Dingle Corn Maze

Kids in corn maze After the tours around town and the peninsula, the ice cream and the dolphin, a lovely couple of hours can be spent in Dingle in a rather unique way, especially if you like mazes or have some kids in need of entertainment. The Dingle Corn Maze, right in town, is definitely worth a trip.

Dingle Corn MazePlanted across five acres by the farmer who supplies us with Kerry Cow Milk, the maze has a dinosaur theme this year and was laid out with computers and lasars. Spare a thought for Colm, the farmer, who did all of the plucking of corn for the paths by hand!

There are also picnic tables, a rope maze for kids to clamber around, finger mazes, and other bits of entertainment.

At the end of the season, the corn will go to feed the cows, but for now, with the weather changing for the worse and the beaches less of an option, the maze is a very attractive option for humans…

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On the Water

Nephews Boat Things are crazy at here with all the good weather. As long as it keeps up, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to add here in terms of recipes, etc., but the season is short, and we have to move the ice cream!

Dingle CliffsI did sneak off for a couple of hours on my little boat, as a neice and nephew who live in Germany were in town, and I took them plus my other nephew for a spin and swim.

Anyone coming to Dingle should really try to get on a boat if at all possible as the coastline is so beautiful, and it’s so easy to get away from the crowds that pack into town this time of year. There are even completely empty beaches only accessible by water!

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Rain and Dingle/An Daingean

Umbrella Well, things are definitely getting very hectic here at Ice Cream Ireland. On Saturday, the rain poured down and the winds battered us. Still, there were customers enough, although they were a bit wet and bedraggled.

Today, I would have expected it to be quiet, with the Munster final and the world cup final both on. However, we were absolutely clattered, with one of our busiest days ever. I guess tourism is alive and well in West Kerry.

An Daingean SignIn the middle of it, a journalist from the Kingdom newspaper pushed her way in, asking what I thought about the new expanded boundaries for the Dingle/An Daingean referendum.

What could I do but push her back out and get back to scooping?

There is a time to debate the name of our town (and it’s clear that the controversy will rage on), and there’s a time for ice cream!

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Tall Ship in Dingle

Passion Yesterday, the Spirasi Tall Ship Challenge Against Torture arrived in Dingle. Along with the boat was the group Passion, made up of Pat Collins (The Café Orchestra), guitarist Drazen Djerek (The Chieftans) and singer Tony Norton (The Three Irish Tenors and Druid). They performed in the Marina Bar rather than the pier because of worries about the weather, and it was something to hear O Sole Mio blasting out of a place more used to trad music.

For anyone interested in supporting them, the ship calls to Cobh, Waterford, Wicklow, and will be back in Dublin on Monday for the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

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Things to Do in Dingle – Doonshean

Today was quite warm and it’s getting time to think about the beach again.

Doonshean Beach

Of course, Summer is at happy time in the world of ice cream, but it’s also a great time to be in Dingle.

For some reason, visitors to the peninsula usually keep heading West. Ventry, Dunquin, Ballyferriter and Ballydavid have a great pull. However, there are some lovely spots just East of Dingle town that are just as beautiful and far less crowded.

Doonshean is my favourite beach on the whole peninsula, and even the path leading to it is magically scented with woodbine and blackberry blossoms. The water is clean and the waves hits the beach straight on, making it ideal for bodysurfing or swimming. And the sand is white and perfect.

Mussels at DoonsheanThere is, however, a catch. It’s only at it’s best at low tide, when the water pulls back to reveal a whole series of sandy coves that let in the sun and keep out the wind. At any other time, there are better beaches, and at high tide, there is very little beach at all. So check out your tide tables first!

One small word of warning – on the left of the beach there is a strong and dangerous riptide. Stay to the right, and it’s perfectly safe.

To find it, head out the Tralee road from Dingle, and turn right at the first real road (it’s marked “Dun Seanna”). Take the next left, and follow it for a couple of miles until the road forks. Take right fork and follow it to the beach.

If you see anyone (and it’s unlikely except high season), don’t tell them it was me who passed on the (loosely guarded) secret of this lovely spot!

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Photos and Feile na Bealtaine

honeycomb ice cream

I am still getting used to the Leica I talked about in my last post, and I’m still loving it. I shot the photo above in the scooping cabinet, under its neon light. A great thing about the camera is all the manual settings, including white balance so that colours turn out right under all sorts of lighting. It’s the first time in ages that I’ve bought something that has so far exceeded my expectations! I highly recommend it.

In other news, tickets are coming on sale for the 12th Annual Feile na Bealtaine (6th – 14th May). It is such a lovely time to be in Dingle. Music, art, literature and theatre abound, and it’s still low tourist season so it’s all very low key and can be enjoyed with a minimum amount of hassle.

The music headliners are the Chieftains, playing on the 14th of May in St. Mary’s church, and the tickets are already selling briskly, so anyone interested should contact the ticket office soon.

Other music acts include the Cassidys and Alphastates.

Authors on hand include Draco Jancar (Joyce’s Pupil) and Nenad Velickevic (Lodgers), and Manachan Magan is coming to talk about TV and film.

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Things to Do in Dingle – Diseart

Harry Clarke Window  I sometimes forget that there is more to life than ice cream, but today I took a few hours and called up to the Diseart, which is now under new management.Diseart

I think it is one of the interesting things to visit in Dingle, and most visitors tend to miss it.

Originally a Presentation convent, with only one Sister remaining, it is now home to an Education and Celtic cultural centre.

These days, you’re much more likely to meet a student taking part in a variety of courses than anyone who is a member of a religious order.

The real draw is the upstairs chapel with a stunning set of Harry Clarke windows, commissioned in 1922. Clarke was originally from Dublin and considered one of the very best of his craft. It’s well worth the €3 entrance fee.

Diseart tunnelYou can also wander around the gardens, and there will soon be tours of the famine kitchen and the secret tunnel leading between the convent and the church (in the mean time just ask!).

These days, with the mad housing boom, we seem to be much more interested in ripping down old buildings to make room for new developments than in preserving them.

It’s a joy, however, to spend some time inside a bit of history!

Harry Clark Window Closeup

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Milltown Market and Petrol Heads

Milltown market2

For anyone travelling between Killarney and Milltown MarketDingle, I highly recommend a stop in Milltown to visit the market there. Set in one of the prettiest buildings of any Irish market, it is certainly worth a browse, especially on a Saturday, when there are rows of organic farmers, bakers, etc. selling their wares. With a good range of natural products, organic and biodynamic wines, food, and gardening and farming supplies, it makes a very pleasant break to the drive. At the very least you will come away with some snacks, and if you have a green thumb and room in your car, you might come away with all sorts of treats for your garden.

You will find it in the old church on the right as you come into Milltown, down from the school and opposite the petrol station.

The opening hours are Tues-Fri 2-5 and Saturday 10-2.

road closed

Meanwhile, unless you’re car mad, avoid Dingle each year during the rally, which is this weekend. Dingle town is at a standstill today and the roar of cars echo around the peninsula.

rallyAt times like these I get that parallel universe feeling as the whole town is taken over by an entirely different crowd of people than the usual visitors. Besides the racers there are spectators, hawkers of all sorts of racing merchandise, chipper vans just for the event, etc.

The roads are closed to the West, and even Dingle town is virtually impassable as boy racers rev their engines and creep along the streets looking to impress. Confused tourists wander around shell-shocked, a free day on their hands after being told they can’t visit sites or tour around the place.

At least this event is not marred by the violence that seems to accompany the Killarney rally, and I guess it is a wonderful thrill for people who live for their cars…

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