Dingle Peninsula: Moran’s Bus Tour

21 05 2008

Being without a car on my solo trip to Ireland forced me to take a lot of day tours run by professional companies. This route of travel is a good option for tourists who are either tired of driving themselves around or too afraid to navigate the winding coastal roads on the Dingle Peninsula.

Moran’s Slea Head Bus Tour (E-mail: moransgarage@eircom.net Tel: 066-915 11 55 or 915 11 29.–there’s no website!) was scheduled to leave Dingle by the Visitor’s Center at 2:00. By 1:30, people were milling around the pier asking each other if they were in the right place. Most of the time, in Ireland, no one ever knows if they are in the “right place” to wait for organized tours, but no one ever seems to worry about it too much. Sure enough, eventually a man noticed all of the confused looking tourists and directed us to his van.

A wide range of people takes these organized tours and can be separated into two major groups. Group #1: the backpackers who can’t afford a car and are smart enough not to bike along the winding, traffic-ridden, narrow roads that go up through hills and along the cliffs. Group #2: tourists over sixty-five who never step off of the bus.

The tour guide, who doubled as the driver, pointed out the sights and told unique anecdotes. Despite the dangerous landscape (at some points I looked out the window and couldn’t even see the road we were on—only the cliffs) it was the most beautiful I had ever seen. On one side of the road were endless fields of sheep and stone walls that rose up way above us. There were also sheep on the cliff side that, according to our driver, had a short set and a longer set of legs so they could stand easily on the uneven ground. “But the trouble is,” he said, “Sometimes they get confused as to which way to stand and they fall off the cliffs.” (Cue laughter from the old people and groans from the backpackers.)

We stopped a few times, only because my fellow back-seat companions and I would beg the driver to let us off to experience the surroundings in the fresh air. “Sir, could you please stop the bus so we can take pictures and actually feel like we are a part of this awesome landscape?” Well, that’s not exactly what we yelled, but you get the point. He always good-naturedly stopped and the same few of us would get off, probably for longer than the driver or the members of Group #2 would have liked.

Far and Away and Ryan’s Daughter were filmed on the Dingle Peninsula and our trivia-filled driver identified all of the places where the scenes were filmed. Also on the tour were beehive huts, tiny little stone houses shaped like beehives, which ancient people used to live in and still remained. Another ancient ruin was Dunbeg Fort built on the edge of the cliffs, and slowly falling apart and into the water down to the rocks below.

We drove past the town of Ventry and around Slea Head towards Dunquin where you can catch the ferry out to the Great Blasket Island. Our last stop of significance was Gallarus Oratory—touristy but that meant there were restrooms and coffee (and Magnum ice cream bars). To use the restroom I had to pay the one punt entrance fee to the Oratory but I didn’t even feel like walking up to see it up close—I was becoming a pro at distance viewing. We went back to Dingle via the only straight road on the peninsula, because, according to the bus driver, “there are no pubs on it.” (More laughter and groans–get it?)

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