Ireland By Foot

A Most Civilized Hike
By Melissa DeVaughn

As we approached the door of Camp's lone inn—"Daly's Finglas House" read the sign by the driveway—we heard a "Yoo-hoo!" from the road and turned to see a red-haired, middle-aged woman approaching us purposefully.

"Ye looking for a place to stay?" she asked, smiling broadly. Her voice was sing-songy, the pleasant Irish accent thick. I answered her, if only to hear her speak again.

"Well, if you have room," I began. "We're really grubby from hiking all day, and we need to dry out our clothes after getting caught in a rainstorm."

"I've plenty a room," she said, pulling keys out of her apron pocket as she brushed past us. "Come on in."

And with that, Kathleen Daly, owner of the Finglas House, unlocked the door, and invited us in, wet feet and all.

"I run the pub, too, ye see," she explained, not stopping once for a full breath. "I see ye walkin' by thee window and ye looked as if ye could use some help. Will ye take dinner, will ye? I'll call across the street—they will feed ye there, they will. Just tell them I sent ye. Now get on upstairs and freshen yeselves up a bit and I'll tell them ye on your way."

Our room was on the cool side—a tendency we came to realize is commonplace in Ireland—but featured plush comforters and plenty of hot water for showering. We cleaned ourselves up, put on a fresh change of clothes, and soon were ready to eat.

So far, we'd only hiked a fraction of this nearly 100-mile trail, and many pleasant days and towns were yet to come. But Camp, we agreed at the end, will stay forever etched in our minds as a must-stop along the Dingle Way.

Not only are the accommodations some of the nicest along the trail, but the Dingle Peninsula's—if not Ireland's—best kept culinary secret is held within the walls of a centuries-old stone structure called James Ashe's. Once inside the dimly lit, peat-smoke filled pub, my husband, Andy, declared himself hungry enough to "eat meat on a stick."

But it wasn't our hunger that made the food so tasty. When our meals were ready, we were led through an almost-hidden door that opened into an elegant, candle-lit dining room. The surprisingly delicious presentation, preparation, and, above all, taste, made our nut sauce pastry and crab-mussel dishes the best meals we ate during the entire trip, including meals at restaurants in both Dublin and London. Not a bad meal for two dirty backpackers, we thought. We could get used to this.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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