I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have Ireland on their wishlist for travel (and if it isn’t, it should be!). I’ve had Ireland on my list for many (many!) years, so when it was announced that TBEX would be in Killarney, I knew I was going. As part of the conference ticket, we were given a choice of tours. There were so many fun sounding options and I ended up choosing to spend a day on the Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula is the most northern of the peninsulas in County Kerry and is named after the town of Dingle. There’s no shortage of things to do, both indoors and out, and I was lucky enough to be able to experience a handful all in one day.
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The original Dingle Peninsula tour included a five mile hike over Mount Eagle, seeing archaeological sites, visiting artists and craftspeople, and ending with a visit to Dingle Distillery. I’m not a hiker, but the chance to see those views was something I didn’t want to pass up, and when you pair that with archaeology, craftsmen, and whisky?? That’s all me! Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria caused a change of plans and I got on the bus not knowing at all what the day would hold. I wasn’t alone, though, and the tour group had a good time chatting on the way to our first stop.
We left the main road after awhile and turned onto a dirt driveway. After some amazing steering on the long, narrow and windy drive, we arrived at our first destination. I really had no idea what we were doing, but I was excited to see what was in store.
It was such a blustery morning and I immediately felt warm and welcome in Holden Leathergoods. We were each greeted with a smile and a handshake from Conor along with the absolutely glorious smell of leather…followed by the smell of fresh coffee and scones. I hadn’t had breakfast because the hotel breakfast started at the same time the bus left and you know I need my coffee. It’s months on from that morning, but I can still remember those smells and how relaxed the atmosphere was.
We drank our coffee out of mugs handmade by Louis Mulcahy and I was thrilled when we later found out that we got to keep one. I drink out of mine all the time.
Looking around the shop was an experience in wanting all the things. I’m a fan of leather bags and have owned a handful from big name brands, but I’d never seen the kind of quality that was in front of me before. I still can’t quite get over them letting us wander with scones and drinks around those gorgeous bags.
We were invited into the workshop to learn about what goes into Holden Leathergoods. I remain amazed at how willing Conor was to share his process with us. The crafter in me was absolutely awestruck over what goes into each bag, from the methods used to the finished design.
I was fascinated by the wall of leather and no matter what else was going on, I was constantly drawn back to it. Just imagine the gorgeousness that would be made with it!
Because of where I ended up, I was able to watch some pieces getting sewn together. She kept sewing through all of our noise and jostling–if we were bothering her, she didn’t show it at all. I loved the color and texture combination of what she was making and I’m still wondering what the finished product was.
That leather, though!
I would have happily stayed the rest of the day to learn about the different kinds of leather Holden uses. I would truly love to go back–and this time bring a bag back with me!
The Holden workshop is situated in an old schoolhouse–our tour guide had even attended there!
There’s a unique view out back, and while the weather hadn’t cleared up much, it was still lovely. A poor trio out for a horseback ride came into view just in time for 20 bloggers to take a picture they couldn’t pass up.
Back on the bus we went and headed toward the coast for a smaller hike than was originally planned. The weather had started to clear a bit (as in it wasn’t pouring!) and we were desperate for those views.
If there’s anything that taste of the coast gave me, it’s the desire to go back for more. We were able to see Star Wars shooting sites from a distance, hear the waves crashing, and just take in a small bit of The Wild Atlantic Way. Yes, I will be back.
It hadn’t been clear as to whether we needed to bring our own lunch or not, so most of us packed a few snacks. We were all relieved to find out that we were headed to a warm meal. Tigh T. P. is known for its seafood and did not disappoint. You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m all about food when I travel–even if I often live on toast (out of laziness) for lunch at home, I will try as many things as I can when I’m away. I had mushroom soup and mussels and ate every last bit of them both. I was also introduced to Cronin’s Cider, a local cider that is most excellent. I love cider and was excited to be able to have one made locally. I wish it was available in Edinburgh!
The sun *finally* came out as we left the pub. I’m grateful that we got to see some of the coast in the sunshine.
Our bus driver even pulled over so we could grab a few pictures since it had been so grey all day.
The final stop on our tour was Dingle Whiskey Distillery. I’m still fairly new to learning about whisky and my knowledge is mostly limited to scotch whisky. I was excited to learn a bit about Irish whiskey.
The distillery is small, but it has everything it needs. The artisan distillery was started in 2012, so it’s young, but what they’re making is truly special.
We were given generous samples of gin and whiskey. If I could have managed it, I would have taken a bottle of each home with me! I instantly knew that this was my kind of whiskey. I mostly tolerated whiskey before, but I outright enjoyed what Dingle offered.
I highly recommend going on the Dingle Distillery Tour when you’re in the area. Not only will you learn about their process and have samples, but you’ll learn about their history and the passion behind what they do.
I enjoyed every minute of my day on the Dingle Peninsula. Every single bit of it left me craving more, and I can honestly say that that doesn’t happen often when I travel. Every place we visited and person we spoke with was super dedicated to County Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula and everyone was so incredibly welcoming. I’ve been talking about going back and doing what we did that day along with an expanded itinerary since I flew home. After all, I am 9% Irish, so it makes sense that I can’t stop thinking about it, right?