Dingle Trifecta, Part 4
Dingle and Ballydavid
March 7 – 15, 2003 (Page updated June 3, 2003)
By Lewis Nolan
Opposite the town of Dingle and across the mile-wide harbor is Holden Leather. The crafts shop and neighboring homes, B&Bs and farms have wonderful views of the town and the hillside rising above it. We had
|Lewis (left) with rugby player Sean O'Connor|
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Business has been good. Holden’s actual crafting of belts, purses, briefcases and other goods had been moved from the showroom to a small warehouse by the sea near Ballydavid. It was only mid-afternoon and we were part way there, so we decided to drive out a few miles. And what a drive it turned out to be when we encountered a violent storm that pelted the car with hard rain and hailstones. The fierce gale winds turned the ocean into a maelstrom, lashing the surface waves to a white froth that looked like whipped cream several hundred yards to seaward. Regrettably, the driving rain prevented photography. But what a spectacle of nature’s fury we saw.
I got fairly drenched when I dashed a few feet from the car into the Holden Leather Workshop. A half-dozen craftsmen and craftswomen were quietly making hides into quality goods that are sold in expensive shops across Ireland. One, a young woman in what must be the distinctive denim apron that the Holden folks wear, was expecting me. She kindly cut the belt down to fit my smaller waistline and retooled the leather so there was no hint of the fix. I was interested to see how quickly the special machinery could slice through the thick leather like a sharp knife going through soft butter. The young woman refused to accept any money for the service, only asking that I come back to Dingle. Love the Irish! Their website is at www.holdenleathergoods.com.
The storm stopped as suddenly as it started. The sun peeked out from behind the low, black clouds that seemed to almost hug the ocean. We drove a few miles to Tigh T.P.’s at Ballydavid at Smerwick Harbor. Sean and Fiona O’Connor saw us through a window and opened their pub. The storm had blown some water under the front door. While Sean mopped it up, he told us they had decided not to open this day because the storm was so bad that no customers were likely.
We reminded them of our earlier visits in 1997 and 2002 and great meals we had enjoyed at their establishment. We were happy to see the Elvis license plate as well as one of our expired, 2000 Tennessee plates that I had mailed to them. They are prominently displayed on a wall and ceiling in their collection of tags from around the world. They treated us to a glass of Guinness and a cup of genuine Irish coffee and, like the leather lady, would not accept any money.
Sean and Fiona are a delightful, hard-working couple. They purchased the pub and adjoining, seasonal restaurant from his father a few years ago. They have recently added B&B accommodations upstairs and a lodge/hostel to the rear of the main building. They are quite popular with the local fishermen. They also enjoy a good following among returning tourists and serious anglers who appreciate the warmth of their hospitality. As it commonplace on the Dingle Peninsula, both Sean and Fiona speak Irish.
Sean’s name and address, in Celtic, is: Seán B. Õ Conchûir, Baile na uGall, Tra li, Co. Charrái, Éire. His e-mail is: Tiaracht@iol.ie. (Tiaracht is the name of his fishing boat). His website is at www.dingle-activities.com
Sean is a burly, heavily muscled young man with a wide smile and thick Irish accent. On this day he sported a rugby shirt from the South African team that was given to him by a friend. He had just returned from Dublin, where he had seen Ireland’s big win over France, a rugby feat that resulted in several pages of coverage in the Irish newspapers.
Betty and I next stopped a few miles up the coastal Slea
|Lewis where Ryan's Daughter was filmed|
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That evening we had an excellent meal at Lord Baker’s in the heart of Dingle. It claims to be the oldest pub in town, dating to 1890. Its website is at www.lordbakers.com. The restaurant is on the recommended list of several guidebooks including Michelin and its affable owner – John Moriarty - is clearly a man skilled in promotions. I had some wonderfully fresh Black Dover Sole. Betty went for the farmed mussels, topped off later with a gorgeous dessert of plum pudding and ice cream that was served in a thin, chocolate cup with sliced fruit – all covered with a decorative sauce.
Back at the Dingle Skellig, we sat near the ersatz coal fire in the hotel’s oh-so-comfortable Gallarus Room and read for a while before retiring for the night.