Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dingle in the mist

A harbour-side walk was my plan for the early part of the morning but I awoke to misty rain outside. But it was mainly mist with nothing much in the way of drizzle so I set off towards where the harbour entered the larger bay. I nearly made it all the way but the path seemed to peter out, and the rocks next to the water were slippery. I didn't think I should be the third person in our family to get a broken leg so I made my way back again. For most of the walk in the mist I felt as if I was the 'only being' on the harbour except for occasional boats leaving, and a few cows who ignored me. But then I rounded a corner and heard the loud noises of a group of wet-suited people in the water. Apparently Fungi the dolphin had kept them company for a while but had since left. This famous Dingle harbour dolphin has been keeping humans amused and many locals employed for twenty years or so. I am not sure why the dolphin puts up with all these noisy humans but I guess they provide company.

At 11am I left on a guided walking tour with Bernie who was an absolute fount of knowledge. He took me first to the garden behind the Presentation convent where on a good day we should have been able to see Lord Ventry's house. (I visited this yesterday to see the ogham stones.) Bernie described how Dingle had been laid out as a town by the Normans, though in the current enthusiasm for the area as an Irish speaking one, he said this heritage is largely ignored. He pointed out where a bit of the old town wall ran, though evidence of an older town has largely disappeared. He talked about the amount of contact Dingle had with Spain, and that in fact for a period, Dingle citizens were considered citizens by Spain. We visited the present St James Church that is near the site of a larger original St James Church, used as a starting point for a dangerous sea voyage to Compostella for pilgrims. This large amount of Spanish contact meant that Irish soldiers were common in various Continental armies, and also that middle class sons were commonly educated on the Continent. Bernie said that the Spanish had detailed maps of the Dingle area at a time when it was a blank on English maps, but all that changed at the battle of Kinsale, (about which I learned on a guided walk when I was in Kinsale!) Bernie talked about 'Mass houses' and how Catholic practice was not quite so viciously stamped out here in Dingle as in other parts of Ireland.

There is still a misty drizzle outside. So I am on the internet while my laundry gets washed at a local laundry. It is one of the essentials of a traveller's life every so often: I ignore dirty marks on clothes as long as I can, but you reach a smelly stage where you can ignore the dirt no more!


  1. Shannon has chicken pox, I have flu and Patrick is a box of birds. Hopefully he will have spots soon -well if I am stuck at home with one in quarantine, we might as well have it out of the way for both!

  2. Oh dear! The trouble is that Patrick is probably incubating them now from Shannon and will have them once she is better and raring to go again!
    I am just about to leave Dingle and go to Limerick. My time in Ireland is speeding by.