First the weather: There are few places in Ireland where the weather can change so swiftly. I set out for a stroll into town center from the Skellig Hotel a half mile or so in bright sunshine one day in March.
By the time I reached town a spring squall had swept in from the Atlantic, breasted the majestic Mount Brandon and poured teeming rain on the little town. I seemed to be the only person without a mac, as they call them here.
My advice on weather in Dingle is to let it happen. Wild winds blow, thunderstorms fall, sun appears glistening in the east or west. Dingle has it all. Embrace it.
The town itself is hard labor if you don't like hill climbing. The top of the main street is for mountain goats, steep at the extremity.
It is well worth the climb. The fifty shades of green beloved by Johnny Cash when he saw Dingle are fifty shades of every color imaginable.
Sometimes Irish villages are dull and dreary, grey pebble dash, brick, some whitewash but not Dingle.
There are so many colors that it looks like an artist’s palette.
Sometimes nothing is as it seems. There are pubs that look like general stores until you step inside and the general store is on one side the pub the other. Currans, Foxy Johns, and Dick Macs are the most famous, perhaps.
For a real old country feel Benner’s Hotel is hard to beat, in the town center, the hotel that has long been the fulcrum of the town. The cozy atmosphere helps as do the charming clientele who will engage after a few pints in lively talk for as long as you wish.
The other main hotel is the Skellig and I cannot praise it highly enough. A three day stay is a pleasure and off season rates were darn good.
There is American style service and I mean that in the best way possible. Breakfast is all you can eat and the delicious Irish fare adds the pounds quickly!
The staff are highly trained, there is a pool, and a nice walk around the grounds, there is also a spectacular view of Fungi kingdom, Dingle Bay that the dolphin swims into.
Dingle was always popular but Fungi put it through the roof when he first made his appearance in 1984 escorting boats from the harbor. There are varying estimates to his age and doomsday will be when he is no longer a welcome sight for the day trippers who come from all over the world.
He deserves a statue in the main street when he passes, No man or beast has done more.
Some Dingle folk will tell you that the crowd across the bay in South Kerry tried to steal him some even claim he is a clever fake, a prosthetic version like “Jaws” in the movie. He’s real all right and the squeals of delight of the kids when they see him do his tricks is a warm sight to see.
Fine dining is synonymous with Dingle with top class fish restaurants dotted along the main street and many side ones too, Ask the locals for advice as the list is long and appetizing, This year I tried the Global Village on the main street voted the best restaurant in Kerry in 2013 which is like being voted the best Gaelic footballer in Kerry.
It was wonderful, freshest fish you can imagine with new Irish potatoes and a very attentive staff. Not cheap, but then Dingle is a tourist town and the prices reflect that.
I took one trip west of Dingle, to Ballydavid about seven miles outside near where my ancestors hail from.
I stopped, of course, in Tigh TP the pub with perhaps the best view in Ireland, looking out over the pier, the fishing boats and the mighty Atlantic. Sean O’Connor is my host and a better man for local knowledge and craic you will never find. Watching the sun go down from outside TPs on a summer’s evening remains one of the most wonderful ways I can spend my time.
Then after a few pints always time for a song. Some of the best traditional musicians in West Kerry make their way there later on and inspire, a version of The Bright Blue Rose is haunting and deeply moving the night I was there.
Still west of Dingle is Slea Head drive a magical tour around some of the most beautiful scenery in the world immortalized in Ryan's Daughter. The Blasket Center in sight of the Blasket Islands is a must visit as it brings to life the timeless way of living on that Kerry island long ago.
Finally a complaint !The main road from Tralee to Dingle might have seemed quaint in the
time of “The Quiet Man” but it desperately needs a serious upgrade these days as
it is a major highway to a top tourist destination.
Besides, it would mean we could all get there faster.
For more visit www.dingle-peninsula.ie.