Ireland Revisited – 2010

Drive to Dingle on Southwest Coast

May 2 – 12, 2010

 

Part 1: Flights from Memphis to Shannon

Part 7:  Shopping in Town of Dingle

Part 2: Drive to Dingle on Southwest Coast

Part 8:  Beautiful Sights near Slea Head

Part 3: Holden Leather, Dingle Golf Links

Part 9:  Drive Over Connor Pass to Shannon

Part 4: Ballydavid, Historic Brandon’s Creek

Part 10: Shopping in Shannon, Flights Home

Part 5: Playing Golf at Cheann Sibeal

Link to 2003 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

Part 6: Slea Head Drive, Mulcahy Pottery

Link to 2002 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

 

- Updated June 26, 2010

 

Ten photos mainly taken by Betty Nolan are posted at www.kodakgallery.com in an album entitled “Ireland – 2010” under the account of Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com for instructions on how to access.

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

May 3, 2010 – Monday – Travel from Shannon to Dingle in Ireland

 

While visiting motorists are warned about the inadequacy of Irish roadmaps and highway signage, Betty and I managed to navigate the confusing and busy maze of detours present in Southwest Ireland. The major and minor highways led us during continuing Irish construction of new and upgraded

 

 

Lewis Nolan by blooming gorse shrubs at Dingle Skellig Hotel on Ireland’s Dingle Bay in Background

 

roadways through population centers like Limerick. We had missed turns there previously. Oddly, we got expert directions from a woman wearing Arab dress who was working at a combination gas station-food store.

 

We made it through several Irish towns that seemed to be fairly familiar from previous trips and stopped a few times to take pictures at places like the broad surfing beach at Inch, where several hardy board riders wore full wet suits.

 

After driving for over 3 hours, we arrived about 11 a.m. at our favorite hotel in the area, the privately owned Dingle Skellig. It looked just as inviting as we remembered it from previous visits.

 

At the reception area we met Sheila O’Connor, the hotel’s manager of that function and like others we met, a thoroughly charming and helpful person. She was all smiles as she invited us to sit in an adjacent dining room and be served a snack of scones and beverage (a small glass of draft Harp beer for me and pot of fresh tea for Betty), while our room was made ready for early check-in.

 

It turned out that Sheila – with one of the prominent last names on the Dingle Peninsula, knew our pal from previous visits, publican Sean O’Connor of the nearby village of Ballydavid. Hers was certainly a fitting and friendly welcome back to one of our favorite places on the Planet Earth.

 

We were very pleasantly surprised a few minutes later when we were shown to our room. It was a considerable step above the “standard room” provided in the package our travel agent had arranged through CIE tours. Room 224 was on the second of three floors at the Dingle Skellig and afforded a magnificent view of a well-planted, brick courtyard beneath and of the Dingle Harbor and entrance to the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. We could see two anchored ships, including one we were told was a National Geographic Society cruise boat stopped here so ferried passengers could sample the attractions and delights of Dingle. We could also see out of the suite’s windows some of the surrounding farmland’s rolling, green hills, assorted cattle and sheep. A tall stand of trees on a hillside reminded us of the Central California coast.

 

Our room for eight nights was really a suite that had been freshly redecorated. It included a queen-sized bed, large couch with coffee table, comfortable chairs, a chiffarobe-style, wood closet for clothing, large cable TV and a spacious and splendid bathroom lined in white marble with a huge tub and separate shower.

 

Goodness, it was so good to be back in God’s Green-and-Great paradise on Earth. The Dingle Peninsula has been gradually “discovered” over the last couple of decades and now is among several of the travel magazines’ listings of “most scenic places to see.” I think the relative difficulty of getting here is keeping all-but-the-determined international travelers away.

 

Most of the Skellig’s clientele we’ve met are from Ireland. It is obvious that the hotel goes some distance to reach out to families, with lots of activities and special menus to accommodate the propensity of native Irish to have lots of children. It offers a splendid restaurant with very fancy, continental style “high cuisine”, day care and play facilities including an indoor pool that is heated. We were told on an earlier trip that the reason for the indoor pool is to offer a safe place for Irish children to learn how to swim and that it is the only such facility in the ocean-surrounded, Dingle Peninsula.

 

The hotel is adjacent to an Irish Coast Guard station and a green pasture used by young dairy cattle. It is a fairly short walk to the heart of Dingle and its many shops and gathering places including docks serving fishing boats and an attractive marina for yachts and recreational boats. A sister hotel, the Dingle Benner’s, is in the middle of town and is among the thriving businesses owned by its local entrepreneur, a Mr. Garvey.

 

One of the benefits at the Dingle Skellig Hotel is a special discount for guests wanting to play golf at the nearby Cheann Sibeal course, which is a short drive of about 20 minutes away. It is amazing how reasonable the prices are there at the wonderful course, about $40 U.S. with a motorized cart available for another $25 or so. 

 

Exhausted by traveling all the previous day, overnight and that morning, Betty and I napped for much of the afternoon following a nice lunch at the hotel. I went for a “safe” tuna fish sandwich and a pint of Harp lager beer.

 

We arose about 6 p.m. and were delighted to see the Irish skies were clear blue. Being so far north, it stays bright here until after 9 p.m. and the sun doesn’t fully set until nearly 10 p.m. at this latitude and time of year.

 

Predictably, the food at the hotel’s Coast Guard Restaurant was excellent. I had wonderfully fresh sea bass, served in a delicious sauce. Betty went for yummy, roast duck. All dinner meals come with nice salads, Irish breads, and a side platter of boiled or steamed vegetables, including potatoes (of course) and perhaps broccoli, cabbage, carrots or varieties of green beans. For dessert, we split a very good sticky, toffee pudding swimming in a boss sauce made of chocolate.

 

The only thing less than perfect – but a nuisance an American quickly learns to get used to in Ireland – was the presence of several noisy Irish children in a land where strict parental controls seem to be missing.

 

After dinner, I worked on my travelogue notes over a complimentary, small glass of the French liquor Cointreau given me by one of the very nice restaurant managers.

 

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