It was a colder than normal day for the month of June when I arrived at Shannon Airport and began the three-hour drive south to the seaside town of Dingle. The mountainous peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and is smattered with archeological sights: 6,000 years worth of monuments and Irish lore. It’s a part of Ireland unlike any other. When I arrive, I wrap a scarf around my neck and step out to a lookout point. The colorful buildings of the town center are below and I hear nothing but the faint whisper of waves crashing against distant cliffs. I quickly grab my camera and start snapping away. For the next three days my camera never leaves my side as I attempt to capture the wonders of the western way.
Kira Turnbull is a photo assistant at T+L. You can follow her on Instagram @kturnbul.
In the rural areas of Ireland, pastures and farms animals, such as Kerry cows and sheep, are in abundance while people are a rarity. A great aspect of the Dingle peninsula, however, is that you have a sufficient balance of both. The town is filled with friendly locals and spectacular restaurants, but it’s easy to meander into the countryside.
A few streets up the hill in Dingle lies Idás, a quaint restaurant with a traditional stone façade and a windowbox full of wildflowers. But don’t let the outside of this restaurant fool you: the food is as good—if not better—than some of the top restaurants in New York City. The head chef, trained in Paris, takes local Irish ingredients and gives them a modern, French twist. I slurp down every steamed mussel in this bowl of white wine sauce and Pepper Dulse Boule.
Along Route 559 (the main road near the shore) is Murphy’s Ice Cream, one of Dingle’s most iconic destinations for tourists and locals alike. The flavors are the most evocative concoctions I’ve ever encountered, like sweet Irish Brown Bread and the slightly sour Black Currant sorbet. A young staff member is handing out free samples of the new butterscotch flavor. The ice cream is made fresh from a local farm in Kerry and only three of these magical shops exist in Ireland: two in Dingle and one in Dublin. Even in Ireland’s chilliest and rainiest moments, Murphy’s is a must.
Visiting Dingle is never complete without making a mandatory stop at Murphy’s Pub. Grab a pint of classic Guinness or Smithwicks pale ale (pictured) and listen to fantastic live Irish music. You might just be inspired to do a little jig.
I’m used to seeing a Starbucks on every corner in New York City. But here, in Dingle, street corners house bustling pubs. Each watering hole is completely different from the next and you’ll never get tired of dropping in for a pint.
The peninsula’s Slea Head Drive is a sight unlike any other. On the drive, you’ll spot wild Irish horses relaxing against the rolling hills and abandoned stone houses that remind me of a W.B Yeats poem.
About half an hour into the peninsula drive, you’ll encounter a small cottage selling tickets to visit the ancient clocháns, or beehive huts. These structures are built with stone and date back to the 12th century. It’s also a spectacular lookout point.
The final stretch of the Slea Head adventure leads you to the tip of the peninsula. Just beyond the crashing waves lies the abandoned Blasket Islands. Unfortunately, a storm was brewing along the coast and it was too rough to take a ferry over. When the finicky Irish weather permits, tourists can charter to the islands to see the remaining stone buildings and even puffins or seals.