Leaving Dingle was bittersweet. From the beautiful sea view out our window, to the fantastic, always-available tea and cookies in the B&B lobby, to the delicious meals we’d eaten at An Canteen and Out of the Blue – and amazing ice cream at Murphy’s! – it was hard to say goodbye. Dingle was definitely food heaven for us.
However, we had a full day ahead. First up on the list was the hour-or-so drive to Killarney to grab lunch, after which we’d be visiting the historic Muckross house. The evening would wrap up at our B&B in Kenmare, which we’d read was smaller, quieter, and more peaceful than Killarney.
Unexpectedly, our drive to Killarney took us by a beach known as Inch. Later, we found out that it’s a very popular summer destination for Irish families on holiday, who stay in guest cottages, inns, or even just come out for a day trip when the weather is warmer. We were even more surprised to realize that you’re allowed to park (and drive on!) the beach itself.
Jason parked our little Fiat on the sand among the other cars, and we hopped out to wander among the sea-swept, grassy dunes. The wind was fierce and whipped our jackets against and then away from us, flung sand up from the dunes, and prickled our faces with salt water. When we got higher up on the dunes, we turned, looking out past the desaturated, windswept landscape to the beach below.
The horizon above the water was misty and ethereal. In spite of the freezing cold wind, sea-spray, and increasingly-ominous storm clouds in the distance, couples and families alike were walking around the beach, flying kites, or sitting outside at a nearby beachside cafe. A man raced up and down the beach in a wind-powdered boxcar as the waves whispered in and out of the shore, slowly but surely eroding the tire marks from other drivers’ earlier adventures.
After scrambling up and down the dunes and stretching out legs for a bit, we hopped back in the car. Suddenly, the clouds scuttled away, leaving a brilliant blue sky in their wake.
We took advantage of the sudden clear weather: before leaving, Jason drove almost the entire length of the 3 mile beach before looping back and getting back on the road. I snuck a look at him; his broad grin said it all, no words necessary. He was having a blast; after all, where else can you drive your car up and down a beach?
We hit the road again and made way directly for Killarney. Surprisingly, when we got there we discovered that it was much more of a city than we’d expected. I’d read that it was more bustling than Kenmare, but in my mind I’d pictured something that was about the size of Dingle. On the contrary, it was the most urban-feeling destination we’d been in since Dublin, dense with tall buildings and shops. It was almost a shock to the system after the bucolic Doolin countryside and Dingle’s village-like atmosphere. Nonetheless, it was energizing to be back in a city again.
We’d gotten a restaurant recommendation from someone at our B&B, but had neglected to write it down. All we knew about it was that you could choose to pay however much you wanted for your meal. What a neat concept! However, after poking around the town for a while, we couldn’t find it. I ducked into a pharmacy to ask for directions. “Excuse me, do you happen to know the name of a restaurant where you can pay whatever you want?”
“Hmmm…” The woman behind the counter mused.
“Oh, I know!” Exclaimed her coworker. “It’s Pay As You Please. Just around the corner on New Market Lane.”
Fantastic – we were close! We walked over there and settled in for what ended up being a delicious lunch. The restaurant had a warm modern aesthetic, with a Damien Hirst-style dot wall mural, a super cool bathroom, of all things – it was wallpapered in black and white comics, and the toilet paper was teeteringly stacked atop the toilet like an abstract art installation.
Interior decor aside, they also had tasty wood-fired pizzas, savory soups, cake, and homemade brown bread – a must, of course. Perhaps the trickiest part of the dining experience was figuring out how much we wanted to pay for our meal – we settled on 30 euros plus tip for our soup, bread, and pizza. It might sound like a steep price for lunch, but it seemed fair because the food was absolutely phenomenal.
When we departed Pay As You Please to return to the car, I stopped stock still when I spotted an unmistakably familiar blue store facade. “Jason! They have a Murphy’s ice cream here!”
Indeed, they did. When we left Dingle, I thought I was saying goodbye to Murphy’s forever (tragic, after we’d had it for dessert every night there). Now I had one more opportunity to have my two scoops of brown bread and Guinness ice cream – how could I pass that up?
Ice cream in hand and a broad grin now on my face, we headed back to the car and continued on.