It looks like we may be returning to Ireland, so it would probably be a good idea to finish the tales of our last trip before a new one begins. Although we still have some time, our next adventure is scheduled for Christmas 2012. Next year will be my parents 50th anniversary, so instead of throwing a big party, my sisters and I asked them if they would like a trip to Ireland. They were thrilled with the idea, and of course we will be tagging along to help them fully enjoy the Emerald Isle. Looking back at our own trip, the one place I would say should not be missed on a return trip would be Dingle.
Located on the southern part of the east coast in County Kerry, Dingle and the entire Dingle Peninsula face Dingle Bay, leading out into the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, it is a fishing town, but these days the principal industry is tourism. It is not a big city like Galway or Dublin, but it is also not as small as Bushmills or Doolin. With a population of around 2,000 it is almost the perfect size for travelers who want to see the best of Ireland without being overcrowded.
We stayed at a great B&B that was listed as just outside of town called Greenmount House, although their idea of outside of town was just a few stumbling blocks uphill from the main street. Even at the end of the night with more than just a few pints of Guiness in us, it was still a pleasant walk home. We arrived in Dingle in the late afternoon and had time for a walk in the cool November air before we headed to Greenmount House. We staked out possible places for dinner and a night cap, then decided on a nap before our night out.
Much like Chicago in the winter, the sun starts to set around 4:30 on Ireland in November, so by the time we napped and showered, it was already dark as we headed out into the night. To be honest, I do not remember the name of the resturaunt we stopped at for dinner, but as with most places we ate at it was a warm and friendly spot. Since we were on the bay, I decided on seafood, a very nice white fish that was indeed fresh and delicious. Maureen opted for what would become our favorite Irish dish, the Guinness Pie. After we ate and consumed a couple of pints, we headed out into the night to find a place to rest our traveler’s feet, and we chose a most unopposing little storefront called Dick Mack’s.
Before we departed for Ireland, Maureen had informed me of a therory she had about drinking with locals in Ireland. Basically, you need to convince the locals of your serious intent as a drinker, and it will usually take two or three pints before they open up to newcomers, so you need to buckle down and order a few pints and wait them out. This was indeed the case in Dick Mack’s. Officially, it is a haberdashery, as many pubs in Ireland have dual purpose, but other than the Guinness, there was really nothing very haberdashery about the pub. At first glance, it looks like the type of place your mother warned you to stay out of, with dirty floors and a side bar made of planks of wood, but we ordered two pints and found a place to sit and talk in the near empty space.
After two rounds, it looked as if we may have failed, as our longest conversation of the night had been with a Porchagese sailor that was mostly conducted in broken Spanish that I could not understand at all. I suggest we move on, but Maureen insisted we wait them out for one more pint, so we ordered again. And at that point her theory took hold, and suddenly we were making a whole room full of new and interesting friends.
To call the group at Dick Mack’s an eclectic bunch is a bit of an understatment. A bit like the Island of Misfit Toys, the crowd that gathered in the back room around a small table near the fireplace gave the appearance of a cross section of lost souls, but were one of the more open and welcoming groups we would meet during our stay. With names like Paddy and Sean, and an older woman we knew only as The Queen, it would end up being our most authentic night in Ireland. We sang songs, and listened to people recite poetry, and Paddy played the tin whistle. That little back room with the fireplace became our home for the rest of the night, except for the occational trip out back to the restroom, or back up to the bar for another pint. That is until our bartender finally told us we had to leave.
At that point, with more than enough warming fuel in our blood, we probably should have called it a night, but we decided to follow Sean up the road a little.
Next stop, An Droicead Beag.