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.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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One Reply to “Day 185 of 400: Dingle and Clifden – Ireland”
That’s my FAVorite quote!!!!! (Mark Twain). The food pics are Mmmm-amazing!!!! Wishing you well! Xoxo