Our long anticipated sail to Dingle finally arrived. We motored across Dingle Bay as there was no wind. As we neared the western end of the peninsula we raised our sails and slowly sailed east, along the coast and into Ventry Harbor.
During our many previous trips to Ireland we had never been on the water and found the journey along the coast beautiful. We started near the Blasket Islands then along Coumeenole Bay. Past Slea Head and along the coast passing the houses where my parents were born and family members live today. Past Dunbeg Fort and the Stonehouse Restaurant operated by my cousins. Then into Ventry Bay to drop our anchor for a few nights.
Along our route we viewed many familiar sites from a much different angle. We saw dolphins and a tour boat who circled us and welcomed us to Ireland. We were also welcomed by family along the way including some waving flags. It was such a warm and wonderful welcome!
Once anchored we headed over to the pier and to Quinn’s pub where we were visited by Michelle, David, Kathleen, Caroline and her kids. On the pier we met Donal, Melanie and their daughters who were swimming on this beautiful sunny day. Wonderful to connect with family!
On to a wonderful dinner at a pub in Dingle with David and Michelle.
The next day we walked out to the Stonehouse and caught up with my uncle, Jim. This is my mom’s youngest brother and father to Michelle, Donal and Caroline. Although my mother left Ireland when he was very young they were very close. She visited Ireland regularly until the travel became too difficult as she grew older.
Jeff and I along with our kids were lucky enough to have traveled with Mom several times. My parents first brought our family of seven to Ireland in 1965. I was 8 years old and have many memories from this trip. Denise King and I visited Ireland in 1973 and I have traveled here several times since. I am grateful for such a close connection with my family in Ireland and happy to be here.
We moved on to the pontoon at Dingle Marina making it much easier for visitors. During our stay we enjoyed time with family both in their homes, places of business and on board Echo. We used the local bus, did lots of walking, enjoyed many wonderful meals including a lobster feast, traditional Irish breakfast, delicious evening of tapas. This in addition to visiting a few of the great restaurants in Dingle.
The Dingle Peninsula has become a popular tourist destination and many family members operate businesses. There is Caifé na Trá located in Coumeenoole. The Stonehouse Restaurant in Ventry, near the Dùn Beag Fort Visitor Center. Brosnan’s B&B in Dingle. Although we were there during their busy time of year we were fortunate to spend time with everyone. We enjoyed lots of memories, laughs and getting caught up with one another. As they say in Ireland, it was great craic!
We were in Dingle for the final match of the 2022 All-Ireland football championship. It was played in Croke Park in Dublin between Kerry and Galway. There was much excitement, so many Kerry football jerseys being worn by all and lots of speculation as to the outcome of the game. It’s nothing like American football so we had to google things as the game progressed. Happy to report that Kerry won. There was lots of celebrating and a parade when some of the players brought the Sam Maguire Cup to Dingle a few days later.
While in Dingle Marina we were visited by Harvey Kenny and his wife Eilish. Harvey is the Ocean Cruising Club Port Officer for Dingle. He and Eilish visited us on Echo and invited us to their house in Ventry. Wonderful and interesting people who we were happy to meet. We had such a great visit that we forgot to take photos. Also at the marina we met Pat Lawless from Ballyferriter as he prepared to compete in the Golden Globe Race, a solo around-the-world sailing race.
On July 31st we said goodbye to our last group of visitors and left the marina, headed back out along the coast where we once again we had family along the way waving good bye. We sailed around Slea Head, past the Blaskets and into Smerwick Harbor where we staged for our departure from Kerry the following morning. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the scenery was incredible!
We had a few last minute visitors after we dropped our anchor. Rob and Leah paddled out on their SUP to say goodbye and Eoin, a cousin who we had not yet seen came by in his commercial fishing boat.
Our time on the Dingle Peninsula was everything we could have hoped for and thank all for their welcome and hospitality!
All the best ~ Mary and Jeff