Experience the Dingle Peninsula

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The Dingle Peninsula Girl / Hollywood and Ryan Gosling

She is the blue-eyed darling of Dingle who is about to crack Hollywood with her latest role.

But Charlotte Peters’ remarkable life story has been shaped by the death of her father and the woman who secretly signed her up for acting school.

The 27-year-old will fly to LA later this month to play the leading female role of futuristic soldier Kix in new film Winter’s Dream, written by Joey Curtis, who also wrote Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.


Charlotte also starred in the West End – playing the female lead in comedy show The 39 Steps

In it she will have several combat scenes, which will be shot in the Californian desert and wilderness of Alaska.

Previously she landed a role in film in China, starring alongside Jean Claude Van Dam.

She also starred in the West End – playing the female lead in comedy show The 39 Steps.

When we catch up with her, Charlotte is in the back of a London cab en route from her yoga and meditation class to her next appointment.

‘I’m on a macrobiotic diet, which is all about the yin and yang of food in your system and how it balances,’ she says, of the grain-rich, meat-free regime.

‘I get a lovely packed lunch with it and everything. I’ve never done diet in my life but having said that I have to get physically strong very quickly.’


Charlotte says: ‘I’m in a knitting group on Tuesdays called Stitch and Bitch…’

Charlotte, who lives in central London, is building her upper torso strength with the help of a British body-building champion with whom she trains for two hours every evening in the gym.

‘I’m surrounded by all of these really proper bodybuilders who look like the Incredible Hulk and I’m a tiny little white girl in the middle of them all.

‘I’m more used to sitting around with the girls,’ she adds. ‘I’m in a knitting group on Tuesdays called Stitch and Bitch…’


The actress says she thought her father was a rock star before his early death

For her stage name Charlotte borrowed from her paternal grandfather’s first name Peter; her father Joseph O’Connor died suddenly of a heart attack, aged 34, when Charlotte was just nine.

‘He was a fine, strong, healthy, tall, man. He didn’t look ill – he looked very healthy. Grease was my favourite film and he would pick me up in his arms and dance around with me to the songs. I thought he was like a rock star.

‘He would sing The Beatles song, “Ob-la-di ob-la-da, life goes on” with me up on his shoulders, feeling like the princess of the world,’ she says.


Charlotte will star alongside Ryan Gosling in her new movie

‘I had gone to Annascaul fair with him the day before, we were watching the horses jump. I pulled a golf club out of a river that I thought he might have a use for but of course he hadn’t.

‘He was in the pub and I was outside with all the children playing with water balloons. I went home and stayed in my Mum’s house that night. I woke up the next morning and he was gone.

‘That was a huge shock.’ The sudden loss of her father got the thoughtful young Charlotte ruminating on the meaning of life.’


Charlotte reveals it was a friend she was caring for who signed her up to acting school

‘There is nothing more natural in this life than death. That is a fact but it takes a little getting used to,’ she says.

‘All actors are searching to have empathy, to discover who they are in relation to others, and I was asking those questions when I was a pre-teen.’

After living in France and travelling across New Zealand it was her time as working as a carer for a family friend called Ann Farrell, an American woman who lived in Cork and had kidney failure that really shaped her.

‘For all the adventures I had to that point, that period of time was when I really grew up,’ she says.


‘Once you work hard you’ll never go hungry’ says Charlotte

‘It gave me such a strong appreciation for health. Once you have hands that work and legs to carry you, you will be fine.

‘I’ve worked in restaurants and as hotel chambermaids and once you work hard you’ll never go hungry.

‘But if you’re physically ill there is nothing you can do for yourself.’ She changed beds, did the laundry and cooked.

When Ann applied on her behalf for Drama Studio London, whose famous alumni include Emily Watson and Forrest Whitaker,Charlotte was pleased to be accepted.

The rest as they say is history.

By Patrice Harrington

Walking On Cars on their musical influences and Dingle Peninsula roots

By on October 20, 2014

walking on cars

THE unwritten law of rock ’n’ roll dictates that Monday mornings are to musicians what Kryptonite is to Superman — so when Patrick ‘Pa’ Sheehy and Sorcha Durham bound into a café in Cork city centre all bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed, something seems amiss.

“We’re actually not that cool,” protests keyboardist Durham, shaking her head and refuting all accusations of wee-hours partying after their gig the previous night.

“We’re not,” confirms her bandmate Sheehy, apologetic smile peeking out from under the rim of his baseball cap. “I usually spend about an hour in the green room after the gig, have a cup of tea, then I go to bed. I’m such a loser.”

Not to be confused with Little Green Cars — the young indie-folk-pop Dubliners also comprised of four young men and a woman in their mid-twenties — the pair have driven from their hometown of Dingle this morning.

The picturesque Kerry town, on the edge of Ireland, is where Walking on Cars formed after a variety of aborted college degrees in Cork and London (Sheehy) and temporary jobs in local restaurants (Durham).

“Dingle is tiny, so everybody knows each other,” explains Durham, adding that all five members are former schoolmates.

“Everybody had played with each other at various times, apart from me; I had just done classical piano, mostly, and written my own stuff. Then Pa just rang me out of the blue one day after coming home from London, and we just got together and started playing some tunes.”

Their respective tastes in music in their formative years proved diverse, to say the least.

“As a teenager, I was big into rock and metal: Metallica and Nirvana, bands like that, all the way through secondary school,” reveals shy frontman and guitarist Sheehy, who looks as far from a metal-head as you can possibly get.

“Before that, it was just whatever was on the radio, which was pop, mostly. Then I grew out of that rock phase and started listening to Coldplay, things like that, and more recently the likes of Ben Howard and Lumineers, stuff like that; James Vincent McMorrow.”

Durham’s classical background, meanwhile, wasn’t initially as influential as you may think. These days she cites acts like Arcade Fire and contemporary pianist Nils Frahm as musicians to aspire to, but it wasn’t always so.

“I loved classical stuff, but as a teenager I was into whatever was on the radio, too,” she admits.

“My brothers would have listened to a lot of Nirvana, Metallica, System of a Down and whatever was around the house — so I would have listened to that, too. Then there was stuff like Emmylou Harris and Santana from my mum; very general stuff. As I got older, I was a bit more interested in finding new music and different music, so my taste broadened. I listen to a bit of everything now.”

Having roughly settled on a particular genre, the placid indie-rock sound of Walking on Cars was born around 2010. After spending months rehearsing in bassist Paul Flannery’s “messy kitchen” and playing their first gig in a Dingle youth café — a memory which sees them embarrassedly roll their eyes in tandem — they locked themselves away in a rented cottage on the Dingle Peninsula and spent time honing their craft and writing songs.

After triumphing at the Red Bull Bedroom Jam (a high-profile battle of the bands-style competition) in 2012, they set about recording debut EP As We Fly South.

Its debut single Catch Me If You Can proved moderately successful, spending 20 weeks in the Irish charts and earning a playlist spot on several regional radio stations when it was released in May 2013.

Subsequent singles, as well as songs from their new EP Hand in Hand, have been similarly well received; they regularly sell out mid-sized venues in Dublin and proved a big hit at Other Voices 2013 in Dingle, a festival that they grew up watching.

“When we used to play gigs at home in Dingle, there’d be 40 or 50 people squeezed into a little bar called McCarthy’s, and we’d be delighted, thinking, ‘This is the job! This is unreal! Yeah!’,” says Sheehy, laughing.

“A year later, we’re going to Dublin and playing a venue that holds 850 people and that’s selling out… it’s like, what’s the hell is happening? We knew Catch Me If You Can was a strong single, but we did question ourselves, thinking ‘Jesus, was that pure luck or not?’ I think the new stuff that we’ve been working on is very different. And I think recording has played a big part. We’ve just been taking steady steps towards getting better, I think.”

“I think even just the way we approach songs has changed quite a lot since a year-and-a-half ago,” agrees Durham. “We’re a lot more aware of the composition and arrangements and stuff; there’s a lot more thought gone into it. But it’s kind of happened quite easily, as well — it’s been quite a natural progression that we’ve just figured out through experience.”

Their growth and confidence coincided with an ever-growing buzz building around the band in the first part of 2014.

A showcase gig at Cork’s (now-closed) Pavilion venue was arranged in February; several labels had been courting the quintet, impressed by the maturity of their sound, as well as Sheehy’s swarthy voice and thoughtful lyrics on songs like the melodic Two Stones or the heart-tugging, slow-building rock balladry of Tick Tock.

They had considered signing with Universal Ireland, but the singer says that they were very aware of how limiting an Irish label may be.

“We were completely flattered when they came along, but there was always that question: if we sign to a label in Ireland, how far can we go with them?” he says, nodding. “It wasn’t long after that that some UK interest came along, so we weighed up our options and it seemed to make more sense.”

They eventually signed on the dotted line with British label Virgin EMI after a lunch in Abbey Road Studios. “Towards the end of the meal, one of the guys gave this really heartfelt Braveheart-style speech, and that really sold it for us,” Sheehy recalls, laughing. “Everyone around the table was like ‘Yeahhhh! Let’s do this!’”

The band spent most of this summer between Dingle and London recording tracks for their debut album, which is tentatively scheduled for release early next year.

Their first-ever London gig quickly sold out in August; their debut US dates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles during September were deemed a swimming success. It would seem that there’s no discernible reason why they should not follow in the recent footsteps of Irish acts like Kodaline, Hozier and James Vincent McMorrow, who they name as a big influence.

Yet as busy as their globetrotting schedule looks for 2015, there’s no chance of them relocating to the bright lights of London — or even Dublin, for that matter — anytime soon.

“I think Dingle is part of us — all our family and friends are there,” shrugs Sheehy. “Unless something crazy happened and we had to live somewhere for a few months, I can’t see us moving anywhere else.”

“I think we all feel the same,” agrees Durham. “It’s great to go away, but it’s also great to come home — so we have the best of both worlds, really. Some people might find it being suffocating in a small town like that, but we get to go away and come back, and we just love being there.”

Still, given how smoothly and swiftly that things are building, there must be some sense of ambition on a grand scale: where are they hoping to be in the next 12 months?

“I don’t think we’ve thought about stuff like markets, or anything like that,” says Sheehy, shrugging casually.

“It’s kind of hard to think about what sort of group we’re working towards, really; as of now, our fanbase is quite broad. I think we just want to get accomplished elsewhere: do what we’ve done here in the UK, Europe, the US. That’s the goal. We’re at the stage now where we’re ready to go and play in other places and release stuff.

“I like the fact that you see people from the ages of 15 to 40 in the audience at our gigs, both male and female. We’re just going to keep writing and releasing and see what happens, rather than aiming for this market or that market. We’re really bad at that kind of stuff, anyway. Fingers crossed, we’re just gonna go for it.”

Walking on Cars support The Kooks on their British tour from November 6-22. They headline Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on November 24; Manchester’s Night and Day on November 25 and London’s Dingwalls on November 27

The Dingle Peninsula – the most beautiful place on earth

National Geographic once called it “the most beautiful place on earth”. It’s suffered the Vikings, welcomed Hollywood and its most famous local is a dolphin. This is the Dingle Peninsula

We begin at Dingle itself. Pushed out towards the bay by a modest set of mountains, Dingle is arguably one of the island’s more charming towns. Eclectic little fashion and jewellery shops on Green Street give way to intimate and cosy pubs such as Ashes and Curran’s. The latter is a clothes  store with beer taps and, consequently, the only pub in the country where you can sink a pint and satisfy your clothing  needs at the same sitting. 

Full of local flavour

Dingle’s cinema is a one-screen time portal. There are probably bigger TV screens out there, but they could never match this place for atmosphere. Café Litreacha on Dykegate Street combines the quaint calm of a bookshop with the tastiest toasted sandwiches around. And Fungie the dolphin still demands company. He gets is by the boatload, too.

A coastline packed with views

West of Dingle town lies a staggering coastline. Take the road to Ballyferriter village and go for a walk on Beál Bán beach, which is only really known to locals. Once you see the views of the vast Atlantic you’ll see why they’ve kept it to themselves.

Stick with the coast as far as the Cloghar Cliffs where author and Dingle local Gerald Horgan  suggests you take a stroll. “You probably want to bring your camera,” he advises. “Even on a grey day the high walk through green fields above the heaving, foam-flecked Atlantic is terrific.”

Pick a seat in the Dingle Pub and think to yourself how National Geographic had it right.

It’s time they came back.

Everybody who comes to Dingle, Ireland has a ‘Hungry Heart’

The Blas na hEireann Food Awards took centre stage at this year’s Dingle Food Festival in  County Kerry last weekend.
Huge crowds took over the picturesque town for the weekend, to sample the flavours, the tastes and the power of Artisan Food Producers. With the Festival Taste Trail, the streets of Dingle were a virtual Farmer’s market. Artisan Food Producers and Restaurants showcasing what they do best, along with food workshops and Cookery Demonstrations with top chefs Kate Lawlor of ” Fenn’s Quay" Cork, Jp McMahon of “Aniar ” Galway and Niall O Conchuir of “An Canteen”, Dingle among others.
The atmosphere was electric and showed a great endorsement from the public for without doubt the most popular Food Festival in Ireland, top quality produce as well as the most respected Food Awards.
Blas na hEireann is about recognising passionate, dedicated producers who are serious about marketing their produce at home and around the globe.

The Dingle Peninsula’s Wild Atlantic Way

"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, we are going back from whence we came." -John F. Kennedy

A Place Where Rugged Rules
At the very edge of Europe, the newest odyssey, the Wild Atlantic Way, extends for 1,600 miles along Ireland’s western seaboard. It is the world’s longest, most culturally rich coast that stretches from Malin Head  The Wild Atlantic Way is as close to exploring an open-air museum as you’ll get — exceptional landscapes, stunning flora and fauna — and packed with history and adventure, as I was about to find out.

Catch and Cook
In Dingle Harbor, County Kerry, the Atlantic offers an abundance of fish. Although I’d never before held a fishing rod, it seemed simple enough as Tom, the boatman, baited and gently placed my rod overboard. I asked how I’d know if I had a bite. “Oh, you’ll know,” was all he said as he walked away. He was right! I felt a strong tug on the line, began reeling and, suddenly, flopping before me — a large Ling fish. (When I returned home and told this tale, I predictably fell into that time-honored tradition of stretching my hands wide and saying “this big!”). Although my Ling would win no awards in a fish beauty contest, once cooked, it was yummy.

Don’t Let It Be Forgot
At the very edge of Europe, off the Dingle Peninsula lie the mystical Blasket Islands, a small archipelago renowned for its storytellers. A tiny population of traditional culture lived here, remaining strong in an isolated and rugged community and living simply from the land and sea. Visiting the Blasket Center with its galleries of artifacts and portraits of inhabitants, I felt the toil of their hard lives and had a keen appreciation for these long-ago people. Due to a declining population, the islands were abandoned in 1953. As its numbers dwindled, native author Tomas O’Crohan wrote the book The Islandman in part “so that some record of us might live after, for the likes of us will never be again.”

Someone once said “I believe one has to escape oneself to discover oneself.” Why? Because it’s easy to get lost in this fast-moving world and forget the lash of a salty sea breeze or the roar of waves. It’s easy to forget that somewhere brilliant sun is falling behind a historic relic or that lighthouses are still keeping watch over the sea. Easy to forget. But, if you want to remember, just think of the Wild Atlantic Way and go west!

Twenty years a-growing: a snapshot of Dingle, Ireland in 1994 

My mother-in-law is a big fan of National Geographic magazine and has more back copies in the house than you’d find in an overstocked medical-centre waiting room. I recently found an old edition that featured Ireland on the cover, which was published in September 1994 - exactly 20 years ago. For once, it didn’t contain the hackneyed images of donkeys, thatched cottages and remote islands beloved of National Geographic writers doing features on Ireland. There were photos of child beggars on O’Connell Bridge, U2 fans at a concert, President Robinson greeting school kids on Inishbofin, and youngsters with a pony in Clondalkin. Peace groups in Belfast  and Fungie the dolphin„„

The last 20 years have been tumultuous for Ireland with our great economic boom, followed by the crushing recession that we are still suffering the effects of. Fast-forwarding to 2014, we now have enormous debt, high unemployment, and emigration has returned with a vengeance.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get that 1994 National Geographic magazine out of my head. All those people who were photographed and interviewed - where were they now? How did they get on in the intervening 20 years, and what did National Geographic writer Richard Conniff and photographer Sam Abell make of their Irish experience? This article is about how I tracked down the people from that September 1994 National Geographic.

I found most of the people who were featured in the article, mainly through Twitter; that most 2014 
of things, a micro-blogging social-media site. Twenty years ago, random thoughts were kept to ourselves. Now, with Twitter, you can inflict them on the world. 

The photographer’s favourite photo of the entire shoot was Fungie the Dingle dolphin leaping out of the water, while a little terrier dog looks at him from a boat.

"I use the images from that Fungie experience to teach the principle of ‘compose and wait’ - a core principle of how I make photographs," Sam says.

"In this instance, I had been told that the dog in the photo had ‘a relationship’ with Fungi. For 20 minutes nothing happened, despite the barking of the dog. Then Fungie shot straight up out of the water. At the top of his leap he looked down, saw the dog, and chirped. Pandemonium. For the next spell of time we cruised the harbour with the leaping, chirping Fungi as our companion."

Still, Abell wasn’t sure he would be able to take a good shot: “I chased the two highly animated animals from one side of the boat to the other, despite knowing it was a futile approach to making a photograph. I knew from the Galapagos that when you see a dolphin leap, the moment is already past, photographically.”

Instead of chasing the dolphin and dog around the boat, he composed a scene with no dolphin. “It’s a three-layer composition: layer one, the side of the boat with the dog; layer two, the sea; layer three, the coastal landscape. All that was missing was Fungie.”

"By and by, the dolphin appeared alongside the boat. The captain shouted, ‘Here comes Fungie!’ I sensed his imminent arrival and clicked the shutter when he shot into view, occupying the place in the composition that was vacant. There was no way to know I got it. It was the era of film, and I worked on faith. The end of the story is that the picture worked. It is considered a classic of the ‘compose and wait’ school of photography," Sam says.

The only Irish public figures featured in the National Geographic article still really active are Bono, Mary Robinson, and Fungie. It’s remarkable that when the photo was taken in 1994, Fungie had already been in Dingle for 11 years.

Jimmy Flannery Jr is chairman of Dingle Dolphin Tours, has been a captain since he was 17, and has taken people out to Fungie for 22 years. Just what has Fungie been up to since 1994, and has he ever got sick of it all? “He has never taken a break. He may go away feeding for an hour or two, but that’s it. There have been other schools of dolphins arrived over the years, but he’s not interested. The only reason that Fungie stays in Dingle is because he wants to,” says Jimmy.

Even though scientists estimate that Fungie is now pushing 40, Jimmy doesn’t see any evidence of middle age setting in. “He is not one bit slower. He is as lively as he ever was.”

Jimmy has been doing the trips for so long, he feels that he’s in tune with Fungie’s moods. “When you spend time with Fungie, you get to know him. During the first five minutes of the trip I know whether his form is good or bad.”

The skipper also feels Fungie has an uncanny power. “Fungie has this strength. He definitely knows what you’re thinking. I always worry about him. He is part of the family. If I’m having a bad day, I take a small boat out and chat to him,” Jimmy added.

Since 1994, Fungie has faced some challenges that did put him in danger. “The harbour was dredged and we coaxed him out a bit away from it. Then, a few years ago, a Spanish boat hit a rock coming into the harbour and breached its diesel tanks. Ten thousand litres of diesel were spilt. Again we coaxed him away from there by getting him to follow the boats.”

In the 20 years since he was snapped by Sam, many celebs have been anxious to see the world’s most famous bottlenose dolphin. Jimmy’s favourite was Pierce Brosnan, who swam with Fungie 19 years ago. Recent celebrity Fungie fans have included actress Laura Dern, and actor James Nesbitt.

Jimmy would love to know what Fungie makes of it all. “He has opened up the world of the ocean to thousands of people. A lot of people would never have gone out in the water if it wasn’t for Fungie. I often wonder does Fungie realise what he has created in Dingle. There are 18 people in full-time employment and enormous tourism spin-offs.”

Two little girls getting their First Holy Communion outside St Mary’s Church in Dingle made another arresting image for the article. The girl on the right is Angela Ryan. She still lives in Dingle, is married to Darren and has one little girl named Chloe, and a stepson, Killian.

"The other girl’s name was Michelle," Angela says. "She was in my class for a little while, but her family were travelling around because of her dad’s job, so she left a few months after the Communion. I remember the day vaguely. My aunt made the dress and the Communion was a really big deal. The same as all other Communions in Dingle! There are five of us in the family, and I have three sisters and one brother."

"I stayed in Dingle. I went to college for a while, studying Design Communication in CIT. College wasn’t for me, and then I met Darren and got married at 23. I have a 10-year-old stepson, Killian, and daughter, Chloe."

Chloe has cystic fibrosis and the family are passionately involved in fund-raising and awareness. Darren is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next January to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

"We have a great support system in the Butterfly Unit in Limerick Regional Hospital," Angela says. "We go there every two to three months. It was diagnosed in Limerick through the heel-prick test when she was three weeks old."

When Chloe is six, she will be taking a ground-breaking drug to treat CF called Kalydeco. “It’s the closest thing to a cure that they have,” Angela says, “and works on lung function. She can only take it because she has CF with the gene mutation G551D. Kalydeco works on that.”

Kalydeco is a first of its kind in the world, as it works to prevent deterioration and keeps people with cystic fibrosis at their current level of lung function. Since its sanctioning by the HSE last year, approximately 120 patients will be suitable for Kalydeco treatment.

- See more at: http://www.independent.ie/life/twenty-years-agrowing-a-snapshot-of-ireland-in-1994-30530773.html#sthash.9wyDRHer.dpuf

The Dingle Peninsula’s winding Wild Atlantic Way

From Killarney’s misty lakes and tumbling falls to the craggy coast and hedge-hemmed fields of the mountainous Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry knows nature at its most exuberant. You’d be disappointed if the locals felt a calling for accountancy – and, sure enough, the raw beauty has inspired and attracted musicians, writers and artisans. The results are as splendid as the views…

What to see & do
The Dingle Peninsula’s silver-screen good looks land it some plum roles – notably in Tom ’n’ Nicole’s Far and Away, and David Lean’s Irish-rebellion-era Ryan’s Daughter, shot largely on mountain-flanked Inch Beach. You’ll have to imagine the Anglo-Irish tension as you crunch clam shells underfoot along miles of sand – it’s blissfully peaceful nowadays. Check out film stills over fruity tea brack at dune-top Sammy’s Bar (00 353 66 915 8118, inchbeach.com).

You have to go and see  Fungie the famous dolphin on your visit www.dingledolphin.com

It’s hard to resist (or avoid) fiddle-de-dee music in Kerry – in the kind of pubs O’Neill’s could only dream of replicating. In Dingle town, you’ll find the best craic in  John Benny’s, Murphy’s Pub and the Dingle Pub . The best traditional bar in the town is without a doubt is Curran’s Bar where you buy a a cap / socks alongside a pint of Guinness.

Toe-tapping demands boot-filling. Luckily Ryan’s Daughter didn’t just put Dingle on the cinematic map: the 18-month shoot inspired locals to think outside the spud, and 40-odd years on, the area’s a hotbed of brilliant restaurants and fantastic produce. Follow the peninsula food trail (bit.ly/PLBkap) to discover the glorious array of seafood, artisan brewers, cheesemakers and ice-creamists – or if you’re in Dingle for the October food festival (dinglefood.com), they’ll come to you.

Art galleries, jewellery studios and potteries are as abundant as the fuchsias lining Dingle’s lanes. In Dingle town, make a beeline for Kathleen McAuliffe’s (kathleenmcauliffe.com) bags and silver jewellery, and Lisbeth Mulcahys (lisbethmulcahy.com) alpaca scarves and woven throws – then head for Ballyferriter and her husband’s pottery (louismulcahy.com).

As if by centrifugal force, this Irish-speaking (Gaeltacht) area gets more Irish the further west you go – so it makes sense that the tiny Blasket Islands, off Dingle’s wild, westernmost point, produced the greatest Irish-language writers. Dramatic views of the now-deserted isles are framed by the brilliant Blasket Centre (Dunquin; £3.40), which celebrates the lives and tales of Tomás O Criomhthain and Peig Sayers.

Dingle’s archaeological line-up proves creative types aren’t a recent arrival. These aren’t imagination-stretching ruins, either – the upturned-boat-like Gallarus Oratory is as shipshape as when Christians first prayed here 1,300 years ago. You’ll get a world’s-end shiver looking out the gritstone doorway over Sybil Head to the Atlantic. Time-travel some more, to 8th-century Dunbeg Fort (dunbegfort.com; £2.50) and 12th-century Kilmalkedar Church.

The Slea Head drive round Dingle’s craggy far reaches is wowy, but windscreen scenery won’t get artistic juices flowing. Strike out on waymarked trails  or peat-squidgy paths from the Conor Pass for epic views of Mt Brandon tearing Wedgwood-blue holes in the clouds.

Where to stay

Self Catering : You will find good self catering accommodation here http://www.dingle-region.com/catering.htm

Bed and Breakfast - You will find good Bed and Breakfast  accommodation here http://www.dingle-region.com/bed.htm

This is what I do in Dingle, Ireland

Jimmy Flannery Jnr, Fungie tour skipper

Kate Butler

Photograph: Domnick Walsh PHOTOGRAPHY Tralee Co Kerry 

I ’ve been running Fungi tours since 1989. The dolphin first appeared in Dingle harbour in late 1983 or early 1984, and in the middle of that decade I was fishing with my older brother and I would take people out on Sundays to see it, but on a very small scale.

I went to fishery school in Donegal for a year in 1988 and when I came back, my wife Bridget and I decided to buy a boat with my father and we started to run the trips properly.

When we were fishing, we used to see Fungi at the mouth of the harbour. We didn’t take much notice then because it was common to see a pod of dolphins or the odd stray during fishing trips. But this one seemed to be sticking around. Then the film crews started arriving when they realised he had been there for a couple of years.

The fishermen named him Fungi. It was just a nickname, and that was that. I was 18 when we started and now my son, Colm, has just got his skipper’s ticket, so he’s starting to take the boats out, too.

We have 11 licensed boats in the Dingle Boatmen’s Association and we work on a rota system. The trip lasts an hour. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the entrance of the harbour, where you normally find Fungi. We spend the next 40 minutes playing with him and 10 minutes coming back in.

Fungi is a wild animal and sometimes he might be fishing or taking a few hours off. He’s not trained, so if he doesn’t want to go near people, he won’t. If he does, it’s fantastic.

You need a lot of patience because he’s wild and most people understand that. It’s an extraordinary feeling to get into the water with him.

He is about 15ft long, and if he comes within a couple of feet underneath you, it takes your breath away. Money cannot buy that feeling.

We never feed him. He is completely wild, although there are certain things he will do that you can predict. It seems at times like he’s trained, but the truth is he has us trained. You can’t train an animal without a reward, and there is no reward for Fungi, only that he likes the attention.


After the first 10 minutes down there you can pretty much tell what kind of mood he’s in — whether he is playful or quiet. He often likes to “run” alongside the boat with the people cheering. You put the throttle down and he sits in beside you, and every 15 seconds he’ll surface to the cheers of the people. It’s unbelievable.

The experts say he’s a fully grown male bottlenose dolphin who is well able to look after himself. If he didn’t like what he was doing, he’d go away and do it somewhere else. Some days he just won’t appear.

We also know that when there’s a run of salmon it can be difficult to see Fungi because he’s fishing an awful lot. During the winter, he spends a lot of time inside the harbour, feeding on razorfish. So it goes in cycles.

You get experts trying to study him. There’s not an awful lot they can say except: “Yes, it’s the same dolphin.”

We have photos of him going back to 1984 or 1985 and you can see he wasn’t fully grown then. He is now, so that would make him somewhere in his late 30s. The life span of a wild bottlenose is supposed to be about 25 years, but a dolphin in captivity can live for more than 40 years.

The business won’t go on for ever as one day Fungi will be gone. What will we do? I’ve had a couple of big trawlers and my son is now qualified to skipper them, too. At the moment, though, we’re sticking with Fungi and we’re open for business all year round.

Time and place: Dingle Peninsula Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

The 83-year-old former commentator and “voice of the GAA”, remembers an idyllic childhood growing up near Dingle — when he wasn’t on fire

Mark Keenan

Muircheartaigh often visits Dun SionMuircheartaigh often visits Dun Sion

I am from the village of Dun Sion, three miles east of Dingle — or Daingean Uí Chúis, as we called it. There were eight houses near the sea in an area of dairy farmers. My earliest memories are of going to the fields, and my very first memory — I was about two, I’m guessing — was of the time my jumper took fire.

I suppose I must have decided that the step in front of the kitchen range would make a lovely seat. I felt intense heat on my back and ran out of the house shouting. I was the fourth of eight children, four boys and four girls. My older brother Nais ran after me and must have thrown water on me to put the fire out. I remember looking at the big black hole it had made in my jumper.

Our village and household were bi-lingual. We spoke Irish and English, sometimes with one running into the other. I remember learning all our catechism as Gaeilge and then having to do it again in English — I think some bishop issued a directive insisting on it.

We went to the mixed school in Dingle where boys and girls were taught together until first class. We walked six miles a day, three miles there and three back, across the fields. We had the nuns until first class, then the boys went to the Christian Brothers.

Until the 1920s, homes in our area were single-storey and usually built with thatched roofs. In the 1930s they became two-storey with slate roofs — things were changing since we had a government of our own.

Our house was two-storey, built of stone and the slate most likely came from Valentia Island by boat. All the houses had big kitchens with a stove under a big chimney in the gable. The stone was cut by skilled travelling masons. It was important to get a good one or else you’d end up with damp. You also tried to get the best chimney maker possible because a good one could get the draughts just right.

When we had free time, we’d go salmon netting in the estuary. Someone would go out in a boat and others would stay on the shore holding the net, which was then drawn around in a circle. Sometimes we caught nothing but old crabs but it was great fun.

Paddy FitzGibbon was the man who owned the boat. Paddy was originally from Listowel, a solicitor and a bachelor. He loved the outdoors and the sea, but one day Paddy fell out of his boat. When we got him out of the water, he asked me to run to his house and bring some dry clothes back for him. I grabbed pants and what I thought was a shirt but it turned out to be a pyjama top.

In the evening, we did our homework by candlelight. I was chief candlemaker. One day a man called to my father and told him there was something in the water moving towards our place. Everyone had land that looked out on the sea. We went down to the water and retrieved what turned out to be a big barrel of wax.

I would use the frame of an old bicycle to make the candles. I’d cut off a piece of the tubing so it was clear at both ends and run a length of string through it, tied to the middle of a nail at one end which would keep it centred. I’d block the other end with a potato and then pour the wax into it. We didn’t get electricity until 1947 — after I’d left home.

All sorts of things washed up on that beach, particularly in the war years. There were barrels and boxes, mines and now and again the bodies of German sailors. The local security people would take them away to be buried. I think they were repatriated after the war. One year three planes — German and British — crashed into Mount Brandon within a short time of one another.

The greatest excitement for us came on market day, the last Saturday of the month. We’d be up at five rounding up the cattle for market with the dogs, making sure the animals were fed and clean.

Walking on air

Dingle five-piece Walking on Cars have come far since their first gig in a youth cafe

Lauren Murphy Published: 24 August 2014

Monday mornings are to musicians what Kryptonite is to Superman. Any interview with a band conducted­ at the onset of the week should entail bleary eyes, pounding heads and copious amounts of caffeine — particularly if they’ve been gigging the previous evening. Walking on Cars, however, aren’t the cliched young upstarts you expect of band on the rise. “We’re actually not that cool,” protests keyboardist Sorcha Durham, shaking her head. “We’re not,” confirms her bandmate, guitarist and vocalist Pa Sheehy. “I usually spend about an hour in the green room after the gig, have a cup of tea, then I go to bed. I’m such a loser.”

All right, so the previous night’s gig was at the Rose of Tralee festival — this makes more sense when you learn the band are from nearby Dingle — but there is an unashamed lack of bad behaviour within the quintet’s ranks: no doing shots with Dáithí O Sé at the bar, no fussy demands for their backstage rider. We sip tea in a bustling cafe in Cork city, the clank of the coffee machine making it necessary to strain to hear Sheehy’s low, shy mumble. Not to be confused with Little Green Cars (the young indie-folk-pop Dubliners also comprised of four young men and a woman), the Dingle troupe — all former schoolmates from the Kerry town —formed four years ago after a variety of abandoned college degrees in Cork and London (Sheehy) and temporary jobs in local restaurants (Durham).

“Dingle is tiny, so everybody knows each other,” explains Durham. “The other three members had been in bands together as teenagers, so everybody had played with each other at various times, apart from me. I had just done classical piano, mostly, and written my own stuff. Then Pa rang me out of the blue one day after coming home from London, and we got together and started playing tunes. Then the lads came along and we decided to start a band, really.”

Their no-nonsense approach has paid dividends. After spending months rehearsing in bassist Paul Flannery’s “messy kitchen” and playing their first gig in a Dingle youth cafe, they spent time honing their craft and writing songs. Their debut single Catch Me If You Can proved moderately successful in the charts and was playlisted by several regional radio stations when it was released in May last year. Subsequent singles, and songs from their latest EP, Hand in Hand, have been similarly well received. They reckon their burgeoning popularity is primarily down to the support of regional radio rather than the internet or social networking.

“When we used to play gigs in Dingle, there’d be 40 or 50 people squeezed into a little bar called McCarthy’s, and we’d be delighted, thinking, ‘This is the job — this is unreal,’ ” recalls Sheehy, laughing.

“A year later, we’re going to Dublin and playing a venue that holds 850 people and it’s like, what the hell is happening? It was all down to little regional stations playlisting Catch Me If You Can. RedFM, BeatFM, iRadio, Spin South West — they’ve all been amazing to us.”

“Our videos have done quite well,” Durham adds. “Last year we did loads of gigs around the country. The first time we played Waterford, for example, there was a 200-capacity venue; the next time it was 1,000. So we’ve started small and our ­fanbase has kept building since then.”

The lifeblood of Dingle’s music scene is the Other Voices gig series, which has run for 12 years. “I’ve seen those musicians around Dingle for 10 years — since they were boys and girls, really,” says Other Voices organiser Philip King. “They came to Other Voices and saw various different people come and play. But they also come from a place that has real music in it, which might give Walking on Cars a unique sensibility in the world of pop music.”

Sheehy agrees that seeing international bands play tiny venues down the road had an impact on Walking on Cars. “It’s been such a huge part of us, growing up,” he nods. “Other Voices started when I was about 16, and the bands I’ve seen going through Dingle — the likes of Elbow, Bell X1, James Morrison, Amy Winehouse — it’s crazy, the amount of superstars who’ve come to Dingle over the years. It was inspiring.”

Several labels had been courting the quintet, impressed by the maturity of their sound, as well as Sheehy’s swarthy voice and thoughtful lyrics. The band had ­considered signing with Universal Ireland, but were aware of how limiting an Irish label might be. “We were flattered when they came along — but there was always that question: if we sign to a label in ­Ireland, how far can we go with them?” Sheehy says. “It wasn’t long after that some UK interest came along, so we weighed up our options and it seemed to make more sense.”

Having signed with Virgin EMI after a lunch in Abbey Road Studios, Walking on Cars spent most of this summer between Dingle and London, recording tracks for their debut album, which is tentatively scheduled for release early next year. Their first London gig next month is already sold out; dates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are pencilled in for September. There seems no reason why they should not follow in the recent footsteps of Irish acts such as Kodaline, Hozier and James Vincent McMorrow, whom they name as a big influence. Their forthcoming date at Electric Picnic will be their ­biggest to date, and is something they are excited about — even though Sheehy admits he’s never been to the festival.

“I told you, I’m such a loser,” he groans, pulling the peak of his baseball cap over his eyes in mock-embarrassment.

“There’s this music shop in Dingle, and Maz, the woman who owns it, does these podcasts,” explains Durham. “She had us in to do a session one day and she asked us, ‘So, what are the things you want to have done in the next few years?’ ‘Play Electric Picnic’ was one of them; another one was ‘record a CD and put it out’. And basically everything we said to her, we’ve achieved this year.”

What, then, are the band’s newly formed ambitions and goals for the ­coming year? “I try not to think too far ahead or too big, because you set yourself up for disappointment,” says Durham, sensibly. ”A No 1 album would be nice, but you don’t wanna say it out loud.”

“I think we just want to accomplish elsewhere; do what we’ve done here in the UK, Europe, the US. That’s the goal,” adds Sheehy with a shrug.

“We’re at the stage now where we’re ready to play in other places and release stuff. We’re just going to keep writing and releasing and see what happens, rather than aiming for this or that market. Fingers crossed, we’re just gonna go for it.”