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Our Irish Cottage in Dingle - A Trip Report

Our Irish Cottage in Dingle - A Trip Report

Old May 8th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Our Irish Cottage in Dingle - A Trip Report

Last New Year’s Eve we had read a trip report on Fodor’s talking about a wonderful little cottage on Slea Head Drive in Dingle called Couminole Cottage. We made reservations right away for the last week in April, and then we waited, planned, dreamed and talked about our trip to Ireland for four months. Isn’t that half the fun?
Thanks to all who helped us with our questions on the Blaskets, Dingle Music and especially to Jenine who wrote about her stay at the little stone cottage.

April 24th, 2008
Friday Morning

We had the cottage on Slea Head from Saturday to Saturday so we decided to spend a day before and after in Doolin to save a long drive down to County Kerry after a long flight.

It was dark and raining pretty hard when we landed in Shannon. While waiting for our rental car I looked around in a book/newspaper store at the airport and found an oversized postcard of Couminole Cottage. I bought 5. I couldn’t wait to show Craig.

We had about an hour’s drive to Doolin and it was still raining when we left the airport. We were tired from the flight and all I hoped was that we could get an early check in and curl up for a nap under some soft and warm blankets. We had stayed at Cullinians before, and hoped also they would let us join them for breakfast as their food is absolutely delicious. We were in luck, yes, we could have breakfast and yes our room was waiting for us. Cullinan’s is perfect in every way. The rooms are spotless, the breakfasts are wonderful and Carol is always helpful and welcoming.

We slept till about 1:00. It was still sprinkling when we drove to Lisdoonvarna, then to Kilfenora to look around. Kilfenora has a wonderful little tourist center and gift shop. Next door is a cathedral ruins with many carved crosses, figures and windows. Then just down the street we stopped in at Vaughan’s Pub for dinner. I had fish and chips; Craig had Bacon and Cabbage, both very tasty and served in a charming presentation. I think of all the pubs we went to, this one had the most atmosphere. It was a small pub, with a fire burning; the walls were covered in pictures and souvenirs like other pubs. I don’t know what made it special. Maybe it was the family of ten seated next to us. The grandparents, children and grandchildren all spoke in Irish. They were laughing, talking and just enjoying their time together.


Saturday

We woke up to the sun shining this morning. After another wonderful breakfast we started our drive south to the Dingle Peninsula. I had brought some C.D.’s to listen to in the car and we enjoyed our drive to the Killmer Ferry which we caught just as they were loading the last cars. What luck!

We stopped in a couple of towns along the way, one being Tralee and walked around the sidewalks and ended up at the Tourist Center for directions out of town as we had gotten lost. There I found another post card of “The Cottage” and also a calendar which had the cottage on the front page. I told the lady behind the desk that we were going to stay here, and pointed to the cottage. She thought I was joking. Then, when she realized I was serious, she said what a beautiful area we were going to be in and how did we find this cottage? I told her Fodor's.

When we got to Dingle we drove straight through town anxious to see our cottage. The blue door welcomed us as we pulled into the drive. The cottage is tucked away behind a curve in the road, and nestled in the side of Mount Eagle. We unpacked and looked around. The view out to the ocean was unbelievable. The Blasket Islands were a mile out with purplish-pink sunset clouds behind them. Besides the lambs talking to each other in the pasture next to us and the ocean’s roar, all was silent.

We stopped at a pub for soup and a sandwich and then came back, put in some of Eoin Duignan’s music and poured a glass of wine. We sat by a peat fire, with the only other light being the lamp between us and read for the rest of the evening.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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I'm enjoying reading your report! Keep it coming!
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Old May 8th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Thank you,
I will have more tomorrow.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 03:30 PM
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Sounds wonderful....waiting for more!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Thanks so much for posting about the cottage and your trip. I've been looking forward to hearing about your stay there!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 05:50 AM
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We wanna see the cottage!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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What a lovely beginning! We're going to Dingle this summer - I'm glad to see your recommendation of Kilfenora, it sounds lovely.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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Sunday

It was raining again as we drove down the windy, cliff edged road on Slea Head Drive. We stopped in Ventry at the post office-grocery store to use the internet. The computer room was in a long narrow closet which was just wide enough for an office chair. How you got into that chair was your problem.
We parked in Dingle and after walking around for about an hour we realized that most shops in Dingle were closed on Sundays. However, the pubs and restaurants were open, so from a recommendation we stopped at Paudie’s Bar in the Dingle Bay Hotel for lunch. The food was very good, so we put it on our list of places to come back to.

We returned to the cottage by way of Ballyferriter. We stopped to climb a large hill to get a better view of the beach and The Three Sisters. Down the road a bit we saw a standing stone monument dedicated to the Spanish Armada ship that had gone down in a storm in 1588. Craig and I visited with a couple of ladies who were also looking at the monument.

Later, we went for a walk and met Cathleen who owns a B & B and a farm down the road. She was very nice. We looked at her rooms and the views are spectacular! We were introduced to her dog Molly, a friendly golden retriever and then walked back to the cottage for dinner.

Around 8:30 we went back into Ballyferrieter, and stopped in at a pub called Tigh Uichahain (House of Cain). They have music sessions every Sunday night. We got a table just across from the group as they were tuning up their fiddles.

First there were 5 people, and then one by one, someone new pulled up a chair until there were 10 musicians all sitting around one small table. There were fiddles, flutes and one bodhran player.

One of the member’s wives sat at our table as there weren’t many chairs and we started to talk. Her name was Felicity and she told us about the May festival that was starting in Dingle, and also gave us some titles of C.D.’s we might like from Siopa Ceol, a music shop in Dingle.

She told us about one of the songs the group was playing called Port bPucai. It was written by some Blasket Islanders who heard strange sounds one night while being stuck on one of the far islands. They thought it was music from the faeiries, but it was really sounds that the whales were making. It was a just a wonderful evening!


Monday

It was a beautiful sunny, spring morning. We took our walk to Tig Slea Head and met Cathleen along the way. She was going north for a few days and Craig offered to take Molly for walks while she was gone. I bought some gifts at the café while Craig took Molly out for the first time.

We decided that since it was such a nice day we should take advantage of the weather and visit the Blasket Islands. We packed a lunch from the Blasket Center restaurant (another very good lunch stop) bought our tickets and walked down the long cement path that seemed to go on and on, down to the dingy that would carry us to the waiting boat in the harbor.

The ride over to the island was pretty rough and although no one else seemed to be worried, I thought the boat might tip over. We visited with two other couples on our half hour trip over to the island.

We followed a long hilly path up to the top of the island. It was so beautiful and peaceful; we picked a perfect day to visit the island. As we walked around we only saw about 10 other people on the island. We saw the two ladies we had met the day before at the Spanish Monument, one was taking pictures and the other was working on a pastel drawing.

About 200 seals were sunning themselves on the beach. They would rush back to the water if anyone got too near to the cliff above them.

We walked all over looking at each deserted stone house and then a found a spot to sit and eat our lunch. Sheep were nibbling on grass and a couple of giant rabbits ran past us while we enjoyed our ham and cheese wrap.

We only spent about two hours on the island and had to take the last boat back.

While waiting for the boat we laid in the grass and closed our eyes. The sun and quiet felt good. Then all of a sudden I realized I didn’t have my purse. I had sat it down to take a picture. I knew I had left it by one of the falling down houses but which one? Panic! With all the tall grass and little hills it was not too easy to get around. After about 10 minutes, one of the visitors said that Craig had found it. Hurray!! I felt such relief. But, then I couldn’t find Craig.

The boat ride back was a lot smoother and I was so glad. I was able to enjoy the spectacular view of the peninsula, without worrying about falling in the ocean. We decided to stop by Coumeenoole Stand on the way back to the cottage.

When I was getting off the boat Craig took my hand and as I took the long step down to the dock, something happened. The waves pushed the boat up or down, I don’t know which, but I fell twisting one ankle and scrapping the other leg’s knee. Craig asked if I were alright and since there were so many people around I couldn’t swear, so I just “NO!”

With Craig’s help, I somehow got over to the side of the hill and sit down. I knew it would be alright soon, but right then my ankle really hurt. Everything started to go black and I said that I thought I was going to faint. One of the other passengers shoved my head between my legs. I’m not sure I could be anymore embarrassed.

There were about 10 or 12 people all gathered around me. It was fun trying hobble back up that never ending hill. One person gave me some aspirin, another gave me an elastic wrap and another offered her walking stick. They were all so nice, but all I wanted to do was to get in the car and go home.


I rested on the couch for awhile, Craig took Molly for a walk then we read for a while. Later we decided to go to the Internet Café and do some grocery shopping in Dingle. We started the fire, had dinner in that night and played some rummy.

Craig went outside then called me to come out. It was so dark, two of the neighbor’s lights that were shinning so bright the night before were off. Cathleen was gone so her house was dark. It was sort of spooky. Then Craig pointed up to the sky. The stars were so bright it was really beautiful. As I limped off the bed I thought what another good day we had.

(I'll see if I can get my pictures on Flickr for you to see.)
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Old May 9th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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I am loving your report and reliving a week spent with sister and her husband in Dunquin, just down the road. We went to the Blaskets as well and found them beautiful and a bit sad.

Can't wait for the rest of your report (hope your ankle gets well) and promised pictures!

Thanks!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Do you recall the name of Cathleen and Molly's B&B? The cottage sounds wonderful, but not sure we would be able to squeeze in a full week... but a few nights at the B&B would be perfect... Thanks!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:35 PM
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I really enjoyed the previous report about this cottage and it's good to hear that your experience was as good.

Looking forward to more and to (hopefully) some pictures.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:20 PM
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shormk2
Cathleen's web site is
www.sleaheadfarm.com
I've seen her first name spelt 3 or 4 different ways. Her card says,
Caitlin but I think it's pronounced, Cathleen. Anyway, she rents by the night, I believe. The rooms are simple but clean and the view took my breath away. It's a perfect location. Just walking through real quick, I thought the green room was the nicest. It's called the rose room if I remember correctly because of the rose printed carpeting.

Robbyn
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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Enjoying your report! I have had that cottage bookmarked for a long time now, so I always enjoy reading about it. Looking forward to more (and I'm sorry about your ankle).
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Old May 9th, 2008, 03:23 PM
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I'd love to hear some details about the cottage. Is there comfortable seating in the living room? Good lighting? Outside seating area?Road noise?

Thanks so much -- it's great hearingn about your trip!
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Old May 9th, 2008, 06:16 PM
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/fishermarie/

Hopefully you can click on this site and view my pictures. There are some pictures of cottage as well as some of the Dingle Peninsula.

http://www.couminolecottage.com

Here is the website for the cottage. Susan and Bill are very good about sending information to you and answering any questions.
The livingroom has a love seat and four chairs. They are sort of like a wicker with cushions. It's a rather rustic cottage, but comfortable. There are some chairs that you can put out on the side patio. I really did not notice any road noise. We were there in the spring of course, so I don't know about the traffic in the summer. Though cars have to go slow as the road is narrow winding.

I will write more tomorrow.
Robbyn
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Old May 9th, 2008, 06:48 PM
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Robbyn, lovely pics, lovely post. How absolutely sweet that Caitlin let Craig care for her pup- a total stranger!

Looking forward to more...
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Old May 10th, 2008, 05:41 PM
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Tuesday

We slept in, how nice it was not to have a schedule. I was limping around and had to walk slow and felt pretty goofy. We decided to go to Gallarus Oratory today. Then we stopped at the Kilmalkedar Church, which had a window called the eye of the needle, a little slit of a window that you are suppose to climb through 9 times and if you want to go to heaven or once I guess if you want to be married in a year. I didn’t try; I doubted my head would even fit through.

We went to the Dingle Music Shop and bought a couple of C.D.’s. Then we stopped at the Catholic Church office to purchase tickets to see Alice Taylor speak and also bought tickets for KILA. We should have gotten the lady’s name at the office because she was so very nice and helpful. She said we should make sure to see Pauline Scanlon sing at Tigh Paidi O’Se’s in Ventry. We also asked her about the road that goes over the mountain from Ventry to Slea Head. She assured me that it was safe, no cliff drop offs and a very nice road to take with incredible views!

So, we tried the mountain road, called Mam’ Clasach, and the views were spectacular. The road (path) was very narrow, but luckily there were many places to turn off if you met an oncoming car. We also heard that the islanders took this road when they had to leave their home and stopped at the top of the mountain to look back as it would be the last time they would see the Blaskets.

When we got home I took off my sock and my ankle was so swollen, it was black and blue in spots and it scared me as I thought maybe it was broken. I took some Advil and soaked it in hot water. At least the warmth felt good, I’m not sure if it helped or not though. I put my foot up and Craig made dinner.

We played rummy, listened to music, read and then went to bed and feel asleep listening to Garrison Keillor. What could be better than that?


Wednesday

The swelling had gone down on my ankle and I could bend it without it hurting and I could even step on it if I walked slowly.

We made breakfast then stopped at the café for coffee and I did some more shopping. We were getting to know the ladies at Tig Slea Head and they smiled when we came in.
Today on Molly’s walk Craig said a sheep had gotten out. As they rounded the bend, both Molly and the sheep looked startled when the saw each other. The baby lamb hurriedly found a spot in the fence and ran back in the field.

Craig had lost his glasses last evening so we had to go to the pharmacy in Dingle to see if he could find another pair. He bought the only style they had and I’m pretty sure they were ladies glasses, but if you need them to read, I guess you will wear anything. When we got back to the cottage I found his lost “man” glasses lying in the driveway. I jumped out of the car and rescued them.

We had lunch, read, took a nap and listened to music while it rained all afternoon. Around 7:00 we went to Dingle to see Alice Taylor speak at the Benner’s Hotel. The hotel looked old, rich and luxurious; it was fun to look around as we walked to the room where the lecture was going to be. We got a glass of wine and waited while people came in and found seats. We saw Reg from the café and she came over and talked to us. She said she would see us later at Paudies O Se’s. We talked to the lady from the church ticket office and I told her how much we enjoyed the mountain road she told us about.

Alice Taylor talked about growing up on her parent’s remote farm. She told us about her newest book and then read some of her poems. We felt very fortunate to be there. She has written fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as well as a children’s book. She writes about village family life in rural Ireland. I am almost finished with my first book and just bought a new one. I’m pretty sure I will be reading everything she has written.

Bio on Alice Taylor : http://www.brandonbooks.com/authors.php/authors_id/2

Pauline Scanlon started singing at Paidi O Se’s at 10:00. The pub was very crowded, all seats were taken and the pub was filled with people standing, trying to watch as Pauline started a new song. We finally squeezed into a little nook and stood there for the rest of her performance. Pauline looked very young and had a soft, delicate voice. A lady next to us said Pauline has two C.D.’s out and I asked which one was the best. She smiled and said, “Buy them both!”
During the break a group of men came in carrying brass instruments. A lively, red haired lady wearing a long green dress floated along beside them.

Everyone starred at the new group, wondering what was going on. When Craig left to get me a coke he stopped and asked the lady where they were from. She told Craig they were Gypsies from Romania. “Oh, Roma’s,” Craig said. She told Craig yes, that’s what they liked to be called.

Right after Pauline finished singing, everyone started to leave. Wait, wait,” the lady with long red hair shouted as she started dancing in a circle with her finger’s clicking over her head. Then the loud trumpets and horns started and everyone stopped to listen. They played about 3 songs and everyone clap. Then it was time for the pub to close. We got home that night about 1:30, the latest we’d been out for a long time.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 07:42 AM
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Thursday

Today was a quiet day. I did some laundry and hung our jeans out on the line. We each bought a scone with jelly from the café, and then Craig and Molly went for their walk.

Yesterday we had seen a cute little place in Ballyferriter and stopped there for lunch. Then we went to the beach, found a place out of the wind and read for awhile, then using our rolled up jackets for a pillow, we laid back and closed our eyes. I woke up and decided to walk along the beach and look for stones. I like to bring back a stone from different places we’ve been.

Eoin Duignan was going to be playing at the Small Bridge at 9:30 and since we missed him at the church we thought we would drive into Dingle and see them there. The area where the musicians play is very tiny. We could barely get in the door and even though we found a place to stand we couldn’t see very well. We stayed for a few songs and it kept getting more and more crowded, I started to feel claustrophobic. It was time to leave. We listened to his C.D. on the way back to the cottage.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 08:44 AM
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Friday
Our last full day

Today we met Cathleen’s daughter and grandson when they were taking a stroller ride up to the café. She was just as sweet as her mom. We finally toured the Blasket Center. It was interesting but sad. I had finished my book and wanted to find another one so we went to Dingle and looked at the book shops. We were suppose to pick up a C.D. from the music shop that we had ordered, but when we walked in the lady there told us it still hadn’t come in. So, we are now waiting for it in the mail.
While having lunch at Paudies we heard a C.D. playing that we really liked. We asked the waitress about it. It was called, “A Time to Sail.” She told us it was sung by Eilis Kennedy and for sale at John Benny’s. Eilis is John Benny’s wife. Anyway, we luckily got the last C.D. they had. http://www.eiliskennedy.com/biography.html
Dinner was at the Stone House Inn. It was a nice place with good food, but very expensive. We should have had lunch there instead.
At 8:00 we went back to the Blasket Center to see the KILA concert. http://www.kila.ie/
We said hi to the lady from the ticket office again, and saw some people who were at Paidi O Se’s on Wednesday night. We each had a glass of wine and I started to talk to the lady next to me. I found out she was a sister in law to “the lady from the ticket office”.
The whole evening was in Gaelic, which was interesting, but of course we had no idea what anyone said. KILA is an Irish Fusion band and I think a mix of African, Indian, and reggae. I could be way off, but that’s what I heard. All I knew is that we really enjoyed their music.
There were seats for about 100 people and they must have oversold because a lot of people were standing on the side.
By the third song people started dancing in front of the band. One girl in particular was dancing passionately to the music. I can’t even tell you what form of dance it was but I call her the crazy dancer. Anyway, it was a fun night and we bought a couple of KILA’s C.D.’s.
After the excitement of the concert we were not ready to go home. We didn’t feel like driving all the way to Dingle as it was about 11:00. So, we decided to go to Kruger’s Pub, a small place on the way back to the cottage. We had gone there once before and left right away because it was so empty. That night though was completely different. Cars filled the entire parking lot and we had to drive far down the road to find a place to park. We walked into another very crowded pub. There was no place to sit and so I found a spot at a tall table and stood there while Craig got some drinks.
I looked around to see an eclectic group of people; some people were from the concert, while others looked like regulars. A white haired man stood next to me sipping his beer while a little girl sat on a couch next to her mother. Then the Gypsies came in. They started playing and of course they were very loud. Some people just starred at them in amazement, some tapped their toes and the little girl put her hands over her ears. The crazy dancer from the concert got up and started dancing. She was very good and everyone watched her. It was fun just to look at all the different people having a good time, but we were leaving in the morning and it was time for us to go.
We had a great week at the little Irish Cottage. The views were incredible; it was just so beautiful to look out and see the Blasket Islands or watch the baby lambs play in the neighbor’s field. It was so relaxing to sit by the fire at night and read. We felt so lucky to hear such a variety of good music and meet so many nice people.
We walked up the stone steps that lead to the bedroom for the last time. Lying in bed that night we saw the stars through the sky light before falling asleep. I woke up once to hear the rain against the roof and it lulled me back to sleep. It was a special place and fun to pretend it was ours for a week.


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Old May 12th, 2008, 04:19 AM
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Thanks for a wonderful trip report. Sounds like your week fulfilled all your expectations!
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