As if one needed other reasons to go to Dingle besides the chance to stay at Pax House, there are many reasons to visit and thankfully they have nothing to do with dingle berries.
If you are heading to Dingle from the north and you have a nice day, do as my husband’s Irish college buddy suggested and take the route over Connor’s Pass. The drive is a little scary for a short stretch as it is steep, narrow, and traffic is allowed to travel in both directions even though the road is clearly only wide enough for one car. The tense white knuckle moments are worth the views (especially if you’re not the one driving).
When we stopped at one of the scenic overlooks, Finnegan scrambled up the rocks before we could blink and I had to practically drag him back down because he was only interested in traveling in one direction – up.
By the way, it was great to see you Ian! Thanks for accommodating our crazy boys, racing Finnegan, and having lots of snails in your yard.
One of the most common activities in Dingle is going on a dolphin watching cruise to see Fungie – the famous Dingle dolphin. However, our two days flew by and we never had a chance to go on one of the cruises, which is a shame because Fungie has already exceeded the average life span of a dolphin so he may not have many tour-greeting days left in him. The boys were happy enough with this version of Fungie.
And how beautiful is Dingle harbor?
Since it was overcast and a little drizzly on our first full day in Dingle, we decided to go to the aquarium. It’s not the biggest aquarium we’ve ever been to, but definitely worth the admission price and the perfect rainy day activity. The boys had a great time, and we even went back later in the day to watch the penguin feeding.
After a few hours at the aquarium, the skies cleared and we decided to drive the Slea Head loop. Declan and Finnegan slept for most of the drive so we had to take turns jumping out of the car to explore the many places to stop. The drive is filled with gorgeous views, ancient buildings, and short hiking opportunities.
Our first stop was at one of the ring forts or ‘beehive huts.’ These ancient structures were built around 1000 B.C. and were inhabited until around 1200 A.D. The beehive huts are circular structures that essentially look like stone igloos. Built without mortar, they have withstood the test of time. [One tip – we drove the Slea Head loop in a clockwise direction and stopped at the first beehive hut sign. After driving further up the road, we realized there were probably bigger sites with multiple huts. The admission fee is the same at each stop (2 Euro/person), so wait until the second beehive hut sign if you would rather tour a larger site.]
Finnegan finally woke up so we stopped to do a short hike down to one of the beaches. It was my turn to sit in the car and watch Declan so Russ only managed to take one picture. Finnegan returned to the car proclaiming that he only likes beaches that are warm where you can go swimming. He was not impressed with the stop.
Next was a stop that included a scramble up a rocky hill, which was more Finnegan’s speed. This time, Russ’ brother Pete stayed in the car.
This is a fairly standard view on the Slea Head drive. It almost makes you understand why someone would have settled that close to the Atlantic and built a stone hut as their only protection from the freezing wind and rain, right?
We stopped at the Gallarus Oratory, which is believed to be an early Christian Church, but decided not pay the entrance fee. In researching the entrance fee (because I could not remember what it was), I’ve learned that there is a small public parking lot without a visitor’s center where you can park and visit the oratory for free. We should have done our research ahead of time!
We headed back to Dingle in time for the penguin feeding at the aquarium. On the way, we ran into these guys, which was the perfect ending to the picturesque drive.
Afterwards, we walked around the downtown and had dinner at a pub before calling it a day and enjoying our second night at Pax House.