The Ireland of Your Dreams: Dingle Peninsula

Of prehistoric buildings, dramatic coastlines, musical pubs, and Fungie the dolphin

County Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula is a singularly gorgeous feather of land jutting 30 miles out to sea from the mighty Slieve Mish Mountains.

The drive around Slea Head

The crazy patchwork quilt of fields hid a seemingly countless number of little-heralded ancient roadside attractions: the Fahan Group of prehistoric beehive huts (, the Iron Age Dunbeg Fort perched atop the cliff since 500 BC (, the upturned stone boat keel of tiny Gallarus Oratory, an amazingly preserved early Christian chapel built of stacked drystone between the 6th and 9th centuries (tel. +353-(0)66/915-6444).

And while all these sights had, since my last visit, started charging admission, the landscape was superb and archetypally Irish: a carpet of green picked out by pink wildflowers, roaming with sheep, and sloping steeply into the crashing Atlantic.

Dingle Town

Dingle Town was hopping, too, a picture-perfect fishing village of 1,500 people living in tidy, parti-colored houses.

Fungie the Dolphin

Each morning for almost 30 years, the small fleet of worn fishing trawlers has been escorted through Dingle Bay to the sea by Fungie the dolphin, a bottelnose dolphin that just showed up one day in 1983 and can't seem to get enough of playing with the boats.

We forked over the €10 —now €16, but still refundable should Fungie fail to show—to ferry out into the bay and watch the dolphin gamely frolic beside the boats (

The pubs of Dingle

I did my darndest to sample as many of Dingle's 50-odd pubs as I could, including such throwbacks as Dick Mack (half bar, half shoe store; ( and Foxy John's (a bar/hardware store/bicycle rental shop; tel. +353-(0)66/915-1316).

We spent most of the evening, though, at An Droicead Beag, clapping along to the traditional music and briefly boogying alongside Dingle's young and beautiful in the soundproofed disco upstairs (tel. +353-(0)66/915-1723).

We stayed out partying as late as my jetlag allowed, then stumbled back across the street to our B&B, the stylishly and modern Walsh's B&B—eggplant-colored, bang in the center of town, and run by a budget travel-minded chap who regaled me of tales of his honeymoon by backpack and railpass (

The Dingle was all I remembered it and more from my first Irish trip, seven years before, and I was looking forward this time around to touring the next peninsula to the south, the famous Ring of Kerry loop road.

» On to: A Tale of Two Peninsulas (Part 2: The Ring of Kerry)

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.