Saturday, May 9, 2009


Just up the road from Skibbereen, another picture-perfect dolmen, no notice nor signage, guarded by a lone sheep

The Skellig Rocks, far off the Iveragh coast, an important Celtic Christian monastic site

A typical Dingle scene, near the pass between Camp and Dingletown

Ogham Stones at the Ventry Manor House, near Dingle town, Celtic Christian era, with earliest known written Irish, a cipher of straight lines...sort of a bar-code pre-cursor

Dunbeg Fort, on the sea cliffs near Slea Hand, Ireland's western-most point; another iron-age fort

View from Dunbeg, Iveragh Peninsula in distance

Amid morning squalls we drove on around the Ring of Kerry. Vicki was impressed with the drive and scenery. I was less so. The Iveragh Peninsula is too much rock for me, too barren, too little green, and also not enough scenery of the sea. Matters much improved for me when we got on to the Dingle Peninsula. Everywhere is green (read: agriculture), right up nearly to the tops of the mountains. And, past Dingle, the road gives ample views of the sea, the islands, the cliffs, the beaches. We drove past Dingle out to Slea Hand, the Land's End of Ireland, then back to our campground at Ballydavid and into Dingle for dinner. For me, dinner was Dingle Bay mussels in a rich cream sauce, with the merest hint of garlic. The mussels were larger than their Bantry Bay cousins, but not nearly so large and flavorful and succulent as the New Zealand green shells. Oh well, one can't have everything, at least not all at the same time. Vicki had a burger.

On the Dingle Peninsula, one is deep in Irish Gaelic country. All the road signs are in Irish only, and the English spoken here is very difficult for us to follow. The Ogham Stones pictured above were at a girls' Gaelic-only residential school near Dingle. Seeing and hearing such things is in part why one comes to places like Ireland, where there is a past and where people are valuing and preserving it, often defiantly.

Somehow in contrast are the hundreds upon hundreds of “holiday homes” and subdivisions of them one sees in these parts. Evidently, having a vacation home in Kerry or west Cork was part of the national dream, or at least part of the developers' and bankers' dreams. Many of these dwellings, mostly priced in the 500k euro realm, stand vacant or unfinished or for sale now. All the Irish banks have been nationalized, I understand. In many cases, the holiday homes stand next or near to famine houses or famine villages of the 1840s. The Irish adoption of the potato in the 1780s had its own boom, in population, and bust, in the great famine.

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