Killarney to Dingle Town; Not all white boys with dreadlocks are idiots; In search of the authentic trad; Good craic nonetheless; Drunken wanderings; Fungi the satanic land-dolphin; Stick and rock, both holy

Bidding fond adieus to Killarney and all in it, we caught the morning bus to Dingle Town via Tralee. Tralee has little to recommend it except for its annual beauty contest, at which the winner is crowned the legendary Rose of Tralee. I’ve never honestly been impressed by the winners I’ve seen, who have all been a bit on the zaftig and rosy-cheeked side for me, and it was the wrong time of year anyway, so we contented ourselves during our 30-minute stopover with wandering in circles around the bus station. An hour after changing buses we were back in Dingle Town again. It had been a 15-year absence for Sheryl and eight years for me and we both had strong memories of the place. My own are quite mixed - friends will recognize Dingle as the setting of the infamous Tale of the Killer Cow. For those new to the story I can only instruct you to count your blessings and give thanks that I haven’t the space to repeat it here. Suffice to say that there was an Incident during my last visit with a very unpleasant shaggy black cow and an impromptu mud bath.

Aside from that, I enjoyed Dingle Town immensely last time and was hoping to find it essentially unchanged. It was, mostly, aside from the glaze of an additional eight years of tourism. Seemingly every one of Dingle’s many pubs now had a nightly traditional Irish music session, about which I was skeptical, having heard the real thing last time and knowing how little it’s suited to planning and nightly gigs. Sessions work best when musicians come and go as the like, joining or leaving the session as they come or go, and changing the sound accordingly. The so-called ’sessions’ advertised in the pub windows mostly seemed to be just a couple of people with a fiddle and a guitar for the whole night. Most tourists wouldn’t know any better, I guess. But, barring that and a few housing developments at the edge of town, Dingle was comfortingly unchanged.

While wandering about with our packs looking for a hostel, we ran into a blond German guy with dreadlocks we’d noticed boarding our bus in Tralee. I’d rolled my eyes and dismissed him as just another white boy with dreads, but he turned out to be a very nice, earnest kid with a good sense of humour. Armin was to become a friend and travelling companion for a while, but for now we joined forces to find space at a hostel. We found a nice one and made the fatal mistake of trying to find a second, maybe cheaper choice. We failed at that and lost the beds at the first hostel. We eventually found another place, which was weird and run by a strange, slightly creepy woman who hovered constantly with a stream of dish-washing, window-opening, door-closing demands issuing from her mouth. Armin was especially disappointed as she was German and he’d hoped not to meet any other Germans on his trip. In his month so far he’d met at least one every day, though.

After settling in, Sheryl and I went out to explore the town. We spent a lot of time wandering the fishing docks, walked out to the edge of town (which didn’t take long, Dingle’s population being 8000 or so) and went hunting for groceries. Back at the hostel, we found that Armin had met up with an Austrian girl, Sabrina, and an American, Brian, and we all went out to find some music and have a drink or two. My vote was for my favourite pub in Dingle, An Drochaid Beag (the Little Bridge), but there was a football game on and all the local places were crawling with loud football fans so we gave it a miss. The others voted with their feet to head to one of the tourist places, so it was tag along or be left behind.

The tourist pub was unsurprisingly lame and also had the football game, so we left and finally wound up at a place called O’Flaherty’s (I think) where there was a guy playing lots of different instruments and accompanied by a fiddler. We stayed there for a drink or two, listening and laughing at a loud annoying girl from Ohio who was obviously, painfully proud of her remote Irish roots and was trying to dance a jig and play the Irish whistle. Afterwards we went out for a drunken ramble and Armin showed us what he thought was the famed Trinity Tree of Dingle - some semi-sacred religious thing. The tree turned out to be something else entirely - a carved dead trunk with, yes, three parts. It was a completely hideous Irish Catholic interpretation of a Native American totem pole and I had to delete the photos I took of it. The thing was so sad that we immediately dubbed it the Holy Stick.

Later, after the annoying girl from Ohio joined us (her name was Bridget, what else?) we found the equally Holy Rock, which has the miraculous property of curing skin rashes if you bathe in the water collected in its hollows - at least, according to Bridget. The conversation got more absurd after that as we decided that Fungi, Dingle’s resident dolphin mascot, was either an animatronic robot or a satanic land-dolphin who only came out at night to eat people. We took that as a sign that it was time to go to bed. Oh, and I ripped my new pants climbing a fence - just one more in the collection of rips these pants have accumulated in only two weeks.


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One Comment on this Dispatch:

September 6th, 2010

This gave me a laugh thanks, i enjoyed , and to think i was looking for a Bus service. Great Stuff.

¬ Paddy Banks
September 9th, 2010

Cheers mate! Glad it entertained.

¬ Chris
Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
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