Dawdle in Dingle

To be sure, to be sure, as the Irish would say, there are few places prettier in the world than the coastline of County Kerry, and the crown of Kerry must surely be Dingle, which also happens to be Europe’s western-most town.

The town sits on the Dingle Peninsular and faces the dangerous North Atlantic seas. It has been a trading port since the 16th century when Irish goods were traded with France in return for wine.

Nestled at the bottom of a steep slope on the north side of Dingle Harbour, not far from Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest peak, the town is surrounded on three sides by hills. Dingle has had a much varied history, once being a major producer of linen. It has also had a turbulent military history, being burnt and destroyed on several occasions, but today it is a magnet for tourists who visit the town and its surrounds to enjoy the magnificent scenery to be found on Dingle’s doorstep.

The Peninsular, which extends for 48 kilometres (30 miles) into the Atlantic, is comprised of spectacular steep cliffs that are occasionally pot marked by gorgeous sandy beaches and bookended by sandy spits in both the north and south.

The natural attractions around the peninsular are endless, and offer a variety of experiences for the visitor. The sand dunes of Inch consist of a 5 kilometre long dune covered sandy spit which protect the lagoons and mud flats of Cromane Bay. The Boulder Beach of Kilmurray Bay at Minard features giant sausage-shaped sandstone boulders which form a beach that is probably unlike any other you have seen.

Looking down into the Ownenmore Valley from the carpark at the top of the Conor Pass in the Brandon Valley, the villages of Cloghane and Brandon nestle peacefully where a mighty glacier once flowed out into Brandon Bay. It’s been only 10,000 years since the last of the ice melted here, and the signs of alpine glaciation are everywhere, from the mega-scale classic U-shape valley of the Glenahoo to the micro-striations on the corrie walls surrounding Peddlars Lake.

The town of Dingle faces comfortably onto a sheltered harbour. From level ground at Strand Street on the harbour’s edge and at the Mall beside the Dingle River, three main streets rise: Green Street, John Street and Main Street. About 1,200 people live in Dingle, but it serves the larger population of the surrounding countryside. Given that Dingle has about 52 pubs in its vicinity; it is never too hard to find a drink there, nor accommodation.

Much of the social life of the town revolves around the pubs: during the winter there are card games and quizzes. In the summer pool tables are removed to leave more room for tourist customers, and Irish music is played almost every night in about ten pubs.

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