When I close my eyes, I am back in that little beach town tucked away along the coast. The lush green landscape of the Emerald Isle. Ireland is a place filled with breathtaking views and scenery as striking as a movie set with its rocky cliffs and sweeping green fields dotted with sheep. Its other-worldly beauty and dramatic landscapes have even been the backdrop to the Star Wars films. Out of all the places one can visit on this island in the North Atlantic, Dingle will always hold a special place in my heart.

A village carved from centuries of crashing waves. Seemingly endless rolling hills coupled with the vast expanse of fierce sea that hugs a rugged shore. Cliffs as sharp as the strikes of the sea are met by the soft rise and fall of rolling green hills. The sandy expanse of Inch Beach, sheltered behind carved-out coves brings you closest to touching your toes into the chilled Irish waters. Driving up the steep, winding roads towards Conor Pass, one of the greatest lookout points of the peninsula makes you feel one with the cloudy mist that engulfs the peak. Looking down upon the great expanse reveals a mosaic of countryside, a patchwork of varying hues as green as an emerald gem. Fields divided by stone walls erected centuries before, crafting a landscape both split and bound by a shared land and history.

A town straight from a storybook, with houses and shops that one would expect Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to inhabit with stone house monuments on Slea Head Drive and small ivy-strewn arches over church cemeteries. Stories scattered among the streets, cobbled with character. I can still recall the joy it brought me to wander through town, taking a stroll down Goat Street or a ponder down passageways, uncovering hidden gems like An Café Liteartha tucked away on Dykegate Street. Through every twist and turn, I found myself lost but never off-course. A stroll down Main Street revealed a kaleidoscopic display of historic buildings, their facades splashed with colors spanning from the baby blue brick of Dick Mack’s Pub to the ruby red door of Out of the Blue Seafood. Each storefront with its own individual quirks and charm, whether it be well-loved cats sitting in picture windows at Sweet Pea Gift Shop, or handcrafted wreaths hung on entryway doors. Sidewalks worn by years of wandering feet, so narrow that they only allow for single-file strolls. Even in the dead of winter, a double scoop of Irish Brown Bread and Dingle Sea Salt ice cream from Murphy’s makes the perfect mid-day treat, with smiling faces and stories of their generational journey almost sweeter than the afternoon indulgence itself.

As the sun sets over Main Street, the town comes to life with music emanating from the pubs and restaurants welcoming you in with open arms and doors. One of my favorite pastimes while in Dingle was bouncing from pub to pub, starting at Paul Geaney’s for a plate of fresh caught fish and chips and ending with dancing and tunes at the Dingle Pub that carry out into the night. The nightlife of this small town moves beyond each storefront as people pour out onto the streets sprinkled with twinkling lights that cascade across the sloped street below. Looking down upon the town, at the peak of the night, I could feel the wave of merriment and pleasure that emanated from my being, as I took in the warm embrace of all that this picturesque place had to offer.

Among the 2,000 people who call Dingle Town their home are arguably some of the happiest, most heartwarming people on earth. Whether rain or shine, they always have a smile on their face and a story to tell. Stopping to chat often took hours from your day, but hours you wouldn’t have wanted to spend any other way. Dingle must be the end of a rainbow because everything about it is as good as gold. Not only is this the place where I discovered raw and real beauty but it is also where I discovered myself.

I considered my trip to Dingle, Ireland to be a personal journey of self-discovery. Aside from some of the most sensational views, I also stepped outside of my comfort zone, doing things I never thought myself capable of. I took a leap of faith by choosing to study abroad in Dingle, and by doing so, found a new version of myself – one that is both more independent and more confident in what I had thought myself truly capable of. Dingle, being such a small town, was a handcrafted oasis made just for me and my development as an individual. Hidden away on the peak of the peninsula, this town of no more than a kilometer in size made it an almost foolproof destination for me to gain my bearings and fall into the many comforts that it had to offer. A quick stop after class at SuperValue just off Strand or an amble across Green to the Fish Box for a fresh-caught feast made me feel like a true, yet temporary, local. This endearing port town of only 2,000 people is one that welcomed me with open arms, laden with Guinness and Irish stew.

From sea safaris spanning the southern coast to galloping on horseback along the rocky ridges of the beachy shore, I feel that I opened myself up to a new world of adventure. Whisked out of bed just as the sun skimmed the horizon, I woke with the energy of a marathon runner, set on embarking on my days of excursions. Piling into buses seemingly larger than the roads we traveled, I put my faith into the hands of the drivers, who caravanned us across cliffs and perilous pathways that barely resembled roads. Slea Head Drive took us to the edge of the sea, where we traversed the rugged terrain of the southern coast, set on cuddling with the baby lambs who awaited our company.

I found myself discovering the vast amount of natural beauty all around me, taking less time for my phone and more for the picturesque town that I was so lucky to immerse myself in. In looking around while walking through town, I witnessed the most breathtaking sunsets, incandescent rainbows spanning the sky, and a town teeming with character. Before traveling abroad, I was plagued with the feeling of needing constant distraction, wanting an escape instead of finding peace in my mind and being. Dingle taught me how to be in the moment, to love every second, and to grasp at the memories of the times I have so as to not forget how good life can be. I found such peace and serenity in this place, never missing, as I thought I would, the basic comforts of home. I unplugged from the diversions and instead occupied myself with the beauty of the now, the beauty of even the smallest aspects of this new territory that embraced me. As I confidently strolled from my luxurious lodging at Glor na Habhainn to my class at An Diseart every morning, I smiled at passersby and took this time for my thoughts, allowing myself to see, feel, and be in every moment that this town had gifted me.

As I trotted through the town, every sight and sound piqued my interest. Unsuspecting alleyways were hidden treasures with centuries-old cafes and bookstores just waiting to be discovered. I was never lost in Dingle Town because taking a wrong turn was just an excuse to explore. I yearned to see, craved exploration, and wished I had taken this leap much sooner. My home of Glor na Habhainn was a temporary landing place, one where I rested my head at night, but only after drawn-out days of discovery. The rainbow- painted buildings were pure serotonin. The mom-and-pop shops warmed my heart. I even woke up to sheep in my backyard, with no care whether they moseyed here or there. I found peace in the southern shores of Ireland. I found a new version of myself that wanted to find excitementand joy in her life wherever she went. Most of all, I found the person I have always wanted to be but was too timid to set free.


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