Treasures of Ireland:
The Dingle Peninsula
Story and photos by Tom Weber
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.
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.
"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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
on The 19th Green; The
Ring of Kerry; A
Jaunty-Good Ride Through Killarney National Park; Dinner
at Killarney; The
Rock of Cashel; The