12 simple pleasures from the Dingle Peninsula that will make you want to move to Co. Kerry
Life & Style

12 simple pleasures from the Dingle Peninsula that will make you want to move to Co. Kerry

Having moved to England in the 1970s, writer Felicity Hayes-McCoy always knew she'd one day go back to the place she fell in love with at the age of 17.

Having now fulfilled that dream, the author is lives in Corca Dhuibhne on the Dingle Peninsula, in a  house restored with the help of her English husband Wilf, which formed the basis of her 2012 memoir The House on an Irish Hillside.

This summer she has released another book focusing on the natural beauty of her new home, bringing the Dingle Peninsula to life - celebrating the simple things in life from cups of tea with neighbours, baking scones, sowing potato seeds and sharing stories.

With Felicity's own recipes for barm brack, peppery scones, winter stew and spring soup, the book is beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by Felicity and her husband - capturing a modern lifestyle led by Ireland’s traditional Celtic past.

Here she picks some of her favourite images from the book and explains their significance.



Childhood memories

Enough Is Plenty - The Year On The Dingle Peninsula follows the rhythms of the Celtic calendar, starting with November, the first month of Samhain, which begins the Celtic year.

Halloween with its familiar foods, such as the brack pictured above, and rituals is an ancient Celtic festival which, for me, is full of childhood memories.


Light and shade

The shots for the book were all taken in and around our house in Corca Dhubihne, by me and my husband Wilf.


It was fascinating to see how particular colours became more evident at different times of the year.

This one was captured on a rusty red and brown November walk – but we’re not sure which of us took it.


Tuning in

Winter is the season when people in the Kerry Gaeltacht have time to gather in each other’s houses to play music.

Passing on the area’s rich inheritance of music, song and stories is a central part of life here.



Reaching new heights

Mount Brandon, the second highest mountain in Ireland, dominates the western end of the Dingle Peninsula.

This shot, taken in our front garden, shows it on a wintry morning, capped with snow.


Time for tea

Our house, which dates from about 1914, was built for a woman called Neillí Mhuiris Ní Chonchubhair, who lived there with her husband, Paddy Martin.

In their time it was a rambling house where people came to chat, make music and play cards.


This is Neillí’s kettle, which we found thrown out behind the byre.

house gable

Echoes of emigration

The window in this ruined gable in a house at the western end of the peninsula looks out at the Blasket islands and the ocean beyond.

The next parish really is America, where so many people from the area went to find new lives.


Summer sounds


This shot of a bee on a blackthorn flower appears in the chapter on May, in which I write about the Celtic festival of Bealtaine.

In it I give a recipe for the Easy Shortbread Biscuits which are part of my own ritual of tea taken in the garden to mark the beginning of summer.


Home sweet home

In summer the colour palette changes, bringing new awareness of the green of the fields and the blue of the ocean.

I love how the older houses here sit so quietly in their dramatic settings.



Flaming flowers

Bonfires are still lit here on June 23, the eve of the feast day of St. John.

They echo ancient rituals which used fire and flame-coloured flowers to invoke protection for crops and animals at the time of the summer solstice.


Simple pleasures

Lots of the shots in the book happened by accident.

I took this one day in July when Wilf made cheese on toast for lunch and garnished it with chives and pinched-out pea tops from the garden.


I liked the look of the plate on our blue-tiled table.


Autumn harvest

Wilf took this shot in a neighbour’s field in August, the first month of the last season of the Celtic calendar.

Lughnasa, the modern Irish word for August, was sacred to the Celtic sun god Lugh, who gave good weather for the harvest.


Easy pickings


One of the great pleasures of autumn is gathering in our own harvest.

Sometimes I can’t resist the early pickings, like baby courgettes, early carrots, or crunchy radishes washed under the garden tap and eaten raw in the open air.

Enough is Plenty - The year on the dingle Peninsula by Felicty Hayes-McCoy is published by The Collins Press, price €14.99.