Ireland’s worst kept secret: my neck of the woods!

Now that TripAdvisor spilled the beans last year about our sleepy village, the secret is out in the open. Below is a pic of the fabled Inch beach where that very long shot of “Ryan’s Daughter” was taken.

Mind you, no one minds here, it’s good for the economy.

 

Back in the sixties Dingle was a little known coastal village, not unlike the one described in Under Milk Wood. Towards the end of that decade David Lean picked the Dingle Peninsula for his epic, “Ryan’s Daughter“, and the rest is, ahem, history.

Remember that long shot of Robert Mitchum walking with Sarah Miles on a seemingly endless beach (first pic above)? That’s Inch beach, home to very keen surfers and gawkers alike now. Lean’s sumptuous shots of the Dingle Peninsula – in particular his love scene where a breathless Miles commits adultery among the swaying trees and burbling brooks of a dense forest – were apparently considered overpowering by the critics. The film bombed then but is now considered Lean’s finest. Go figure.

Niall O’Brien, who played an IRA paramilitary in that film, explains:

“In Dingle then, it was all donkeys and carts. There was barely any street lighting. And there you had David Lean arriving in town in his Rolls-Royce Corniche. Robert Bolt and Sarah had their Lamborghini. I was standing in the street staring at it. I’d never seen one before. They threw money all over the place and everyone wanted a bit of it. On the first day, they went into the local garage and ordered six Land-Rovers and six Zephyrs.”

But enough of Ryan’s Daughter. I came here to Dingle straight from Los Angeles, on the heels of a broken-up relationship, and with the intention to lock myself up and write a book (which I did) as I had given myself six months before returning to California.

Little did I know. I met a green-eyed German beauty in a pub, and fifteen years and three daughters later, I ain’t moving. Below is a pic of my lab, Tommy, pacing up & down the newly planted garden.

There is no other landscape in western Europe with the density and variety of archaeological monuments as the Dingle Peninsula. This mountainous finger of land which juts into the Atlantic Ocean has supported various tribes and populations for almost 6,000 years. Because of the peninsula’s remote location, and lack of specialised agriculture, there is a remarkable preservation of over 2,000 monuments.

There is always something to do in Dingle. Throughout the year we have marathons, a film festival in September, a food festival in October, a music festival in May, the blessing of the Boats in September, the famed Dingle horse races in August, the Figaro yacht races also in August, and quite a few more events, some of which I’ve mentioned downthread with accompanying pics & vids. And Other Voices, a televised music event which occurs over 5 days the first week of December and brings in some of the world’s best known and unknown talent! This year was the tenth anniversary and went extraordinarily well.

Dingle is full of treasures, like the wonderful stained glass windows of Harry Clarke, an Irish artist who triggered a resurgence of Irish art last century. Clarke designed fabrics and handkerchiefs, boxes and lanterns, but primarily he designed stained glass windows and illustrated the books of such luminaries as Poe, the fairy tales of Andersen and Perrault as well as Goethe’s Faust, among others.

and the sculptures of a local artist who sees old tree trunks as his own canvas:

Most people, however, come here to see Funghi. Funghi, the bottlenose dolphin, has been living in Dingle Bay since 1983, and you can book a boat trip to see him or even hire a wet suit and swim with Funghi.

We have a world class aquarium here in Dingle, complete with fearsome sandtiger sharks. A great place to spend a rainy afternoon, the kids love it and many a birthday party is held in their facilities.

We get snow once every ten years or so. This year we got lucky, we made a modest snowman.

This is our vegetable supplier shop. He comes from Mayo and foolishly displays the Mayo flag whenever Mayo plays Kerry, but alas, they never win. Kerry is the top GAA team in Ireland (quite a few players are from Dingle) and it’s likely to stay that way for many years to come as we’re about to go into finals for the sixth time in a row. Go Kerry!

That’s the top of Main Street. There are roughly four streets here, you can’t really get lost, except in one of the fifty two local pubs, of course!

And the bottom of Green Street:

That’s where Dingle Crystal shop is. Better than Waterford crystal, IMHO.

These lasses are satisfied customers. All locals.

Naturally they come to the coolest place in Dingle, the Blue Zone Jazz Wine Bar.

These are my neighbors.

Dingle, pic taken from Conor Pass.

Some of the Conor Pass lakes.

Dingle harbour on a misty night.

On the way to me casa.

This is where I do most of my thinking…

Every August the hurdy gurdys show up with their rides and stay the whole month.

Over the hill is where Brandon Point lies. A gorgeous bay, one great pub, what more can one want?

The maddest day in Dingle is the Wren’s Day, the day after Christmas, Saint Stephen’s Day. The tradition of ‘Hunting the Wran’ or the ‘Wren’ was to some degree a common event throughout Ireland, alas it now takes place in a handful of villages.

People dress up in old clothes and paint their faces, wear straw hats and travel from door to door singing, dancing and playing music. Oh, you mean pub hopping? Yep, that’s what we do, we run from one pub to the next and get plastered. The young go on way past the pubs closure to parties, and carry on till the wee hours of the morning.

This is my good friend Daryl. He runs the local bakery and he’s also a well known artist. The second maddest day in this town is known as the Froccer Soccer which Daryl helps organizing. It’s a great sight to see burly men in drag playing soccer. The idea is to play soccer whilst inebriated and raise monies for a hospital in Mali. Be sure to watch the following two videos of this year’s efforts, it’s a hoot. A total of 25,000 was raised.

Well, that almost covers it. I have to close the gates.

This entry was posted in Art, Memoirs, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

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