Trip Report - Couminole Cottage; Dingle

Nov 7th, 2007, 10:23 AM
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Trip Report - Couminole Cottage; Dingle

This is my first time posting a trip report, so just a warning - there was alot of time spent relaxing and just enjoying the Irish countryside. We were only there for a week and that's is how we wanted to spend our time. So...if you're looking for excitement - this is not the trip report for you!

Saturday, September 29, 2007
We (hubby Al and me, Jenine) left Mpls on Saturday, September 29th on a NW flight to Boston. At Boston, we checked in at the Aer Lingus counter and felt like we were on our way! Both flights were good – our first time on Aer Lingus and were very comfortable (decent food, too!).

Sunday, September 30, 2007
We arrived at Shannon on a very foggy Sunday morning around 8am. The Dan Dooley shuttle driver was great – told us all we had to remember was stay to the left and look to the right. We picked up our little Fiat and were off. It didn’t take long for Al to get the hang of driving on the opposite of the road from the opposite of the car; however, even though he got used to it, he never got completely comfortable. It wasn’t so much the opposite side of the road as it was the narrow roads and fast oncoming cars. For this reason, we considered ourselves blessed for our first driving experience to be on a Sunday morning without much other traffic. And…only 2 wrong turns (in MANY roundabouts!) the entire trip down to the Dingle peninsula – not too bad!

The fog cleared around 10am so were able to see the beautiful countryside. We arrived in Dingle around noon and stopped at Garvey’s Super Valu to pick up some groceries for the week. The drive from Dingle out to Slea Head was a little hairy. Lots of winding roads only wide enough for one car. And…cliffs to the left dropping down to the ocean (even though there were stone walls for protection)– made Al pretty nervous. So nervous in fact, that he pretty much nixed any ideas I had of driving that road again. Future trips to Dingle were driven up the opposite side of the peninsula where the roads are a little better.

Susan (owner of Couminole Cottage) had sent us directions with landmarks so we would know exactly where the cottage was located. We rounded the curve and saw the beautiful white shrine of the crucifixion and knew we were close. About ½ a mile up the road (we sat for a few minutes watching an RV and a car to see who was going to let the other pass through a VERY narrow point in the road) and we were at the cottage. It was awesome! All stone with a blue door – it looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. The inside was very clean and welcoming. I took loads of pictures, both inside and out. This is one place I wanted to remember every detail of.

We had a cup of tea and decided to take a short nap. After the nap it was time to explore, so off we went. Susan had told us about the neighbor two doors down that on sunny days, puts out a sign advertising home baked pies and scones. Sure enough, the sign was out – we had to stop. I had scones while Al had her fantastic apple pie (got a picture of that!). Just sitting outside, having something so yummy to eat and looking out at the ocean was heaven to us. We truly felt that it doesn’t get any better than this.

Up the road just a bit is the beach where parts of Ryan’s Daughter were filmed; we wanted to check that out. It turned out that you could see the beach from up where we were, but there was also a road down to the beach. We decided that we would enjoy the view from up above and do the beach tomorrow. Jet lag was really setting in, so we walked home, took baths and tried to stay awake until at least 8pm.

Monday, October 1, 2007
We slept 14 hours! Whew – must have needed that! Got up at 10am and had breakfast. Got dressed and it was time to tackle that beach again. On the way, we discovered a beehive hut right on the property next to ours. These are interesting little stone huts called “clochans” in Gaelic that are believed to be used by monks centuries ago. This time we walked down the road to the water. If you’ve seen the movie, Ryan’s Daughter, the road is one that was used in the scene where all the town’s people are pushing a truck full of ammunition back up, after crates of guns and ammo washed up on the shore. We took off our shoes and sox and waded in the water. There were a couple of young local guys fishing right there, speaking Gaelic. Interesting to listen to even though we didn’t have a clue to what they were saying!

After getting drenched up to our knees by an unexpected wave, we trudged back up the road and towards the cottage. And – what do you know – that sign was out again, so had to stop for pie and scones one more time! The owner was kind enough to sell me a couple of scones to take home with me – they are the best scones I’ve ever tasted. I was happy to have some for treats later.

The rest of the day was spent sitting out on the little patio, drinking tea and playing cards. The weather was perfect – 65 and sunny. Lots of tour busses driving the Slea Head Drive went by as well as other tourists. Quite a few pulled over right in front of the cottage to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful view. A nice couple from Rochester NY stopped and chatted – I think they were pretty envious when we told them we had rented the cottage for the week. Al walked them up the road and showed them the beehive hut. When they found out we were from Minneapolis, the first thing they wanted to know was where we were when the 35W bridge collapsed. Nice people!

After watching the sun go down, we came in and threw together a pasta supper. Then it was time for reading and off to bed. Going to Dingle tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
We took our time in the morning and left the cottage around noon to drive into Dingle. Knowing that the roads were a little better going up the opposite side of the peninsula, that is the way Al wanted to take. I had Rick Steve’s guidebook that gives a great mile by mile account of everything we saw driving up that side. We stopped along the way at the Louis Mulchahey pottery and the Gallerous Oratory (church built 1300 years ago). We arrived in Dingle around 1:30. I spotted a linen store, so off I went. Everything was pretty expensive so I left empty handed, thinking I might stop back later. We wanted to find the library, where there is free internet and just happened to turn up the street where it was located. They sign you up for a block of time. It was 2pm and the first opening was at 3. We spotted the bakery and decided to stop for a bite. After we each had our sweet tooth satisfied, we started scoping our music stores to buy some traditional Irish music. We found one with a very nice young clerk who made a wonderful suggestion – that latest in traditional Irish music by a band called Lunasa. Great CD – we’ve been listening to it ever since we came home! We ran into our NY friends again – they were leaving the next day. We wished them a safe trip home and worked our way back to the library. It was time to get online (using the dirtiest keyboard I’ve ever seen – yuck!) and send an email to the kids and mom. There is no telephone, television or computer at the cottage so we were feeling a little cut off from the world. I had trouble accessing my inbox and later in our trip went to an internet café where it worked just fine, so I wouldn’t do the library thing again.

We made another stop at the grocery story – this time is was a Centra store to pick up a few goodies (and Guinness) and then started for home. We spent the end of the day sitting outside, enjoying being in Ireland.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007
We took our time getting dressed this morning as we weren’t going anywhere in the car, just staying around the cottage. We decided that we would walk up to the shrine on the curve of Slea Head Drive. It was a beautiful day – 60 degrees and sunny. After taking tons of pictures, we headed back and stopped at Tig Slea Head, the gift shop/café very near the cottage. I had a vegetable pie that was to die for. We sat out on their balcony facing the Atlantic Ocean, drinking tea and enjoyed watching the tourists come and go. Once again, we were awestruck that we were so lucky to experience such a beautiful place. I was lucky to find a few things at the gift shop. I wasn’t planning on bringing anything back other than maybe a bodhran for my son, but found a pretty scarf for my daughter and some beautiful linens for me. Just as we were going to leave, a downpour came and it rained for a couple of minutes. As fast as it started, it stopped and out came the sun again.

We walked home and spent the rest of the afternoon reading outside. Around 4:30pm we packed a picnic and drove to Dunquion (a couple of miles up the road) to use the payphone. On the way back, we stopped at Couminole Strand (beach) and had our picnic. Then it was home to sit outside until dusk and then in for the night.

Thursday, October 4, 2007
This morning we got up and drove back into Dingle in search of a bodhran. This is one of those Irish drums that are used in traditional Irish music. Our son is a musician and we thought he would enjoy having something a little different to fool around with. Don’t quite know how a bodhran is going to sound being played with heavy metal, but oh well! It could be pretty unique! (I guess I’ll be getting him a “How to Play the Bodhran” book for Christmas!)

We first found an internet café so I could check email again. This time I could access my inbox, so I was happy. We found the bodhran at Ciare (name of the store, pronounced kerry). We walked right by it the first time, looking for something spelled “kerry” – no wonder we missed it!
We stopped for lunch at Murphy’s Pub – Al had shepherd’s pie, me a crispy bacon and cheese croissant – yum!

Back home and walked back down to Tig Slea Head to get some soda and then back for more sitting outside and reading.

Made some ham and eggs for supper and then to bed.

Friday, October 5, 2007
Relaxed until around noon with some radio and reading (people will read this and think that relaxing and doing nothing is all we ever do!).

We got dressed and walked up to Tig Slea Head again to have lunch. I had the spinach and ricotta pie and Al had that yummy vegetable tart. We split an apple apricot crumble for dessert – it was fantastic. I bought a couple of bracelets that I hadn’t seen before and it then we walked back to the cottage.

The afternoon was spent sitting outside, drinking tea and reading and doing crossword puzzles. I wanted to make sure I was there around 4pm so I could get a picture of the neighbor’s cows coming down the road. We were outside until around 6:30pm. Neither of us wanted to go in, knowing it was our last day at the cottage.

I threw together a spaghetti supper and the rest of the evening was spent cleaning the cottage and getting ready for our departure tomorrow.

Saturday, October 6, 2007
Susan had suggested that since it was a four hour drive to Shannon, we probably would want to stay at a B&B closer to the airport for our last night. She also gave us the name of the B&B that they stay at – Bunratty Meadows, so we were up at 8am to begin our short trip north. We were both so sad to be leaving Couminole Cottage. On previous vacations, we’re always happy to be going home – not the case with this one. It was downright depressing – the only upside was knowing how much we enjoyed our stay and that we will eventually get back there.

The weather for our ride to Bunratty was clear and sunny – it was a beautiful drive. We stopped at Inch Beach along the way – lots of people doing the same thing as we were, enjoying the scenery and the waves.

We arrived at the B&B around 3pm. It was very nice and very clean. We were shown to our room by the innkeeper (for the life of me I can’t remember her name, but she was very nice) and then decided to head into Bunratty to get an early supper. We ended up at the Creamery Bar – an old converted creamery. Al had fish and chips and I had a burger. We shopped a little in Bunratty and then it was back to the B&B for the night.

Sunday, October 7, 2007
We had breakfast at 8:15am – Al had the full Irish breakfast (eggs, beans, sausage, black & white pudding); I had the Meadow breakfast (eggs, beans, bacon). Scones were served too, so I was happy.

Then it was off to turn in the rental car at Dan Dooley. I had gone ahead and purchased the extra insurance (even though many posters say not to; I’m overly cautious) and was glad we did. We had a gouge in one of the tires, so had to end up paying for a new tire. Since we had the 100 Euro deductible, that was all it cost us (around $140). Al had a chance to visit with the Dan Dooley rep that checked us in when we first arrived and she told him that 50% of the cars returned have tire damage on the left side. I can believe it – the people from NY had told us that when they first arrived, they had been driving for about 2 hours and ended up blowing two tires when they moved to the left to avoid an oncoming car. So I think we were pretty lucky!

The trip home was uneventful. It was, however, my first experience flying through JFK. I didn’t like it one bit and will avoid it on future trips. Flying through Boston was much better.

This was by far the most enjoyable vacation Al and I have ever been on. We went there to relax and there is no other place more beautiful to do that. Perfect weather and a perfect place to stay. Can’t do any better than that!

o1012 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think some time back I recommended this rental to song doc. I am a wastercolorist and have a painting of couminole prior to its restoration.
If I can find the digital I'll send it along to you. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. I was in Ireland at the same time and relished the gorgeous weather. Perhaps I drove by you as you sat and ate your scones. I was looking for the graveyard for Dunquin but was never able to locate it due to the road construction in the area. As a result I kept driving to the cottage, turning around in the scenic overlook and backtraking. Something left to do another time.
cavan97 is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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What a nice trip report. With so many people intent on seeing as much as possible in a week your trip makes me want to go and just relax for a week at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Lovely!
IrishEyes is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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What a great report - makes me wish I'd been along with you. Thanks.
likeswords is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 01:18 PM
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How relaxing! I'd love to have a week or so like this and then tack on about a week of travel. Thanks for posting - I'm just starting to research for our first trip to Ireland in Spring 2008.
connecticutyankee is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the relaxing report. Can you tell me how to pronounce the name of the cottage?
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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sounds like an idyllic vacation. I spent a week in Dunquin at a rented place right next to the pub there. The three of us explored a bit farther afield than you did but we also relaxed and walked to the Blasket Center and the cemetery in Dunquin (actually I think we visited two), watched the cows come home, and went out to the Blasket Islands. Your trip brought back wonderful memories.
Thanks for sharing.
irishface is offline  
Nov 7th, 2007, 09:25 PM
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What a lovely time you had! Thank you for sharing.
LCBoniti is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 10:08 AM
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Thank you all for your responses to my report. I was afraid since we didn't do much, it would be a boring read. You've made my day!

Jean - I would love to see your painting.

Tuscanlifeedit - Don't quote me, but I think it's pronounced kewminolee. I could be way off. I'll have to ask Susan!

Thanks again everyone!
o1012 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2007, 10:58 AM
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o1012 wrote: "Don't quote me, but I think it's pronounced kewminolee. I could be way off. "

That's right: you could be way off!

First syllable as in moo-cow; second syllable as in hallowe'en; third syllable as in fruit-bowl: COWM-een-OWL.

In Gaelic: Cam Dhineoil (you can see why there are two stressed syllables).
Padraig is offline  
Nov 10th, 2007, 01:57 PM
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Whoa, I never would have got that on my own. Thanks Padraig, and thanks again for the nice report, o1012.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Nov 10th, 2007, 02:53 PM
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Great report,sounds like you had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing.
skz5 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 04:58 PM
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We have been wondering where to go for our spring vacation. Ireland or Scotland. After reading your trip report and looking at the web site of the cottage we have decided. That is of course if the cottage is available in May. I am so excited!! We are calling tomorrow for a reservation.

Thanks for posting,
fisher_marie is offline  
Dec 28th, 2007, 06:29 PM
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Thanks so much for your report. It took me back to my wonderful trip to Couminole Cottage. So glad you enjoyed it.

I've never quite mastered the art of relaxing on vacation. It seems you did quite a nice job of it ;-) I tend to have to see and do everything. Hopefully, I'll get back and not feel like I have to run around and drive quite so much next time. I certainly did love that beach where Ryan's Daughter was filmed -- and the walk to the shrine.

PS. I thought it was pronounced COO-min-ole.
Songdoc is offline  
Jan 1st, 2008, 02:12 PM
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Robynn -

I'm so happy that our wonderful experience at Couminole Cottage lead you to plan a trip there. It's such a beautiful spot - I hope you enjoy every minute of it. Did you get your reservation?

I'll be checking this site for a trip report from you!

Songdoc - we owe you a thank you! I read your trip report when I was researching the cottage and it helped us make our decision to stay there.

Now with every mention of Ireland, I dream of going back!

o1012 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2008, 11:54 AM
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Yes, we have reservations for the end of April! I am very excited. I have a question though. In 2005 we took the south road from Dingle to the beach where Ryan’s daughter was filmed. I was terrified to say the least, the very least.

After walking down to the beach we took a road through the middle of the Peninsula to Ballyferriter and spent the night. My question is, if we take the middle road from Dingle, through Ballyferriter to the café, how far away is the cottage? Is the road from the café to the cottage very scary? If so I will walk.

I loved your report. I’m copying it for my friends to read. It sounds like a magical place. Thanks so much for sharing.

fisher_marie is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Robbyn -

If you take the same road from Dingle through Ballyferriter (I think it's the R559), and continue on towards Tig Slea Head (I think that's the cafe you're referring to), you will pass the cottage first before reaching the cafe. It's on the same side of the road as the cafe.

It's about 1/4 mile from the Ryan's Daughter beach to the cottage. We felt this way (going through Ballyferriter)into Dingle was a much easier drive then coming down the other side of the penninsula. It's not scarey if you just go slow and be aware of oncoming traffic.

There are still areas on that road that are only wide enough for one car, mostly when you get very close to the cottage. In fact, right in front of the cottage the road is only wide enough for one car. But, you can easily see the cars coming and will have ample time to pull over to let someone pass. There is a pull over right in front of the cottage, so it was fun to sit outside and watch people stop to take pictures.

We walked several times from the cottage to the cafe and then past up to the shrine. It's an easy walk, easier than driving and the weather was beautiful.

As a first time poster, I really appreciate your kind words about my trip report. Thanks so much!

o1012 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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Thank you Jenine for easing my mind. I also just want to say, that we took that cliff road, drove very slow and we were very aware of on coming traffic. I was so scared I was practically sitting on my husband's lap. We came to a curve in the road and met an oncoming car. It was not good. They wouldn't move over and we couldn't so we came to a stand still and finally we just went ahead, figuring we would loose a side mirror. We made it past and thank goodness we were almost to Slea Head because I was about to start crying. I do not do well on cliff roads.

Anway, thanks for answering my question. If you would like to read my trip report just e-mail me at [email protected] I had it posted but don't see it any longer. It was maybe 3 years ago.

Thanks again for posting. I can now get through the winter as I will be thinking about the little stone cottage by the sea.


fisher_marie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2008, 04:30 PM
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Hello Jenine,

I don't know if you will see this or not, but just wanted to say we reread your trip report for the 4th time. We are leaving 2 weeks from today, and can't wait to see Couminole Cottage.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I will write a trip report when we return and tell you about how we liked Couminole Cottage. It sounds like a wonderful place.

We are planning on going over to the Blasket Islands and watching Eoin Duignan sing one night.

fisher_marie is offline  
Apr 14th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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We purchased one of Eoin Duignan's CDs after listening to it at the cottage. I think there was another poster that said he plays at one of the bars in town on Thursday nights. I'd love to see him - I'll have to put that on our things to do list for our return trip this fall.

I can't wait to read your report - hope the weather is as nice for you as it was for us!

Just an FYI - be careful if you walk down through the grass to either of the nearby beehive huts (one just across the road and one down the road on the right). The ground underneath the long grass is very uneven. It's easy to lose your footing and topple over. The only thing you'll hurt is your ego -the grass is very soft. My tumble was caught on camera thanks to my very amused husband!

Have a great trip, Robbyn!!
o1012 is offline  
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