A dazzling day in Dingle

A dazzling day in Dingle

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Do you ever have one of those days on a trip, where everything aligns absolutely perfectly? You didn’t do anything to make it that way, it just all came together? And you knew while you were living it that if you returned to this place and did the same things, it would never be quite as special?

I was lucky enough to have one of those days while traveling on the Dingle Peninsula. Situated on the western coast of Ireland, the seaside town of Dingle can only be called charming with its brightly colored main street, friendly pub-culture and laid-back atmosphere.


The beautiful coast of Dingle. | Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas.

This was a sister trip and we stayed at a small B&B about a five-minute walk from the main thoroughfare and along Slea Head Drive. Each morning we would eat a delicious homemade breakfast from our host and then we would wander through town, usually picking up a midmorning pastry from one of the many cute bakeries and a cup of locally roasted coffee at the shop Bean in Dingle.

As one is rather suspicious of nice weather in Ireland, we didn’t make any concrete plans for our full day in Dingle, thinking we could decide based on the degree of rain and clouds. Much to our delight, we happened to have one of those golden days of sunshine and warmth, giving us beautiful views of the sea and harbor thanks to a clear sky. After seeing signs around town for dolphin viewings, we bought two tickets for the afternoon Dingle Sea Safari.

They outfitted us with rain–wind pants and jackets, and then we climbed into a dinghy-style boat with ten other passengers and our guide, Captain Jimmy. In our open-air boat, we traveled out of the harbor, where we caught up with a pod of dolphins jumping out of the water and swimming around the boat. We then ventured into a sea cave, where the water became so clear and green you could eerily see the floor of the cave.


Blasket Island. | Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas.

Heading further west, we saw the Blasket Islands, a group of six islands that have become a symbol of ancient Gaelic history. They were once home to a solely Irish-speaking population who lived isolated and off the land and sea until 1953 when the remaining 22 residents were evacuated. There used to be a hostel and cafe on the main island, and though both are closed now, you can still ferry to the islands to visit.

Puffins bounced around the water’s edge and sea lions sunbathed on the shore with a few of them swimming out towards the boat, their heads popping up around us like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

It was at this point that it really began to hit me how special this day was. The sun was shining, and the wind was whipping through our hair with sea spray occasionally hitting our faces. Because it was so clear and relatively calm on the sea, Jimmy asked if we were all able to stay for an extra hour so we could venture out even further. We all agreed and off we jetted, riding sea swells and taking in the cliffs of Ireland in the fading distance.


The lighthouse in Dingle. | Photo by Anna Leigh Bagiackas.

Forty-five minutes away from Dingle, we boated to the furthermost western island of Europe, which was the last landmass before hitting North America. Jimmy explained that he is only able to travel this far out maybe half of a dozen times a year because of how windy and rough the waters become. On the island sat an old lighthouse and structure for the keeper of the lighthouse and his family to live in. Like the Blasket Islands, we could only imagine the isolation and conditions of living on these islands.

In addition to the many animals on our safari, we also got to know our fellow travelers. This wasn’t even unique to our boating adventure. Everywhere we went in Dingle, whether it was a restaurant, the fish and chip stand or nightly music at the legendary O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, people were friendly and chatty, wanting to hear about our trip and where we were headed next.

We returned to the harbor exhilarated from our adventure and the once-in-a-lifetime experience it offered. All we needed to conclude this day was a cold pint and a warm meal from our favorite pub.

Less than an hour’s drive from Kerry Airport, Dingle was a trip we will never forget and a place we hope to return to—but with expectations of rain and clouds, yet still filled with warm and friendly faces.

 

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