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Onward to Dingle

October 18, 2007

corey says…Last night when I checked in, my B&B hostess asked when I’d like breakfast. I asked, “Would half-seven be too early?”

She made a little muttering sound and said, “Would eight or quarter past eight suit you?”

I told her it would be fine. You have to love the illusion of choice in this situation.

Well, after breakfast this morning, I was back in Killarney following the walking tour and taking various photos. It was another gorgeous day and the town was relatively quiet.

While I was in the friary, I noticed a plaque mentioning the skull of a monk who had been beheaded by Cromwell’s soldiers was on display in the “side porch.” I tried to find it, but only found an ancient holy water font. I stopped in the gift shop and asked about it. Ends up they were doing work over there and had to move it temporarily.

Then I wandered through the town to the impressive cathedral. Apparently this was the week for displaced religious artifacts as a statue of John the Baptist in the baptistry was also temporarily being “relocated.”

I then walked over to the Knockreer estate and wandered the gardens there and continued on to Ross Castle.

I planned to take the tour, but the next one was in an hour. I’m sure the girl behind the counter was just trying to keep me up-to-date, but when she told me, “and if there’s not interest in the tour, it’ll be cancelled…just so you’re aware of that.” This was strange, because I’ve been on tours at other OPW sites and there were just two of us on the tour. The guides never seem to mind tiny groups. It kind of sounded like she was trying to talk me out of it.

Dingle & Slea Head Drive
Then it was back to town. Since it was before noon and the weather was great. I figured I’d head onward to the Dingle Peninsula. This was another spot that EVERYONE I know has been, but somehow, I never ended up there.

The ride to Dingle was uneventful. The sun was bright, yet there was a bit of haze in the sky. Terrific weather for Ireland in October.

I really didn’t want to spend another night away from Knockahopple, so I was pacing myself a bit. That meant I didn’t stop as much as I normally would, and I wasn’t lingering or chatting with people nearly as much as usual either. I was a bit disappointed in that, but I also knew I’d be leaving a bit for “next time.”

I stopped at the stone fort, the beehive huts and Dingle town where I had lunch. Then I was NOT going to make the same mistake many before me have made…I was NOT going to miss Slea Head drive. A lot of people don’t realize that the most scenic part of the Dingle is beyond Dingle town.

There was a lot of road construction on the Dingle peninsula and evidence of the work was clear by a lot of improved roads along the way. The upgraded roadways stood out as they would appear out of nowhere while traveling along some rougher, narrower spots. It made me think…“If they only improved the worst spots…judging by the unimproved ‘good’ parts, they must have been in terrible condition.”

Traffic wasn’t heavy at all along this route. There seemed to be about four of us traveling the route this hour…as I kept seeing the same four cars as I made my stops. The locals were a bit braver on the roads and quickly overtook any of us tourists. In the end, it was a pretty easy trip.

The weather was beautiful and every turn revealed another picture perfect moment.

Slea Head Drive
Slideshow from Oct 17-21

Connor Pass
When I returned to Dingle town, I decided to go home via Connor Pass. The road up from Dingle is quite wide and recently improved. There was a left-hand drive car with French plates tailgating me as I climbed the hill. When I spotted a small pull off – there weren’t too many on the way up – I zipped over and let her pass. She gave me the customary flash of her lights “thank you” once she passed, and I again had the road to myself.

At the top, the view was spectacular. It was fun to run from one side, take a picture and then run to the other side to take more. The view from both sides was quite impressive.

Then it was time for the tricky part of the ride down. There are several parts on the second part of the journey where there is only room for one car to pass as the road hugs the cliff. You definitely won’t find any tour buses on this route! I was lucky, as there were only two cars going in the opposite direction on my entire trip down the mountain. Liam often tells of his moments on that road where he has had to reverse to the nearest pull off to accommodate traffic.

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