There is a kind of knowing “in-joke” based loosely around an old photograph of a huge flock of sheep crammed into the main street of a small town in the west of Ireland — the caption reads “It Must Be Dingle.”
The phrase lives on, hinting that this pretty little harbor town in Co Kerry is a sort of living embodiment of the Irish joke — all rural, backward and blissfully unaware.
But, like all self-effacing put-downs, the gag only works because the reality is actually the polar opposite.
Stroll through Dingle and you will find a raft of restaurants serving food that shames many of their big-city counterparts; hotels and guest houses whose owners know that quality, not corner-cutting, works best; oh, and pubs. Lots and lots of pubs. There were 52 at last count, and this in a town with a population of about 2,000 — that’s one pub for every 38 residents.
Then there’s the music, great Irish music from great Irish musicians, at An Droichead Beag, John Benny Moriarty’s, The Singing Salmon and just about everywhere.
But, Guinness notwithstanding, Dingle is essentially a family destination. Ventry Beach close by is a perfect, child-friendly beach fringed by dunes and shallow, gentle waves.