Fortuitous circumstance dictated that our annual vacation coincided with the highlight of the Marching Season in the North (of Ireland), which is the Glorious Twelfth of July, quite how I'd missed this on the calendar is beyond me. At this point that I realised I would indulge my love of homemade ice-cream in Co Kerry while evading the crowds in the North West! For years I've been fantasising about paying Kieran Murphy's Ice-Cream Ireland visit to sample his wares and dream was about to come true, despite my family's initial reluctance.
Arriving late in the evening on a rainy Saturday, we set up camp at The Rainbow Hostel & Campsite. DG having cleverly placed the collapsable roof-box in a back to front position discovered a small lake on the roof of his car when we arrived. The driving wind, mist and rain which had accompanied us all the way down to Dingle had found its way inside and soaked through to my sleeping bag. Thankfully it isn't a plush duck down bag, but a less expensive one which did its job just as well when wet. Anyway I consoled myself with thoughts of being down at the Murphy's within the hour.
As it turned out we missed last orders. Instead I awarded myself a swift pint of Smithwick's in a quayside bar listening to a song about chicken and rice being nice. Possibly the most ridiculous thing about that entire day is that we had an Indian takeaway for dinner. Considering that Dingle is a fishing town and just about every bar and restaurant but one serves delicious seafood delivered daily by the fishing boats just the other side of the road this was truly madness.
The next day, Sunday saw us slow to rise and when we did we headed off towards Tralee and its famous Aquadome. The weather wasn't nice and so we spent a little over three and a half hours splashing around like beached whales, having a grand old time. Still no Murphy's Ice-Cream for me. I really do have to admit to feeling somewhat aggreived at this point in time, although I was appeased by the production of a bottle of fine Spanish red wine in the evening.
On Monday I began to despair. Instead of heading into town we drove in the opposite direction and out to Ventry Beach for a few hours and a tour of Slea Head. There was a Mr Whippy style ice-cream van at the beach carpark, but really! This was too much, I mean I finally managed to get them there and now they won't allow me near the object of my recent cravings, little did I know that Tíg Áine had opened for the summer and that Murphys have a concession there. Mind you, we didn't venture quite that far afield...
In the evening with my patience beginning to break I demanded Murphy's Ice-Cream and Coffee. Yes, I demanded it in double scoops and it was worth the wait. Oh yes, it was definitely worth the wait. I treated myself to Guinness and Pure Chocolate, one scoop of each, but the shop was busy and there was nowhere to sit so it was out into the rain. But I was happy and didn't particularly care about the elements.
Wondering along the pavement in search of shelter I was oblivious to the deluge until suddenly my scoop of Guinness plopped down onto the ground. I felt sorry for the woman getting into her car as it happened, she was mortified and asked sheepishly if she were the responsible party. I squeaked my reassurances in return and very nearly bent down to scoop it back up again, but managed to resist both this and the temptation to cry! Where was the dog when I needed her? Like me she's rather partial to ice-cream treats...
Needless to say we went back, time and time again. This was an expensive outing for four, at a fiver for a double cone apiece it was expensive but definitely worth it. One day I even managed to sneak down there twice, without the children. It was then that we met Steve, one of the non-local surfers who had chosen to make Dingle his home during the Surf Season. Steve told us about desserted coves, safe for families and safe from tourists. Yes, Murphy's Ice-Cream is definitely to epicentre of the universe, at least in Dingle!
During our seven day stay we sampled each of the flavours at least once. It's hard to choose a favourite when they're all so good, the Rum n Raisin is exactly what it says on the tin, and the Bailey's is simply divine. Raspberry Sorbet is sensational alongside Kerry Cream, which essentially is the same as their Vanilla, only it has no vanilla in it. The Sea Salt was interesting, complementing their Burnt Caramel nicely. Cookies is an interesting colour, verging on a light mauve due to the darkness of the world famous Oreo's.
I did get to try my Guinness ice-cream a second time, and it was just as good as the one taste I'd had before the first had taken its unofficial leap off the high board. What's interesting about the Guinness recipe is that each batch has 500mls of the black stuff in it, which lends a subtle flavour to the sweet Kerry cream used in all the Murphy's products. This I know because I treated myself to The Book of Sweet Things by Kieran & Sean Murphy.
Above all my favourite of favourite flavours has to be their Cheesecake icecream, with the traditional buttered digestive biscuit base mixed in amongst the tangy sweetness of the lemon cheese mixture it is the perfect icecream.