The Jewel in the Heart of West Kerry
History of the Town
Dingle, or as it is known in the native Irish, “Daingean Uí Chúis”is locally referred to as “An Daingean”and means the "Ó Cúis' fort". It is an established fishing and trading town on the Atlantic Coast located about 50 kilometres (30 miles) southwest of Tralee and 71 kilometres (40 miles) northwest of Killarney.
It is an old town which began to develop strong trading links with Europe following the Norman invasion of Ireland and from the 13th century more goods were exported through Dingle than through Limerick. In 1569 the commerce of the town was increased when it was listed as one of fifteen towns or cities which had a monopoly on the importation of wine.
Dingle suffered greatly in the Nine Years' War (1594-1603) and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639-1651), being burnt or sacked on a number of occasions. And it took a hundred years before recovery commenced through the efforts of the Fitzgerald family. Robert Fitzgerald imported flax seed and by 1755 a flourishing linen industry had been established, with cloth worth £60,000 produced annually. This trade collapsed, however, following the industrial production of cotton in Great Britain, and was virtually extinct by 1837.
The decline in linen production was matched by the establishment of Dingle as a major fishing port from approximately 1830, supporting both indigenous boats and fleets from the UK. The 1890’s saw the development of the pier and maritime facilities with rail transport arriving in 1891 which allowed for the transport of fish throughout the country, and the establishment of a canning and curing industry. The traffic on the rail link, however, declined from 1947 and it was closed in 1953.
Modern Day Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula
Currently the town has a population of approximately 2,000 with a further 2,000 in the wider hinterland. Principal industries are tourism, fishing and agriculture and it boasts many famous residents from the world of art, culture, sport and politics, however, its most famous current resident is Fungi, a Bottlenose dolphin who has lived in Dingle Bay since 1983.
It has also seen “inter-galactic” activity with Ceann Sibéal (a particularly beautiful headland on the peninsula) being chosen to re-create the ancient monastic settlement on Skellig Michael for the current Star Wars movie earlier this year.
The stunning scenery, particularly along the Slea Head route, coupled with an interesting and cosmopolitan town, has made Dingle a “must visit” stop for any visitor to Ireland, or for Irish people looking for a complete breakaway holiday destination.
It offers a wide range of activities on water; boat trips, sailing, fishing, sub-aqua diving, surfing, paddle boarding and swimming, on land; walking trails, sandy beaches, horseback riding, golf, pitch & putt. It also boasts museums, visitor centres, the Dingle Aquarium, craft beer producers, the Dingle Distillery and other artisan crafts including pottery and ceramics.
In addition to all of the above..... Dingle is now an essential stopping point for those interested in good food, fine pubs and plenty of music, all of which are available in abundance!
No great town is complete, however, without special events to generate fun and Dingle provides these for all tastes and interests over a number of exciting week-ends throughout the year. Féile na Bealtaine, “Other Voices” Music Festival, the Marathon, the Triathlon, Dingle Horse Races , Dingle Regatta and the Dingle Food festival are just some of the great events to enjoy.
So..... if you haven’t yet enjoyed the fabulous experience of Dingle, don’t delay any longer.