I hadn't heard of the Dingle Peninsula until a few years ago during a "girls weekend," when a friend presented a bottle of Dingle Original Gin from the Dingle Distillery for another friend and I to taste.
Then when I was researching a trip to Ireland last year, the travel literature suggested that if visitors had time for just one tour in the west of Ireland and had to choose between the Ring of Kerry and the shorter ring road on the Dingle Peninsula, the choice should be the latter.
I recently wrote about my trip around the Dingle Peninsula for the Boston Globe. I didn't travel solo, but it's a place you would enjoy as a solo traveler - if you're willing to drive a standard shift car on the left-hand side of the road.
Or you could join a guided tour of the Slea Head drive and let someone else do the driving. A quick web search shows plenty of companies that will take you around this Irish-speaking region.
I'd recommend Murphy's Pub on Strand Street. It's cozy and welcoming, particularly on a rainy day when the fire's going. We only had a drink there, but the pub serves food and there's a guesthouse attached.
We had dinner the next night at Out of the Blue Restaurant. It looks like a shack from the outside but the casual restaurant is lovely inside and serves excellent seafood. In fact, seafood and fresh fish only. The menu changes daily, depending on "whatever is available from the boats that morning," according to its website.
One of these days I'd love to return and explore much more of the area. And visit the Ring of Kerry too.
Photos: Ellen Perlman. 1. One of the beautiful landscapes on the road to Dingle. 2. A spray-painted (for identification) sheep and her little lamb, along the Slea Head loop on the Dingle Peninsula. 3. On the cliff with a view of the "Sleeping Giant" (see Globe story), you can sit on the edge and peer down the steep drop to the sea.