Thanksgiving is maybe one of the most difficult days to spend in a foreign country. Doing an entire Thanksgiving Dinner in two hours after work is a challenge. Going to work the day after the feast is no picnic either. Most American expats in London push the holiday to the Saturday, but we escaped London altogether and went to the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.
It was actually a perfect trip for a Thanksgiving weekend away from the States. The weather was on our side, cold but sunny during the day, rainy at night when we were holed up in our B&B with our books. The people of Dingle were so genuinely friendly, you couldn't help but feel part of what was around.
The trip was also a bit of a history lesson for me. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but from Europe he wasn't the first to head west, as in 542 AD Saint Brendan of Ireland had already achieved the quest. Tradition and lore say that St. Brendan of Kerry, along with fourteen other monks, constructed a boat of wood tied together with leather strips. The start of the seven year journey was from this inlet (pictured below), now called Brandon Creek. His mission was to bring the Gospel to the West.
Legend says he traveled from here to the Isle of Sheep (The Hebrides), to the Paradise of Birds (The Faroes), to the Isle of Smiths (Iceland), to the Land of Crystal Pillars (Greenland), and through the Region of Fog (Newfoundland), to the Promised Land (America).
The Dingle Peninsula also had some interesting architecture. We saw many beehive huts made of stone and the Gallarus Oratory, a church built sometime between the 6th and 9th centuries. The huts and Oratory are built with stones, use no mortar, and slant slightly down to let rainwater run off.
It got dark pretty early, so what did we do when it got too dark for trolling around the Irish countryside? Head to the pubs for some Irish music, stout - Guinness and Murphy's, and Irish whiskey.
The Irish love their whisky - our host was shocked that I didn't want Jameson stirred into my breakfast porridge. Whisky before coffee? In Ireland, yes! I also discovered white pudding. White pudding is a sausage made of oats, suet, pork, onion, herbs, and spices. It's sliced and fried up on either side for Irish Breakfast. Irish Breakfasts are similar to English Breakfasts, but with the addition of this white pudding. Much more appealing to me than the black blood pudding.