Today held a highlight for me on this trip so far, in the town of Dingle.
First, we were up early and on the road to explore the Dingle Peninsula. With very little traffic at 7:00 am and barely daylight, we had the narrow roads to ourselves and we wound our way along the peninsula to the tip called Slea Head. Along the way we stopped to photograph Inch Beach (3 kms of fine white sand) and then came to a 2500 year old historic site, Dumbeg Fort on the peninsula’s southern coastline. Donkeys greeted us as we strolled down the lane to the site. We were astounded at the ruggedness of this coast and the endurance ancient people would have had to exist here.
Carrying on, we came to Slea head at the tip of the peninsula. Looking out across the ocean, I could sense New Brunswick 3000 miles to the West. What a beautifully dangerous place, with jagged cliffs, pounding surf and incessant winds that take your breath away. Absolutely stunning in its remoteness although hundreds of thousands of tourists come here every year to experience these feelings.
We continued around the peninsula passing the occasional village or simple gathering of homes, marvelling at the breathtaking ruggedness of the hills and coast and arrived back at the town of Dingle by 10:00 for a tour of the Diseart Convent. We were greeted by elderly Father Fiannachta (what a memory he has) and proceeded to tour this ancient convent with its many treasures including 6 double windows by Harry Clarke. Photos cannot convey the depth of these windows… the reds pop out and the blues recede giving the glass panels a 3-D richness that the camera cannot pick up – only the human eye can see it. Absolutely spell binding. Add to that, the recorded audio commentary describing each stained glass scene as you move around the chapel from window to window. In addition to the Harry Clarke’s, there are other stained glass panel of equal importance and beauty, plus painted murals by American artist Eleanor Yates. So absolutely amazing. Although I was well-researched and knew what to expect, this place totally blew me away. If you ever come to Ireland, try to get here to see it.
We hated to leave Dingle, but the north was calling and time was ticking…so off we went across Connor’s Pass (OMG – hold on tight through the twisty winding narrow road and watch out for sheep – up, up, up and over then down, down, down and… made it!
We took the ferry across the Shannon River and soon arrived at the Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s most famous tourist destination. These cliffs are 700 feet high and stacked along the coastline like dominoes (700 ft dominoes). Oohs and Ahhhs and selfies galore… the seas were flat calm and the cliffs were reflecting on the seas. So massive, so beautiful, so deadly. A couple of weeks ago, a section of the cliffs collapsed under heavy rains! But today it was absolutely lovely.
Final destination for today was the town of Doolin just 10 minutes past the cliffs. We found our B&B and were greeted by the proprietor, Sean O’Connor (eccentric and very interesting fellow). We chatted as he lead us upstairs to our room, opened the door and there, out our window, was a spectacular and unexpected view of the Cliffs of Moher… how lucky are we! How excellent is this “Doll’s House B&B”. Sean recommended a local pub for dinner (Fitzpatrick’s) and we enjoyed local seafood (chowder for Mon and crab claws for me). A light rain was falling as we strolled back to our hotel, the first we have had since we arrived, and it cast a shimmering glow on the streets as live pub music wafted through the night air. Should be good for sleeping tonight.