Welcome to Dingle
Fáilte go Daingean Uí Chúis
by Marian O'Flaherty, eirelandor of www.dinglenews.com
Dingle town, set on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland's South-West, is full of surprises and supremely unique - a precious gem waiting to be discovered. If County Kerry is the Kingdom, then Dingle is its Crown Jewel.
This picturesque town was, for a long time, Ireland's best kept secret. Not anymore however as global travel rating site, TripAdvisor.com named Dingle among the top 20 global destinations last year; that translates into 6 in Europe, ahead of the likes of Paris and Rome. So what makes this small town on Europe's most westerly Peninsula, so unique?
Dingle is different; there is something special in the air here. This can be summed up in the presence of Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin that made Dingle Harbour his home 25 years ago. As a wild dolphin he could leave at any time, but chooses to stay, playing with the boats that visit him every-day as part of the town's intrinsically woven social fabric.
Quintessentially Irish and steeped in heritage, Traditional Irish music and the Irish language is a cultural staple in Dingle, which is located in the West Kerry Gaeltacht. With a settled population of just over 2,500 inhabitants Dingle at one time boasted 52 pubs! At night, the town comes to life as the strains of the bodhrán, tin whistle, the fiddle and the accordion fill the night air as the Guinness flows. Its scenery is beyond compare and has earned global recognition; its wild expanses where the sea meets the sky in such a breathtaking fashion are so awe-inspiring that the National Geographic once described the Dingle Peninsula as the most beautiful place on Earth.
In Dingle, there is never a moment to spare with its many festivals, celebrations and cultural anomalies!
May sees the arrival of the arts festival Féile na Bealtaine, followed by the Dingle Races in August, (Ireland's premier horse and pony meet), the Dingle Regatta (where locals battle it out on the ocean waves in Traditional Naomhógs) and the International Dingle Film Festival in September (which welcomed Gabriel Byrne as its guest in 2008). Wren's Day, which occurs on December 26th, may be the pinnacle of all days in the year, when the entire town dress up in Traditional costume and take to the streets and pubs, playing music until the small hours. On New Year's Eve, Dingle is also host to Ireland's only fireworks display and thousands flock to experience this.
A town that is both cosmopolitan and Traditional, Dingle is home to hoards of wonderful shops selling hand-made arts and crafts. They line every street and corner, sitting happily among the pubs, award-winning seafood restaurants and cafés that the town is also famous for. If the amazing scenery, fantastic night-life and pubs, award-winning seafood or vast array of local festivals and celebrations doesn't wear you out, in the summer activities such as horse-riding on the beaches, sailing, water-sports, climbing and even a gigantic corn maze in the town is sure to keep everyone entertained.
Ryan's Daughter was filmed on the Dingle Peninsula in the early 1970s; this saw the likes of Hollywood great Robert Mitchum mingle in Dingle! The list of high profile visitors over the years is unprecedented; Julia Roberts escaped the attention of the world's press after ending her engagement to Kiefer Sutherland in the early 1990s when she came to stay. Others who have enjoyed some Dingle hospitality include Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (who filmed Far and Away here). In recent years a series of concerts, recorded for TV, have taken place in a renovated Church on the town's Main Street. The series, Other Voices, has attracted acts such as Amy Winehouse, James Blunt, Damien Rice and James Morrison to mention just a few.
But above all, what makes Dingle special is its people; as unique as the scenery that surround them, their heritage, folklore and unique identity makes them almost like a race in their own right. Welcoming, friendly and wickedly witty, the banter in town pubs is a unique brew, only one served on tap in Dingle!
© Marian O'Flaherty 2009
Republication, without the permission of the author, is strictly prohibited
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