We started our day with a sunny stop at Inch Strand, a “blue flag” beach. Certain beaches in the EU are awarded the distinction of a blue flag for their cleanliness and amenities. Inch Strand was beautiful—you may know it from the film Ryan’s Daughter.
Then we moved on to Blasket Islands, the most western point in Europe and a remote, former fishing community. Most of their history has been preserved through long poems and folk stories to entertain the community. In the 1950s, the remaining community members were transplanted to the mainland for safety, but their history and fiercely preserved Irish language survived. Today, the Blasket’s only resident is an American poet, who had to sign a waiver.
For more Dingle history, we stopped in to the Gallarus Oratory, a mysterious stone structure on the southeastern corner of Smerwick Harbor. Built by skilled stoneworkers, the small building was used by early Christians and has withstood centuries of wind and rain—it remains essentially weatherproof to this day.
Our last stop of the day was in the town of Dingle—not to be confused with the Dingle Peninsula as a whole, which we had been exploring all day. Pretty much everyone made a beeline to Murphy’s for some inventive ice cream. The proprietors make only-in-Ireland flavors like Dingle Bay sea salt, Irish orange marmalade and Guinness, and they support traditional agriculture by only using milk from Kerry cattle. After trying basically everything (they were seriously generous with the samples), I got a scoop of carmelized brown bread and a scoop of rum raisin.
When we got back to the hotel, our jaunting cars were waiting. Emma had coordinated the special optional excursion for anyone who wanted to participate, and Katie and I didn’t want to pass up a horse-drawn ride through the gorgeous Killarney Park. The drivers, or “jarveys,” are known for their silver tongues—ours sang us a song called “Boston Rose” after relaying an impressive and in-depth history of the park and the surrounding areas.
Tomorrow, we’ll spend the day exploring Killarney National Park. Stay tuned!
– Jessie R., Editor