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HI, I'M RICK STEVES, AND THIS TIME WE'RE EXPLORING
THE BEST OF WESTERN IRELAND.
AND WE'RE STARTING ABOUT AS WEST AS YOU CAN GET,
ON THE ARAN ISLANDS, WHERE, AS THE PEOPLE HERE SAY,
"THE NEXT PARISH OVER IS BOSTON," RIGHT?
THAT'S RIGHT.
IRELAND, ESPECIALLY ITS WEST, HAS A UNIQUE CHARM
WHERE ITS RUGGED NATURAL BEAUTY AND ITS VIBRANT TRADITIONS
CAN BE SEEN AND ACTUALLY FELT.
WE'LL DELVE INTO THE BEST OF THE WEST,
NOT POLISHED AND ON A MUSEUM SHELF
BUT WONDERFULLY RAW AND UNREFINED.
AFTER IMAGINING THIS ISLAND'S MISTY PAST,
OLD AS THE PYRAMIDS,
WE ENJOY PLENTY OF TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC,
FROM A FOOT-STOMPING SMALL-TOWN DANCE SHOW
TO LOCAL PUBS WHERE EVERY NIGHT'S A MUSIC FEST.
WE EXPLORE THE BIGGEST CITY OF WITH THE WEST COAST,
HANG FROM A DRAMATIC CLIFF,
AND EAT REALLY WELL,
ALL WITH MY FAVORITE TRAVEL PARTNERS,
MY KIDS, ANDY AND JACKIE,
AND MY WIFE, ANNE.
IRELAND LIES AT THE FAR WEST OF EUROPE,
AND WE'RE EXPLORING THE FAR WEST OF IRELAND.
STARTING ON THE REMOTE ARAN ISLANDS, WE CRUISE TO GALWAY,
HIKE THE RUGGED BURREN AND MARVEL AT THE CLIFFS OF MOHER,
BEFORE VENTURING TO DINGLE,
AND FINISHING ON GREAT BLASKET ISLAND.
WE'RE BEGINNING HERE ON INISHMORE.
AT EIGHT MILES LONG AND TWO MILES WIDE,
IT'S THE LARGEST OF THE THREE ARAN ISLANDS.
IT'S ALSO THE MOST POPULATED, INTERESTING AND VISITED.
INISHMORE'S MAIN ATTRACTION
IS THE 2,000-YEAR-OLD FORTRESS OF DUN AENGUS,
WHICH HANGS PRECARIOUSLY ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF
300 FEET ABOVE THE ATLANTIC.
THE CONCENTRIC WALLS OF THIS MYSTERIOUS CELTIC FORT
ARE 13 FEET THICK AND 10 FEET HIGH.
AS AN ADDED DEFENSE, EFFECTIVE EVEN TODAY,
THE FORT IS RINGED WITH A COMMOTION OF SPIKY STONES
CALLED FRISIAN SOLDIERS.
STICKING UP LIKE LANCES,
THEY'RE NAMED AFTER ANCIENT LDIERS
WHO USED A WALL OF SPEARS TO STOP A CHARGING CAVALRY.
LITTLE BY LITTLE, AS THE CLIFF ERODES,
THE WALLS OF THIS CIRCULAR FORT FALL INTO THE SEA BELOW.
DUN AENGUS CAN BE MOBBED BY DAY-TRIPPERS.
BUT SINCE WE SPENT THE NIGHT, WE'RE HERE EARLY,
AND THE PLACE IS ALL OURS.
I MAKE A POINT TO BE ALL ALONE HERE,
WHERE THE CRASHING WAVES BELOW SEEM TO SAY,
"YOU'VE COME TO THE VERY EDGE OF EUROPE."
KILRONAN IS THE ONLY REAL TOWN ON THE ARAN ISLANDS,
BUT IT'S STILL JUST A VILLAGE
WITH A HANDFUL OF SHOPS, PUBS, RESTAURANTS AND B&Bs.
KILRONAN HUDDLES AROUND ITS PIER
WHERE GROUPS OF BACKPACKERS
WASH ASHORE WITH THE LANDING OF EACH FERRY.
BRING CASH.
THERE ARE NO ATMs ON THE ISLAND.
THE ISLANDS ARE A GAELTACHT -- OR GAELIC-SPEAKING AREA --
A KIND OF NATIONAL PARK FOR IRELAND'S TRADITIONAL CULTURE.
WHILE THE ISLANDERS SPEAK ENGLISH FOR VISITORS,
THEY CHAT AMONG THEMSELVES IN THIS OLD IRISH LANGUAGE.
[ speaking in Irish ]
LIKE ALL GAELTACHTS,
KILRONAN HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF FOLK TRADITIONS AND MUSIC.
THE RAGUS DANCE SHOW GIVES VISITORS AN INTIMATE LOOK
AT IRISH HARD SHOE, OR STEP DANCING,
ACCOMPANIED BY TRADITIONAL IRISH INSTRUMENTS.
IF YOU WERE HERE IN EARLIER GENERATIONS,
YOU'D SEE STEP DANCES LIKE THESE AT A COUNTRY CROSSROADS,
WITH NEIGHBORS DANCING AROUND A FIRE
TO WHATEVER INSTRUMENTS SHOWED UP.
[ cheers and applause ]
KILRONAN IS A SPRINGBOARD FOR ISLAND EXPLORATION.
RENTING BIKES IS SAFE, INEXPENSIVE AND SCENIC.
PONY CARTS, WHILE PRICEY, ARE MORE ROMANTIC.
AND SHARED MINIBUSES,
WHICH AWAIT THE ARRIVAL OF EACH FERRY,
PROVIDE CHEAP GUIDED TOURS FOR A QUICK AND EFFICIENT LOOK
AT THE ISLAND'S SIGHTS AND A CHANCE TO GET TO KNOW
AND LEARN FROM A COLORFUL LOCAL GUIDE.
WE'VE SNARED A MINIBUS FOR OUR FAMILY.
ANNE, ANDY AND JACKIE ARE JOINING ME
FOR A TOUR WITH THOMAS O'NEIL,
WHO'S LIVED ON THE ISLAND ALL HIS LIFE.
[ speaking in Irish ]
THAT'S IN IRISH NOW.
Bíodh lá. IT'S A NICE DAY.
WE'RE TAKING THE COAST ROAD ON THE WAY TO THE --
UP TO THE END OF THE ISLAND.
IT'S A NICE DAY, HUH? COULDN'T BE ANY BETTER, HUH?
800 ISLANDERS LIVE IN 14 HAMLETS
WITH THREE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND THREE CHURCHES.
MANY FAMILIES OWN SMALL DETACHED FIELDS
WHERE THEY KEEP A FEW COWS.
SHEEP ARE TOO MUCH TROUBLE.
THERE'S A STARK BEAUTY ABOUT THESE ISLANDS
AND THE SIMPLE LIVES ITS INHABITANTS EKE OUT
OF SIX INCHES OF TOPSOIL AND A MEAN SEA.
PRECIOUS LITTLE OF THE LAND IS PRODUCTIVE.
UNTIL THE ADVENT OF TOURISM, PEOPLE MADE A PRECARIOUS LIVING
FROM FISHING AND FARMING.
THEY'RE SHIFTING THEM NOW FROM FIELD TO FIELD.
HE'S GOING HALF A MILE WITH THEM MAYBE TO ANOTHER FIELD.
THE FIELDS ARE SO SCATTERED HERE.
THE ROCKY FIELDS ARE SMALL,
DIVIDED BY HUNDREDS OF MILES OF DRY, STONE WALL.
THESE WALLS ARE BUILT IN A WAY
THAT ALLOWS GATES TO BE MADE IN THEM
WHEREVER THE FARMER WANTS.
WHEN A FARMER NEEDS TO MOVE HIS LIVESTOCK,
HE CAN DISMANTLE AND REBUILD THE WALLS EASILY.
I'M GOING TO KNOCK THIS WALL DOWN NOW.
THIS IS THE WAY THEY DO IT.
IF I HAD CATTLE NOW, WHEN IT'S DOWN TO THE GROUND,
THE CATTLE WOULD WALK IN AND, WHEN THEY'RE INSIDE,
WE BUILD IT UP AGAIN.
WE'RE NOT TRESPASSING HERE.
THIS IS THOMAS'S FIELD
AND THERE'S PLENTY OF WORK TO BE DONE WHILE THE SUN'S OUT.
THAT'S MY HAY THERE NOW.
THAT'S OKAY.
JACKIE, COME ON, HELP ME WITH... ANDY, CAN YOU HELP ME?
SO, YOU STACKED IT UP ANTICIPATING RAIN. RIGHT?
THAT'S RIGHT. IT'S WET.
AND I WILL HAVE TO SCATTER IT AROUND TO DRY,
TO DRY IT BEFORE I PUT IT IN THE SHED.
Rick: OKAY, SO TONIGHT THIS WILL BE DRY?
Thomas: YES, TONIGHT THIS WILL BE DRY.
Rick: AND TOMORROW, IT'S WEETABIX FOR THE COWS.
TOMORROW? NO, I WON'T USE IT UNTIL WINTER.
WELL, THOMAS MANAGED TO TRICK MY ENTIRE FAMILY
INTO AN AFTERNOON OF LABOR.
BUT, IN RETURN, WE MADE A FRIEND
AND LEARNED ABOUT THE HAY AND GATES OF INISHMORE.
A COUPLE OF CENTURIES AGO
WHEN THE ENGLISH TOOK THE BEST PARTS OF IRELAND IN THE EAST,
THEY TOLD THE CATHOLIC LOCALS TO GO TO HELL
OR GO TO CONNEMARRA, POOR LAND OUT HERE IN THE WEST.
OVER TIME, THE ENGLISH EVEN TOOK MOST OF THE WEST,
BUT THEY NEVER REACHED THESE REMOTE ARAN ISLANDS.
TODAY THOSE DESPERATE DAYS ARE LONG GONE
AS IRELAND ENJOYS ONE OF EUROPE'S HOTTEST ECONOMIES.
TO FEEL THE PULSE OF TODAY'S IRELAND,
WE'RE HEADING FOR THE MAINLAND
AND THE BIGGEST CITY OF THE WEST, GALWAY.
FOR THE FIRST TIME
THE IRISH ARE MAKING AS MUCH MONEY AS THE ENGLISH.
AND YOU FEEL THE BOOM TIME IN GALWAY.
WITH 60,000 PEOPLE, IT'S A LIVELY UNIVERSITY TOWN
WITH ONE OF THE YOUNGEST POPULATIONS IN ALL OF EUROPE.
ACCORDING TO LOCAL TRADITION, GALWAY'S NAME TELLS ITS STORY.
Gal IS AN OLD IRISH WORD FOR FOREIGNER.
THAT WOULD MAKE GALWAY "TOWN OF THE FOREIGNERS."
IT WAS JUST A MEDIEVAL FISHING VILLAGE
UNTIL THE 12OOs WHEN THE ENGLISH CAME.
THESE FOREIGNERS TOSSED OUT THE IRISH
AND BUILT A WALL TO FORTIFY THEIR TOWN.
THE DISPOSSESSED IRISH, NOW OUTSIDE THE WALL,
CALLED THE TOWN GALWAY, TOWN OF FOREIGNERS.
THE SPANISH ARCH, WHERE SPANISH SHIPS
WOULD UNLOAD THEIR CARGO 400 YEARS AGO,
IS A REMINDER OF THE TRADING IMPORTANCE GALWAY ONCE ENJOYED.
THE TOWN'S TINY MUSEUM IS HUMBLE.
BUT IF IT'S FRAGMENTS OF OLD GALWAY YOU'RE LOOKING FOR,
THIS IS WHERE THEY'RE KEPT.
WHILE THE TOWN HAS A LONG AND INTERESTING HISTORY,
ITS BRITISH OVERLORDS, WHO RULED HERE UNTIL 1922,
HAD LITTLE INTEREST IN PRESERVING ITS HERITAGE.
CONSEQUENTLY, LITTLE FROM OLD GALWAY SURVIVES.
THIS RARE REMAINING BIT OF ITS ONCE FORMIDABLE WALL
IS NOW ENGULFED IN A MODERN SHOPPING MALL.
AND THE 400-YEAR-OLD FORTIFIED HOMES OF THE LOCAL NOBILITY --
THIS ONE'S NOW A BANK --
ARE NOW SWALLOWED UP IN GALWAY'S COMMERCIAL HUBBUB.
EYRE SQUARE, DOWNTOWN GALWAY'S CENTRAL PARK,
IS A POPULAR HANGOUT.
IT CONTAINS THE JOHN F. KENNEDY PARK, ESTABLISHED IN MEMORY
OF THE IRISH-AMERICAN PRESIDENT WHO VISITED HERE
IN 1963, JUST A FEW MONTHS BEFORE HE WAS ASSASSINATED.
THE RIVER CORRIB CUTS THROUGH THE CENTER OF TOWN.
SALMON RUN UP THE RIVER MOST OF THE SUMMER.
FISHERMEN BOOK LONG IN ADVANCE
TO GET HALF-DAY APPOINTMENTS FOR A CASTING SPOT.
WHAT GALWAY LACKS IN SITES, IT MAKES UP FOR IN AMBIENCE.
SPEND AN AFTERNOON WANDERING ITS HARBOR AREA
AND FEEL THE FISHING VILLAGE IT USED TO BE,
OR JUST STROLL ITS STREETS WITH THEIR DELIGHTFUL MIX
OF COLORFUL FACADES AND YOUTHFUL CROWDS.
FROM GALWAY, IT'S JUST AN HOUR'S DRIVE TO THE BURREN,
AN INTRIGUING 50-SQUARE-MILE LIMESTONE PLATEAU.
THE BURREN IS SO BARREN
THAT WHEN CROMWELL INVADED THIS PART OF IRELAND IN THE 1650s,
HIS DISAPPOINTED SURVEYOR DESCRIBED IT AS "A SAVAGE LAND
"YIELDING NEITHER WATER ENOUGH TO DROWN A MAN
NOR A TREE TO HANG HIM, NOR SOIL ENOUGH TO BURY HIM."
BUT HE WASN'T MUCH OF A BOTANIST.
LOCAL GUIDE SHANE CONNELLY LOVES TO SHOW HOW THE BURREN
IS A UNIQUE AND THRIVING ECOSYSTEM.
WE'RE HERE IN EARLY JULY, THE BEST SEASON FOR FLOWERS.
...ALL THIS RARE BOTANY, THE ORCHIDS, THE DRYAS OCTAPETALA,
THE HEATHERS, WILD THYME,
THE SMALLEST WILD ROSE IN IRELAND,
OVER 600 VARIETIES OF PLANTS.
Rick: LET'S TAKE A CLOSE LOOK.
Shane: THERE'S A LOVELY EXAMPLE OF A GERANIUM.
BLOODY CRANESBILL.
YOU SEE IT IN JUNE, JULY.
THAT'S WHY IT'S CALLED THE BLOODY CRANESBILL.
SEE THE SEED HEAD HERE?
IN THE SHAPE OF A CRANE'S BEAK
AND THAT'S WHAT GOES A BLOODY COLOR, NOT THE BLOSSOM HERE.
WHEN THE BLOSSOMS FALL OFF, THAT'S THE RED SEPALS.
NOW THERE'S A LOVELY EXAMPLE OF THE POTENTILLA,
FOUR-PETALED, UNUSUAL FOR ITS FAMILY.
RIGHT BESIDE IT YET TO COME OUT IS A ST. JOHN'S WORT.
THAT'S SLENDER ST. JOHN'S WORT.
IT COMES OUT FOR ST. JOHN'S DAY, THE 24th OF JUNE,
SO HENCE THE NAME ST. JOHN'S WORT.
THE BURREN SUPPORTS THE GREATEST DIVERSITY
OF PLANTS IN IRELAND.
LIKE NOWHERE ELSE,
MEDITERRANEAN AND ARCTIC WILDFLOWERS BLOOM SIDE BY SIDE.
WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT HERE
IS FOLIAGE OF THE MOUNTAIN AVENS, DRYAS OCTAPETALA.
IT'S A PLANT OF THE TUNDRA.
THIS AREA WAS TUNDRA. IT HAS DISAPPEARED.
THIS IS STILL HERE, IN OTHER WORDS, IT CAME WITH THE GLACIER.
ALSO WE'RE LOOKING AT THE MEDITERRANEAN ORCHID,
THE HEAT-SPOTTED ORCHID.
IT CAME WITH THE LAND BRIDGE AND SURVIVED THE CHANGES.
THERE YOU HAVE IT.
A PLANT FROM THAT CLIMATE, THAT LANDSCAPE,
BESIDE A PLANT FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN.
WANDER FOR SOME QUIET TIME WITH THE WILDFLOWERS.
LIMESTONE, CREATED FROM LAYERS OF SEA MUD,
IS THE BASIS OF THE BURREN.
THE EARTH'S CRUST HEAVED IT UP AND THE GLACIERS SWEPT IT BARE,
DROPPING BOULDERS AS THEY RECEDED.
THE BURREN IS ALSO RICH IN MYSTERIOUS ANCIENT SITES.
THIS IS THE PORTAL DOLMEN.
FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO,
LOCALS THOUGHT THIS WAS A DRUID'S ALTAR.
FOUR THOUSAND YEARS AGO, IT ACTUALLY WAS A GRAVE,
COVERED BY A NOW LONG-GONE MOUND OF DIRT.
THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE BURREN
IS MARKED BY THE CLIFFS OF MOHER.
A VISIT HERE
OFFERS ONE OF IRELAND'S GREAT NATURAL THRILLS.
FOR FIVE MILES, THE DRAMATIC CLIFFS
SOAR AS HIGH AS 650 FEET ABOVE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
WHILE I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND THIS,
THRILL SEEKERS FIND A SPECIAL PEACE
ALL ALONE HERE AT THE EDGE OF IRELAND.
YOU'LL FIND YOURSELF IN A DRAMATIC WORLD
WHERE THE ONLY SOUNDS ARE THE WAVES, THE WIND,
AND THE GULLS, PLAYING IN THE UPDRAFTS.
IN IRELAND, YOU DRIVE ON THE LEFT.
ON NARROW ROADS LIKE THESE, TAKE YOUR TIME.
EVERYBODY WORKS TOGETHER IN A SCENIC DO-SI-DO
UP AND OVER THE MOUNTAIN.
WITH THE HELP OF A GOOD MAP,
I OFTEN TAKE THE SLOW, MORE MEMORABLE ROUTE.
THE DRAMATIC CONNOR PASS LEADS TO THE SCENIC
SOUTHWEST TIP OF IRELAND, DINGLE PENINSULA.
OVER 100 INCHES OF RAIN A YEAR
GIVE THIS AREA ITS FAMOUS 40 SHADES OF GREEN.
DINGLE PENINSULA OFFERS AN IDEAL MIX
OF FAR-AND-AWAY BEAUTY,
ARCHAEOLOGICAL WONDERS AND DESOLATE WALKS OR BIKE RIDES,
ALL WITHIN CONVENIENT REACH OF ITS MAIN TOWN.
MY IRISH DREAMS HAVE LONG BEEN SET HERE
ON THIS SPARSE BUT LUSHLY CARPETED PENINSULA.
THE PEOPLE OF DINGLE ARE CLOSE TO THE LAND.
WHEN I ASKED A LOCAL IF HE WAS BORN HERE,
HE THOUGHT FOR A SECOND AND SAID,
"NO, IT WAS ABOUT SIX MILES DOWN THE ROAD."
WHEN I ASKED IF HE HAD LIVED HERE ALL HIS LIFE,
HE SAID, "NOT YET."
DINGLE IS SO TRADITIONALLY IRISH
BECAUSE IT'S ANOTHER GAELTACHT,
A REGION WHERE THE IRISH CULTURE SURVIVES,
SUBSIDIZED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
WHILE ENGLISH IS ALWAYS THERE, THE SIGNS, MENUS AND SONGS
OFTEN COME IN IRISH, OR GAELIC, FIRST.
TEENAGERS FROM IRELAND'S BIG CITIES
COME HERE FOR SUMMER CAMP, FILLING OLD-TIME SCHOOL ROOMS
TO LEARN THE TRADITIONAL LANGUAGE AND IRISH WAYS.
[ speaking in Irish ]
AND HERE, IRISH SONGS ARE SUNG IN IRISH.
[ singing in Irish ]
AND OLD CHURCHES DO DOUBLE DUTY AS CONCERT HALLS
WHERE THOSE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT TRADITIONAL MUSIC
SHARE THEIR ART.
♪♪
[ applause ]
THE TOWN OF DINGLE IS THE PERFECT HOME BASE
FOR PENINSULA EXPLORATIONS.
IT'S JUST LARGE ENOUGH TO HAVE ALL THE NECESSARY
TOURIST SERVICES AND A STEADY BEAT OF IRISH FOLK MUSIC.
ALTHOUGH A POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION,
DINGLE STILL HAS A RELAXED FEEL.
THIS IS A PLACE WHERE THE FISH AND THE FARM STILL MATTER.
A FAINT WHIFF OF BURNING PEAT FILLS ITS STREETS.
TRACTOR TRACKS DIRTY THE MAIN DRAG.
AND 40 FISHING BOATS STILL SAIL FROM ITS HARBOR.
LIKE ANY TOWN WITH TOURISM IN IRELAND,
DINGLE HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF B&Bs.
THE CAPTAIN'S HOUSE B&B IS A SHIPSHAPE PLACE
FIT FOR AN ADMIRAL IN THE TOWN CENTER.
ITS HOMEY PEAT-FIRE LOUNGE IS PERFECT FOR A CUP OF TEA.
GUESTS ENJOY COMFY ROOMS...
...AND A MAGNIFICENT BREAKFAST.
MARY, WHOSE MOTHER RAN A GUEST HOUSE
BACK BEFORE DINGLE WAS DISCOVERED, LOVES HER WORK.
ANTICIPATING A BIG SIGHTSEEING DAY,
ANNE'S ENJOYING ANOTHER SLICE OF IRISH SODA BREAD.
AND FOR JACKIE'S BREAKFAST, IT'S A KIPPER.
500 YEARS AGO, DINGLE, WITH ITS IDEAL HARBOR,
WAS A BUSY SEAPORT.
IT WAS A GATEWAY FOR TRADE WITH SPAIN,
JUST A FIVE-DAY SAIL SOUTH.
LIKE GALWAY, IT WAS A FORTIFIED ENGLISH TOWN
SURROUNDED BY IRISH PEASANTS.
DINGLE IS FILLED WITH SHOPS SHOWING OFF LOCAL CRAFTS.
AT LISBETH MULCAHY'S, YOU CAN BUY TRADITIONAL WOVEN WEAR
RIGHT OFF THE LOOM.
AND THE WEST KERRY CRAFT GUILD,
A CO-OP SELLING THE WORK OF LOCAL ARTISTS,
IS FUN EVEN IF YOU'RE JUST BROWSING.
THE TOWN HAS RESTAURANTS TO PLEASE EVERY PALATE,
ANDY A JACKIE'S INCLUDED.
THEY'RE EATING KID-FRIENDLY AT THE LOCAL DINER.
WE FOUND IT'S SMART IN SMALL TOWNS
TO LET THE KIDS HAVE SOME TIME ON THEIR OWN,
TO DEAL WITH THE MENUS AND FOREIGN MONEY.
THEY ENJOY A BREAK FROM MOM AND DAD,
AND VICE VERSA.
ANNE AND I ARE DINING ADULTS ONLY,
ELEGANTLY AT A TOP-END DINGLE RESTAURANT.
THE BEGINISH SERVES MODERN EUROPEAN FARE
IN AN ELEGANT GEORGIAN SETTING.
THE KITCHEN CREATES BEAUTIFULLY PRESENTED DISHES
THAT THE KIDS JUST WOULDN'T APPRECIATE.
ANNE AND I DINE CONFIDENT THAT JACKIE AND ANDY
ARE ENJOYING THEIR MEAL AS MUCH AS WE'RE ENJOYING OURS.
LOCALS CLAIM THAT DINGLE, WITH 52 PUBS FOR ITS 1300 RESIDENTS,
HAS MORE WATERING HOLES PER CAPITA
THAN ANY TOWN IN IRELAND.
VISIT SEVERAL UNTIL YOU FIND JUST THE AMBIENCE
YOU'RE LOOKING FOR.
THERE'S LIVE MUSIC GALORE.
OR, FOR GOOD CONVERSATION, YOU HAVE SOME FASCINATING OPTIONS.
FOXY JOHN'S IS ONE OF SEVERAL DINGLE PUBS
WITH A DUAL IDENTITY.
BY DAY, IT'S A HANDY HARDWARE STORE.
AFTER HOURS, A PUB.
IT'S GREAT FOR craic.
THAT'S PUB LINGO FOR CONVERSATION.
IF YOU SIT AT A TABLE, YOU'LL BE LEFT ALONE.
STAND OR SIT AT THE BAR, AND YOU'RE ENGULFED
IN CONVERSATION WITH NEW FRIENDS.
AND IF YOU NEED A HAMMER OR SOME HEDGE CLIPPERS,
THE BARTENDER IS THERE TO HELP.
IF YOU'RE PUB HOPPING, KEEP AN EYE ON THE CLOCK.
LAST CALL FOR DRINKS WHERE WE'RE HEADING IS HALF 11.
THAT'S 11:30.
O'FLAHERTY'S IS RELIABLY GOOD FOR TRADITIONAL MUSIC,
OR trad, AS IT'S CALLED IN IRELAND.
♪♪
[ applause ]
TIM COLLINS, DINGLE'S RETIRED POLICE CHIEF,
IS AN AMATEUR ARCHAEOLOGIST
WHO TAKES MY TOUR GROUPS AROUND WHEN THEY'RE IN TOWN.
TODAY HIS GROUP IS REALLY SMALL, JUST ME AND ANDY.
ON THIS TRIP AROUND THE PENINSULA,
ANDY IS LEARNING SOME HISTORY THE WAY I LIKE TO,
FROM A LOCAL.
DINGLE PENINSULA IS LIKE AN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM.
IT'S DOTTED WITH MORE THAN 2,000 MONUMENTS
DATING BACK TO 4,000 B.C.
SOME OF IRELAND'S ANCIENT AND COMPLEX HISTORY
CAN BE SORTED OUT BY VISITING THESE SITES.
NOW, THIS IS ACTUALLY KNOWN AS DUNBEG PROMONTORY FORT.
IT'S ONE OF ABOUT 2,200 ARCHAEOLOGICAL MONUMENTS
WE HAVE ON THE DINGLE PENINSULA.
THIS SITE WAS BUILT BY THE EARLY SETTLERS, ABOUT 500 B.C.
THAT IS THE DATE FOR IT.
IT HAS BEEN EXCAVATED ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO
BECAUSE HALF OF IT HAS ACTUALLY FALLEN INTO THE SEA
DUE TO COASTAL EROSION.
I SUPPOSE THERE'S NO PART OF IRELAND
THAT HAS GOT SO MANY ARCHAEOLOGICAL MONUMENTS INTACT
AS YOU HAVE GOT IN THE DINGLE PENINSULA.
AND PROBABLY THAT'S DUE TO THE FACT THAT THIS AREA
HAS NEVER BEEN INDUSTRIALIZED, THANKFULLY SO FAR.
THIS REMOTE PENINSULA WAS ALSO BUSY
DURING EARLY CHRISTIAN TIMES.
THE GALLARUS ORATORY WAS A CHURCH
BUILT WITHOUT MORTAR ABOUT 1200 YEARS AGO.
SHAPED LIKE AN UPTURNED BOAT, ITS FINELY-FITTED WALLS,
STONE WITHOUT MORTAR, STILL KEEP OUT THE RAIN.
IN THE DEPTH OF THE DARK AGES,
MONKS FLED THE CHAOS OF CONTINENTAL EUROPE.
THEY SAILED TO THE FAR FRINGES OF THE KNOWN WORLD,
SETTLING IN PLACES LIKE THIS, DINGLE PENINSULA.
LIVING IN MONASTIC COMMUNITIES OF STONE IGLOO-TYPE HUTS,
THEY KEPT LITERACY ALIVE FOR WESTERN CIVILIZATION.
IN FACT, CHARLEMAGNE, WHO RULED MUCH OF EUROPE IN THE YEAR 800,
IMPORTED MONKS FROM IRELAND TO BE HIS SCRIBES.
Tim: THIS WAS THE TYPICAL LAYOUT
OF THESE EARLY CHRISTIAN MONASTERIES,
SEVERAL STONE-TYPE IGLOOS AND A CHURCH WITHIN A FORTIFIED WALL.
THE INNER WALL DIVIDED THE COMMUNITY INTO TWO SECTIONS,
ONE FOR WORK AND ONE FOR WORSHIP.
THIS MONUMENT NOW ACTUALLY IS A THOUSAND YEARS OLDER
THAN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ALREADY LOOKING AT.
IT'S A SLAB CROSS ERECTED BY THE CELTS ABOUT 500 YEARS B.C.,
RED SANDSTONE, AND THEY DECORATED THIS STONE
WITH THESE CELTIC MOTIFS OR THESE CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
WHICH RUN THROUGH THE FRONT OF THE STONE
AND THAT REMAIN OUT OF THE SIXTH CENTURY A.D.
WHEN THE CHRISTIANS CAME AND CHRISTIANIZED THE CROSS
BY SUPERIMPOSING THIS GREEK CROSS
ON THE UPPER PART OF THE OLD CELTIC MONUMENT.
THUS EXPLAINS THE TWO TRADITIONS ON THE ONE SLAB CROSS,
THE CELTIC AND THE CHRISTIAN.
WHEN THE ENGLISH CAME IN THE 12th CENTURY,
THEY REPLACED THE OLD MONASTIC SETTLEMENTS,
LIKE THE ONE WE JUST SAW, WITH THEIR OWN CHURCHES
IN AN ATTEMPT TO CENTRALIZE THEIR CONTROL.
DURING THAT ERA, THIS RUINED CHURCH
WAS THE CENTER OF WORSHIP FOR THE PENINSULA.
AND HERE ON DINGLE PENINSULA,
THE SOIL ITSELF REVEALS THE STRUGGLES OF THE IRISH PEOPLE.
NOW, IN PREHISTORY, THE SOIL HERE WAS WORTHLESS, VERY BARREN.
THIS SOIL HERE WE'RE LOOKING AT
WAS ACTUALLY MADE BY THE HARD WORK AND ENDEAVORS
OF THE PEASANTS THAT ACTUALLY HAD TO RECLAIM THIS BARREN LAND
BY GOING TO THE BEACH AND DRAWING UP SEAWEED AND SAND
TO AUGMENT THE VERY BARREN SOIL THAT WAS THERE
TO GROW THEIR POTATOES AND THEIR CROPS.
SO THERE'S SEAWEED AND SAND?
SEAWEED AND SAND MIXTURE AND SOME PEAT,
WHICH HAS DEVELOPED INTO A CLAY OVER THE CENTURIES.
PATCH BY PATCH, THEY CREATED FERTILE FIELDS FOR POTATOES,
CLIMBING EVER HIGHER UP THE HILLSIDE.
IN 1845, THEY PLANTED.
BUT A BLIGHT SWEPT ACROSS IRELAND AND NOTHING GREW.
THE POTATOES ROTTED IN THE GROUND.
FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, IRELAND STARVED.
THE VILLAGE OF DUNQUIN, WITH ITS MANY ABANDONED HOMES,
IS A REMINDER THAT IRELAND'S POPULATION
WAS DECIMATED BY THE GREAT POTATO FAMINE.
JUST OFF THE SHORE IS GREAT BLASKET ISLAND.
THE STORY OF ITS TINY COMMUNITY,
JUST A GHOST TOWN TODAY,
GIVES AN INSIGHT INTO THE SOUL OF IRELAND.
TAKING A BOAT RIDE THERE IS A HIGHLIGHT
FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN TRADITIONAL IRISH CULTURE.
AND, BACK IN DINGLE, OUR FAMILY'S DOING JUST THAT.
WEATHER PERMITTING, THE "PEIG SAYER" ZIPS TO BLASKET ISLAND
IN 40 MINUTES, UNLESS FUNGIE COMES OUT TO PLAY.
THERE HE IS RIGHT THERE! WOW!
FUNGIE, EUROPE'S FRIENDLIEST DOLPHIN
AND DINGLE'S MOST FAMOUS RESIDENT,
PLAYFULLY GREETS BOATS AS THEY COME AND GO.
EVEN IN TODAY'S DRIZZLE AND CHOPPY SEAS,
THE BOAT RIDE TO GREAT BLASKET ISLAND
IS BOTH EXHILARATING AND SCENIC.
THE LANDING IS AS TENUOUS TODAY
AS IT WAS FOR THE ORIGINAL ISLANDERS.
JUST A LITTLE NOOK ALONG ITS ROCKY COASTLINE
PROVIDES ENOUGH PROTECTION TO LAND A SMALL BOAT.
WANDERING THROUGH THE SCANT REMAINS OF THEIR HOMES,
WE TRY TO IMAGINE THE LIFE THESE HARDY ISLANDERS LED.
THIS VILLAGE WAS ABOUT THE ONLY ONE IN IRELAND
TO ESCAPE THE FAMINE
BECAUSE THEY HARVESTED THE SEA RATHER THAN POTATOES.
FORMING THE MOST TRADITIONAL IRISH COMMUNITY
OF THE 20th CENTURY, THE BLASKET ISLANDERS
BECAME A SYMBOL OF ANTIQUE GAELIC CULTURE.
THE ISLAND'S POPULATION PEAKED AT 160,
THEN DWINDLED UNTIL THE GOVERNMENT
MOVED THE LAST HANDFUL OF RESIDENTS TO THE MAINLAND
IN 1953.
EACH FAMILY HAD A COW, A FEW SHEEP, AND A TINY GARDEN.
THERE WAS NO PRIEST, NO DOCTOR, AND NO PUB.
THEY HEATED THEIR HUMBLE HOMES
WITH PEAT CUT FROM THE HIGH RIDGE
AND FED THEIR FAMILIES WITH FISH.
THE BLASKET ISLANDERS MAY BE GONE, BUT THEIR STORY,
WHICH IN MANY WAYS ECHOES THE STORY OF IRELAND AS A WHOLE,
LIVES ON.
SO RICH IN ITS HISTORY, PEOPLE, AND SCENERY,
IRELAND, RAIN OR SHINE, IT'S A FINE PLACE TO EXPERIENCE.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I'M RICK STEVES.
KEEP ON TRAVELIN'.
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The Best of West Ireland: Dingle, Galway and the Aran Islands

6058 Folder Collection
稲葉白兎 published on November 1, 2014
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