Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ireland: Ballyferriter

My sister Carol is a guest blogger on this post! We were in Ballyferriter, Ireland from April 28th to May 6th, 2013.

Ballyferriter, is a Gaeltacht village located in County Kerry on the Dingle peninsula. The Dingle peninsula is the most northern of the major peninsulas in Co. Kerry and is spectacularly beautiful.

According to the 2002 census, about 75% of the Ballyferriter's population speak the Irish language on a daily basis.

Ballyferriter, Ireland

Months ago I signed up for an immersion class at aIrish Language Cultural Organization (Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne) based in Ballyferriter.

But first I needed help... I couldn't speak much Irish! So I arranged for a tutor and a rental house for a week of intensive study prior to the class.

Our rental house

Moe and my sister accompanied me to Ballyferriter so I could satisfy this slightly insane desire to learn Irish. Why Irish? Don't ask--there is no reason...

Maighréad, my tutor, tortured me during the day (just kidding Maighréad) studying grammar and reading stories--what's not to like about that! 

In the evenings Moe, Carol and I listened to traditional folk music in the pubs of Dingle and surrounding area. We heard fabulous music at John Benny Moriarty's and Tommy Ó Sullivan's Courthouse pub. 

We had a rental SUV and learned to drive on the left side of the road without incident although we were intimidated by the narrow lanes. The learning process included planning ahead--if you saw a oncoming vehicle you gauged who had the best pull-over area and motored accordingly, hopping the other vehicle shared your view of right-of-way.

We also carved out some time before or after tutoring for hiking and exploring, as this is a hiker's paradise.

Ballyferriter is nestled in a large valley between mountains and sea. Spring had come late to this area and some high places were still greening up.  Carol looks out over the valley at a remarkable sight--Mt. Brandon (above her head) is almost free from clouds.

The day we climbed Mt. Brandon the weather was vastly different. Check out the upcoming post.

Clougher is a beautiful sand beach lined by black rocks on the south side.

Clougher beach slightly above center

On the horizon is Slea Head (left) and the Three Sisters (three identical little bumps near the right)
 Wine Strand Beach has a standing stone bearing ogham inscriptions. Ogham is a medieval language used primarily to write the Old Irish language.

The ogham alphabet explained

The ridges are ogham inscriptions
Walks along the beach are beautiful. Footpaths, and sheep and cow paths abound, some deeply rutted.

Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it"

Some are recognized trails and are signed; many are not.

 Alternate forms of transportation are available--horse, bicycle and golf cart (on the beautiful courses)

Music can break out anywhere--not just pubs!

I promosed to study hard and convinced Maighréad that we needed to take a hike (in Irish, of course)
My tutor and me

The sisters

Maighréad looks out toward the Blasket Islands

The Blasket Islands are a group of islands off the west coast of Ireland. They were inhabited until 1953 by a completely Irish-speaking population, and today are part of the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region).

One can take a ferry to the Blaskets from Dún Chaoin. You walk (not drive) down a steep, winding path until you reach sea-level then board the ferry or a rubber inflatable raft (if the tide is out) that takes you to the ferry.

This shack, held down by large rocks, is at the top of the path. Yes, the wind doth blow hard here.

Great flower photography

There was a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow...

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