The Dingle Peninsula
Yes. There is a real place called Dingle. Berries do not grow there, but peat does. And rocks. Rocks thrive there. And a resident dolphin. In 1984 a lone little dolphin swam into the harbor and never left. Curious and friendly, he has entertained tourists and locals ever since, although "to show his freedom, he never accepts fish thrown by divers or trawlers." And how did they repay this congeniality and independence? By christening him with the magnanimous name of Fungi. I don't know what they were thinking. Apparently the name is somehow related to the fisherman who first took a shine to the little tursiops. Apparently his fellow fisherman mates thought it was decidedly uncool to like girly dolphins and stuff, AND, dude couldn't grow a legit beard, so they taunted him with the nickname Fungus, which they then creatively transferred onto this poor, unsuspecting dolphin.
Anyway, we did not see Fungi the Dolphin, although I couldn't resist riding his bronze likeness in the harbor square. We did see forty shades of green, herds of woolly sheep, one billion rock walls, the ruins of famine huts (just the laughfest they sound like) miles of insanely narrow, curvy cliffy roads, old cemeteries, and the sea, the sea, the sea. The country is undeniably beautiful, but it is veiled in a deep sorrow, too. It is so easy to see how cold, damp, and difficult poor farming life would have been like in these hills. The very definiti0n of hardscrabble. The embodiment of suck-it-up, stiff-upper-lip, and keep-your-head-down. The Great Potato Famine (courtesy of another, distinctinly less fun fungus) occured between 1845 and 1852 took out a million Irish, causing the country to lose nearly 25 percent of their population to death and emigration. Ireland's collective history is thick with tragedy. That is probably why they make such fine whiskey and sing the sweetest, saddest ballads in brogue around. Aye, aye, aye, the Blarney Stone really will bring a tear to your eye.
And the Larks They Sang Melodious
But if you want to hear more about it, quit reading this tripe and listen to the Man in Black sing about it, (even if he was more Scottish than Irish). Famine and smokey peat fires aside, in the end, you know it usually always comes down to missing a girl.
And, oh, yes.
Tonight I pretty much got what I wanted out of Ireland... three hours of an old man pick-up band singing in a pub called Durdy Nelly's (plastered with police badges from the states, incidentally), calling upon Guiness-swigging patrons to sing traditional songs, chorus roaring, hands on shoulders, tweed caps and wool, bohdran and squeezebox. I stood on a bench, clogging my heel against the dark wood, grinning like a fool, knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be.