Dingle Town: 48km (30 miles) W of Tralee, 80km (50 miles) NW of Killarney

The quieter, smaller alternative to the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula is a short drive away from Killarney. Locals say everything moves a little slower in Dingle, perhaps because everybody is taking in the extraordinary views. This is a unique place where all you can see for miles are undulating hills, craggy mountains, and a creamy shoreline curving at the edge of thick, fragrant woods. To call it "undiscovered" would be too generous -- in the summer Dingle Town is packed with travelers -- but it's not as ruthlessly jammed as the Ring of Kerry, and, from time to time, even in the high season, you can find yourself blissfully alone amid its natural beauty.

You Say "Dingle," I say "An Daingean"

If you're planning on visiting the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, things might get a little confusing, given that, technically speaking, it no longer exists. The whole region has been embroiled in heated controversy after the Irish government ruled in 2005 that as it was in an Irish-language area, Dingle must have a Gaelic name. Since nobody could remember what Dingle's Irish name originally was, the government helpfully invented one for it. Cute little Dingle, it decreed, would now be called "An Daingean," which translates as "the Fortress."

Aside from being less than catchy, the new name caused an explosion of outrage among Dingle residents and business owners who had grown up in Dingle, lived in Dingle all their lives, and didn't want to live in An Daingean now.

Surveys found that more than 90% of An Daingean residents wanted to be Dingle residents. Meetings were held. Voices were raised. In a move clearly not decided to calm tempers, the government minister responsible for the name change threatened to kick Dingle out of the Gaeltacht (the government-supported Irish-language region) if it refused to change all road signs from "Dingle" to "An Daingean." It even forbade it to keep the word "Dingle" on any signs, no matter how tiny the print size. Being dropped from the Gaeltacht would cost Dingle millions in government support.

Given that the minister involved is Eamon O Cuiv, the grandson of Irish rebel and founding prime minister Eamon de Valera (also a vociferous supporter of the Irish language), it's possible that this all should have come as no surprise. But residents were still furious.

In 2006, road signs were changed, and "Dingle" disappeared from government maps, but nearly all private businesses kept the Dingle in their names. A local artist built a huge, wooden Hollywood-style sign on a hill above the town reading DINGLE. It was short-lived, but the battle was far from over. Locals called for a referendum, and it seemed that every window in Dingle Town had a sticker calling for both names to be represented on road signs and maps. In October 2006, a vote was held over whether to change the name back; the motion carried, with a grand total of just 81 votes against. But because it had no legal basis under Irish law, the government still refused to agree. Recently, locals have begun spray painting "Dingle" onto signs that only used the Irish name, only for it to be washed off -- and then sprayed right on again.

So it seems that, at least for now, your kids will likely be visiting Fungie the An Daingean Dolphin during your visit.