Full moon over Dingle Town on Flickr.
May 23 2013
Full moon over Dingle Town on Flickr.
May 23 2013
Some Irish music at a pub in Dingle, Ireland (by StickVideography)
SUCH A SHAME that the one taoiseach to count love of nature among the finer things in life should have been such a villain in pursuing all the others. No one matched Charles Haughey in looking out for Ireland’s nature and history. The idea of the Heritage Council, the state’s sanctuary for whales and dolphins, the rescue of Coolattin Woods, in Co Wicklow, the Discovery archaeology programme, the Céide Fields go-ahead: all were among things to his credit.
Much of Haughey’s personal grá for nature was played out on the heights of Inishvickillane, in the Blaskets off Co Kerry. He finally bought the island in the early 1970s, but the idea had taken root years earlier, before the turmoil of the arms trial and his fight back to leadership.
A voluminous archive of papers and photographs of Haughey’s relationship with the island, donated by his family, is now on digitised display at the Blascaod Centre, in Dún Chaoin, west of Dingle. It holds two copies of “The Wild Island”, a series from The Irish Times in September 1965. This was my diary as a castaway, camped alone on Inishvickillane for three memorable weeks.
Maureen Haughey wife of the late Charlie Haughey at the Dingle Regatta
The island, however, had splendid sounds of its own, and a wildness even sharper since the last of the Ó Dálaigh family were taken off to the mainland, in the 1950s. Their sons still came out by currach from Dún Chaoin on a calm summer’s day to shear a little flock of sheep, but without them Inishvickillane was often as described by Robin Flower, who went there once on a rabbit-catching expedition.
He felt it “inhabited with the sense of loneliness: it is as though it were at the last end of things, dwelling in a silence which the ceaseless murmur of the sea around its base and the whining gulls about its summit rather accentuate than disturb”. But the ocean could do a lot more than murmur.
I pitched my tent first near the island’s one surviving house (in my painting, pictured above), its tarred roof drooping and bound down with cables, a sundial outside the door. A summer storm on the sixth day drove me to stone walls for shelter. At its height the rain penetrated the tent as a fine mist, and stays began snapping around me. Retrieving my gear from its collapse was, I wrote, “like swimming in a wet bed”. Haughey, too, was to move the site of his holiday home (a modest enough cottage, if one discounts the helicoptered labour) into the lee of the island’s ridge.
That also avoided disturbing the thousands of storm petrels, whose summer nesting in burrows and stone walls is the great natural treasure of the island. Their midnight return from the sea to feed their chicks found my tent in their way, so that the sudden, chirruping blizzard of wings became something out of Hitchcock, the invisible birds scrabbling and sliding down the fabric over my head.
I doubt if Charlie ever stewed a rabbit on a fire of dried sheep dung or had the grey seals snatching pollack off his spinner. But, with a glass of good claret in his hand, he must have known those incredible evenings when, as I wrote, “a theatrical clarity of light lent the islands new perspectives: deep avenues of cliffs like vistas in a Piranesi, gleaming and gold-enamelled (slow bursts of spun-glass spray).”
Video: Blasket Islands Dingle Peninsula in 1958
The following is the official programme of the Blasket Island and West Kerry Welcome Home Week
For all enquiries contact email@example.com
Tel: +353 66 915 6444
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
23-29 May 2013
The people of the dingle peninsula would like to welcome our diaspora from all over the world to experience the Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula, the Gaeltacht, the friendliness of our people, the goodness of our food and the wealth of our culture, language and heritage.
Friday May 24th
All participants meet at Dingle Skellig hotel for a briefing from organizers
A gala night “welcome home” event at the OPW Great Blasket Centre in Dun Chaoin. This will be an event to celebrate the opening of the week’s activities and will include the launch of Dr Mike Carney’s memoirs by the Collins Press.
Official opening by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan. We will have food, refreshments, music, song and dance. Other dignitaries are expected to attend.
Saturday May 25th
From 12:00 noon
Walking tour of historic Dingle town by archeologist Mícheál Ó Coileáin
A concert with local musicians and singers in the newly refurbished Feothanach Hall (at the foot of Mount Brandon) and (optional) a “hooley” night in Ballyferriter village, which will be en fete for Horse Racing Festival.
Sunday May 27th
From 12:00 noon
Guided bus tour of west Kerry historic attractions, including the Blasket Centre in Dún Chaoin, Louis MUlcahy’s world famous pottery and Gallarus Oratory.
Horse racing event on Béal Bán beach, near Ballyferriter, (weather and tides permitting).
Fashion and jewellery show in the Sceilig Hotel, Dingle
Gala local seafood dinner in Sceilig Hotel, Dingle, overlooking panorama of Dingle Harbour’ Local musicians to entertain diners. € 25 cover charge (included in € 30 ticket to cover all organized events).
Monday May 27th
Visit to the new Dingle Brewary, sample Tom crean beer and then head for Miltown, outside Dingle to the new Dingle Distillery.
Lecture with broadcaster, Breandán Feiritéar, on Dingle Peninsula’s links with western Massachusetts and a screening of his TV documentary on Blasket Roots/American Dreams in the Phoenix Cinema, Dingle.
Tuesday May 28th
Boat trips around the Blasket island, to embark from Dingle (to see Fungi on the way).
Mutton pies night and music in John Benny’s pub, Strand Street, Dingle.
Wednesday May 29th
Bus tour to Annascaul, Cloghane and Tralee, with time for shopping in Tralee
“Survivors” assembly and farewell
A father and son in the Dingle Peninsula on Flickr.
A father and son in the Dingle Peninsula
‘Discover the Dingle Peninsula’
Peace and tranquility are synonymous with the Dingle Peninsula. Life moves at an unhurried pace in this Gaeltacht area, but the local people are quick to offer you the opportunity to share their unique culture and heritage.
Photographs: courtesy Ionad an Bhlascaoid Mhóir - The Blasket Centre
Video : The Dingle Women’s Mini Marathon (2013)