Monday, September 30, 2013

The Dingle Peninsular

Cliffs, Dingle peninsular, Ireland
At around three hundred and fifty kilometres, the road journey on Thursday from Lough Key House to Moriaty’s Farmhouse at Ventry was, by my standards, a longish drive.  Lisi and I left Frances’ wonderful B&B about ten o’clock and arrived, after an uneventful drive through pleasant countryside, by-passing en-route the cities of Galway, Limerick and Tralee town.   Late in the afternoon we arrived at Moriaty’s Farmhouse.  Brid, our landlady, welcomed us by name which, as we were her only guests, would not have been too much of a problem for her.  The custom in Ireland seems to be for B&B hosts to offer tea and cake or scones to new arrivals, Brid followed the custom and when I asked where we might find an evening meal nearby she recommended to us to ‘The Skipper’.  Brid was right, it proved to be a very good venue for supper.  A few kilometres along the lane from the B&B, ‘The Skipper’ is an unpretentious but excellent fish restaurant.  French-born Paddy, its chef and owner, came to Ireland with his parents seventeen years ago when they decided to move here from La Rochelle.  I ordered pan-fried Brill under a Chanterelle sauce served with plain boiled new potatoes and a simple fresh mixed salad; a quite unexpected and delicious treat.
Abandoned village, Great Blasket
Friday dawned partly cloudy, promising improvement.  After a good breakfast we set off on a short circular tour west of Dingle.  The craggy scenery along this deeply indented rocky Atlantic coast is outstandingly picturesque.  Five kilometres off the coast are the Blasket Islands.  The history of these islands, uninhabited since the 1950s, has been very well documented by some of its late inhabitants; Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Muiris Ó Súileabháin and Peig Sayers have become literary legends through translations of their tales of life on the islands
into english and other languages.  Near the tip of the Dingle peninsular there is an impressive, purpose-built ‘Blaskets Centre’ which houses a comprehensive exhibition of everything to do with the history of the islands.  I spent a long time at the centre but to have closely examined all the exhibits I would have needed to be there much longer.

The Dingle Peninsular Tour beyond the western tip, the north coast, is scenically less dramatic.  We rather hurried along that part of the route to get to Dingle with enough time to explore the town.  Dingle is attractive but has, inevitably I suppose, been degraded to attract the easy tourist buck; there was something about pretty Dingle that seemed, to me, to lack authenticity.

In the evening I returned to Paddy’s ‘The Skipper’ restaurant this time to try (authentic!) fresh scallops in brandy cream sauce which I enjoyed quite as much as I had enjoyed my fish the previous evening.