From Fossa (Killarney) to Dingle is not a long trip, but the scenery is different on the Dingle Peninsula. We left mid-morning and made a leisurely trip to Dingle. Of course, part of the “leisurely” is due to the roads, which like all the other roads we have seen so far were curved and narrow. Our strategy for part of the drive was to stay close behind a tour bus and hope that anything coming around a curve would hit the bus first or at least give us time to dodge out of the way. One reason the driving is tricky for me is that there is so much to look at that I have to be extra careful that I don’t lose track of the road. On the way down the Peninsula, we stopped at a place called Inch. There is a large sandy beach there and we took pictures.
We arrived at our hotel about noon. They already had a room facing the water waiting for us. After unloading everything, we headed west on the Slea Head drive. We took a detour down another 3 kilometers of one-way lane to visit a leather workshop. [Political/economic note: the economy is clearly hurting people here at least as much as in the U.S. The owner of this workshop had reduced his staff from 6 to 2 over the last 18 months and can’t even afford to liquidate and go out of business. People are very unhappy with bankers, politicians, and the “system” which seems to reward those who have, rather than those who follow the rules. We heard from many people about friends / relatives who had lost their positions or businesses or pensions after having done everything right for years.]
We stopped at a circular fort (which was called a ‘monument”) called Dunbeg and hiked down to see it. It is / was defended by a series of 4 ditches and mounds, all facing inland. I mention that because the fort is located right on the edge of the cliffs which plummet a couple of hundred feet to the ocean. I suppose there was no point in defending that side. We later discovered that the fort may have been sited a little too close to the edges since some of it has slipped over the edge. There were perhaps 400 of these forts in the early medieval times up to the 1200s. They don’t look like comfortable places to live and we wondered at the necessity to build and man such places. What kind of invasion from the sea were they expecting? We also learned that many of the forts still remain. One reason for that is that people think of them as “fairy forts” and think it is bad luck to interfere with them.
After a surprisingly nice lunch at a restaurant that looked like a large stone Quonset hut, we kept on towards Slea Head. We had only gone a little way before we saw a sign about beehive huts. We had both read about these huts and wanted to see some. At the hotel, they had told us that it was end of season and that it was iffy that we would be able to get into see things. We did not want to miss the opportunity so we stopped. [I should point out that many things, like the Dunbeg fort, are on private land and getting to them often requires a payment. And, if no one is there to man the booth, or the path is blocked, you can’t get in.] We climbed up to the huts and we were glad we did. Inside a circular enclosure were several huts made of stone that did indeed resemble beehives. That is because of the construction technique that has each course of stone inset just a little bit so a natural “dome” is the result. At the top, a single stone covers the last hole. We went inside one hut and found it to be fairly roomy. I could not touch the ceiling with my arms outstretched so it must have been more than seven feet high.
Near the beehive huts is the highest point at the end of the Peninsula: Mount Eagle at 514 meters (about 1700 feet). I shouldn’t snicker, I suppose. They actually have a real mountain (Brandon) that is all of 950 meters (3100) feet. This is a rocky place and I took a picture of a natural formation on Mount Eagle that looks like it could be a castle—but isn’t.
We completed our Slea Head Drive in time to walk around Dingle before the shops closed. We found a Benny Moriarty pub, and a J. T. Moriarty liquor store, but oddly enough, no non-alcohol related Moriarty businesses. When people learn our last name, they often ask if we are seeking our family roots. I usually avoid a straight “no” because they seem interested and I suppose a lot of Americans are here to do that.