Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel
Typical street scene in the town of Dingle, Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: The town of Dingle, Ireland, is the ultimate destination for those who drive around the Dingle Peninsula. The peninsula’s high, craggy sea cliffs and expansive sweeps of beach are backed by the Slieve Mish mountain range, creating what many consider to be the most stunning scenery in all of Ireland. Aside from offering a multitude of hiking opportunities, a rich tradition of music that lives on in the town’s many Read More

I lay on my back and reached behind me for the iron rails attached to the parapet at Blarney Castle. Slowly, I squirmed backward over a gaping hole in the floor. “Now lean down into the hole,” said the guide who gripped me around the waist. With my head and shoulders hanging precariously over four stories of open space, I planted a kiss on the Blarney Stone. All that remained was to come back up. My arms began to shake and I scrabbled at the rubber mat with the heels of my sneakers, but I couldn’t gain purchase. For one long moment I was certain that my body was about to plummet to the ground. And then the guide yanked me back up by my waist.

Kissing the Blarney Stone required lying on my back, grabbing the iron rails behind my head, and leaning through a hole in the floor

Kissing the Blarney Stone required lying on my back, grabbing the iron rails behind my head, and leaning through a hole in the floor

With my back arched and my neck stretched below the parapet, I did the deed!

With my back arched and my neck stretched below the parapet, I did the deed!

Actually, I had it easy. For more than 200 years, visitors to Ireland‘s most famous castle have been kissing the Blarney Stone, hoping to receive the gift of eloquence. Before grab bars were installed, pilgrims were held by their ankles and dangled over the parapet to accomplish the task. Sherlock Holmes fans will recall that one of his murder mysteries involved a man who plunged to his death while being lowered in this fashion. Holmes later discovered that the victim’s boots had been greased. Read More

Fossilized dinosaur eggs at the Celtic Prehistoric Museum on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: A nest of fossilized dinosaur eggs at the Celtic Prehistoric Museum on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. This eight-egg clutch, fossilized in red sandstone, was laid by a member of the Hadrosaur family of duck-billed dinosaurs. The nest was discovered in China and is now one of the premier exhibits on display at the museum, along with the world’s largest intact Woolly Mammoth skull (with its tusks still attached), the only complete skeleton of a baby dinosaur, and a Read More

Coumeenoole Bay and Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: Dunmore Head, located on the western tip of Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula. In the foreground is Coumeenoole Beach, where portions of the film Ryan’s Daughter were filmed. I shot this photo while sitting on the front lawn of a small cafe atop Slea Head, which with Dunmore Head, forms the westernmost point of Ireland. Under brilliant sunshine, I eased into a wooden rocking chair and spent a leisurely hour Read More

Town of Kenmare on the Kerry Peninsula, Ireland

Click on title to view photo in large format: Old stone cottages sit side-by-side with new homes in the town of Kenmare on the Kerry Peninsula in Ireland. Kenmare is the southern entry to the famous Ring of Kerry drive, which follows the coastline around the Iveragh peninsula. Considered to be one of the most dramatic scenic drives in the country, it offers gorgeous views of wind-swept beaches, rolling hillsides, and exquisite green pasture lands. South of Kenmare Read More

The winters are long, cold, and dark in Iceland. As such, I had expected Icelanders to be a somber lot, patiently awaiting their few brief weeks of summer each year. I found quite the opposite – they were happy, upbeat, and kept me laughing with their unique self-deprecating sense of humor. The following are some funny facts about Iceland that were shared by locals during my stay in Reykjavik:

View over Reykjavik. I had expected Icelanders to be humorless, but they proved otherwise by sharing funny facts about Iceland

View over Reykjavik. I had expected Icelanders to be humorless, but they proved otherwise by sharing funny facts about Iceland

I never saw a single police officer or squad car during my week in Iceland. I was told they’re too busy with their Instagram page to patrol the streets. The truth is that crime is so low in Iceland that they could probably do without a police force, but it’s also true that the police department has more than a quarter million followers on Instagram. Read More