Day 185 of 400: Dingle and Clifden – Ireland

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Breakfast today was delicious, complete with eggs, bacon, black pudding(the color comes from pig blood), homemade soda bread, sausage and a slice of tomato.  We’ve had a lot of soda bread and this was our favorite.  The host of the B&B sat with us after breakfast to walk through the hand-made map of Dingle.  She told us the “must see” route and gave us local tips on where to park and which small unmarked side streets to explore.

We followed the recommended route and after about 15 minutes arrived at our first stop.  The Dunbeg Fort was on the left side of the road and the big stone house was on the right.  The stone house was quite impressively large with small flat rocks laid one by one on top of each other to form a huge house which is now a restaurant.

We walked across the street after seeing a brief video on the Dunbeg Fort and saw the ancient ruins of the fort dating back to 500 BC.  The landscape alone was something out of a fairy tale.  The ocean was crashing against the cliffs, the green grass could be seen for miles and the old stone walls separated one property from the next.  In the distance, the muffled sound of sheep and cow bells could be heard.

We walked down the path admiring the same architecture as the stone house, there were wall remains built of individual stones stacked on top of each other.  This fort was some type of defense and consisted of what use to be guard chambers as well as an underground room (which wasn’t open to the public) where they probably use to store food and/or used it as a hiding place.

After spending some time in this beautiful spot, we drove a few minutes down the road to our next spot…the beehive huts.  The B&B host had explained there were several huts along the coast.  The first area she advised we skip because that was where everyone would stop, but if we drove a bit further, we would come to a house where an old women would request 2 euros each but would allow us to walk through her property which was full of the bee hives.

We found the house and parked.  As we walked up her driveway, we saw the old women come out to collect her money and quickly realized this was the women in the movie Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  We paid her, and walked through her property being careful to avoid the sheep poop.  The beehive huts were amazing little stone igloos…again made with individual stones stacked on top of each other and in a direction which kept rain from coming in.  They were used as homes (tiny homes I may add) until about 1200 AD.  Some no longer had their roof but many did.  The doorways were tiny…I had to bend over to squeeze through so you can imagine Giff getting inside.  It’s so amazing to think they built these little huts so long ago and without mortar between the rocks to make them stick yet they have survived all these generations.  The fog was thick and settling around us as we walked through the area…it was really special to be able to see these in person.

Back on our route, driving along the windy coastal road, we saw the unmarked side road we were told to drive down.  The road revealed a gorgeous private beach with huge cliffs.  We saw a few people taking pictures and grabbed someone to snap our picture with the impressive backdrop.

We enjoyed the rest of the drive along the loop and ended up back in the cute town of Dingle.  The buildings were bright colors of red, blue-yellow and green.  We needed to get on the road to our next destination but couldn’t resist the urge to see the inside of one of the many old-fashioned pubs.  In the window of the bar were men’s plaid shirts and hats, nothing about a bar or beer etc.  As soon as we walked into J Curran’s pub, we took a step back in time.  Inside the unmarked pub and to the left of the tiny bar were shelves full of random stuff…not on display but just being stored.  Amongst the random items were men’s clothes and hats in boxes.  The right side of the bar had about 6 older men sitting on stools drinking pints of Guinness and the owner behind the counter (probably in his late 60’s) was pouring the beer.  We ordered Guinness as well and pulled up a stool near the locals.  Now…keep in mind this was a week day during business hours…not a weekend or happy hour, yet these men were all drinking and enjoying every moment.  They quickly started conversation with us as we discussed politics and the differences between the US and European countries.  While we were drinking, a customer came in not for a beer but to buy a shirt…this pub was part random men’s clothes and part beers for sale-we have never been to anything like this place.

After our blast from the past experience, we walked out and peeked in one of the other old-fashioned pubs…this one sold hardware tools and beer.  We quickly walked around the town taking pictures and getting a kick out of what felt like a scene from an old movie.  We grabbed some food to go, got in the car and started our five-hour drive from Dingle to the town of Clifden.

The drive was nice with many mountains and lakes layered with fog throughout the terrain.  We checked into our B&B, (www.hillside-lodge.com) and quickly drove the 5 minutes back into the small town of Clifden.  It was late but with all of the pubs, we found one still serving food and the added bonus of live music.  We ordered mussels to start served with homemade brown bread as well as fried Brie drizzled in raspberry sauce.  We followed it with fresh caught local salmon and slow roasted lamb shank.  Dinner was great, (www.ejkings.com) our bellies were full and our eyelids heavy…we drove back to our place to get some rest.

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