Today was Part 1 of the Wild Atlantic Way. An amazing seafront drive along the western coast of Ireland. Not a ton of known things to see, just kind of a meandering along the way and stopping at anything that seems like a worthwhile detour.
We woke up early. Norah was only up until 3:45am last night. 15 minutes sooner! Win? Lol so two nights in a row I’ve had less than 4 hours of sleep. Tonight is Kegan’s turn…but she was back awake early today with no nap…so we may have turned the corner. I really think she’ll finally be on track tonight. Fingers crossed 🙂
Our hostess at the Carraig Laith House Bed and Breakfast made us a “Full Irish” to start our day. It has cooked tomatoes, white and black pudding, rashers, sausages and an egg. Definitely not something you could eat every day…but it was awesome.
On our way off the Kerry Peninsula we stopped alongside the road at this sculpture dedicated to St. Brendon. He is the patron saint of travelers and sailors and probably the most famous saint from this area of Ireland.
He was born almost a hundred years after St Patrick and St Declan at the birth of Irish Christianity (like 500AD or so?)….by this time Christianity WAS the religion. The legend was that angels appeared over the house when St Brenden was born and he was marked to be special- because of this, his parents left him as a baby with the Bishop to be educated and raised. Can you imagine- you just gave birth to your baby- some priest shows up with his following of disciples and says “your baby is special…God has big plans for him, Angels just appeared over the house to tell us- we’d like to keep him. Hope you don’t mind.” WHAT? Lol
But he did grow up and found many monasteries and convents and spread the faith. On the top of what is now Mt Brandon, he supposedly had a vision of the promised land. He set out with his monk disciples on a 7 year journey…where it’s believed he made it to Iceland, Greenland and even possibly America! …and returned to Ireland. Sort of unbelievable for the time…but that explains the statue:
The next town, Killorglin, we went through had the most unusual statue in its town center. A Goat King. His name is King Puck. For one weekend a year, they crown a goat King for the weekend.
From their website:
Puck Fair (In Irish Aonach an Phoic, meaning “Fair of the He-Goat”, ‘poc’ being the Irish for a male goat) is one of Ireland’s oldest fairs
Every year a goat catcher goes up into the mountains to catch a wild goat. The goat is brought back to the town and the “Queen of Puck”, traditionally a young school girl from one of the local primary schools, crowns the goat “King Puck“.
On August 10th, The “King” is then paraded through the town before being elevated onto a high stand in the town square for three days. On the 3rd day of the fair, he is brought down to be led back to his mountain home. In the middle of the town square, he is crowned which signifies that the festivities may begin.
Too bad we weren’t here in August. Lol
We continued on around to the next peninsula, the Dingle peninsula- the most western point of mainland Europe. We came upon Inch beach as the first main pull off from the main drag. We hit it at low tide so we could really see just how wide and flat the beach was down from the cliffs we were driving on.
Driving further, we saw a sign for Min Aird (Minard) Castle. I hadn’t seen anything about this anywhere so I figured it must just be something not worth seeing but we took a detour anyway. So happy we did. It was the best part of the day. This old castle was another destroyed by Cromwell’s army- only this one had only been built about a hundred years before by the Fitzgeralds. So sad. I want to buy it and restore it. This place was the epitome of perfection in Ireland. I wonder what the going rate for an oceanfront castle is these days…
The approach from the side road
The beach here is what is called a “storm beach” because the big boulders are smoothed by rolling around the ocean floor with the tides and then during huge storms they are thrown around and sometimes out the water, collecting here.
At low tide the beach is very sandy but at high tide the sand is covered. Can you imagine this being your morning walk after waking up in your castle? 😉
A view from the beach
A fresh water stream ran right in front of the castle, over the rounded rocks and put into the ocean. Fresh water and sea water right together.
The constructed walls around the stream leading to the ocean.
After leaving this site and back on the Main road, we saw our first Ireland rainbow. It was faint but definitely cool.
This took us to the town of Dingle. We walked around the town and looked at a few shops. Found a farmers market where were able to find beetroot and carrot soup and Kegan found some artisan salami: venison and chorizo and some sort of strange salad hand pie
After Dingle begins the Slea Head Drive around the rim of the peninsula, with the first major site to see being the Beehive Huts along the side of the road.
These are from BC times and they were used until around 1100AD. The guy who I assume owns the land has set up a booth to take 3 euro to see it, so we obliged.
We had some friendly seagulls stop on the hood of our car when we got back
A cross looking out over the ocean further along the drive.
I had Kegan photograph the road I was driving on for all of this. One lane wide with a rock face one side and a rock wall on the other. You figure out how to pass a car on that!
I walked to the edge of our lookout point and saw people getting in! It’s like 45 degrees outside.
On around, I met some more locals 🙂
We toured the Gallarus Oratory- the only surviving example of this specific type of architecture remaining in Ireland. The masons that built it used no mortar and now 1000-1200 years later- it’s still waterproof! Insane. The stones are angled slightly down to that no water runs inside. Genius.
This was an early Christian church for the people of the area.
Photo from inside turned out cool due to the rain on my lens here.
This pretty much completed the loop and we headed back to a Dingle to check into our hotel. We ate dinner in Dingle at a little restaurant called Out of The Blue.
Fish chowder for appetizer
I had the grilled monkfish tail
Kegan had the whole Plaice fish.
I regrettably googled “monkfish” after ordering. I shouldn’t have. That is one scary fish- but his tail is delicious. lol
Yeah…you’re welcome for the nightmares, too. Who decides that this should be on a restaurant menu??? If I caught that, I’d think it needed an exorcism.
After dinner we headed to a local pub for drinks and we had hoped some traditional music. Turns out they only do live music most places during “season” – the summer when everyone goes to Ireland and we are a few weeks too early.
That’s ok though, we sat and talked to the cook and bartender for a couple hours and had the place to ourselves. They even let me borrow an iPhone charging cable so I could type this blog up while we drank. UPDATE: I just received a text from my mother that Norah is asleep. At 11pm! 🙂 I guess we can wrap it up and head back to the lodge and actually get some sleep!