Friday, 2 August 2013

Ireland Trip - Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is a picturesue location just north of Killarney, on the west coast, and Sunday was the perfect day to go there – only light showers. One thing that we soon realised though, was that pretty much nothing is free out there. Every farmer who has a ruin on his land wants 3 euros for you to see it! South of the town of Dingle we could up on top of a hill something that looked like a Dalek, and was Eask Tower. We braved the winding narrow road out to see it, only to find that it would cost 3 euros. I can kind of understand, in some way, as so many people are pigs, leaving their rubbish, and graffiti all over the place, but it seems strange to charge for features which can easily be seen from the road anyway, and it quickly works out quite expensive to pay for each and every feature on the route. We saw many cars pulling up, people would get out, and when they realised how much the charge was, would just get back in their cars and carry on. If the charge was more reasonable, they would make more money, as more people would go in. I did pay the money to see Dunbeg Fort, as it included an audio-visual display, and they also had toilets. This was an impressive stone structure built in the late Bronze Age (800 BC) on a sheer cliff. Further out along the peninsular were the Beehive Huts, and, you guessed it, 3 euros to go in, so we just looked from the road. Part of this scenery was used in the filming of “Ryan's Daughter”, and there was a monument at Slea Head commemorating this. Below the cliffs was a beach where people were swimming, and, I was surprised to see cars on it. We had stopped for lunch – the parking was hell – and it had lovely views and was very pleasant (apart from the parking situation. For some reason everyone seemed to want to go there!) At Dunquin we stopped to go for a walk along the cliffs to Clogher Head, and were surprised to see the ruin of Kirrary National School. As we were walking we met some locals, who explained that the school was actually a film prop, and that there had also been a complete village built, but as it was on common land, no-one would take responsibility for it, so it was dismantled post-filming. The weather was starting to worsen, and there was no point doing any more walking, so the final site to visit was the Gallarus Oratory. Built of stone without any mortar, this building is still waterproof after 1200 years. Beside was an inscribed stone. A farmer beside has set up a Visitor Centre and carpark (you guessed it – 3 euros to use it), be we were “in the know”, we just had to drive up the lane, past the entrance, to find the “official” National Parks entry with free parking and no charge to view the building. As we still had some time in the afternoon, we drove to Glin, where Darryl's O'Connor ancestors had lived. There is a castle at Glin, but you can't visit, only see the gates. Beside it was Glin Catholic Church. We couldn't find any relevant gravestones, so went to the Protestant Church just up the hill. It was turned into a heritage centre, and was closed. Then Darryl noticed someone coming out of the Catholic Church so I went down and spoke to the man. It was absolutely amazing – he knew the O'Connell family! He even gave me the correct wife's maiden name, so I knew it was correct (but I really had to concentrate to understand his accent)! Although he knew a lot, he really couldn't tell me exact details like where people were buried. He was able to tell me where one of the families had lived, so we went and had a look. I had chosen Ballycannon Lodge at Creogh to stay for the next 2 nights. It was a really nice Family-run place with a huge room, and the owners were just lovely. They did have a restaurant but strangely it closed at 6pm, so we went into nearby Adare and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Beautiful Green Fields on the Dingle Peninsula

Eask Tower

Dunbeg Fort

Beehive Huts

Blasket Islands

Ruins of Kirrary National School - from "Ryan's Daughter"

Gallarus Oratory

Old Glin Castle

Glin Catholic Church

Gates to 'new' Glin Castle

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