Saturday, October 13th

Dingle to Ennis, via the Slea Head Drive

The ocean was turbulent today

You may remember that we were told in Dublin that if you ask about the weather and it isn’t raining, you will get a reply along the lines of “Good, Grand, it’s not raining.” We have discovered that if there is “weather” and you ask, the reply will be “Welcome to Ireland.”

Today was a “Welcome to Ireland” day. When we woke in Dingle, it was raining. There was a short pause while we ate breakfast overlooking Dingle Harbour (or Harbor, your choice). As we packed up, the rain began in earnest. From then on it rained constantly and didn’t taper off until shortly after 6:00pm here in Ennis.

We had a good day today, even though most of it was driving in the rain. We headed west from Dingle along the Slea Head Drive. We had gone that way on our last visit, so we had some idea of what to expect. In particular, we wanted to see a stone fort called Dún Beag (or Dunbeg). It dates back to 500 BCE. When we last saw it, it was perched right on the edge of a cliff, and we wondered how long it would survive. Well, we now know part of the answer: in 2014 a section of the cliff collapsed due to storm damage and took part of the fort with it. It is still closed.

A view of the Blasket Islands

So, we continued west on Slea Head Drive and stopped for pictures several times. Once the drive reaches the end of the Dingle peninsula, it turns north and you can see the Blasket Islands. Well, you can see them if the clouds and mist permit. Today the viewing was iffy. The Blaskets are a group of five small islands a few miles offshore. They were inhabited for a very long time but the last residents left in 1953. The primary language on the islands was Irish and they produced many fine writers and were inspirations to many others. It must have been a hard life on the islands. Many of the people on the islands emigrated to the United States. Favorite destinations were Springfield, MA, San Francisco, and (?!) Helena. MT. [Maybe the last one because it was so far from the sea.]

Stone walls stretching up the hillside

Even though it was overcast and the rain intensity varied from hard to harder, there was still plenty to see and the road, which was covered with stones from the recent/current storm, was interesting to drive. In fact, up to this point, the one-lane road had successfully masqueraded as a two lane road.

An example of a “naomhóg”, or canoe from the islands. [Yes, of course, it would have been covered.]

We continued on to the Blasket Island Interpretive Centre (or center). The Centre  “in Dún Chaoin celebrates the story of the Blasket Islanders, the unique literary achievements of the island writers and their native language, culture and tradition.” This was well worth a stop. Pictures, exhibits of island life, wonderful views of Great Blasket, and old movies of island life made an informative visit.

Surprisingly, the roads improved from there and we were able to complete the loop back to Dingle quickly.

The drive to Ennis, in County Clare, took a little more than 2.5 hours. The roads were quite good in most places, but even the better roads go through lots of small towns/villages, so one cannot go fast. The GPS panicked when we started out because it was not aware of the new road we were on, but we ignored its attempts to take us back along the coastal route until it gave up.

Ennis: it was raining too hard to go see what it was. That’s for tomorrow.

Not too many pictures from today because of all the driving.

Here is a map of today’s drive.

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