Gillick's World: Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way Re-published August 2015 - Page 23

After spending a day exploring the Doolin Cliff Walk, my schedule suggested that I take the Shannon Ferry from Killimer to Tarbert, and then continue on to Dingle. However this was the one day of my trip that the GPS decided to stop talking to me. So, holding the GPS in my left hand and the steering wheel in my right hand, I drove through the darkness of a late January afternoon, around some pretty hairy “S” turns and hairpin turns, and eventually arrived safe and sound in the town of Dingle. Michael, one of the staff at Dingle Benners Hotel not only parked my car for me, but figured out why the GPS had stopped talking. (Was it something I said to it?) I celebrated with a nice cold Murphy’s beer, so my day ended on a fairly positive note. After a very comfortable night at the hotel and a great breakfast buffet the next morning, I wandered through Dingle and down to the picturesque harbour—just as the sun was rising— to take in the scenery. This was to be the theme for the day as I soon discovered when I met Pat Buckley from Granter Chauffeur Drive, to explore the Slea Head Drive. I will say right off that Pat is very personable as well as serving as a font of knowledge about the area. It was a pleasure to spend the time with him, chatting, learning and taking in the incredible surroundings. Ho hum… yet another amazing day in Ireland! The name “Dingle” derives from the Irish “Daingean Uí Chúis”, which refers to the Fortress of the Hussey’s, a Flemish family that came to the area in the 13th Century. It’s a very colourful town with craft shops, bakeries and roughly 52 bars, 10 of which feature trad(itional) music on various evenings of the week. Next door to Dingle Benners Hotel is Foxy John’s Hardware Bar, where I dropped in for a pint. Pat Buckley, my guide, later explained that there are a few such bars in Ireland that serve a dual purpose: “You can buy rat poison on your right and Guinness on your left” From Dingle we drove up to the Connor Pass Lookout for a view of the countryside and to learn a bit of the history of the area, before reversing direction toward Slea Head. In tourist season, the buses travel counterclockwise on the route (see map) and therefore many visitors travel clockwise to avoid the congestion. However in January, there were few tourists, so we followed the counter clockwise route, slowing down or stopping whenever we saw something that drew our attention. Here are just a few examples: Gaeltacht: (pronounced as ‘Gale Tact’) refers to a Gaelic Speaking area and on the Slea Head Drive, there are several such cultural pockets and lots of signs in both Gaelic and English.