Friday, October 21, 2011
Dingle--the town, the bay, and Fungie!
Dingle was a sweet little town on the Dingle Peninsula along the west coast of Ireland. Our second day spent there, we tried to take a boat trip from there to the Blasket Islands which were supposed to be very interesting in history as well as wildlife. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. The wind blew strong and the seas were a bit too high for the tourist boat to comfortably make it there and back. We opted instead to wander through the Blasket Island information center and exhibition and then spend some time in Dingle and take a trip into the Dingle Bay to see the town's big tourist attraction--Fungie!
But I'll save Fungie for last. Our walk through town took us to several points of interest pointed out in Rick Steves tour guide but our biggest interest lay in seeing the much talked about stained glass windows of Diseart. Diseart is a cultural program housed in St. Joseph's Convent where the stained glass windows of Harry Clark can be seen. They were well worth the stop and climb to the chapel.
There are twelve windows in all that show six scenes from the life of Christ. For a long time after they were installed in 1922, they were only appreciated by the sisters of the convent but have since become open to the public. Upon entering, you are given a guide to the windows which give the scripture verses from which the scene is taken. They are stunning. The detail is magnificent and the colors rich and vibrant. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures although bits of the windows are illustrated here.
Outside the church, we wandered a bit in the gardens that were so peaceful. I imagined many of the sisters enjoying times of prayer there.
We gathered on the downtown dock near the information center at our appointed time for our Dingle Bay tour. The harbor is full of fishing boats like the one I have pictured here. Once out on the water, you can see the beautiful rolling green hillsides of the farmland that Dingle is surrounded by.
Of course while the Bay is picturesque, the main selling point of the boat tour is the promised sighting of the Bay's resident dolphin--Fungie! In 1983, a dolphin took up residence in the Bay and has never left. To the delight of tourists and of course the tourism industry in the little town, Fungie appears almost every time the tour boat goes into the harbor. So much so that if you don't see Fungie, you don't pay for the trip. Money is only collected after the sighting. There are signs all over the town advertising Fungie and a special sculpture near tourist central.
While Fungie was sighted by us and swam around the boat several times playing in the wake, he didn't do any tricks. But then this poor guy has been earning his keep for quite a while now and in dolphin years he's getting up in age. They can live to 40 but the average age is 25 and he's already exceeded that. Wonder what they'll do when he's gone?