Dingle II: Irish Heritage and Craggy Cliffs

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So on my second day in Dingle the weather was too rough to do anything at sea which is where most of the attractions take place (including seeing Fungie the dolphin, sadly).

So what was left to do? The Dingle archaeological tour.

The white tour van picked me up outside of my B&B, and I climbed in with about eight other American tourists. The tour guide was a wizened, news-cap wearing Irishman with a delightful Kerry accent. He had a wry sense of humor, and an incredible knowledge of the peninsula.

First he taught us all about the ogham stones. The notches on the edges of the stones are writing, and not random scratches like my silly self had assumed.

Dingle, Ireland

Next we drove up the narrow Slea Head drive, a scenic road that loops around the peninsula. Our guide pointed out the “Famine Fields” that haven’t been farmed since the potato famine of the 1840s.

I had read before about the horrors of the famine; things like children who begging from house to house with green stains on their mouth from eating grass and families surviving off of nothing but nettle soup for days. But I didn’t know that around 75% of Dingle inhabitants either perished or left. That’s truly an unimaginable percentage.

Then our guide pointed out a famine cottage which dated back to the 1840s. Another fun fact – did you know there are 4 million Irish people and 50 million people of Irish descent?

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Our guide pointed to various hills and towns as we drove around the peninsula and said, “This hillside went to Smithfield, Massachussetts.” “This village went to the South side of Chicago.” It made me envious that I know so little about my Irish heritage – maybe my ancestors were Dingle residents as well!

Dingle, Ireland

On a lighter note, I took a few shots of some of the Dingle wildlife I saw…

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle is certainly as beautiful as they say; I loved watching the powerful surf break against the shore. The only way to see quintessentially Irish views like this is by booking a cheap ticket to Ireland!

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

We also learned that the Spanish armada crashed here in 1588. One girl I met from Dingle claimed to be of “black Irish” descent, meaning her partial Spanish heritage accounts for her dark features. (She actually had blond hair and pale, freckled skin so I don’t know how much water the “black Irish” myth holds.) It’s an interesting theory nonetheless.

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Our last stop was the Gallarus Oratory, a dry-stone church dating from around the year 800. It was built without mortar, and incredibly enough it’s still dry inside after more than 1200 years. As well as very dark.

Dingle, Ireland

Dingle, Ireland

Though I was unsure if I would like the tour, it turned out to be fantastic! I enjoyed seeing the famine cottage and learning about the history of the peninsula from a local’s perspective. And standing over the heather-covered cliffs was a travel moment I won’t forget.

Are you interested in Irish Heritage? Have you ever visited Dingle?

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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16 Comments

  1. Hi Ashley, Great post and we loved Ireland too. There is something mystical about the whole place that just ‘gets’ me and of course, my Father is Irish too :) Have you been to Galway? Totally loved it.

    Reply
    • I have been to Galway and it’s one of my favorite cities in Europe… it’s so much fun! There is just something about Ireland that’s so great :)

  2. Ashley, your text is so interesting, and I love your photos. It is so amazing
    to see and experience other cultures, and especially Ireland where you have an affinity . When I visited I felt the same. The people are so warm and friendly.Love,
    Gamma

    Reply
    • Hi Gamma, thank you for commenting :). I do love Ireland, I always have so much fun there. Everyone was so eager to start singing and playing music – just like you!

    • Yeah I loved taking the tour to the cliffs because it was kind of how I always had thought of Ireland – craggy coastline and green everywhere :)

  3. Ashley, I am enjoying your blog!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Aunt Mary! I’m glad to have you as a reader :)

  4. Incredibly beautiful – the seagulls giving you sass were a nice touch too lol

    Reply
    • Haha they were pretty silly… and gotta love the Irish coast, it’s so beautiful!

  5. “There’s 50 million people of Irish descent” wow! I didn’t know that but I know I’m one of them. My heritage is in Donegal though.

    I like how you pointed out the Kerry accent. Southern Ireland seems to have more of the higher pitched “leprechaun” sounding voice where the northern parts are deeper and “choppy”

    At least that’s what I heard.

    Reply
    • I’m allegedly Irish as well, but I have no idea from where! And I’ve never been to the northern parts but I did notice a distinct different between the Dublin and Kerry accents… the Kerry one sounded very melodic, and the Dublin was more neutral.

    • Thank you! No, I didn’t have time though I am definitely interested in visiting Northern Ireland. I’ll book that trip to Belfast one of these days!

  6. Ashley, when I went to Ireland, I particuliarly liked Galway over Dublin and was curious what fascinations you had or held for Galway? What makes Galway special to you? What other areas of Ireland have you been to and will you be traveling to the northern parts? My grandparents are from Enniskillen. Safe travels! Steve from the States

    Reply
    • I loved Galway because of the music pubs in town as well as the lively student atmosphere… as well as the proximity to the Aran Islands! I’ve been to Dublin, Galway, Cork, Dingle and the Aran Islands… I love Ireland! :)

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