Early August 2006 – Ireland, the Dingle Peninsular and Cahersiveen Celtic Festival
The crossing from the Scilly Isles to Dingle in Ireland was tiring, 50 hours of 3-on/3-off watches. We seemed to find all the fishing boats that were going in our direction, and at just under our speed, so a good watch was needed all the time as we caught them up. Typically the wind was on the nose for a lot of the time and we needed to get to Dingle before the forecast strong winds and gales arrived so we had to motor. Thankfully, the wind did veer sufficiently for us to sail about half of the way. We got into Dingle harbour in the early afternoon and were met by Fungi the Dolphin closely followed by several tourist boats. We found the marina staff very welcoming, and the facilities excellent. The marina is to one side of the busy fishing port, and is very near the centre of the town which is reputed to have 52 bars! Needless to say we didn't try them all, but did enjoy the live music in "The Dingle Pub" . It was enlivened by a group of inebriated young ladies who we think were Tralee football supporters. They were all dressed in the team's colours - red and black, and were wearing furry ears. (Left: Dingle band, Dreams of Freedom with local support)
Dingle was a good place to ride out the gales, not only because of the snug marina, but also for land based activities. We opted to catch the bus to Dunquin and visit the Blasket Heritage Centre, and then walk back to Dingle along part of the "Dingle Way" long distance footpath. The centre is well laid out with fascinating story boards and exhibitions describing how so many of the last inhabitants came to write about their lives on the islands. (Right: View to the Blaskets)
After the strong winds blew out, our next target was the Cahersiveen Celtic Festival held over the Irish August Bank Holiday weekend (4th-6th August). This was a few days away, so we decided to visit the Skelligs while the weather was fair - we moored in Portmagee and Ballinskellig Bay. The dramatic Skellig islands were well worth the visit, however, it is not possible to anchor off securely - the tripper boats have to drop off their passengers and stand off. This would be possible for us with more crew, but not practical with two, so we just sailed around them and enjoyed the spectacle. Little Skellig in the background of the adjacent photograph is white with gannets and their guano.
While moored up in Portmagee, we saw the Valentia Lifeboat slowly towing in a trawler. As you can see from the picture it has fowling its prop with its own nets! Bet the skipper got a ribbing from his mates who were waiting on the pier. Once tied up, the nets were cleared and the trawler off within an hour or so.
So it was back to Cahersiveen for the festival. We stayed in the little marina, the entrance and layout of the pontoons is rather tight as they seem to have been designed mainly for small motor boats. We didn't fancy trying to manoeuvre inside so tied up on the outside pontoon. By Saturday there were several yachts with the same opinion all rafted up. The festival was launched in a real celtic fashion with an ABBA tribute band! However they were very good, and much enjoyed by all the crowd, it did make us feel old when some younger people muttered that they 'did not know this one' - some of the classics!, they enjoyed them all the same. The evening was rounded off with a spectacular fireworks display from the far side of the river. It was a very still evening, so the reflections in the river were superb.
The festival was well worth the detour to visit. There were different activities through the days, and live music in most of the bars in the evenings. On Saturday afternoon there was a busking competition, and the main street was alive with music the groups outside every other shop front, groups of all ages - and ability!
There were unusual two events that we particularly enjoyed. The first was a lecture on prehistoric Irish musical instruments by Simon O'Dwyer (left). The talk we went to was aimed mainly at children, and he gave a light hearted potted history of the evolution of the instruments and the events that brought about the changes. This was punctuated by demonstrations, and he is shown here playing the bulls horn. The second event was Storytelling by Eddie Lenihan (right), a renown collector of Irish Folklore. He was a lively speaker and as entertaining to watch as to listen to. He regaled us with stories of the other people, leprechauns, and Biddy.
After leaving Cahersiveen on Monday 7th August, we headed for the Kenmare River.