Dingle: Whiskey, Beehives and Smoking Hogs

We slept well. It was not due to the craft beer or the red wine, but more the fresh sea or mountain air and a very soft comfortable bed. Good choice, yay, a hotel between a mountain and the big blue sea *chuckle*. We ate almost everything at breakfast (full Irish with lots of added extras) as we had a long day of intense coastal exploring ahead of us. Our first stop was for alcohol. Noooo, not because we were thirsty, but because one of us is a connoisseur. A whisk(e)y one at that!

The Dingle Distillery

This distillery was just around the corner (long and winding road more like it) from where we were, but we were way too early to join in on one of their distillery tours. As we were not so sure how long our day would be, we decided not to book one for later, hoping that one day soon we would return to Dingle…The distillery does not only make whisk(e)y, but gin and vodka too!! The interesting frog-looking car was one of many belonging to a group of tourists who also wanted to tour the distillery.

Slea Head Drive

Slea Head Drive, which starts and ends in the town of Dingle, is part of the Wild Atlantic Way and sort of loops around the peninsula. It is a very popular route for tourists and such, but we were lucky as there were not so many big busses and small bicycles on the road. We travelled clockwise and our next stop was the seaside village of Ventry, where we visited the Celtic and Prehistoric Museum.

The interesting part of this museum is that it is small, yet it boasts items dating back to the Jurassic age. There’s a complete skeleton of a baby dinosaur, a nest of dinosaur eggs, a mammoth skull and an impressive collection of Celtic jewellery. There are many other interesting tools, weapons and artefacts on display, including this smoking hog 🐗

Splashing waves, grazing sheep and piled up stones. We were at Dunbeg Fort, which is a 500BC ruin precariously sitting on a cliff. In a few years time it might not be there, as the sea seems to be eroding it very fast, so please visit if you can. It is not spectacular as in WOW, and it also costs a small fee to walk down the hill, but it has a great historical value. The other side of the road, however, was much more interesting for us. There on the hill were many beehive huts that we simply just had to see. A very charming and friendly old lady greeted and chatted to us for a bit, advising us on which of the Fahan Beehive Huts to see first. The area is not big, but the walk is better, steep, but better, the huts are mostly intact and the view of the sea is amazing from up there. Here too is an entrance fee, but much more worth it!

There are a lot of interesting stops en route, even if it is just to see the cliffs, or a posing seagull that was definitely not camera shy!  😁

Oh, just ignore the one with the fat bum believing that she can soar over the cliffs 😆 and look at the amazing views of the Three Sisters mountains peaks instead. These wonderful photos were taken mostly from the Wine Strand, a quiet and peaceful beach a bit off the main route. Further along we also left the Slea Head Drive and motored a bit northwards to Ballydavid where we found a small pier, which is probably not in use anymore. From here the Three Sisters can be seen too. Take these little detours, you won’t regret it…

These lovely pink sea thrift (Ameria Maritima) flowering plants were growing everywhere near the pier.

So that includes our Irish Road trip for 2015. The next day we left quite early for Shannon, where we stayed for one night at the airport hotel. Yep, the airline we used changed the flight times after we booked everything, so we had to shorten our stay in Dingle because we were flying out at the crack of dawn 😠 grrrr…

 

The Ring of Kerry and the whiskey making woman

Happily leaving the city of Cork, we headed off to our next accommodation on the Dingle Peninsula. We took the longer route, the N71/Wild Atlantic Way, because we wanted to visit Bantry Bay. The sun was shining, the water shimmering and parking (not free) was easy to find. The bay is really beautiful where two of the largest islands, the Whiddy and Bere, can be seen from almost any vantage point. Our main point of interest though, was to visit a house, home and Irish heritage which exists since around 1690.

 

Bantry Bay House and Garden

As mentioned before, the Bantry House has been here for more than three hundred years, and in the same family for about two hundred and fifty years. We didn’t know that they had their own parking, so had to walk up a long steep lane (puff-puff) lined by many big lovely shady trees, which was good as it was quite hot. At the end of the lane you pass through a gate, unlocked and unmanned, which might give the impression that you are free to roam around. Yes, you may roam, but you have to pay an admission fee first. You can buy a ticket for the house (interior) and garden, or just the garden, which we chose. Do not even try to cheat as they do check!

The view of the bay and the islands from the garden is stunning. There’s also a cemetery bordering on the property. They also have a tearoom serving light homemade lunches and teas. The house was opened to the public in 1946 and is now also a Bed and Breakfast. We were very impressed with the attractively laid out gardens! In 2001 Archaeologists found a 17th century deserted English fishing settlement and a medieval Gaelic village on the west lawn. Impressive and Wow! After ambling for an hour or two, we had to rush back to the car because the parking ticket had already expired. Oops! It was also still a long way to the hotel. We could have stayed at least another hour, that’s how awesome it was.

This is what we found along the N71/Wild Atlantic Way

There are many surprises to be found along the roads in Ireland, and this was one of them. A well-dressed sheep in an old vintage car. An amusing yet fetching advertisement for “The Ewe Experience” which is *quote* Ireland’s only interactive & interpretive sculpture garden *unquote*  We unfortunately could not go in as it was closed.

Amazing hills and moutains on the way to Kenmare showing the Turner Rock tunnels. There are three of them and they are quite narrow. Apparently some very large vehicles have managed to get themselves stuck under here. Oh no…

Another delightful surprise was this 200-year old cottage found on the Caha Pass half way between Kenmare and Glengarriff. Molly Gallivan’s Cottage and Traditional Farm is still as it was before all the mod-cons like electricity. Old farm equipment, vintage cars and other interesting objects from days gone by can be seen. There are also some farm animals roaming around and Molly’s Old Tea Room and Barn Restaurant serves traditional food. It is a very unique and interesting house which belonged to a very special woman who had to bring up seven small children on her own. She was creative and a genius! She even made her own whiskey! A woman. So there!

The Ring of Kerry and still on the Wild Atlantic Way

We had to stop in Sneem for a wee and a nibble. It is a small village yet busloads of visitors stop here almost every day. There are many interesting sculptures dotted around the town, a panda donated by China and the goddess Isis donated by Egypt, to name but a few. What we will never forget is that there, in the mountains, a shop owner stumped me! Ordering baileys and cookie flavoured ice-creams, he asked if I was South African. Impressed and chuffed, I took off my red turban (my favourite cap) and beamed a big YES. “Have you been to South Africa?” I asked him. “No, never” was his reply. “Uhm, do you know any South Africans?” (hoping he would say yes and show us the way to my fellow countrymen) “No, never ever met one in my life”. Okaaayyyy! So how did he know! Was it the hair (red turban flattened the afro), the nose, or lips, or maybe my bum? I wish I knew. Everywhere else I’m mistaken for Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian (still cannot figure that one out as my curves are not samba-samba). South African? Never ever! So it could only have been my accent…I hope  😊 He must’ve seen some movies or something…

The coastline along the Ring of Kerry is absolutely breath-taking!

 

Waterville House and Golf Links is a golf resort with an 18-century manor.

 

View from the Dingle Peninsula towards the Ring of Kerry

 

The very famous and quite large Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula

 

At last! Our hotel. The house is about three miles from Dingle Village and situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the mighty Mount Brandon. We were heartily welcomed by the owner herself, and shown to a lovely large room with an inviting bathtub…splash-splash which was used almost immediately 🛀🏻 After settling in we had supper in the restuarant downstairs and enjoyed some delicious home-cooked food. It was so good that we ate here every night of our stay. Of course, because they have an award winning chef (her husband) and an award winning restaurant! Forgot to mention the thirst-quenchers 😆 One of us had wine, as you know, sip happens, to it’s better to wine. The other one had beer…bläh. Okay, so he said it was lekker, so lekkerrrrr that he could have easily filled a bathtub with it and splish-splosh-hic-hic the whole night through. We’re talking about the very tasty craft beer from West Kerry Brewery!