Article in Irish Examiner by Jo Kerrigan
Anne and Pat Neligan, Duinin House B&B, Dingle
“Local history and a guesthouse – it’s an ideal mix”
September may be here, but that often means an even busier time for Anne and Pat Neligan who run the pleasant Duinin guesthouse a little way up the Conor Pass road from Dingle town. “Because airfares and travel costs generally go down at this time of year we tend to see quite an upsurge in visitors. In July and August it’s families but now, it tends to be older people and students getting a last bit of travelling in before university.”
The day starts early as everything has to be ready and waiting when the first guests come down for breakfast from 8am. “You’ll always have a few needing to get on their way a little earlier, maybe going out to see Fungi on the first boat of the day and in those cases, You’d organise breakfast at whatever time they needed it.” Fungi has done great things for Dingle over the years, they agree. “We don’t know what we’d do without him – we hope he’s got his tanaiste picked out and ready to take over when he retires!”
By 11am the guesthouse is usually empty as visitors head out to enjoy the delights of the Dingle peninsula, and Anne tackles washing dishes and doing the laundry while Pat checks the computer for email bookings and enquiries. Supplies need to be checked too – especially the Baileys. Duinin is one of those rare places where morning porridge is served with Baileys and brown sugar. Once sampled, you’ll yearn for it ever after.
No wonder this place has been recommended in the 300 Best B&Bs and in the Frommer’s Guide.
The one drawback to running a popular guest house is that you really can’t leave it for even five minutes. “In the time it would take you to get down into the town to get a newspaper, several visitors might have come and gone away again because they didn’t find you at home. One of us always has to be here. Someone has to man the fort at all times.” An appropriate term because Duinin means little fort. They do close for a few weeks in the darkest winter months, and head off for a well-earned holiday. “Last year we went to Australia and discovered cousins of Anne’s that we never suspected existed. It was great!”
Anne went to Cathal Brugha catering college in younger days and puts that experience to good use in baking, jam-making and looking after appetites sharpened by the sea-breezes and splendid walking country. Indeed, she makes sure to walk three miles every day to keep fit and blow away the cobwebs.
“When I get a chance, I play golf too. It’s great to get away from the business for a while and to meet the local ladies for a good natter.
And now and again they’ll risk slipping put late on a Saturday evening together for a drink in John Benny Moriarty’s pub, “where we meet all our friends and listen to John playing and Eilis, his wife singing.”
Pat spent all his working life teaching in Dingle. “Maths and History, and all of it through Irish”. His passion for the latter subject took him back to University College Cork where he gained a First for a Masters in Local History.
His thesis on events that happened in Kerry centuries ago was written in Irish. This led to an invitation to give a talk on Raidio na Gaeltachta and now, retired from teaching, he is a regular Wednesday fixture on that channel with a series of subjects. The Pedlar’s Lake Tragedy, for example. A Miracle on Ballydavid Cliff, Werner Lott – the U-boat commander with a conscience and perhaps most poignantly, Marie Antoinette, the tale of an attempt by Irish well-wishers to rescue the French queen from the guillotine and bring her safely to Ireland. “But she wouldn’t leave Louis, she was loyal to the end.”
To hear Pat recounting these tales in soft mellifluous Irish is irresistible and must bump up listening figures to R na G considerably. They’d make a wonderful book.
By: Jo Kerrigan