Go Mall

Go Mall.

No this not a command to go to the Mall.  Nor is it a shout of support for the local Hurling team named Mall.  Rather, it is a warning and perhaps a philosophy to follow while visiting Ireland.

While driving in Ireland, after awhile, you begin to see the same type of road signs and marking all over Ireland.  Their national road sign plan begins to make sense.  However, one of the road markings it took awhile to understand was GO MALL.  And, after we learned what it meant, we wish we had figured it out sooner. We were slow to understand.

For example, the speed limit signs made no sense.  After a week of driving there was no way you can dive 80 or 100 KPH on most of these roads.  In fact, it was not until we talked with our host in Kenmare that we learned why.  Yep, we were, slow to understand.

In the US, speed limit signs are set as the maxim safe speed to drive on a given stretch of road.  We all drive at or about 5 miles per hour over the speed limit.   For most of us, 45 mph means you can get away with driving 50 mph and the cops will leave you alone.  If you drive over the “cushion” you can’t complain if you get a ticket.

In Ireland, as we were slow to discover, the roads are designated, Local, County or National roads, and each road is designated with a speed limit.  A National road may be 100 KPH and a County road may be 40 KPH.  It does not matter what stretch of road you are on, the maximum speed is pre-designated for that entire road.   It is up to the driver to determine what is “safe” as long as he does not drive over that designated speed limit. I wish I knew that before I hit the pot hole.  Once we learned that, we started to drive at speeds that felt much safer and interestingly, we starting enjoying our drives much more.  The pressure was off, we were not expected to drive at or near the speed limit as you are in the US, in fact, even the Irish will tell you to Go Mall.

Once we started to Go Mall, we starting enjoying the trip much more.  In fact, Go Mall became something of a philosophy.  Take it easy, go slow and enjoy the trip.  In fact,  you can not drive around Ireland without Going Mall.

Tractors on the road everywhere…Go Mall.

Townsfolk walking along the road…Go Mall.

Sheep crossing the road…Go Mall.

Right turn ahead…Go Mall.

Skinny, twisty roads everywhere…Go Mall.

Bicycles strolling along…Go Mall.

So take you time, Go Mall, and enjoy the trip.

(Mall is Gaelic for Slow)


Day 9: A Day in Dingle

Saturday, June 8

(Written Post trip: 16 July)

We woke in the morning to find the town of Dingle was shut down for the Dingle Adventure Race. We had a partial view of the swimming from our B&B.  After breakfast, the race was pretty much over and the roads open so we headed to the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary.

Wildlife Sanctuary Sign
Wildlife Sanctuary Sign
Waterfowl at Wildlife Sanctuary









The Sanctuary, is not all that big from a tourist point of view, so we were not there very long, but we talked with some of the staff, young girls mostly.  What is it with young girls and wild animal rescues?  Megan often talked about being a Marine Biologist before turning to teaching and writing.  We saw several waterfowl, a young seal in rehab, a couple of goats and a few birds.  They have paddle boats but we decided not to partake.

After the Sanctuary, we headed for an Eco Tour of the Blasket Islands.  It is an island that held many writers from the 1920’s and 30’s.  Unfortunately too many of the young folk moved away, as young folk are want to do.  As a result, they had to move the elder folk to the main island because transportation for needs like the doctor became to much of a burden.  The island is now a tourist location and houses many sheep (of course!).

Sea Arch
Sea Arch
Sheep on Blasket Island
Sheep on Blasket Island







Our trip to the island was to be another vacation attempt to see dolphins or whale in the wild.  Our past trips to Orcas Island and Maine resulted in no sightings but our guide on the Dingle Bay Charters all but guaranteed a sighting.  We have heard this before, and he gave the standard disclaimer.  He even indicated that Dingle had a dolphin in the bay who had been there for 30 years and he known by everyone in the bay. His name is Fungi, the Dingle Bay Dolphin. True to form, our trip resulted in no Whales or Dolphin and apparently Fungi decided to take the day off, union rules I suppose?

Seal off Blasket Island
Seal off Blasket Island

We did see harbor seals and our guide was very knowledgeable and did a good job with what he had to work with.  It was enlightening to see the Island from the water.  I noticed that there were no fisherman in the waters.  If you go to Maine, the waters are crowded with fisherman.  We did see a few crab pots but not much else, not even very many sailboats.  Our guide, sadly shared with me the story and I stumbled into a huge controversy.  Apparently, in exchange for turning over Irish Off Shore Fishing Rights the European Union provided many benefits to Ireland, including subsidies for their agriculture.  It was received with mixed feelings, with the fishermen understandably upset.  Dingle Bay was apparently overfished and the fishermen can be found about 200 miles off shore.  It seems many Spanish fleets acquired much of the Irish fleets so the Spanish are now fishing Irish waters.  Like Bog Preservation, this is another tough issue for the Irish to absorb into a modernizing economy.

We did not take the boat trip that let you get off on the Blasket Islands, and while the guide was great, the boat trip turned into more of a ferry ride to the Islands.  The boat was half-full when we left.  We stopped at the Blasket Island and picked up more passengers who filled the boat and then it was a ride back to Dingle.  No whale, no dolphins, no getting off, no Fungi!  Skunked again!

The day was getting late, not that you would know as the sun does not set until about 10:30pm.  So jumped in our “sleigh” and “headed” for the Slea Head Drive Loop and the Texas Cattlemen.

Beehive Ruin
Beehive Ruin










Along the loop, you have great views of the Ocean and an opportunity to see many of the Ancient ruins.  These Celtic ruins hint at a very ancient past and I wish we had more time to spend learning about them.  I did pick up a book that has been a very good primer to Ireland and it’s history; A Brief History of Ireland by Richard Killeen.

It was time for dinner and we were away from Dingle but we found Páidí Ó Sé’s in Ventry, Co. Kerry.  As we pulled up to park, we notice a bunch of Cowboy’s, wearing cheap cowboy hats, red bandanas, and shorts.  Turns out it was a stag party.  I had a nice steak dinner, and we watched a little Hurling.  Páidí Ó Sé was a famous Hurler.

After dinner, we headed back to Dingle for dessert and saw a bunch of women wearing sparkling black dresses and red feathered headbands.  A Hen party, the compliment to the Stag party?  Do hens mate with stags???