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Dingle, a Gaeltacht in Southwest Ireland (3:09)

Ireland

Dingle — the town and the peninsula — offers a vivid peek at traditional rural Ireland. It’s a Gaeltacht, where locals speak the traditional language and the government helps fund the survival of traditional ways.

Complete Video Script

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 forty 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’d lived here all his life and 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 schoolrooms to learn the traditional language and Irish ways.

[Irish lesson]

And here, Irish songs are sung in Irish.

[Irish song]

And old churches do double duty as concert halls where those enthusiastic about traditional music share their art.

[Irish musicians]

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 farm still matter. A faint whiff of burning peat fills its streets, tractor tracks dirty the main drag, and forty fishing boats still sail from its harbor.