An Daingean Peninsula must be one of the most beautiful places on the earth. The bus ride in was so Irish, with massive fields of sheep and cows all over the mountains, all right on the coast of the Atlantic. Dingle town itself was cute It had all the typical Irish looking shops, but unlike Galway, it felt like fishing and farming really did fuel the economy, not just hordes of tourists. The town centered around a harbour, which also happen to be the home of Ireland's most friendly dolphin, Fungi. Apparently in 1984 Fungi adopted Dingle as his home town (The way Bennet the Cat adopted us). In his younger years he would jump over small zodiacs and fishing boats and play with local fisherman and scuba divers. In his old age, although still active, he more swims beside and jumps alongside boats, as opposed to over them.
The really impressive part of Dingle was the surrounding peninsula. Our B&B host (who baked delicious homemade bread, pies, cakes and museli (muselage, as Gramma calls it.)) called and set us up with a private tour of the peninsula for a group-rate price.
Now, instead of boring you with more description about how incredible the most Western tip of Europe is (plus I'm running out of adjectives), I will let the pictures do the talking and tell you some interesting facts about Ireland (ps. the tour guide said that I was very lucky to be able to actually get out of the tour bus and no be blown away by the coastal winds). But don't fret, my avid fans: I would have risked it for these pictures, regardless of the threat on my life. So, anyways, when Ireland joined the EU, it was one of the poorest countries, but as promised, the other EU countries helped build it up to is luxurious position today. Unfortunately, payback time had come, and many Irish aren't pleased about the cost. For example, Ireland has experienced a huge wave of Polish immigration since Poland recently joined the EU, and since the minimum wage in Ireland is almost 3 times as much as it is back home , many Polish people are making the obvious choice and are either moving to Ireland, or at least working here for the summer. It just so happens that we met a Polish student in Dingle who had been working in Limerick for the summer, who confirmed that she didn't end up have to speak any english at all in Ireland, as the Polish community is so large. During the famine, Ireland lost almost 4 million people. We toured a famine village in Connemara that had ruins of the tiny stone houses with very few windows. The more windows your house had, the more taxes you would pay! When Ireland was ruled by the British and there was no work in the small communities, people would get paid to build walls out of stones piled on each other. The walls did not divide anything, and served no purpose other than to provide work (the British gov't didn't believe in handouts). A final intersting fact is that it pays to have a thatch roof. The Irish gov't actually gives out grants for people to maintain and install thatched roofs!
Tides. Tides are so cool. I think this because yesterday I got to walk on the ocean floor when the tide was out. They actually had steps down the cliff! There were underwater plants growing on the rocks and little fish who got stuck in puddles and missed the ride out. We were standing at the tip of Dingle Bay looking out at the Atlantic, watching Fungi having fun with the fishing boats, about 20 ft under water! (Well, if it were about 5 hours later!) We took some great 'water crashing on rocks' pictures, talked to some fishermen fishing for sting ray, snuck through cow fields and hopped some fences. After all this adventure, the only logical thing to do, was to enjoy some good old live trad. Irish music. So we did. Then we walked the 5 minutes across town (yes, thats all the way across) back to our B&B, which btw, our rooms were about 20 ft from the Atlantic with a great view, and slept with the ocean breeze on our faces. (because I insisted the windows be left open!). Dingle is now tied with Northern Northern Ireland for most beautiful places on our trip thus far,in case you were keeping track.
A note about sheep. I would like to take this opportunity to express my love for sheep. They are just so entertaining! If they aren't trying to escape their huge lots (where would they go anyways?) or narrowly diving out of the way of on-coming tour buses, or being chased by tourists (ahem, Jonathan), they really are just little fluffy and unaware entertainers. I think I am going to get a pet sheep when I come home. Just think about it Dad: you would never have to cut the grass again!
ps. sorry if the title of this entry misled you. I don't actually have a 'jingle from dingle'. Gramma, however, will be home Saturday and will be more than willing to lead a round of 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling'.
pps. if interested in an exact ply by play of Ireland 2006, Gramma has recorded every detail right down to the fresh squeezed orange juice we had for breakfast this morning, for everyone's reading pleasure. Just another example of why she is the cutest Gramma in all of Ireland (and Canada).
ppps. SARAH, we said 'hi' to Fungi for you! He wants to see you back on the Emerald Island soon.