If you’re ever going to Ireland for a week or more, you should absolutely rent a car and tour its coast. I was lucky enough to visit Dingle and its surroundings for three lovely days.
Dingle is a special town. The centre is small enough to walk through in under an hour, but it has a feel of a larger town. This small fishing town, hosts more than 50 pubs, colourful boutiques, some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland and a famous dolphin that you can see most days from the shore line.
The pubs in Dingle are unlike any I’ve been to before. Some of them double as hardware, clothing or leather shops. I think the idea originally began as the 2-in-1 store, but throughout the years with the tourist industry booming, the ‘shops’ in the pubs are little more than a novelty, but quite an interesting one at that. However, you are more than welcome to purchase whatever the pubs are selling.
Here are a few good pubs to check out while in Dingle:
Dick Mack’s – Is a lively pub which used to be a leather shop, an aspect that is still apparent once inside. Here you can find live music, a good crowd and maybe a celebrity. They have seen a slew of famous people and there is a small walk of fame outside their front doors.
Foxy John’s – This large pub doubles as a hardware store and also rents out bikes for the day. This is a great way to explore the Dingle Peninsula. When I visited there, I did not see anyone come in to buy tools, but I believe you could if you wanted to.
J. Curran – Right across the street from Foxy John’s, this half clothing store half pub is where I found the cheapest pint in Dingle. The barman was friendly and the pints of Guinness were flowing. You can buy dress shirts and hats here, but you might give away that you are not local.
O’Flaherty’s Pub – A large open spaced pub that hosts some great musical talent. I was lucky enough to hear the John Byrne Band who travelled all the way from the US, along with a following of 50 Americans. They graced the audience with some traditional Irish celtic and folk songs as well as some of their originals.
O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub – This pub, much like O’Flaherty’s was packed and had awesome live music. I had such a great night the night before with the John Byrne band, that when I heard they were making another appearance at O’Sullivan’s I just had to go. This was a livelier scene and everyone seemed to be having a fabulous time. The band that followed John Byrne and his band was stellar as well. It was a violinist and a guitar duo, that every once in a while would call upon some amazing vocal talent from the audience. I met the owners of the pub, and they were beyond friendly. It was clear they enjoyed being part of such a wonderful scene and made myself and others feel more than welcome. This was a highlight for sure!
As I mentioned before, because of Dingle’s fishing culture, they have some of the best fish restaurants in Ireland (or so I heard). I travel on a bit of a shoestring budget, so without trying the restaurants I opted for the next best thing…Fish ‘n chips!
Reel Dingle Fish- Is popular with the locals and serves up amazing fresh fried fish…try saying that five times fast! It has a good selection of fish to choose from and you can tell the owner is very passionate about the quality and taste of his food.
The Dingle peninsula is magical. You won’t ever regret taking the 47km journey around the mountains and the coastline. You can do the trek by car or bike. Be careful of the small, winding roads next to the cliffside. Don’t be too intimidated, there are guard-rails and if you go slowly around the bends you should be fine. Prepare to make several stops along the way to take in the breathtaking views of the sea at the cliff’s edge. On part of the route you will have snow capped mountains that almost touch the sky, with green, gold and brown grass leading down in to the valley before lining several small, blue lakes all this and the sea in the background. The view is unreal. You will more than likely see mountain sheep as well.
So if you ever find the time to visit Dingle, get out and explore, meet the locals, see the inspiring Dingle peninsula, eat some fish and why not try a local Crean’s lager, brewed right in Dingle.