Dingle and the Gap of Dunloe

By Mark

Hope you don’t mind, but I’ve come to the realization that the Ireland trip will take more than 4 blogs to share.  I planned our trip to give us 3 days in Killarney, so we wouldn’t have to keep packing and driving every morning.   To get there, we planned to spend the day driving around the scenic Dingle peninsula.  It turned into our only day of “typical” Irish weather. 

It rained pretty much the whole day.   The trail starts in the town of Dingle itself, where they have a statue to the dolphin “Fungi”. The dolphin makes in home in the towns harbor and very friendly to tourists.  Unfortunately, we did not get to see him.  

All around there are reminders of just how long people have been living along this rugged coastline. 

One of the most famous structures is the Gallarus Oratory.  This boat shaped church was built in the 7th or 8th century and is completely constructed from dry stack stones.  It is built next to the foundations of an even earlier stone church.

Just a little further down the road was the ruins of another famous site, the Kilmalkedar church.

It had everything you wanted in a scenic Irish view.  Ancient Om stones hold the first attempts at creating a written version of Gaelic; the carved lines provide a simple alphabet.  

Weathered Celtic crosses and sundials set in an ancient cemetery provide a suitable location for banshees to haunt.  

The church itself was built in the 12th century and was another marvel of dry stack architecture.  They created Romanesque columns for the walls adding some amazing details.  

The next morning was one of the adventures I had really been looking forward to, a day trip through the Gap of Dunloe. 

A bus takes you up to the trail head and you have a choice on how to proceed from there.  You can hike for 7.5 miles or you can take a pony cart.

Meet Frankie, our pony and John, his driver

Let’s just say that Frankie has seen better days and we were very concerned that he was going to make it all the way.  If ponies could get embarrassed then this one might have been as every other cart passed him by; in multiple places, our driver had to get out and help pull the cart and the pony.  Oh, and those other carts were carrying 4 adults, while it was just the two of us in ours.  

Like much of the country, there is still evidence of the famine depopulation.  The sturdiness of the construction keeps a lot of shells standing.

The views heading up the gap are breathtaking, as you pass by lake after lake. 

At the end you find yourself at a little inn where you wait for the small boats to take you down the river to the return point. 

You cruise through two large lakes and through some pretty narrow passages.  The water levels were pretty low as it has been unusually dry and at one point we had to get out and hike around a small section, while the guide carefully navigated his boat through.

You land at Ross Castle where the buses pick you up and return you Killarney.  

As you wait you can see native soulless ginger children sitting by the water and enjoy looking back at the Gap.  It was a really lovely day.