First of all, please go ahead and laugh. I am so immature, I couldn’t stop giggling when we first got there and saw the word “dingle” on everything. (Insert crying laughing emoji here). But in all seriousness, Dingle should absolutely, 100% be on your Ireland itinerary. It’s moody, misty and majestic with a side of romantical, with patchwork hills, haphazard stone walls crisscrossing the landscapes, with cows and sheep dotting every horizon. Here are all the reasons why you need to mingle in Dingle. (Hehehe).
Getting there: The Conor Pass
If you checked out my most recent post (the general overview of Ireland, here), you have also probably read my anecdotes on the Conor Pass. 1) Do not miss driving this if you have a car. 2) Drive very, very carefully. I kid you not, there was probably no more than a half a foot of clearance on either side of the very narrow, sometimes single-lane, treacherous-seeming mountain pass. But honestly, a handful of experiences stand out in my mind from the trip and the Conor Pass is easily one of them. You are literally inside clouds. Without all the ear popping nonsense!
I remember our drive went a little like this: You’re driving… and driving… and all you can see is a wall of gray. And then BAM – you see the most stunning, vivid landscape views you’ve ever witnessed. And great Odin’s Raven, is that a 450-foot drop into a valley of sharp rocks? Yes. Oh wait, you can’t see anything again because you are inside a CLOUD. Oh no… is that a pair of headlights? Yes… but oh wait – it’s a double lane again. *Exhale breath* So again, not for the faint of heart, but very high on my list of recommendations. (Thank you to the nice lady at the Blarney Woolen Mills in Blarney for the recommendation)!
James G. Ashe Pub and Restaurant
Once we made it through the Conor Pass, descended into Dingle and had checked into our room (sans luggage, at that point), we looked up a few places on Yelp and made a reservation at the James G. Ashe Pub and Restaurant to nom on some seafood, which is what the region is known well for.
If there was a humblebrag in restaurant form, it would be this. The interior is very unassuming – which was just the vibe we were looking for. However, the food was very decidedly not. As a starter, I ordered the crab trio – crab and mango, a crab and prawn dumpling and a crab cake. Riley won the show with their famous seafood chowder – it was light and garlicky but also velvety smooth and very robust in flavor. And the seafood chunks were HUGE.
I opted for the scallop and pork belly dish (local scallops, poached apple, vanilla froth and roasted pork belly) and Riley had the pecan-crusted baked Hake. We were both very happy (though again, I think Riley won – the vanilla was a lot of vanilla for me, but the dish overall was balanced and I got my version of surf and turf to boot!)
Fun fact: this little spot originally started as a general store and the first alcoholic beverage was served in 1849. It was actually passed over in ownership to John Kennedy’s oldest daughter in 1926 (who would’ve known?!) and has seen many famous people since.
Murphy’s Ice Cream
So. Epic fail. We had Murphy’s for the first time in Dublin. I’m still kicking myself that there was literally a Murphy’s in basically every city we visited, including Dingle, where it was CREATED, and it took us until the last 2 days of our trip to experience the taste bud-sanity that was this handmade-in-Dingle voodoo magic. Please do yourself a favor and get some while you are here! Again, if you read my Ireland overview, you’ll know my favorite flavor was the caramelized brown bread – I highly recommend. At least a taste, if anything! (Because they’ll let you taste all you want and you don’t even have to feel Catholic guilt for it!)
We stayed at the Dingle Skellig Hotel, which was situated right on Dingle Harbor and had views fa dayz…. of clouds. (The next day, though, when the clouds lifted, the view was really stunning!)
The hotel had a ton of great amenities – including a really impressive indoor pool and hot tub. Which we though we wouldn’t be able to use… until we got back from dinner that evening and were graced with the glorious miracle of our suitcases. I’d never been more excited about a suitcase, or more embarrassed and disappointed in myself for packing so much crap, in my life. It was the perfect place to have gotten them, though, because Dingle is very humid and the room was fabulous for knocking the wrinkles out of my 3-day worn jeans! We sang our hallelujahs and changed into our suits. It was a great place for a soak after a whole day of traversing the Cliffs of Moher!
If you’re judging a place on its breakfast – which you should, because most places are technically bed and breakfasts, and thus breakfast is included – the Dingle Skellig is at the top of my list. We were treated to a table in the corner with windows on both sides overlooking the bay – probably the best seat in the house. And not only did they have a huge assortment of traditional Irish breakfast buffet items – they also had a waffle iron, omelets and lots of other goodies.
Additionally, they also brought you a wire contraption full of different kinds of toasts – like, a serious variety of toasts. Everything from the traditional Irish brown bread, wheat, white, and even sourdough. And as the cherry on top, you could even order off the regular menu. I was ecstatic. I was also in a brand new pair of pants and I actually had real, honest to goodness socks and another layer that was not a raincoat, so I may have been slightly biased, but I was very impressed with the situation, on the whole.
What to See and Do in Dingle
I am sad to say that we only got to spend one night in Dingle, and while I would not do anything differently if I could do this trip again, I would certainly like to spend more time in this sleepy little fishing village.
For a majority of the time, we mostly just wandered around the downtown area and around the bay near the hotel, but we also did make the drive out to Slea Head and Coomeenoole Beach on the way out of town and down toward Kenmare.
Slea Head Drive
As with the rest of the entire Wild Atlantic Way, you would be insane in the membrane to miss any square inch of it, especially if you have a car. It’s simply some of the most unique and stunning scenery I’ve ever seen anywhere. And it wasn’t even sunny while we were there! It was quintessentially Irish.
As if you needed an excuse to drive Slea Head, you can use Coumeenoole Beach to feel like you have a destination (if wandering around aimlessly isn’t the sort of thing that tickles your fancy). During our initial research, someone told me that if I had to choose one, I should do Coomeenoole Beach over the Cliffs of Moher because it’s more unique and less touristy.
While I could not have imagined skipping the Cliffs, I can totally understand why this would be the case. I felt like I was waiting for my long-lost lover (jk he was wandering around in the surf), full of moodiness and in awe of the natural beauty, contemplating life while staring out into the misty abyss. Riley was also happy as a clam because he has this thing with beaches and was totally in his element. And I was able to score some majorly awesome solo traveler-esque beach shots so it was a win-win overall.
Speaking of, I’ll let the photos I took speak for themselves… just in case you needed any additional reasons to mingle in Dingle!