Dingle Peninsula

Dingle-Peninsula-ireland-582356_1024_768A tour round this remote, Irish-speaking westerly extremity offers many things: superb coastal scenery with peaceful beaches and scattered islands; grand mountains and lush, fuchsia-splashed countryside; a rich assortment of antiquities; and a lively music scene and excellent seafood restaurants based on the charming fishing port of Dingle.

If archaeology does not thrill you, the scenery certainly will, especially when the wild Blasket Islands appear as you round the Sea Head promontory.  The Blaskets are now occupied by a handful of summer visitors including former Prime Minister, Charles Haughey, and there are plans to renovate some of the abandoned houses.  The last native inhabitants moved to the mainland in 1953, the people no longer willing to confine their lives within this tiny community.  The Blaskets have inspired a thriving literary tradition: Maurice O'Sullivan's Twenty years a'Growing and Tomas O'Crohan's The Islandman are two accounts of the best-known accounts of island life.  Summer boat trips visit the islands from Dunquin, where the film Ryan's Daughter was made.  The Blasket Centre at Dunquin (Dun Chaoin in Irish) contains an exhibition on island life and literature.

Towards the ragged northwest of the peninsula are two interesting historic monuments.  One is the Gallarus Oratory, a tiny but perfectly preserved church built of neatly packed unmortared stones.  Itdates from between AD 800 and AD 1200 and still keeps the rain out, though its roof-line is sagging slightly.  A couple of kilometres up the road is Kilmalkedar, another early church from about the 12th century, roofless but bearing fine Romanesque carvings in purplish stone.

A tour of Ireland would not be complete without seeing the Dingle Peninsula.

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