14.04.2013 - 14.04.2013 7 °C
Today we spent the better part of six hours driving around the Dingle Peninsula, in a quest to explore and enjoy Ireland's countryside. We left Abby at home, as she wasn't feeling well (her immune system is a decidedly bad traveller), and set out to immerse ourselves in the rugged Irish terrain.
Our first stop was at a beach about halfway between Killarney and Dingle. As soon we emerged from the car, we were sandblasted. Nevertheless, we decided to chance a bit of a walk along the shore. The greyness was absolute. The slate coloured sand met the dirty grey of the ocean which faded up into the storm clouds covering the sky. All this was coated in a heavy layer of fog. It was a different kind of natural beauty. Eventually, we admitted defeat and headed back to the sanctuary of the car.
Dingle is a small harbour town about an hour or so west of Killarney. Mom and Dad giggled immaturely upon discovering its name. This is not the only town whose name sounds a little unusual to our Canadian ears. The villages of Sneem and Inch have the same odd yet slightly cute quality to them. However, the strangest of all Irish village titles has to be Muckanaghederdauhaulia. The longest place name in Ireland, it translates to "pig-shaped hill between two seas". We're happy not to be faced with asking for directions there.
We walked along the streets of Dingle and made our way to the seagull-ridden harbour. Most of the birds seemed to be having a great time riding the violent gusts of wind. The water and sky were still cloudy and grey, and it didn't look like the weather was going to shift anytime soon. Despite the dreary atmosphere, Dingle appeared to be a rather quaint and charming seaside town. My impression was only slightly altered when I nearly stepped into a pile of fish innards laying on the dock.
We had a picnic lunch in the warmth and safety of the car. The remainder of our day was a blur of wind, waves, cliffs, pastures, and sheep. We saw hundreds of sheep. Once in awhile we'd spot cattle or horses, but these sightings were far less frequent. Nearly all of the sheep we set eyes on had been partially coated in various colours of paint. Pink and blue seemed to be the favourites. We had one particularly close encounter with a ewe and a lamb who were taking a stroll along the side of the road. They trotted off rather quickly when we stopped to take pictures, though.
The pastures stretched up over the rolling hills like one enormous patchwork quilt. Decorating each patch were scatterings of black and white sheep and their lambs. Mom and Dad kept exclaiming how breathtakingly beautiful the landscape was and how if it was sunny it would be too amazing to behold. Every minute or so I'd hear a whispered "wow" or "incredible" from the front seats. Ireland really lives up to the moniker Emerald Isle. It was like we were driving through a never-ending sea of green.
Some of the twisting, narrow roads we drove took us along cliffs, where we saw massive, churning waves hurtling into their sides. We stopped again and again to take pictures, ignoring the gusts of wind tearing at our hair and clothes. It was difficult keeping the camera straight whilst trying not to get knocked over by the breeze.
When we returned, we found Abby curled up on the couch, looking a little worse for wear. She had progressed from bad to worse during the six or so hours we'd been out. Mom and Dad trooped off to bed for a nap, and she soon followed suit. I made chicken noodle soup for dinner, which was hearty and perfect after the rainy, blustery day the three of us had. Abby, on the other hand, had ten whole noodles and called it a meal.
Ireland is gorgeous. Fantastically so. I can't wait to see what we'll encounter as we head northeast to Kinvara tomorrow.