Friday, April 8, 2011

Farewell to Dingle

In less than 24 hours we will be flying home.  Today is the perfect last day with temperatures in the upper 60s and smiling people no matter which way you look.  Lovely.

Yesterday we spent most of the day going around the famed Ring of Kerry.  We are calling it the Ring of Fog.  We had to get out of the car to read a sign that declared we were looking at the Best View in Ireland.  The fog or sea mist as they like to call it here was dense early on in the day..  The terrain was unusual.  Lakes and barren hills of brown and black, slate rocks and winding roads.  The town of Sneem was lovely.  Kenmare was a tidy town and very pretty.  We had a very enjoyable lunch in that town as recommended by our landlord.  Old ruins were also abudant.  Molls Gap to Killarney was exceptionally nice.

We couldn't resist going back to the Courthouse for another music fest.  It did not disappoint.  The world's champion in small box button accordian was featured.  He was just amazing.  Before the music ended, the serving of drink was closed but everyone about 50 people wanted more music.  Tommy O'Sullivan played guitar and sang, 3 fiddle players and the main man, Damien Milan.  Also a woman from the audience got up to sing a very meloncoly tune.  The bar was at a hush.  Our main friends for the evening were two beautiful girls from Israel and a couple from St. Paul.  We also meet Katherine and Mike from the Craic house.  All in all a most enjoyable evening of toe tapping.  So glad we got a nap in.  We haven't been home this late in years.

We are mostly packed and will just finish up our business in town today.  Return the library books, say farewell to Ann, John, Michael and Tony. and visit the convent again to see the stained glass windows. 

And an enjoyable time was had by all.  Farewell from Dingle.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Days Dwindle Down.....

Sunday was an uneventful , lazy day reading half of the newspaper and then we went out in the evening.  Our last attendance at the Session held at the Marina Inn.  We talked with most of the Musicians we recognize, Eoin, Tommy and Dennis and his wife, Mary Margaret.  She will be returning to the states on Tuesday to help with her ill father.  We met Ann who plays the flute.  She only learned 5 years ago after all of her kids took flute lessons and then abandoned the instrument as soon as they learned how to play.  Our dear friend, Katherine was there of course and Michael from The Craic House.  Katherine introduced us to a new Dingleman, Kevin.  One of the better looking guys on the peninsula.  Tommy suggested we go to his new pub on Tuesday night--singers only.  We might. Fun night.

Monday was a damp, drizzle laden morning with a chance of clearing so we headed for Kinsale.  It was a day of firsts.  We spotted our first wombat crossing sign.  We did not take any photographs on our way to Kinsale.  For the first time we had different opinions of of a town.  I loved Kinsale and thought it was charming nestled along the harbor, Bill found it cramped  with narrow streets and zero parking.  When we finally found a parking spot along the harbor, I took it as a sign.  Reluctantly, Bill parked and pulled his hood up against the rain and wind.  I quickly found him a bar--The Lord Kinsale Inn--and then I explored.  The colors of the shops were amazingly bright, the streets amazingly crooked, the alleyways numerous.  Returning to get Bill he told me how much he enjoyed his conversation with Colin, the streetclearner who was on lunch break at the pub.  We left, got the car and were driving to get a better vantage point of the harbor before lunch, we did find a good spot for photos.  And then the driver of the car, took off out of Town.  Another first--no lunch and we were retrancing our drive into Kinsale. Usually we try to take another route back to Dingle.  Another first I was disappointed in the drivers behavior.  But we did stop to take some photos of ruins, stop at a toy soldier factory--the only one in Ireland--and finally arrived at Inch Beach.  We have passed this beach several times and every time it was calm.  Not this day.  Now we know why surfers flock to this spot.  Huge waves accompained by strong wind.  We could hardly stand up to take a couple of photographs.

We arrived in Dingle at dinnertime and ate at Murphys.  I got the special of the day and surprise, surprise it had 3 ice cream scoops of mashed potatoes, two mashed mounds of squash, green beans and chips.  The stuffed roast pork was stuffed with baked apples.  Bill stuck with his soup--potato and bacon soup.  Home again, home again.

Tuesday was another day without sun.  We could not see the bay or the mountains.  Going into town we decided to purchase fish and then went back home.  After a long nap we were ready to eat and head for the Charthouse Pub.  We were so glad we went.  It was like attending a concert of Irish music.  The pub is newly renovated, cozy and very, very low ceilings.  Either everyone who came to the bar is 6 ft. tall or the ceilings are 5 ft high.  Lots of head butting.  We got the front table and really enjoyed talking with Eoin, listening to Sandra and Tommy, hearing Dennis sing and then another banjo player singer.  A good 1 and 1/2 hours of singing.  Plus a whistler in the audience.  When we left Tommy and Sandra said we would love the music on Thursday and suggested once again that we come back.  I think we will. 

Today the sun is flirting with the clouds and may emerge soon for longer periods of time.  We are headed to the other side of the pennisula today to get a last look at some ruins we failed to see on previous visits.

Exploring Dingle, Lois and Bill

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It was a dark and windy night

The last two days were stormy.  We came to town to get our food supplies and looked into my favoriate store--Dingle Artsworks.  The owner finally recognized me and as she was  going on holiday, I made my purchases.  She has directed us to many wonderful natural beauty spots not mentioned in the travel books.  The male shop helper checked me out and talked for about 15 minutes.  If we wanted to see the Irish Navy--that day was the day.  When gale force winds are predicted they pull into a Swilly bay. Gale Force winds were predicted. The Irish Navy is comprised of one ship but Bill and I thought it would be interesting so we went over the mountain pass and got to see the ship bouncing in the rough waves.  We also got some great photos after the sun came out.  So much for sustained gale force winds.  That night it was very windy and rainy at our cottage.  But in the morning, the most incredible clouds and sunny spots greeted us.  Once again we were enthralled by the ever changing landscape and headed up the Slea Head Drive, again.
We believe we were the only people enthralled because we stopped the car whenever we wanted to take photos.  We really enjoyed the drive.

Pat and Monte, remember the sheep road over the cliff, I took another photo of that.  The sea was rough  and I didn't want to get blown over the edge.  I wasn't.

We returned home on a one lane road that passes Tony the bartender's house.  No traffic again.  Now we wanted to see the stained glass windows in the convent because it was very sunny.  Before we could get to the convent, the sun disappeared and the rain began.  We had to rush into DICK MACK's bar.  This pub was once the only shoe store and shoe repair business in town.  One side of the shop boasts the bar, the other the shoes and repair equipment.  Disarray and dust prevail.  The owner, Oliver,  is the 2nd generation owner and has been for the last 50 years.  What an unusual character.  If we closed our eyes, he sounded exactly like Barry Fitzgerald.  Prolonged vocalization of each vowel.  Very friendly bar.  Our next stop was McCarthy's Bar on Goat Street.  This bar was highly recommended by the couple from WV who would teach over here each summer.  Fortunately they had a cozy fire and a talkative couple near the fireplace.  Dave you would have loved this.  John Rouney was from Scotland and his finance Alexandria was from Italy.  They will be married in September in a small Italian town close to the Alps.  The church they will be married in is about 3 centuries old.  He will be in full Tartan attire.  Interesting couple and delightful to talk with.  It was dinner time so off to the Benner Hotel.  Bill had another heart attack on a bun and I had a Guinness Beef Pie.  Very good food there.  Our bar companion was a very intersting man from Dingle who had just returned from Holiday in Italy.  I am always amazed and even more so during this conversation, that Bill seems to know everthing.  Unbelievable to me.  I'm getting a history lesson and these two are chatting away for more than an hour as though the two of them had shared the same experience.  The photos he took were a pocket away waiting to be viewed from his digital camera. Each segment of his journey was illustrated with beautiful photographs.  Then the place was taken over by guests arriving for a 40th birthday party.  The women were dressed very fancy.  I got Bill out of there as quickly as possible.

Today we are in town again to get the paper, talk with family on Facebook, and stretch our legs.  We will be leaving here on Saturday and feel that we may miss this little sheltered village of Dingle.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sad News

We learned yesterday that Bill's older brother John was killed on Wednesday in an automobile accident in Utah on his way to Seattle.  The details are sketchy.  His service will be in Seattle on April 16th so we will be home for that.  We are still in shock and find it hard to comprehend.

This past year we have had more contact by phone and in person than in previous years.  John came to Bill's birthday in August and we all had dinner near John's birthday in January at the Scoth n Sirloin.

John was a brillant man who worked most of his life with Boening designing new aircraft.  He designed the visual system on the back of seats in the 777.  The first to do that.  Most of his work was incomprehensible to us.

John was a charmer and was most welcoming and generous with his time if you visited him--which we did.  Our favorite experience was when he took us for a little stroll on Mt. Rainier.  John kept saying the summit(for non ice climbers) is right around the corner.  5 1/2 hours later we made it to the resting spot.  The view, the flowers, ice, snow fields are as vivid today as they were then in 1988.  What a wonderful memory and experience.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Dublin's Fair City...

Our trip to Dublin was first class.   The tranportation system is efficient and comfortable.  If you pre-book, as we did, an electronic display of your name appears above your seat.  In case you are wondering if the rails are used by natives or foreign visitors, our fellow passageners in our section were Fionia Murphy, Donal O'Donovan, Lorna McCan and Brian O'Donahue.  The OAP's (Old Age Pensioners--so much for politically correct) may ride the rails and buses for free anywhere in the country.  By the time we exited the train at Heusteon we knew we were in Dublin.  Guinness distillary was to our left and the first Q line was to our right.  We Qed for tickets to the Lucas (lewis) the new high-speed rail system above ground for in-town travelling.  Everything was easy .  Dublin boasts about 1 million people.  I wonder why it doesn't tilt into the Dublin Bay since the country only has 4 million people.

We reached our nephew Brian's house in Reheny in good fashion.  We walked from the train and noticed, wider roads, sidewalks and larger homes built closer together.  Brian and Dierdre have a lovely home with a backyard and a cul-de-sac road.  Perfect for their two young sons, Eli and Harry.  Their children are so cute and well-mannered.  Only photos can convey the red-haired 41/2 year old Harry and 7 year old Eli.  Eli wears a uniform to school, one for PE days and another for the other days of the week.  They can walk to everything, including school, shopping, a huge park--St. Ann's and a massive beach on Dublin Bay.  It is a terrific setting.

Dierdre came home from work and it looked like she worked on the runway.  Her jacket had more high fashion details than my entire wardrobe for my entire life.  She is a stunning and smart woman who runs an international business.

It was raining on our second day and so Brian took Harry, and us to Newgrange.  It is a neolithic monument that is older than the pyrmids. The experience bordered on the religious.  We had a wonderful time. Then we ate lunch at the Abby Tavern in Howth. A roaring fire, stone walls, old weathered wood table and chairs. And a  wonderful meal of seafood chowder and mussells.  Most of the fish used in Ireland comes from Howth.  We enjoyed that a lot.  We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in Raheney--very good.  We also visited Dierdre's mother.  We packed in a lot of visiting in the days we were there. 

More speaking Irish--In dublin everything is GRAND and people are lovely.  Dierdre has a lovely girl for our  Micheal and wants him to come and stay for a while so he can see if this is the girl for him.

Back in town this morning and loading up on food for the prediction of heavy rains for the net two days.  On our way into town we say a horse an rider in full gallop on the Ventry Beach.  With the wild sea producing waves at high tide, it was a pleasure to view.

Lois and Bill back in Dingle

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lazy Weekend

The weather continues to delight--high 60s again today.  Bill is recovering from his asthma attack and cold.

We will get the paper and stay close to home today. The Irish Times can keep you busy the entire day.  It is loaded with long stories reminiscent of the days before television news.  It is also a cumbersome paper.  It is very difficult to hold the paper with two hands unless you fold it into fourths.  But it has wonderfully written news and stories.

We are leaving for Dublin in the morning on the 7:15 a.m. bus to Tralee and then on to Dublin by train.  Looking forward to seeing our nephew and his wife,

Joan Garvey told me today that the stone floor on the porch is from the Cliffs of Moher.  Thought that was interesting.  Excuse me, Lovely.

Lois and Bill on the Dingle

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Speaking Irish

The Dingle Peninsula is one of the strongest Irish speaking areas in the country.  Bill is now a fluid reader of signs in Gaelic.  He now recognizes An Daingean as Dingle Town.  Good thing too.  Once our GPS mis directed us and Bill got us back on track with his reading ability.

When entering shops, pubs, or other service locations it is common to hear Gaelic spoken.  In the short time we are here we will never learn enough to understand or converse.  We have learned some examples of Irish non-gaelic speech however.

Rain for example can be called patches of drizzle, a bit more cloud, damp, patches of fog, or even an odd spot of drizzle.  I'm sure there are plenty more that we haven't heard.

The word Lovely is used extensively to comment on whatever is said.  "We just arrived from Shannon."  answer "Lovely"  "Could I look at that scarf on the top shelf?" " Lovely:  It does make me feel good hearing that all day so I will try to incorporate it into my speech at home.

When greeting a friend, we have noticed that people do not say "How are you?"  Instead they say, "How have you been keepin'?"

The Irish can also turn any statement into a question with one word--THEN.  examples:

Bill says"I will have a pint of Guinness, please."  Tony, our usual bartender, You'll have a pint of Guinness, then?"

Lois  "We are going to Dublin on Monday."

Ann  "You be going to Dublin on Monday then?"

The cadence and brogue make the speaking flow and almost seems like singing.  We are really enjoying our conversations in Irish.  Lovely.