The Dingle Peninsula is one of the premiere destinations for a road trip in Ireland. We'd been living in Dublin for five years and somehow still hadn't made it out there. We decided to rectify the situation this year and planned a road trip to Dingle over the Paddy's Day weekend. Here are some highlights from our 4-day St. Patrick's Day weekend on the Dingle Peninsula.
Irish Hospitality at Browne's B and B
We set ourselves up for the weekend just outside of Dingle Town (just a 20 minute walk away). Browne's Bed and Breakfast featured lovely farm and bay views. We could have spent the entire trip watching the lambs frolic across the street. Too cute and very zen. The breakfast was filling with a number of options to try each day. We'd definitely recommend checking out Browne's.
Downing a Pint in Colorful Dingle Town
Dingle is also known for its amazing and fresh seafood. Most folks from the region balk about having seafood anywhere else, even in Dublin. It's just not the same. We enjoyed dinner at Out of the Blue, a seafood only restaurant in Dingle Town.
For the ultimate freedom to explore, a car is a must. We drove out to Slea Head at the far end of the Dingle Peninsula. Our first stop was at Dunbeg Fort, an Iron Age fort practically spilling into the sea.
The Westernmost Point in Ireland
Slea Head drive took us to the Westernmost point in Ireland. The point is marked by a big bright white crucifix.
The views on the way to Dingle and along Slea Head are positively stunning. We pulled over as often as possible to take pictures.
A Challenging Hike with (No) Snakes and Ladders
It's definitely important on any road trip to take time to get out and stretch your legs. We parked at the Blasket Centre and walked the nearby loop trail. We even detoured up a large hill for sweeping views of the sea.
There were a couple points in the trail when it wasn't clear exactly which direction to go. The map suggested that the trail would continue along the water, but it was all fenced off. Fortunately, we spotted this ladder, climbed up and over, and continued on the trail.
Some of the best scenery on the trail is beyond these ladders.
Get Close to the Water
Ancient architecture features prominently along the Dingle Peninsula. We've already talked about the Dunbeg Fort. The area also features a number of beehive stone structures that are more difficult to date but that are thought to originate around the 12th century when Normans forced the Irish away from the best lands. This area may not be as good for farming, but those 12th century hut dwellers certainly had no shortage of amazing sea views.
A Reason to Go Vegetarian
I have to say, I was very tempted to go vegetarian on this trip especially after I saw this adorable little lamb peeking out at us curiously as we explored the beehive huts. If you visit Dingle in Spring, expect to see many cute sheep.
The Gallatus Oratory is another impressive stop on the Dingle Peninsula. It's a perfectly preserved beehive church believed to date back to the fifth or sixth century. It's amazing to see how a structure like this, so unprotected and out in the windswept elements of Dingle has survived through the centuries.
Dingle Brewing Company
As with any road trip, it's a great feeling to drop the car off at the end of a fine day's exploration and tuck into a well deserved pint. Back in Dingle Town, we stopped at Tom Crean. Tom Crean is a craft beer brewery named after the Irish Antarctic explorer. We sipped our pint as we toured the premises and learned more about this man who signed on for not one, not two, but THREE Antarctic expeditions before retiring to run the South Pole Inn in nearby Anascaul.
Our St. Patrick's Day weekend in Dingle was also blessed with some amazing sunsets. We enjoyed strolling along the harbor and watching the sun melt away to a deep orange glow.
Try a Murphy's with your Murphy's
Dingle is the land of Murphy's...ice cream, that is. There is a Murphy's outlet in Dublin but the original is in Dingle Town. We stopped in to try a scoop made with Dingle sea salt and milk from Kerry cows. For a treat we thought, why not combine a scoop of Murphy's ice cream with a pint of Murphy's at a nearby pub :-)