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Dingle Peninsula
Treasures of Ireland:
The Dingle Peninsula
(Dispatch #10)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

eaarly morning on the Inch Strand, Dingle Peninsula

n 1970, Academy Award-winning director David Lean spent nearly a year on the Emerald Isle helming an epic romantic drama about a scandalous affair between a married Irish woman and a British Army officer during World War I: Ryan's Daughter.

Some of the memorable scenes from that feature, billed as "adult entertainment" when it was first released, were staged just below where I'm standing in the early morning light on the Inch Strand along the rugged and majestic Dingle Peninsula.

rugged coastline of the Dingle Peninsula

Along with the rest of the intrepid "band of merry media," 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) to sample a portion of its Treasures of Ireland itinerary, I pan left to right with my camera, much like Lean's distinguished cinematographer Freddie Young did with his Super Panavision 70 film rig nearly a half-century ago.

Big Mike and Eugene with Insight Vacations bus

"Sorry to break up your little party," Big Mike, our larger-than-life tour director/concierge/ storyteller, announces, "but we've got a schedule to keep. Besides, there are plenty more postcard-perfect views like this along our route that are just standing by begging to be photographed."

With visions of more silver-screen locations, we eagerly clamber back aboard our deluxe motor coach – configured with business class-legroom seating and a strong, reliable Wi-Fi signal – as Eugene, aka The Quiet Man, steers us further along this part of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Long a destination for individuals who crave a quiet, remote locale to enjoy their alternative lifestyles (read, hippies), the Dingle Peninsula, a 30-mile stretch of land that jets out into the Atlantic Ocean, was once described by National Geographic Traveler as "the most beautiful place on earth." I won't argue with that as our sleek Mercedes coach comes to a complete stop at an overlook along Slea Head Drive. We dismount and take in one of the most OMG scenes of the journey thus far.

Dunmore Head with the Blasket Islands in the background

From our vantage point, with Mother Nature providing us with a spectacularly clear day, we take in Dunmore Head – the westernmost point on Ireland and the absolute edge of Europe – out to the Blasket Islands, a group of six small islands known affectionately as "Next Parish America."

view of the sea fronting the Ring of Kerry

And, glancing left back across the bay, where the skies are not as pleasant as those right above, we get to admire a sliver of sunlight shining down on the darkened sea fronting the silhouette of the iconic Ring of Kerry in the distance. Did I say "heaven on earth?" I thought so.

Irish musician with flute

While a laid-back musician serenades us with Irish tunes on his flute, Kristen, an expat from Boston, offers our group slices of her delicious homemade flapjacks that she sells out of the back of a white panel van.

Kristen with her homemade flapjacks

Not to be confused with the American-style pancakes of the same name, these flapjacks are tray-baked crumbles made with oats, butter, brown sugar and a variety of fruit combos, like my fave, rhubarb-ginger-apricot.

sea gull

I leave a few of the crumbs for Jonathan Livingston, who graciously agrees to pose for the camera.

With lunchtime nearing we continue our serpentine weave down R559, passing by more OMG scenes than you can count.

the scenery along R559

The panoramas are just jaw dropping, like Sybil Head and The Three Sisters. It was here that Charles Lindbergh first crossed land while flying solo at the controls of the Spirit of St. Louis on that historic, transatlantic non-stop flight back on May 21, 1927.

"Céad míle fáilte, Chuck!"

the coastline near Dingle town

Dingle, a major tourist hub on the peninsula and its only town, is where we drop anchor in a large parking lot fronting the harbor glistening in the high-noon sun.

Most of my mates decide to break for lunch, but with such a beautiful sky and unusually warm temps, I decide to dedicate my 90-minutes of free time to capture as much of this postage stamp-sized "capital" that I can.

view of the harbor at Dingle town

Quaint and cosmopolitan in the same breath, Dingle's surrounded by spectacular landscape, is lined with colorful storefronts and attracts creative souls from around the globe.

Lens caps off, let's give Dingle a go.

views around Dingle town

One last push up and over Connor Pass, Ireland's highest, and we bid a fond farewell to the rugged and majestic Dingle Peninsula, where the Atlantic embraces land and vice-versa. For me, she looks and feels like heaven on earth.

Insight Vacations brochure

For complete information on Insight's 100+ premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures of Ireland, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

sunset along the banks of the River Shannon

Join me in a couple of hours when we attempt to capture some magic with our cameras: the "golden hour" along the banks of the River Shannon.

Related Articles:
Grazing on The 19th Green; The Ring of Kerry; A Jaunty-Good Ride Through Killarney National Park; Dinner at Killarney; The Rock of Cashel; The Kilkenny Way

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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