Accommodation secured for this year’s Dingle half marathon in September and I cannot wait, always a great weekend in Dingle.
Dingle hosts a fantastic race that won ‘Half Marathon of the Year 2015’ in the Running Ireland Race Awards. The views and the spectators are simply the best. The last few miles through Slea Head looking out to the Blasket Islands are particularly beautiful. Tough but beautiful!
The marathon attracts about 2,000 participants, matching the town’s population and there is always a great buzz around the place. Situated on the south west coast of Ireland, it is a food, music and nature-lover’s paradise and is the only town on the stunning Dingle peninsula.
Dingle attracts between 100,000 to 200,000 visitors annually. Its extraordinary beauty has attracted high-profile visitors, such as the Star Wars film crew shooting scenes for the film’s new trilogy. An epic sight along the Dingle peninsula and sure Mark Hamill is more Irish than the Irish themselves at this stage. Capturing the hearts of many with his eloquent description of Ireland as “an endless gallery of incomprehensible beauty.” Also, american actor, Matt LeBlanc drove into Dingle recently in a flashy Rolls-Royce shooting scenes for the BBC’s flagship motor show, Top Gear. Matt and Dingle both looked gorgeous and judging by the viewer response, they were a big hit! #OnlyInIreland
This year, a gang of us are travelling from Dublin and Galway and making a long weekend of it. Last year, I ran with my friend Helen to help raise money for the Renal unit in Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Helen, an amazing mum-of-two, donated one of her kidney’s to her four-year-old son, Hugo. She ran the race one year after the transplant to mark the end of an incredibly tough journey and to celebrate the success of the surgery. Hugo met us near the finish line to run the final 20 metres, which was really special. The support from everyone was overwhelming and Helen’s strength inspirational. Almost €4k was raised. Amazing.
The first port of call post run is Dick Mack’s for some well-earned beers, my favourite bar in Dingle. It is an authentic, Irish pub and the Best Whiskey Bar in Ireland to boot. There is always a great atmosphere and the staff are super friendly and good craic.
To be fair, there are plenty of great pubs in Dingle, like Foxy John’s, Currans, O’Sullivan’s, O’Flaherty’s and Kennedy’s Bar. The South Pole Inn, formerly owned by the Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, is on my list to visit this year.
The Marina Inn and John Benny’s Pub are situated opposite the pier in town and are always bustling, especially in the summer. The GAA hurling final is held on the first Sunday in September (the day after the marathon) so we usually try and grab a seat in either to have lunch and watch the match.
A weekend in Dingle must also include a boat trip to see Fungie, the town’s beloved bottlenose dolphin! The friendly dolphin is well-known throughout Ireland since 1983 and even has a statue dedicated to him in the town centre.
Conor Pass is also a must-see and is only a ten-minute drive from the town. It is the highest mountain pass in Ireland with breathtaking views…and ice-cream.
Not sure if I am brave enough to try paragliding over Conor Pass but it looks like good fun. The Dingle Whiskey Distillery is not far away so perhaps a tasting beforehand would help ease the fear!
Dingle also boasts stunning sunsets and there are so many beautiful places to watch the sun go down. I usually go down to the pier to catch the last of the sun dip behind the mountains. Beautiful.
As well as its amazing scenery, sunsets and authentic Irish pubs, Dingle has three of Ireland’s top 100 restaurants listed in John and Sally McKenna’s 2016 annual guide. Having three out of four of the best restaurants in Kerry, Dingle’s accolade as Ireland’s Best Foodie Town 2014 is well-deserved. The three restaurants, Out of the Blue and The Global Village are well worth a visit. A bit pricey but a real treat. Dingle also has its own Food Festival, which takes place the last weekend in September into October. The festival coincides with the Blas na hÉireann awards, the Irish food awards, recognising the very best of Irish food and drink producers. The awards are the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island of Ireland! It is a weekend not to be missed!
As for music, there is usually a trad session happening every night and a couple of late bars such as, An Droichead Beag and the Hillgrove nightclub for the party animals! I think marathon runners get a free pass into the Hillgrove? I remember dancing and I remember sore legs, so sore that it was almost impossible to walk down any steps/staircase.
The ultimate music experience in Dingle is the annual Other Voices Festival. A special three-day music event held in December that involves filming of live performances of both Irish and international bands in intimate settings, such as a 200-year old church called St. James. The filming is produced for an Irish national television series that broadcasts in January. Tickets are like gold dust as they are not for sale. Given that it is a television production rather than a music festival people are not asked to pay for tickets, instead they are given away through competitions on Facebook, Twitter and radio stations etc.
Dingle, you have stolen a piece of my heart forever!
Always love to hear suggestions for things to do and see in this beautiful town…