Tag Archives: Dingle

Incredible Ireland: Part 2

7 Nov

It was on the walk back to our B&B from the pub in Dingle that the nerves set in.

We’d passed a lovely night in the fair seaside town famed for its pubs and one apparently friendly dolphin – I say “apparently” because, despite his reputation, I neither saw nor heard Funghi. The night had been filled with romping Irish tunes, a few glasses of Guinness in a bizarre bar-cum-boot shop, and finally, some tasty Redbreast whiskies in a cozy pub.

Around 11:30pm we decided to head up the hill to our home for the night – it was pitch black, and our small torch did little to light our way. The large, dark hedges on either side of the road, and the spooky moon hanging overhead only added to our wariness.

When finally we arrived back at Pax House, we slipped in quickly, afraid to let any boogeymen in the door behind us.

But, when we walked up to our bedroom door, we noticed light shining out from under its frame.

“I definitely turned out the lights when we left,” I said to the boy nervously.

He opened it cautiously, edging the door forward while we huddled together behind.

The lights were all turned on. But, our bed was turned down. And there, on each beside table, was a saucer with chocolates on.

I smiled. This was definitely the best B&B we had ever stayed in.

Pax House B&B sits high on a hill, overlooking the incredible Bay of Dingle. The next morning, we awoke to sunny skies and chickens flooding around the garden. We headed into the dining room and found a bountiful breakfast spread: warm poached-pears swimming in a clove sugar syrup; thick natural yoghurt; fresh fruit;  breads and coffee. And this was only the starter. Moments later, the enthusiastic owner John came bustling out, giving us menus to choose our main. Every detail was beautiful, from the kitschy milk and coffee pots to the quirky china mugs. My main of smoked salmon over scrambled eggs was wonderfully presented, while the boy’s full Irish was fresh and perfectly cooked. As we stumbled back to our rooms with bellies full, Rio the dog came bounding down the hall aiming for a pat. It was a lovely environment and I was hardly surprised that it has won awards as one of the best B&Bs in the country.

Pax House B&B: its food and surroundings certainly make it peaceful...

But, sadly, we had to continue on our way. After a long day of driving that included the spectacular Dingle Way, which leads you right out to the tip of the peninsula, and another night avoiding the rain by sheltering in a warm pub in the village of Doolin, we got up early to avoid the rain clouds predicted for later that day. The Cliffs of Moher – famed for their dramatic edges and ability to jut jauntily out into the Atlantic – were our destination.

On arrival, however, Mother Nature had another plan: rain. And mist. And more rain. It had set in early and did little to help us to view the cliffs in all of their glory.

Instead, we had to settle on trying to understand the rather weird signs at the cliffs until the fog cleared.

And, if any of you readers can help me decipher either of these, I’m all ears…

What on earth??

Finally, after thirty minutes of exploring, the mist lifted and we had a brief glimpse of the stunning coastline. The Cliffs of Moher were, indeed, glorious.

However, the delay in waiting for the clouds to clear meant we had to hop back in our Micra and get on our way. We were heading up to Clifden, and wanted to get in before nightfall.

After checking into our sweet B&B in Clifden, we promptly headed out for a night on the town.

This is when we met Kevin.

Kevin has now potentially become my favourite Irishman of our journey. Standing – or wobbling, as he was rather drunk – at a mere 5’4″ at best, Kevin was a small, round, elderly gentleman with only the best of intentions. Kevin had been abandoned by a friend and left to sit unstably on a stool in the corner of the pub, while over-exuberant locals danced nearby to loud, feisty music. We felt it was far from right to leave him on his own and he was more than happy to chat away about anything from food, to his daughter, his grandchildren, the history of Clifden, and much more. Everything about him was endearing – even when he went in for a double-cheeked kiss upon his departure.

“I just had to get two in,” he mumbled, as the boy chuckled.

Our evening was far from over but – due to rather copious amounts of whisky – I am unable to remember much after Kevin’s departure. I’m quite sure it may have involved getting behind the bar to read whisky bottle labels and repeatedly ringing the doorbell of our B&B when we couldn’t find our way in. Ahem.

All in all – incredible Ireland was treating us rather well…but there was still more to come!

Finally, in Part 3, the boy and I finish off our tour of Ireland by making friends with some Connemara ponies, driving through the dramatic Connor Pass and being left breathless by Ireland’s beauty.

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Incredible Ireland: Part 1

2 Nov

I didn’t want to go to Ireland.

Well, let me re-phrase that.

It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Ireland. It was just that I wanted to go to Spain more. Get some practice in with my Spanish. Refresh my fading tan. So when the boy came home, oddly enough on the same day I’d been researching how cheaply we could get ourselves some sun & sangria, and said: “I really want to get away,” I thought, ‘Hurrah, Espana here we come.’

But he had other ideas.

“Ireland,” he said, “what about Ireland?”

“Uh, I guess, sure if that’s what you want. I was actually, ahem, thinking Spain, ahem,” I responded.

But, as he went on to tell me tales of escaping the city, of heading to the wild countryside and getting some fresh sea air into our lungs, I capitulated. Plus, the flights were ridiculously cheap. As a Canadian, who spent years paying out insane amounts of money to fly anywhere in my vast country, the idea of getting to another country for £10 still shocks me. As do the inane advertisements which play throughout a flight on said Irish-carrier’s trips. But, the £10 still wins out everytime.

When we landed at Kerry airport after leaving a gloriously sunny morning in London behind, and it was grey and rainy, I couldn’t help but say: “We should have gone to Spain.”

“But this is how I pictured Ireland,” he responded. “Grey, dark, drizzly and a bit depressing.”

Well, at least one of us had expectations that were being lived up to.

The rain did not last for long luckily. A hop, skip and a 55-mile-jump in our oh-so-cool silver Nissan Micra later, we were in sunny Cork, just in time to see the city pre-darkness, the river Lee swirling peacefully through the town.

The boy with a bag of scarves & me at the river Lee.

After spending the night holed up in cozy and warm pubs, listening to some great Irish music and drinking whisk(e)y, we decided to shrug off all potential “city” life for the rest of our trip, and get down to some countryside jaunts. After a trip to Penneys (ie: Primark) that is. It was bloody freezing. We needed scarves.

But although Ireland was proving “pretty” I couldn’t help but wonder: ‘Will it get much more dramatic than this?’

It did.

It got gorgeous, dazzling, impressive and downright stunning.

A drive-by shot of the scenery in Killarney National Park

Driving up the N71 takes you straight through Killarney National Park – a part of the famed Ring of Kerry. Filled with evergreen trees, mountains, lakes and steep windy roads, the park is breathtaking. And quite a bit like British Columbia’s outdoors, as I continuously remarked between gasps of, “Wow!”

We wound our way along this road, then up the N70, until we hit the R561, which would head west and take us to our stop for the night: Dingle.

After travelling through the park I wondered if it would get any more exciting, but as the sun shone and sparkled along the coastal path we were taking, I couldn’t quite take it all in. Death-defying cliffs, ruff-shod mountains, sheep, sheep and more sheep…and then…the beach…

We pulled over and stepped out into the wind – we’d arrived at the beach at Inch, a small village about 10 miles out of Dingle. And there, in front of us, was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen – like glass, it reflected the puffy clouds hanging above us, creating a mirror image so stunning I actually got choked up.

Now, people who know me, realise I get emotional fairly easily: fluffy puppies, a good score by Tchaikovsky, Matthew walking again in Downtown Abbey, the last drop from a favourite bottle of whisky…all of these things are likely to bring a tear to mine eye. I’m a cancer the crab after all.

But never have I become emotional about a beach. I hate sand.

Taking in the beach at Inch in all its glory.

This though, was something else – I breathed in the sea air, felt the last of the day’s sunshine on my face, and realised, I was very, very happy to have come to Ireland.

In Part 2: the boy and I stay in – quite possibly – the best B&B in Ireland, attempt to understand bizarre signs at the Cliffs of Moher and meet a small drunk man named Kevin…

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