The Dingle Peninsula is that bit of Ireland that protrudes off the south-west corner into the wild Atlantic Ocean. It’s all about cliffs and mountains, rolling waves and sandy beaches.
The peninsula stretches for 30 miles (48 km) with a spine of mountains including Mount Braddon, Ireland’s second highest peak after Carrauntoohil in County Kerry.
Although it’s not huge, the Dingle Peninsula really has it all. There’s swimming from those sandy beaches, and walking in the lovely hills, mountains and along those dramatic sea-cliffs. There’s also sea-fishing, local arts and crafts and some of Ireland’s best surfing.
The remoteness of the peninsula has kept the traditions of Ireland alive, including language and music. Irish Gaelic is still spoken in most homes and taught in the schools. People from other parts of Ireland come here to learn and refresh their language skills. The Diseart Institute is the keeper of Irish culture here and you can attend language classes if you’re really keen. There are also classes in Irish music and dance held around the Dingle Peninsula.
It was probably the ease of defending this spit of land from invaders that made people settle here nearly 6,000 years ago. For us today, it means there are many historic sites to visit – over 2,000 in total! They run right through from the Mesolithic Age, through the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, early Christianity, the Vikings, the Middle Ages and on towards our time. You can take a guided tour or pick up information from the Regional Museum located in Ballyferriter.
Just off the coast lie the Blasket Islands, once inhabited and known for their writers but these days the villages are abandoned. The walking is still good as are the beaches. The modern fast ferry takes about 40 minutes to get there.
Possibly the most popular resident of Dingle is Fungie. He’s a bottle-nose dolphin who has lived around the mouth of Dingle Harbor since 1984. It’s thought that he stays nearby due to a broken heart – this is where he last saw his partner and dolphins are known to be faithful. Once timid he’s now quite friendly. Licensed fishing boats take you out to meet Fungie – money-back guarantee if you don’t see him, that’s how confident they are that he’ll be there.
June is a good time to travel to Dingle for two events in one weekend. On June 9th and 10th there is the Adventure Race which combines all aspects of the peninsula in a bike, hike, run and kayak event. To recover on the Sunday there’s Horse and Pony Racing on the beach accompanied by traditional food and music – and lots of good Irish craic.