Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ireland 2011 - Chapter 4 - Dingle Peninsula

After a hearty Irish breakfast, we set off on the fourth day of our tour. The morning was misty and overcast, but the views were still wonderful. Our guide, Danny, took us across from the mainland to Valentia Island, to start the morning off right with with a brisk morning walk.

View from Valentia Island, looking toward Portmagee

We could see our destination far off in the distance, a watchtower on a point of land overlooking the ocean.  First we had to climb over a nifty stile to get into the field where we would be hiking.

Looking out at those views, I just kept thinking, "I can't believe I'm here!"

Bray Head on the Skellig Peninsula

It was great being able to spend so much time with my mom...

Portmagee, the most westerly harbor in Europe, from Valentia Island
Heather covering the old stone walls

Can you see the Skellig Islands off in the distance in the photo below? On the larger island, Skellig Michael, a group of monks started a monastery in the 6th century. We went to an information center on Valentia Island that told all about it - it was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.

As we watched the movie about what life was like for the monks, we all sat there with our mouths hanging open in amazement! It was an incredible feat of perseverance and pure determination that they could build a community on a rock eight miles out in the Atlantic. And the fact that they managed to eke out a living in such harsh conditions - unbelievable! This photo of a display from The Skellig Experience Center will give you an idea of why I was so impressed. The paths were carved by hand out of solid rock using only the most primitive of tools.

(Display at The Skellig Experience Center, Valentia Island)

It's possible to visit the island today by boat, but it was too stormy for the boats to land when we were there. I'm not sure I would have had the nerve to do it anyway. The thought of climbing those steps, with no guard rails, up those sheer cliffs gives me the willies!!

We finally reached the watchtower on our walk. It was used during World War II to watch for German planes. Now it's used by cows as a shelter from stormy weather.

As we were looking at the waves crashing below,  I asked our guide, Danny, what it was like in the winter there, and he said that the waves could be crashing as high as the tops of the cliffs during a storm!

As we turned to head back, a farmer stopped by to check on his cows and mentioned that up over the hill, now mostly covered with vegetation, there are huge boulders laid out to spell I R E. They were put there during WW II so that any German planes flying over would know that this was Ireland, a neutral country, and not England.

After our wonderful morning walk, we continued driving around Dingle Bay and the Ring of Kerry. Take a look at a typical Irish scenic route road, below. You just have to hope you don't meet a car coming the other way!

Rosebehy Point near Glenbeigh on the Ring of Kerry
Beach along the Ring of Kerry

More pretty fields!

County Kerry

On to the Dingle Peninsula ...

Isn't this how you picture Ireland?

Dingle Peninsula
Along Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

Just outside of Dingle we visited the Gallerus Oratory, believed to be the oldest unrestored church in the world. The stone work is amazing! It was built about 1,400 years ago, with each dry-stacked rock laid at an angle with the outside edge lower than the inside edge, so it stays snug and dry inside.

Gallerus Oratory, Dingle

Tomorrow, we leave Dingle and head for the long-awaited Cliffs of Moher!


  1. Wow Leslie! I'm enjoying a vicarious trip through Ireland: ) You are giving me a little travel itch. Thank you for the awesome pics and description.

  2. You're welcome, Emily! Glad you're enjoying the posts.


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