|The Dingle Peninsula is the extreme western edge of Ireland and, in fact, of all of Europe. It's been inhabited for almost 6,000 years, has some amazing coastal scenery and a couple thousand archaeological sites to investigate - ring forts, towers, high crosses and the like. Because of its isolated location, Dingle is supposed to be predominantly Irish speaking, although I have to admit I didn't hear much Irish when I was there.
Narrow roads, which are usually jammed-packed with slow moving cars and tourist coaches, wind their way around the peninsula. Cyclists with a death wish somehow squeeze on the road as well. If you want to see the sights and still maintain your temper, health and sanity, then park the car and head out on one of the many walking trails that crisscross their way through the countryside or along the coast.
I had really wanted to stay in the small village of Ventry on Dingle Peninsula; the manager of Doolin Hostel had highly recommended the hostel there. But I hadn't booked in advance and, it being the weekend, Ventry was all booked up. My own fault really for not planning ahead.
So instead I stayed at one of the hostels in Dingle Town. It was a large converted 19th century house, about 1/2 hour walk outside of town, with tons of character (we even had a real coal fire burning in the evenings), and a nice group of travellers (yes, more Canadians and Americans).
There's nothing wrong with Dingle Town, in fact it's a cute little fishing town with brightly colored shops and a good variety of restaurants and pubs. But it's the main tourist destination on Dingle Peninsula, all the tour coaches stop there, and it's much busier than I like, full of tatty tourist shops, and much more expensive.
You might not know this, but Dingle Town also has a celebrity ... Fungi the Dingle Dolphin. Apparently back in 1984, some local fishermen noticed a solitary bottlenose dolphin in the bay. "Fungi" decided to hang around Dingle, started following the fishing boats, and now does leaps and tricks to entertain the tourists. Sadly I didn't have the opportunity to meet Fungi.
I did, however, have the opportunity to do a few good rambles around Dingle Town. In fact, not far from the hostel were a few towers and a ring fort, and stunning views of Dingle's coastline.
But unfortunately, with public buses not operating on Sunday, I didn't have the chance to visit Ventry or some of the other smaller villages along the coast. I guess I could have hopped on one of those huge tourist coaches (not), or I could've just hitchhiked (again, not). So I'll have to save this for next time ... and hey, maybe then I'll even get a chance to meet Fungi.