Dingle - Killarney
Day 9

August 16, Sunday
Day: 9
Mileage: 46
Dingle -> Killarney
Night's Lodging: Aghadoe IYH (Killarney)
Weather: Rain at 4 a.m.; rain showers until 11 a.m.; rain again at 5:30 p.m.

I had my first good night's sleep in days after enjoying Irish traditional music and ballads at Murphy's pub where we began our pub crawl. As the door opened to disgorge a happy group, the traditional music from inside tantalized us. It was crowded. All seats in the front room and along the bar were taken and the back room where an Irish trio was performing was standing room only...patrons standing against posts, leaning against other upright bodies, propped up along the bar, and/or sitting precariously against hopefully immovable tables. An attractive dark haired young woman and two older men played and sang traditional ("trad") music. Rarely would the audience join in as most of the songs were unfamiliar. I nursed along my usual half pint of Guinness until I could stand the smoky air no longer. We left.

Tracy departed for the hostel and his tent. Jack and I followed the sounds to the next "Trad Irish Music Played Here" pub, the most famous in Dingle, O'Flagherty's. We walked in, stood unobtrusively near the bar and watched the combo regroup after their break. The music was difficult to hear. The patrons here were of the nature to "be seen" rather than sit and enjoyhave a good time with the music. The cigarette smoke descending down from the ceiling finally reached nose level, and we left, gasping for clean air. Our musical experiences at a couple of other "singing pubs" were no better. Two featured American country and western music - bad at that! And one C&W wannabe was trying to warble Patsy Kline songs. Patsy Kline music - the "in" music in Ireland.

Murphy's Pub, out of the four we tried, had the best music and returning, I was able to inch my way through the crowd to a good listening post. A young woman played the concertina during this set and the music was familiar to me. Not once did I hear "Danny Boy" or any of the other syrupy Irish songs so heavily promoted in the U.S. I was surprised to see so many young children in the age range of five to eight year olds being initiated into the pub experience. Looking around the pubs, discounting the obvious tourists, those that were probably Irish generally looked to be glum. Looking at the land around Dingle, I could understand why.

We were up early to attend the 9 a.m. Irish- language mass at St. Mary's Church. The weather was threatening...we grabbed our rain gear and headed off to church.

The church was lovely inside, the cold gray stone walls offset by the light wood altar area and stained glass. The priest wore a glorious Irish green robe with an orange and white ribbon down the front.

Many tourists were in attendance, including backpackers whom I recognized from the camp ground. One slightly unkempt young man with long blond hair sat to my right and forward a couple of rows. He tent was pitched near ours and he also imbibed at Murphy's last night. During communion those of us dressed in heavier darker garb tended to be the ones to not go up to the rail - visitors, non-Catholics, tourists. The townspeople, particularly the women, were easily identifiable, wearing somewhat dowdy thin cotton floral summer dresses. The weather was too cool for such lightweight clothes in my opinion, but this may have been the only time in the year to bring out colorful summer clothing.

Dropping offerings in the Help The Poor box and the Save The Children container, I left the church. It was raining. My sou'wester and jacket were getting significant use!

Weather consumed our thoughts -

"When will it quit?"
"When will it begin?"
"Will I get my tent down before the next shower?"
"Will I have to put it up in the rain?"

With my tent dried off, shaken and mopped down with my rayon super-soak-it-up towel, bam! another shower blew through from the west. I could see it coming along the bay, the dark clouds racing along pushed by the strong winds off the Atlantic. This was southwestern Ireland, and the weather was dominated by the Atlantic and Gulf Stream.

I waited out this shower inside my still-erected tent and began the wipe down process again. The second time was the charm. All packed and no rain - in fact, no more rain until 5:30 p.m. when I was safely in a youth hostel, a wonderfully huge stone mansion.

Although a travel day, we indulged in tea and scones to wile away some time, hoping the drizzle would end. Our rain gear made obvious puddles on the floor under our chairs while we chatted with an agreeable biking/camping foursome at a nearby table in the tea shop. They, too, were killing time before venturing forth with their day, hoping that, as yesterday, the rain would end by 11 a.m.

We finished our tea, but the rain continued. Next door was a combination grocery market/post office/stationery store/book store. We browsed, picked up some "road food" and mailed a couple of postcards. Tracy was getting grouchy about the rain, and Jack was really tired of it. He was opting for a B&B, I recall.

The sky was gloomy gray but the rain finally had quit. On my way back to the campground, I noticed souvenir patches in the window of Dingle's all purpose tourist shop. For my front pannier which was adorned with patches of many states and the few countries in which I had cycle-toured, I needed an Ireland patch. The store was closed, but the door was ajar, so I said "Hi" and entered. The proprietor, arranging his stock, invited "Yes, I'm almost open. Please come in." This was the beginning of his ten minute dissertation on how ill-behaved travelers and their children had become. Interestingly once he got started, we couldn't get him stopped. He talked for 7 or 8 minutes, just chattering on. Very friendly. Very Irish. He explained that Dingle's tourist revenue was concentrated from late May to the second weekend in August and by the end of the season -- today in fact, with the Dingle sailing regatta -- the locals were quite happy to recapture their town from the tourists. He was genuinely pleased that the tourist season was at an end.

Dingle harbor began to come to life. It was so late in the morning, the fishing boats were in and regatta visitors were just arriving, and strolling the pier, as I was doing. The drizzles were not entirely over, but almost unnoticeable in their occurrence. How adapted we were becoming to Irish weather!

We were not able to see Fungie the porpoise which "has captivated the hearts and souls of Dingle town residents and visitors alike since in 1984." He returned every season from his winter playground and was a playmate to boats and divers alike.

We were on our way at noon under clearing skies en route to Anascau, climbing, and the terrain changed markedly and rapidly. Fields were divided by small bushes, greenery, no longer fuchsia hedgerows. I was seeing evergreens, and more hydrangeas, which tended to be more blue than bright pink - indicating a different soil chemistry - and rose bushes. Berry bushes were now part of the landscape.

Thistles bloomed in purple profusion along the side of the road out of Dingle. It reminded me of Scotland, where the thistle is the national flower. The hills along this stretch of our route were Scottish Highlands-like in their appearance.

Looking across Dingle Bay south toward the Iveragh Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry, the volcanic mountains and valleys looked very much like the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

We had a beautiful downhill run into Anascau. Coming around a bend in the road, Inch Strand (beach) stretched out ahead and below the road level. The shoreline was amazingly long with a wide sandy beach. One could walk far out before being in deep water.

We followed the River Laune between Killorglin to the Killarney youth hostel. The road was flat and the scenery serene. We were surrounded by greenery and large trees, very different from the rocky outcropping and barren land of the Dingle Peninsula. Along the side of the road a large horse in a van gave a piercing whinny as he looked at me pedaling past. I laughed out loud. It was much better than getting a perfunctory wolf whistle.

A signpost marked Ballymalis Castle, a short detour from our route. We followed the road and dirt path to the fence where we left our bikes, and walked through the tall grass to explore this castle lonely in the middle of a large expanse of field. It was imposing in its solitariness.

We explored much of the first two of stories of this ruin. My "respect" for heights caused my knees to quiver as I watched Tracy climb the slippery rock stairs in his biking cleats. I couldn't make myself go clear to the top for the "landowner surveying his territory" view.

The International Youth Hostel just outside of Killarney was an enormous stone mansion with expansive grounds. Queuing up at 5:00 p.m. with other spur-of-the-moment hopeful guests, we were barely able to get accommodations. Tracy and I were assigned the last two available beds; Jack couldn't get a bed confirmed until after 8 p.m. He left to find a B&B down the road instead. This was his preference - he was ready for some privacy.

I found that the only true privacy was during camping nights. Hostels are dorm rooms, and our B&B experiences have been with a less expensive "family" room for the three of us. I love to camp, and pitching my tent and crawling in for 8 hours of relative quiet and aloneness had some pleasant aspects to it. Jack discovered that his tent leaked - rain found a path into his bedroom.

A shower! In a clean bathroom that didn't smell like urine, unlike the Hostel from Hell in Tralee. Our camping at the Westgate Hostel in Dingle was marginal as far as bathroom facilities were concerned.

While sitting in the hostel dining room pouring over our maps while sipping pre-dinner tea, who should appear but Mike, John and Pete! Again we met. Such amazing coincidences. Pete had told me that their itinerary included staying at the campground which was up the road. In fact, we passed it as we opted for a dry night in the hostel. Mike had bike problems thereby putting them a day behind in their schedule. We agreed to meet at 9:30 at the pub on the corner.

And meet we did. Over pints (and half-pints) of Irish beer, we watched John hustle pool with the local Irish pub regulars...winning points and collecting pints.

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