Dingle Introduction Walking Tour, Dingle

Dingle Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Dingle

The world is full of charismatic locations patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. One such charming spot waiting to be discovered is the port town of Dingle, in County Kerry, on the southwest coast of Ireland.

The Dingle area was originally inhabited by a Celtic tribe called Corcu Duibne. During the medieval period, in the late 12th century, Dingle became an important trading port, following the Norman invasion of Ireland, and later prospered and developed close ties with Spain.

Connections with the latter were particularly strong; in 1529, the 11th Earl of Desmond and the ambassador of Emperor Charles V signed the Treaty of Dingle. However, with the demise of the Spanish Armada, in 1588, and ensued political changes, Dingle's prominence as a trading port diminished.

The name "Dingle" is derived from the Irish word "An Daingean," which means "the fort." It refers to the historic fortifications that once stood in the area. In recent years, there has been some controversy surrounding the town's name, as it was briefly changed to "An Daingean" as part of a government initiative to promote the Irish language.

However, the town's name had to be reverted back to Dingle, in 2005, following a local referendum. The reason for that was the fear that the Gaelic name might prevent visitors from identifying the town, which is heavily reliant on tourism.

Albeit small, Dingle has some notable sights to explore. Among them is the statue of a long-time harbour resident Fungie, the dolphin, located on the waterfront, plus the local Oceanworld Aquarium, displaying penguins, otters, sharks, and other sea creatures.

The bustling heart of the town, Main Street, is lined with colorful buildings, charming shops, pubs, and other places of interest. The neighboring Green Street is home to the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, located inside St. Mary's Church, and is renowned for its exquisite stained glass windows. Heading further towards Strand Street, you will find Murphy's ice cream parlor, offering a delightful selection of artisanal ice cream made from locally sourced ingredients.

While Dingle may not have the same level of fame or recognition as larger cities, its warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with lovely natural surroundings, proves sufficient to ensure guests a fun experience.
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Dingle Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Dingle Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Ireland » Dingle (See other walking tours in Dingle)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: susan
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Main Street
  • St. James' Church
  • Chapel of the Sacred Heart (Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows)
  • St. Mary Church
  • Murphys Ice Cream
  • Fungie (Dingle Dolphin Statue)
  • Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium - Mara Beo
  • Dingle Marina
Main Street

1) Main Street

Main Street in Dingle is a charming and vibrant thoroughfare that lies at the heart of this picturesque coastal town. Known for its colorful facades, bustling atmosphere, and a rich blend of history and modernity, Main Street is a focal point for locals and visitors alike.

As you stroll along Main Street, you'll find a delightful mix of traditional Irish architecture and contemporary storefronts. The buildings, adorned with colorful facades and charming shopfronts, create a vibrant and inviting ambiance. The street is lined with an assortment of shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs, each offering its own unique character and appeal.

One of the notable aspects of Main Street is the range of artisanal and craft shops that showcase the talents of local artisans. From traditional Irish crafts to contemporary designs, you can find an array of handmade products, including pottery, jewelry, knitwear, and artwork. These shops provide an opportunity to explore and purchase authentic Irish crafts, making Main Street a haven for those seeking unique souvenirs and gifts.

Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the diverse culinary offerings along Main Street. From traditional Irish pubs serving hearty fare to trendy cafes and restaurants serving gourmet cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate. You can savor traditional Irish dishes made with locally sourced ingredients or embark on a culinary adventure with international flavors from around the world.

The vibrant atmosphere of Main Street extends beyond daylight hours. As the sun sets, the street comes alive with the sounds of traditional Irish music emanating from the many pubs and music venues. Live music sessions create an enchanting ambiance, inviting locals and visitors to tap their feet and join in the lively atmosphere.
St. James' Church

2) St. James' Church (must see)

Saint James' Church holds a significant place in the town's history and serves as a reminder of its medieval past. Located on the northeast side of Dingle's main street within the medieval walled town, the church site has a rich heritage that dates back to the 13th century.

Originally, the parish church was built by Spaniards and later appropriated to the Augustinian priory of Saint Mary's Killagh near Milltown. Some of the original masonry, including chamfered quoins, was utilized in constructing the present structure, connecting it to its medieval origins.

The church holds further historical importance as the location where The Treaty of Dingle was signed on April 28, 1529. This treaty, involving the Earl of Desmond, James Fitzgerald, and the envoy of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, King of Spain, incorporated a significant portion of southwest Ireland into the Habsburg Monarchy. It also granted Irish people citizenship rights in Habsburg Spain, Austria, and the Netherlands.

Over time, much of the original church fell into ruins, with only Saint Mary's side chapel being maintained for divine service. Inside this chapel, a black marble tablet with a Latin inscription in gold letters commemorates John Fitzgerald, Knight of Kerry, who passed away in 1741.

In 1807, the present church, incorporating Saint Mary's chapel, was constructed through a generous gift of £1,100 from the Board of First Fruits. Throughout the years, the church underwent renovations, including alterations in 1974 that modified its appearance. In 2004, the Georgian Society provided funding for the repair and restoration of the church's ten lancet windows, including the intricately designed chancel window with timber tracery.

Adjacent to the church, the graveyard houses several noteworthy tombstones. Among them is a tombstone dating back to 1504, marking the burial place of one of the Fitzgeralds. Although broken and weather-worn, it bears the Desmond arms and features an inscription in a mix of Latin and Irish, reflecting the historical and cultural influences of the time.
Chapel of the Sacred Heart (Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows)

3) Chapel of the Sacred Heart (Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows)

The Chapel of the Sacred Heart is a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture. Built in 1886 as an extension to Saint Mary's Catholic Church on Green Street, the chapel was specifically constructed for the enclosed order of Presentation Sisters. The original design by architect C. J. McCarthy featured a short and narrow nave flanked by choir stalls, leading to an altar adorned with three magnificent stained glass bay windows.

In the early 1920s, the chapel underwent a significant refurbishment under the supervision of Mother Superior Ita Macken. Seeking to enhance the chapel's beauty, Macken enlisted the expertise of Irish architect and architectural historian Rudolf M. Butler. With Butler's guidance, Macken commissioned the renowned Irish artist Harry Clarke to create six double lancet stained glass windows for the chapel.

Completed and installed in 1924, these stained glass windows became the centerpiece of the chapel. Positioned on either side of the nave, the three colorful and intricately detailed windows on each side depict scenes from the life of Christ. Harry Clarke, a prominent figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, was paid a substantial fee of £1,000 for his masterful work. Today, these windows are a major draw for visitors to the chapel, as Clarke's artistry and craftsmanship continue to captivate viewers.

Currently, the chapel is under the ownership of the Díseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture. The altar and reredos of the chapel, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, were designed by architect Rudolf M. Butler and sculpted by George Smith. The sanctuary, lined with Italian marble tiles, features twenty-four panels adorned with symbols of the Presentation Order, such as an oak tree, as well as representations of a Celtic cross and various symbols associated with Jesus' crucifixion, including a crown of thorns, sponge, and nails.

Within the chapel, choir stalls and stations of the cross line the sides of the short and narrow nave, creating a solemn and contemplative atmosphere. The choir arches, constructed from Spanish oak, add a touch of elegance and craftsmanship to the space, complementing the overall aesthetic of the chapel.

The chapel is open for worship at 12 noon on Sundays except the first Sunday of the month.
St. Mary Church

4) St. Mary Church

Saint Mary's Church has a rich architectural history that reflects significant changes over time. Originally designed by renowned architect J.J. McCarthy in the neo-Gothic style, the church's construction began in 1862 when the foundation stone was laid. The original design featured a nave and aisles separated by arcades, supported by columns with octagonal tops, showcasing the distinctive characteristics of Gothic architecture.

However, in a bold and radical reordering scheme, Saint Mary's Church underwent substantial transformations. The arcades, which once defined the interior space, were demolished, altering the layout of the church. This decision marked a significant departure from its original design. Additionally, the exterior walls were demolished below the original clerestory level, resulting in a notable change to the church's appearance.

One of the most significant alterations was the removal of the attic and upper ranges of the west elevation. This transformation had a profound impact on the church's external aesthetics and architectural composition. The removal of these elements likely introduced a new visual aspect to the building, enhancing its distinctiveness and creating a different impression from the original neo-Gothic design.

While these radical changes may have transformed the physical appearance of Saint Mary's Church, they also represent a testament to the evolving needs and vision of the local community over time.
Murphys Ice Cream

5) Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream is a renowned food company that has gained recognition for its delectable ice creams and desserts. Founded in 2000 by brothers Seán and Kieran Murphy, the company's primary objective was to create the "best ice cream in the world." With a commitment to quality and using locally sourced ingredients, Murphys Ice Cream has become a beloved establishment in the region.

One of the distinctive features of Murphys Ice Cream is its use of the milk from Kerry cattle, a breed native to the region. By supporting the indigenous cattle breed, the company not only maintains a connection to the local agricultural heritage but also ensures the use of high-quality milk in their ice cream production.

The ice cream flavors offered by Murphys Ice Cream are a delightful blend of traditional and innovative options. Alongside classic favorites, they boast an array of unusual flavors that captivate the taste buds. Unique offerings like brown bread and sea salt have gained popularity for their unexpected yet delicious combinations.

Over the years, Murphys Ice Cream has expanded its operations to cater to a wider audience. In 2003, they established a new production facility, enabling them to supply their ice cream to local restaurants and shops. This expansion facilitated greater accessibility to their delectable treats, allowing more people to indulge in their premium ice cream.

Murphys Ice Cream's commitment to using high-quality ingredients, supporting local agriculture, and crafting exceptional flavors has earned them a stellar reputation.
Fungie (Dingle Dolphin Statue)

6) Fungie (Dingle Dolphin Statue)

Fungie, also known as the Dingle Dolphin, was a remarkable male common bottlenose dolphin who captured the hearts of the people of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland. He became separated from other wild dolphins and formed a unique and close bond with the local community. Fungie was known for his playful interactions with swimmers, surfers, kayakers, and divers who ventured into the waters where he resided.

One of the extraordinary aspects of Fungie's story was his friendly and gentle nature towards humans. Despite being a social animal, it is rare for dolphins to seek out human contact in the wild. Fungie's positive interactions with people made him the first recorded occurrence of a dolphin forming a special connection with humans in the wild in Ireland.

Fungie's presence in Dingle was truly a unique phenomenon. He delighted both locals and visitors with his playful antics and charmed all who encountered him. People marveled at his ability to interact and communicate with humans, creating lasting memories for those fortunate enough to share the waters with him.

In October 2020, concerns arose when Fungie went missing for several days after being last seen on October 13th. Marine experts speculated that he may have either moved on to explore new waters or, sadly, passed away.

To honor Fungie's legacy and the impact he had on Dingle, a bronze statue was erected at the harbor front near Dingle Pier. Renowned American sculptor and environmentalist James 'Bud' Bottoms, who was deeply passionate about ethical values and environmental advocacy, created the statue as Dingle town's Millennium project. This much-loved bronze sculpture immortalizes Fungie and serves as a lasting tribute to the incredible bond he formed with the people of Dingle. Mr. Bottoms, who resided in Santa Barbara, California, a sister city to Dingle, further solidified the connection between the two communities through his artwork.
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium - Mara Beo

7) Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium - Mara Beo (must see)

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, also known as Mara Beo, is a captivating attraction. It is home to Ireland's largest collection of aquatic species and offers visitors an opportunity to explore and learn about the fascinating underwater world along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way.

Established in 1996, the Oceanworld Aquarium initially focused on showcasing native marine species found in Irish waters. However, it has since expanded its collection to include a diverse array of aquatic creatures from around the globe, creating an immersive and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Regardless of the weather, Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium promises oceans of fun. Whether it's raining or shining, a visit to the aquarium offers a world of discovery and excitement. From playful penguins to majestic sharks, adorable otters to mesmerizing jellyfish, and even tropical butterflies, there is a vast array of marine life to explore and marvel at.

The aquarium's displays provide a kaleidoscope of aquatic wonders, showcasing the vibrant and diverse species that inhabit oceans worldwide. Visitors can embark on a captivating journey through various exhibits, guided by enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about sharing their expertise and fostering a deeper understanding of the marine environment.

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium serves as a valuable educational resource, offering insights into the importance of marine conservation and the need to protect our oceans. Through interactive displays, informative presentations, and hands-on experiences, visitors can gain a greater appreciation for the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and the role we play in preserving their biodiversity.
Dingle Marina

8) Dingle Marina

Dingle Marina, located in the sheltered Dingle Harbour at the most south-westerly point of Ireland, is a vibrant and inviting destination for boating enthusiasts and visitors alike. The marina offers a convenient and easily navigable channel with a depth of 2.6 meters, well-marked by buoys, ensuring a safe and hassle-free approach. The berths are situated in a minimum depth of -5 meters, providing ample space for boats of various sizes.

Nestled in the heart of the bustling market town, Dingle Marina allows visitors to immerse themselves in the renowned hospitality and charm of the local community. The town is famous for its excellent seafood restaurants, where you can savor the freshest catches of the day, and its lively pubs that resonate with traditional Irish music, creating an enchanting atmosphere.

For boaters, the marina offers all the modern amenities required for a comfortable stay. Showers, water, and fuel facilities are readily available, ensuring that visitors have everything they need during their time at the marina. The welcoming staff are on hand to provide assistance and guidance, ensuring a pleasant experience for all who visit.

The marina is not only a hub for boating enthusiasts but also a center for various water-based activities. It is home to a modern diving, sailing, and traditional Currach rowing center, providing opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage in these exhilarating pursuits. Whether you're an experienced sailor, a novice diver, or interested in learning the art of Currach rowing, the marina offers courses and activities tailored to your interests and skill level.

Walking Tours in Dingle, Ireland

Create Your Own Walk in Dingle

Create Your Own Walk in Dingle

Creating your own self-guided walk in Dingle is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Dingle Pub Crawl

Dingle Pub Crawl

Just as anywhere else on the “Emerald Island” (that's Ireland), pub culture in Dingle is an integral part of the town's social fabric and a major draw for residents and visitors. Dingle's pubs are lively meeting hubs where friends and neighbors catch up, and tourists mingle with locals, whilst sipping their drink.

Spots like An Droichead Beag Bar and O'Sullivan's...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles