Day 4 of the tour, Friday, June 8, is our free day to do whatever we wish and have, through CHH, pre-arranged to have our hire-coach and driver for the day to take the whole group to the Dingle Peninsula. It is a lovely coastal area about an hour and a half southeast of Killarney and the scenery is spectacular, especially as we have another sunny, gorgeous day. Arriving in Dingle, a small village, we have the chance to walk around for an hour and a half and find our own lunch. Many of the group get fish and chips from one of the food trucks or street shacks and find a place to sit and enjoy open air. Janet and I opt for soup of the day (sweet potato) served with a generous slice of soda bread and local Irish butter. Meandering the town, we find a small farmers market with fresh strawberries, local fresh produce, flowers, baked goods and arts and crafts. There is one lady selling knitted sweaters, rather plain looking, especially as we are in the land of the Aran cabled sweaters. She has a small piece of work on hand knitting needles and as we approach, picks it up and makes a few stitches. I am looking at her goods and I can tell right off they are not hand knit, they’ve been made on a basic knitting machine and I ask her if she’s used a machine. She grudgingly admits that yes, she has people knitting for her on machines but she’s the designer and if these were done by hand they would cost a lot more than they are! It was a brief conversation as she was quite defensive and I thought the quality of her finished product poor as nothing was finished properly or blocked to give it a nice appeal. I dearly wanted to get a photo or two but didn’t want to be totally rude. Virtually all the knitting for sale in the shops is now mass produced by complicated, industrial machines that can do cable work automatically and the finished garments look very nice.
There was a local Irishman named Tom Creen, who was part of the Scott and Shackleton explorations to Antarctica and it seems that every small village in this area has their own version of the ‘South Pole Inn, home of our Antarctic hero’.
Back in Killarney, Janet and I are on our own for dinner. We chose a local nearby hotel dining room called Hannigans. They offer a 2 or 3 course meal with 3 or 4 choices per course. We have a young lady waitress who convinces me that I should try the black pudding salad for my starter - ‘we all eat it here and think it’s good, you really should try it!’ she said when I asked what was in it. I made a deal with her that if I tried it she would make sure I couldn’t have the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The salad was delicious, warmed black pudding (which is what they call this sausage of pork blood, suet, and oatmeal and various other bits and is on every Irish breakfast bar) salad greens, fresh pear slices, bacon and feta cheese. Then I had my main course of roast beef - as I had not yet had beef - it was a couple of slices of very-well cooked roast beef over a pile of mashed potatoes, drizzled with beef gravy with mixed steamed veggies. I didn’t much enjoy it. Somewhere in there, a man took over serving our table so when it came to the dessert menu, I realized all deals were done and asked for the sticky toffee pudding, hoping It would be poorly done and I would really hate it and therefore be unable to eat it. Darn, it was the best one yet!