After a night in Ennis, where I got the guts to order a traditional Irish dish made from pigs blood and afterward attended a pub’s intimate jam session, we were brought to know Ireland’s whimsical side. Myths, legends, fairies, fables. Dolphins, dogs, donkeys.

Between Ennis and National Geographic’s favorite town Dingle, we drove through one-road villages past cafes named “Margaret’s Cakes” “Tea Time” and “O’Halloran’s Pantry”. We zoomed by shops called “O’Henry’s Hardware” “David’s Truck Shop” and simply put “Bikes Here”. We spotted pubs “O’Donnels” and “Patrick O’Conners”.

The road we drove along brought with it a pattern.
<Enter Town> Shop pub pub shop church pub <Exit Town>
<Enter Town> Pub church shop pub pub shop <Exit Town>
After some time, we’d grown accustomed to the pattern and felt as though as we could predict the future.
Pub? So next is… church. And a shop, then another two pubs, and a final shop. That’s it! On to the next town…

Everyone on Shamrocker Adventure Tours’ Southern Rocker Tour had discovered the simple life of southern Ireland. And it led us straight to a new region: The Irish-speaking parts. In Ireland, students study they country’s official languages during all grades and all official documents are required to be in Irish, but only a small community speaks it as their primary language.

We visited that area and stopped in a particularly colorful town. Dingle is a town priding itself on the presence of one particular being: a dolphin named Fungi. He’s been a tourist attraction since the 1980s and constantly makes his presence known by nosing up to passing boats. This has led tourists to flock dockside and fill boats with guaranteed Fungi sightings. After the harbor trip, Fungi mementos can be purchased at several shops around town and photos can even be taken with a golden Fungi statue.

Click on an image to view the photos up-close:

 

While other tourists partook in the Fungi craze, I fell in love with some other sweet souls. Two pups and a donkey stood on the main street as their owner sat nearby. Legs crossed and the rim of his cotton hat covering his eyes, he played a small wooden flute and simultaneously showed off his Claddagh ring. One of the pups watched intently, his paws on the owner’s leg. The other nearly identical shaggy mutt laid calmly, shifting occasionally to keep his weight balanced on the donkey’s back. Their owner played on, aware of our gawking touristy presence but calmly ignoring it except when questions arose from the small crowd of onlookers.

Beyond the dolphin, donkey and dogs, the town’s vibrant multicolored facades were quietly waiting to welcome visitors in. Organic ice cream shops, bicycle stores exploding with ten times more bike wheels than the city’s citizens, and a one of a kind hardware store / pub. Why not shop for a hammer and nails with a Guinness in hand? I stopped in for a peak (not a pint) and found the bar filled with locals happily gossiping the afternoon away.

 

Click on an image to view the photos up-close:

 

The town of Dingle is gateway to the Dingle Peninsula, where we twice more paused for irreplaceable photo ops. First stopping along a winding cliff road with signs advertising beehive huts and lambs to hold, we took a few minutes to chat with the owner, coo at the lambs, and try our hand at hurling once more. The owner excitedly spoke of two events: The day prior to our visit, National Geographic had paid a stop to the exact site to take photographs and learn of . He was still squirming with excitement and quietly told us a secret even more relevant to our time there. “Jes’ down the way,” he said, “Jes’ 1 mile and another 4. Star Wars. Star Wars is being filmed. If ya pull over, ya might catch a glimpse.”

And we did jes’ that. Pulling over further up the road, we tried our best to super-zoom our way onto the set of an upcoming movie by way of camera lens. Success! This little Canon bridge camera does more than take (what I consider) phenomenal photos, it also brought me into the beehive hut set of Star Wars from the cliffs of the Dingle Peninsula. That’s all I’m going to say though. No one wants George Lucas on their bad side.

After we gawked at the far-off set, we used our built up energy to scramble once again along cliffs and soggy squishy bogs.

 

Click on an image to view the photos up-close:

 

That evening we all gathered at 930pm and went out to a pub. Like the most rockin’ of mullets, this pub was textbook ‘business in the front, party in the back.’

We first enjoyed a quartet strummin’ along on their guitars while visitors sat, drink in hand, at surrounding circular tables. When the sky darkened a bit more, gaggles of university students flocked to the back, where everyone enjoyed an Irish cover band more talented than any we’d ever before heard.

We were singin’ we were dancin’ and we were drinkin’. And it was a grand surprise that we all made it to the bus early the next day.

As the Irish would say, “The crack was 90 last night” … and worth every ridiculous moment it brought!

Pups and Donkeys Taking a Rest - Dingle Ireland - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps - www.MissMaps.com
Pups and Donkeys Taking a Rest – Dingle Ireland – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps – www.MissMaps.com

Special thanks to Shamrocker Adventure Tours for the invitation to spend three fan-feckin-tastic days in Ireland on their Southern Rocker TourBook your own tour HERE.

Curious how the trip started? CLICK HERE to read about Day 1 of our tour!
And stay tuned to learn what the next days brought!

Leave a Reply