Yes, there is a place in this world called Dingle. It’s on a peninsula on the southwest coast of Ireland. Yes, its resident celebrity is a dolphin named Fungie, who has been swimming wild and free in the harbour for thirty years. Yes, we visited this land of sugarsweet names, and this is the tale of our visit.
After a long, bouncy bus ride that gave even Ryan Of The Iron Belly a case of the wobbles, we stumbled onto solid ground next to the Dingle pier and up the solid high street to a solid bench where Ryan sketched this sketchy sketch.
We wandered around and decided to stay at the Grapevine Hostel, which was so nice we had to take a picture.
Johnny, who runs the hostel, suggested a great place for traditional Irish music, O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub.
We walked around town for a while because music and revelry in Ireland waits till exactly 9:30 p.m. to begin. There was a dog on a doorstep with a ridiculous expression on its face.
Finally, the hour and minute were upon us, and we found ourselves in a tiny, low room perched on stools amid a pressing crowd of tourists and locals that grew both denser and more raucous as the night played on. It’s amazing how much energy two people can generate with just a guitar and fiddle. In that low, small pub, tourist and local, old and young, clapped and stomped alike, and old Irishmen, shouting in Irish, danced crooked jigs off-tempo. Here again, I feel the word “quintessential” is in order. What a great night!
The next day we stayed at a campground further north on the peninsula, and walked back and forth to the tiny town of Ballydavid. In the morning the fog lay thick upon the water and we gazed out from the shore profoundly, picturing beyond the grey obscurity the vast endlessness of the open ocean. Sitting on the porch of the town’s one pub, happy for its free WiFi (luxury of luxuries when traveling) we looked up from our phones to discover the fog had burned away, and the view it revealed was not the vast endless sea, but merely the other side of the harbour, not even a half mile away. Alas!
The campground had intricate, hand-painted maps of Smerwick Harbour. If you look closely, you can see the campground near the bottom-right, and also the long stretch of beach where we spent most of the day treading the waves for relief from The Great Irish Heat Wave Of Twenty Aught Thirteen, which we had joked about with locals, and which was no longer a joke, but a real heat wave with actual heat.
Ryan stood bravely.
Karen found this classic shell.
Climbing around in the tide pools of the volcanic rock on the north end of the beach, we found a bunch of crabs and shrimp that had been trapped there when the tide had gone out. Or maybe this is where they actually live? They looked like they’d be delicious, boiled up over our camping stove, so we tried to spear some with our Swiss army knife, but they were too fast and we just ended up blunting the knife and making it creaky with saltwater.
That night we ate out for the first time on our trip, at Ballydavid’s one restaurant, behind their one pub. It was fancier than we expected, but it was delicious. Some kind of risotto dish with a whole basket of various breads baked in Dingle, and a dark-chocolate-orange-sherbet thing for dessert.
Next morning we walked five long, hot miles back to Dingle for the bus, and took some pictures of the harbour.
We never got to see Fungie, because it turned out you had to pay an arm, a leg, and both eyebrows for a boat tour out to the bigger bay where he lives, but perhaps there’s still a dolphin in our future…