The Renowned Foodie Town of Ireland
Dingle’s long standing reputation as a must-go food destination was cemented on June 10th 2014 when the location announced as the “Top Foodie Town” in Ireland, and was chosen from a shortlist of 10 very competitive culinary finalists at the prestigious Irish Restaurant Awards. This award means that the Dingle Peninsula will be known throughout the world as the number one place for food in Ireland for 2014 and beyond. Sourced from local food producers, Dingle’s restaurant and café offerings are a delight – and what arrives from the pier to your restaurant plate is guaranteed to be mouth-wateringly divine. Dine at your leisure and experience the wonderful local produce.
Allow plenty of time to appreciate the Slea Head drive, a clockwise 46km route around the spectacular western tip of the Dingle peninsula. The drive begins in Dingle town and hugs the coast along a well-signposted route to the most westerly point in Europe (that would be Slea Head), before looping past a variety of stunning beaches and historical attractions on the way back to Dingle town.
Take a small detour from the Slea Head drive to visit Gallarus Oratory, a tiny early Christian church that resembles an upturned boat with its sloping side walls. Built using a system called corbelling, the Oratory has withstood the harsh Atlantic weather for at least ten centuries without the need for mortar and continues to exert a powerful spiritual influence today.
From the village of Dun Chaoin, 15 km from Dingle, the magical Blasket Islands are just a 20 minute ferry ride away, but they feel a world away in their timeless appeal. Inhabited until 1953, the island’s exclusively Irish-speaking population maintained a unique culture that has been extensively celebrated in local literature.
Not many dolphins can claim to have sent a tourist industry into overdrive, but then Fungie is not just any dolphin. The wild bottlenose dolphin arrived in Dingle Bay in 1983, and he has been delighting locals and tourists with his antics ever since. One of the most popular family activities for visitors is to take a boat trip to see him – many will return the ticket price if Fungie fails to turn up.
Dingle is a hotbed of traditional Irish music talent, and you will hear ample of evidence if you tour Dingle’s pubs. The local music scene is a vibrant and constantly developing one, as demonstrated by the Dingle Tradfest trad-fusion music festival in September. Another not-to-be missed festival showcasing new and international musical talent is RTE’s Other Voices in December.
The ancient tradition of the Celtic harvest festival has been revived with Féile Lughnasa, a four-day event at the end of July that celebrates old traditions with a climb of Mount Brandon, visits to historical sites, beach and field competitions for all ages, music, and recitation.
A humble field in Ballintaggart, just outside Dingle town, transforms into an exciting race course for three days every August. The Dingle Races attract horses, jockeys, and horse-racing enthusiasts from across the country and further afield for a festival that’s not to be missed.
Dingle Food Festival
The Dingle Food Festival has rapidly established a prominent position on the crowded food festival calendar. Staged in October, it attracts foodies eager to sample the unique flavours of local food and drink at the outdoor market, cookery demonstrations, and the extensive Taste Trail. There’s also programmes for children.
The highest mountain in Ireland after Carrauntoohil, Mount Brandon is a 952 m peak on the Dingle Peninsula named after Saint Brendan. The views on the ascent and from the summit are inspiringly beautiful. Mount Brandon can be approached via the Pilgrim’s Path in Cloghane or via the Saint’s Road from An Baile Breac, with the former being the more challenging and more dramatic route.
Far more than just a base for exploring the peninsula, Dingle town (an Daingean) is small but endless interesting. Wander the winding streets to discover quirky shops, buzzing cafes, great restaurants, and – of course – probably the best pubs in the country. Impromptu music sessions, odd conversations, and memorable characters are the order of the day.