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A Visit to Ireland: Part 5) the town of Dingle (An Daingean)

Dingle Town 2013-011 Harbor

Dingle (in Irish, An Daingean) is the main town on the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, with a population of around 1500 people.  The Dingle Peninsula sits on Ireland’s west coast just north of the Ivernaugh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry), about 71 km (40 mi) west of Killarney.  Dingle is in the Gaeltrecht part of the country, where maintenance of traditional Gaelic language and culture (eg. music, hurling) is encouraged by government subsidies.  Historically it was an important trading port but today it’s a great town for tourists to visit. 

Colorful storefronts in the small town of Dingle, Ireland

Colorful storefronts in the small town of Dingle, Ireland

 Ireland has many beautiful small towns and Dingle ranks among the finest (and was my favorite of the ones we visited!)  Built along a beautiful sheltered harbor and spreading up the slopes of a mountain to the north, it has a very picturesque natural setting.  It’s colorful homes and storefronts are cheerful and its people very friendly and welcoming.  Dingle has long been a center of fishing and farming, but in the last fifty years (especially since the filming of Ryan’s Daughter in the region), tourism has become increasingly important to the town’s economy.  Dingle has just the right mix of all the services you’ll need to enjoy your trip, with small town Irish charm.

Dingle is well supplied with pubs (over 50), ranging from small crowded historic pubs to large modern ones.  As is true in much of Ireland, much of the social life of the town revolves around pubs: conversation, political discussions, card games and, of course, music.  Wonderful Irish music fills many (but not all) pubs in the evening.  The streets bustle with tourists in the summer, but the number of visitors shrinks in proportion to the length of the days.

Harry Clarke stained glass window, Dingle

Harry Clarke stained glass window, Dingle

Some things to do in Dingle:

1)  Explore the town on foot.  It’s small and despite part of it being on a hill, very walkable.  The colorful storefronts are pleasant and there’s lots of interesting small shops.  Great place to buy some woolen goods or a few souvenirs.  Or better yet, head out into the hills and go on a nice long hike.

2) Visit the waterfront and maybe go for a harbor cruise.  You might see Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin who’s lived in the harbor since 1984.  He likes to follow boats in the harbor and prefers the soliltary life of celebrity to being part of a larger pod of dolphins.  Most dolphins live about 25 years, so Fungie is now old by dolphin standards.  There’s a statue of him by the town’s harbor.

3) See the beautiful stained glass windows crafted by Harry Clark in the chapel adjoining the church on Green Street (An Diseart Center).  Mr Clark is Irish born and the greatest stained glass artist the country’s produced in centuries.  His windows are crisp and beautifully detailed.

4) Definitely go to at least one pub for some Irish music in the evening (generally after 9 pm).  The musicians here are as good as any in the country, so enjoy the harmonizing of the fiddle, banjo, accordion and human voice as you sip that pint of Guinness.

5) Explore the Dingle Peninsula, which we’ll do on the next blog post in this series.

We spent 2 nights in Dingle and stayed at the Greenmount House Guesthouse, a top-notch B&B run by a terrific family and highly recommended!

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