

The brewery may be relatively new but our next stop, Gallarus Oratory in Ballydavid, certainly isn’t. This is the best example of an early Christian oratory on the peninsula; must have been handy builders as it was built in the ninth century or thereabouts. The oratory is under the care of the OPW. But the facilities, including a video introduction, are not and you are charged three euro to use them.
Brew Pub
 The light was going now and so it was time to head back to Dingle and on to base in Killarney. The low sun made a couple of brief appearances as we headed east, once helping in causing a fantastic double rainbow but, before I could get out of the car with the camera, the rain swept in from behind and the magic arch vanished quickly leaving only the faintest of traces. So, no photo, no pot of gold on this occasion. Reasons enough to head back again to this gorgeous part of the country!
Gallarus

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