After leaving Belleek in Northern Ireland, we headed south back into Ireland and towards Innisfree.
The boys were excited to see the land feature known as the “Sleeping Giant.”
We continued on our drive south and instead of listening to a variety of songs, Patrick and Danny only wanted to listen to one of two songs- either “La Bamba” from Danny’s recent school concert or “That’s When I Love You” the song Brian and I danced to at our wedding. The boys also asked if we would dance to our wedding song while they watch and clap.
We drove through Westport.
We drove past Croagh Patrick, a 2,500 foot mountain nicknamed “the Reek”. Every year in July, on what is known as Reek Sunday, pilgrims flock to the mountain peak in honor of Saint Patrick who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for 40 days in the year 441.
Poor Kev, who had been a little sick for the preceding few days, was rather crabby on our drive and screamed most of the day. We were all happy to reach the town of Louisburgh and spend some time at the playground.
Louisburgh is a small town and did not have many dinner options. Cronin’s pub serves Guinness, apparently even to fish, but offers no food. The nicest restaurant in town was small and booked for the evening, or so they told the family with three rambunctious little boys. A casual restaurant in the town had a fire in the kitchen earlier that day and was only serving a limited menu which thankfully included chicken for the boys. The town also had a well-stocked grocery store, so we bought a few things to enjoy back at the house as well.
Our house for the night was a great waterfront home with a view of Clare Island. The boys were fascinated by the whale bones outside the house, recovered from the homeowners who had found them on the shore.
The house had lots of windows and great views, and the sunset so late, that we were able to enjoy the views until nearly 11 PM.
Danny and Patrick were thrilled to run around in front of the house the next morning before we hit the road.
Our drive down towards Dingle, along what’s known as the Wild Atlantic Way, was stunning. We enjoyed beautiful landscape, green mountains and cliffs, lakes, waterfalls, and of course sheep.
Kev was feeling much better and sat happily in his car seat for the day’s drive. We stopped to visit Ballynahinch Castle and had fun hiking the trails on the property before lunch in the castle pub.
Danny tripped and fell on one of the trails, cutting his hand and he was a little sad for a bit.
Lunch was great. I had the best mussels of the trip, with warm crusty bread and a Guinness.
From Ballynahinch, we drove south to catch a ferry. The boys were very curious about a boat that could hold cars on it!
We spent a lot of time in the car that day. Patrick and Danny again only wanted to hear two songs – La Bamba and the song we danced to at our wedding. Brian and I had to veto that after awhile. As we headed toward Dingle, the boys had lots of questions, and they all started with, “Right that…” For example, Danny asked a lot of questions about numbers. “Right that six is more than two? Right that three is more than one?” There are of course endless possibilities to this line of questioning and Danny even made up a song about this, with various combinations of numbers and pointing out which one is more than another. He also started to branch out on his questions, asking silly things like “Right that pinky is better than thumb?” Or “Right that four is more than house?” Patrick and Danny also asked about whether various words rhyme with each other or are opposites of each other. There was also lots of talk from Danny about his imaginary baby animals which are usually birds, dinosaurs, and dragons but had expanded now to cows and sheep. We fueled up the car in the rain at a Collins gas station.
As we approached Dingle, we drove over the mountains through the Connor Pass. There was heavy fog rolling down the mountains and reducing visibility and Danny and Patrick were mesmerized.
We stopped the car so they could get out and run around a little in the low fog. Danny said, “I’ve never been in a cloud before!” After finding the rural men’s room, Patrick said, “I have never peed in a cloud before!” They were very happy!
We stopped for dinner at Paudie O’Shea’s pub just outside of Dingle. The boys wanted to sit at bar and order Guinness.
We drove through the town of Dingle heading out to the peninsula and the cottage we had rented for the next two nights.
The next day we all slept in a bit and then enjoyed running around in front of the house.
Danny and Patrick found long reeds they pretended were burning torches which they held high to lead the way on our walk.
We had a great morning hike!
We drove into the town of Dingle, along a stunning costal route and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day with views of dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. Kev fell right asleep in the car.
We visited Dingle’s aquarium and the boys were excited to see sharks, watch otters eat lunch, and pet a snake and a manta ray.
Everyone had fun playing with nets in the gift shop.
We took a boat ride around Dingle’s harbor to see the town’s most famous resident, a bottlenose dolphin named Fungie.
The tour company guarantees a Fungie sighting, or the boat ride, normally about 45 to 60 minutes, is free.
Finally, after nearly 90 minutes of searching, we saw saw Fungie. A local couple (see pictures below, in the orange raft) spends a lot of time tracking Fungie and his movements and once they had spotted Fungie we came over to watch as well. Strangely, the woman seemed to also enjoy attracting birds, even letting them land (and also defecate) on her head. She also had bird droppings down the back of her jacket.
We saw a rainbow as we disembarked.
We had a nice dinner in town and I enjoyed fresh, delicious scallops. We had time for a quick stop at a nearby playground before heading back home for the night.
We slept in until about 8:30 and then hit the road for Galway where we would meet up with the rest of my family for a week together at Ross Castle.