Monday, April 25, 2011

Art: Celebrating Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula


Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula comes alive with these pieces by June McIntyre.

Inspired by the rolling hills and sparkling seas that grace this rugged corner of western Ireland, McIntyre’s work transports the viewer into a colorful world of lively pubs, tranquil harbors and cozy stone cottages.

It’s no surprise that Ryder-Walker founder, Peter Walker, gravitated toward McIntyre’s work upon his return from our new self-guided Dingle Way.

“I wanted some souvenirs of the trip for the office, so I looked into local art from the region. I landed at dingleartworks.com and got three prints - one of the Slea Head Road, one of the Dingle mainstreet and one of Dick Mack's pub,” said Walker.




Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula beguiles. Atlantic surf crashes upon rocky shores. Ancient castles dot the lanscape, and lone fishermen still head out to sea. This is a place where working the land still matters, and farmers tend their sheep on windswept hills.

While English is spoken in this part of Ireland, Gaelic (Irish) is still the predominate language. You'll see it on the street signs, you'll hear it in the pubs and you'll see it at small-town pre schools that advertise, "All Gaelic."

The Irish government calls the Dingle Peninsula a Gaeltacht, a federally protected region of Ireland that maintains traditional Irish ways. They could have easily dispensed with the designation and simply planted a sign that reads, “The Real Deal.”




Dick Mack's Pub

Dick Mack died a few years ago, but this cozy pub in the tiny harbor town of Dingle, (days 4 and 5 on our itinerary), still bears his name.

From the outside, Dick Mack’s looks more like a peddler’s shop than a pub. Antique lamps adorn the front windows while old bottles and bootstraps invite shoppers to “Make Offer.”

Step through the weathered doors, however, and you’re likely to find spirited locals, with pints of Guiness in hand, enjoying live music laid down by traditional fiddle and bodhran players.

There’s a reason why celebrities Robert Mitchum, Timothy Dalton, Julia Robers and Paul Simon made the effort to visit this unpretentious outfitter on the windswept coast of western Ireland. This tiny haberdashy cum watering hole is the perfect place to grab a pint and experience authentic Irish culture.

Be forwarned: Don’t plan on going to bed early when you visit Dingle. You’ll quickly discover why we stay for two nights during our 11 night/12-day itinerary.





Dingle Town

The buildings in Dingle are as colorful as the characters that occupy them. They offer a vibrant contrast to the greens and blues of the neighboring hills and sea.




Slea Head Road

Jutting from Ireland’s remote southwestern corner, the Dingle Peninsula is Europe’s closest point to North America. The Slea Head Road follows the winding shoreline of this rocky frontier.



History

Rugged and isolated, the Dingle Peninsula offered refuge for a group of monks that fled the dark ages of Medieval Europe. They built stone huts like this one, weathering the cold, damp nights and preserving literacy that was all but extinguished from mainland Europe. Today, the Dingle Peninsula resembles an open-air museum, replete with artifacts and architecture dating back to the Bronze Age. In this photo: The Gallarus Oratory. Archeologists believe the oratory served as a 6th-9th century church. There is an old legend that if a person climbs out of the oratory window, their soul will be cleansed.

If you're an Irish fan and you like art, then please visit June's online gallery for more images. Better yet, join our self-guided Dingle Way and stop at her gallery in person. She's on Green Street in downtown Dingle.

Images used with permission by Dingle Artworks.

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