Ballyferriter Blues…

kerry lakesOver in the west of Ireland at the moment, tootling about.

Just finished in Kerry where we stayed in the village of Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula, out in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area.

Absolutely beautiful out here.  Miles and miles of empty beaches, the water crystal clear, and verging on tepid … it’s where the Gulf-stream hits after all.  Fuchsia bushes thirty feet high line the winding narrow roads, terrifying the life out of the American visitors.  We spent Monday evening with some sheep on the heights of Dunmore Head watching an Atlantic sunset over the Blasket Islands.

Had too many Guinness on Tuesday and listened to a musical French family called Trotwood who’ve been coming to the Gaeltacht for years to play, and it was nice to hear some improvised reels on cellos, and non-traditional instruments.  They were joined by a bongo – tabla – bodhran player and having arrived at the pub around six, I finally found my bed around two, having forgotten that we had a MSP_1886four hour winding drive planned for the following day.

If you’re ever in the area, check out Tig Uí Murcú in Ballyferriter.  Great staff, and a ridiculously friendly crowd.  The music doesn’t start until around 9, so I’d say about half-eight is the right time to get in there, unless you want to eat.

 

Stayed in a hotel across the road from the pub called Ostán Ceann Sibéal which had fantastic spacious rooms with panoramic views from the front, and was also pet friendly.  If you stay, go for room 18!  Zak, our dog was even more reluctant to leave than we were.  He went nuts on the beach too.  I think he thought he was in dog heaven.  The hotel’s food wasn’t fantastic for us, as we’re both veggie, and Kerry is still in the goat’s cheese phase when it comes to vegetarian food, but it was an easy going place, and they had some great craft beers in the bar too.

From the strand (beach) near the hotel you can walk a few miles across the bay to Baile na Ngall and the Tabhairne Uí Chonchuir.  The walk takes about an hour and a bit, and most of it can be done on the beach or the beach bank.  Swimming is good at several points, but especially on Wine Strand which is a smaller lagoon-like bay.Kerry sea view

If anyone from the area does pick this up, I’ve published a series of short stories with Vegetarian Recipes that are pretty simple, (http://tinyurl.com/poam5pa) but many also have an Irish twist to them.  Too many chefs and cooks find it too easy to churn out the same old nonsense, and visitors are hoping for something a bit different to what they might do at home.

Having a full ‘Irish/English/Scottish/Welsh’ breakfast is about as exciting after day one as having a dump, and I’m told both get equally trying over a fortnight.

Breakfasts could have all come with potato cakes, with onions or herbs even, to add something a bit different.  These are cheap to make, filling, and traditional, and they fit with almost anything in the morning.  I didn’t encounter them anywhere?  I did come across some nice breads, but nobody seemed to play with any ideas and add things like spring onions, carrots, parsnips, or even wild thyme and rosemary, which is everywhere.  Breads like these can add a dimension to a simple bowl of soup, and use up any leftover vegetables.  Again, they’re cheaper to make, add something a little different to the table and make a visit more memorable.

Kerry was absolutely stunning.

We’re off to Clare…and a special thanks to @Stormfreshphoto for the shots.

 

 

 

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5 comments

  1. the occupant · August 5

    So you were drinking ‘shots’ as well as Guinness?

    Visited Kerry many, many moons ago. It was wet and misty most of the time I was there, but that just added to the feel of the place. Very evocative – “an ancient and mystical place”.

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    • Barry Jacques · August 5

      Wasn’t drinking shots, but kept on the Guiness most of the night. Kerry was stunning, and I think we caught it just at the right time. There was a mini-heatwave, and the tv actually predicted it ending on the Thursday we were there, at around 2.30. It did. It was nice to be in an Irish speaking area. It’s been over thirty years for me, so hearing the changes was nice. Hearing the barmen offering a choice of French wines to a customer in Irish or listening to a mixed language conversation about Breaking Bad was good fun. There was no hint of expectation for other Irish people to be able to speak or understand either, as most of the Gaeltacht people are completely bi-lingual and just get on with whatever situation is in front of them. Killarney was disney-like-chaos, a sort of Paddysville, and full of Italians and Americans looking for the authentically constructed experience. Nice having the beaches more or less to ourselves too. Not enough people down there for people to get annoyed about dogs. We didn’t have much mist there … we did have mist in Clare though.

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  2. Barry Jacques · August 5

    Wasn’t drinking shots, but kept on the Guiness most of the night. Kerry was stunning, and I think we caught it just at the right time. There was a mini-heatwave, and the tv actually predicted it ending on the Thursday we were there, at around 2.30. It did. It was nice to be in an Irish speaking area. It’s been over thirty years for me, so hearing the changes was nice. Hearing the barmen offering a choice of French wines to a customer in Irish or listening to a mixed language conversation about Breaking Bad was good fun. There was no hint of expectation for other Irish people to be able to speak or understand either, as most of the Gaeltacht people are completely bi-lingual and just get on with whatever situation is in front of them. Killarney was disney-like-chaos, a sort of Paddysville, and full of Italians and Americans looking for the authentically constructed experience. Nice having the beaches more or less to ourselves too. Not enough people down there for people to get annoyed about dogs. We didn’t have much mist there … we did have mist in Clare though.

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  3. Ellanor Aquitaine · September 9

    Wow, that sounds absolutely stunning – Beautiful photos! I live in the South West of England in Devon, but I’ve always wanted to see the Irish countryside. I’ll take your advice – have to say though, that I don’t think much of the UK or Ireland has really embraced delicious vegetarian food yet.

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    • Barry Jacques · December 6

      Sorry I never got back to you in September Ellanor. My system’s been glitchy and where I live in the Chilterns has virtually no signal.
      Do go have a look at Ballyferriter if you ever get a chance. You can always hang out in Dingle too, if you go out of season.
      I believe I’m back and active once more!
      Kind regards

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