We spent nearly 3 weeks traveling around Ireland. Originally we thought we would head to Northern Ireland, but decided we just didn’t have enough time to cover that much ground. Seeing the West Coast was a priority for us so we spent a majority of time exploring the numerous peninsulas and never-ending coastline. This is the route we took around Ireland and in the 3 weeks we had this was a good route to take.
We spent our first two nights about 2 hours south of Dublin. We chose Ballygarret based on an Air BnB search looking for inexpensive accommodations with a kitchen. This ended up being a lovely location, close to beautiful beaches and with a lovely host. We were surrounded by farmland and the quiet was welcome after spending a few nights in London.
Cappoquin-County Waterford-1 Night:
We decided to make a stop between the East Coast and West Coast and again decided on the stop based on inexpensive Air BnB options. Cappoquin was a very small village with little more than a pub and a small country store. It looked like an interesting area to explore, but we were only there one night.
Sheep’s Head Peninsula nights:
This was a beautiful area of the country. We enjoyed exploring the Mizen and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas. They have remarkable coastlines, cliffs and rocky green hills.
Kenmare-County Kerry-1 Night:
After taking the long scenic route along the Beara Peninsula, we stopped for the night in Kenmare, a great little town with good food and quite a buzz. We left early the next morning to start on the Ring of Kerry.
Ballinskelligs-Ring of Kerry-1 Night:
The Ring of Kerry gets a lot of attention and for that reason is one of the most tourist soaked spots in all of Ireland. The drive around the ring is beautiful and if you include the Skellig Ring on the very tip of the peninsula, you can make it even better and you don’t have to deal with any buses because they can’t fit. The negative about this drive (that they don’t talk about in books or brochures) is that all of the popular attractions will cost you money, even just to stop and park where you want to enjoy a walk. This was a big turnoff for us as it is all open land on the coast and there aren’t many places to stop and enjoy the scenery.
Visiting Dingle was high on our list of places to visit after we heard that this was a great place to hear music anytime of the week. We stayed in a decent B&B right in town and walked to a couple of pubs where we enjoyed the sounds of local artists playing songs and telling tales. A little tip, if you find yourself in a popular music town, get to the pub fairly early and get your seats because they fill up quick.
Dingle to Doolin:
We stopped off just south of Doolin for one night at a nice hotel near the beach so that we could get up early to beat the crowds at the Cliffs of Mohr.
The Cliffs Of Mohr:
The Cliffs of Mohr are a big attraction to the west coast for tourists, we just didn’t know how big until we pulled into the parking lot that rivaled an amusement park in the U.S. We arrived at 9 am when they opened and were able to get out on the trails above the cliffs before it got too crazy. The views from atop the cliffs are incredible and especially on such a clear day like we had. The trails stretch for miles and if you walk far enough away from the visitors center you are able to get away from the crowds. The cost for visiting the cliffs and the beautiful visitors center was 6 euro per person and a little hard to swallow, but you only live once.
Letterfrack-Connemara National Park-3 nights:
Connemara National Park was within walking distance to the nice house we rented for three nights with a full kitchen. We only took a short walk around the entrance but it really lacked the wow factor that you might expect from a National Park. We were pretty burnt out from driving so we just recharged by staying around the house and relaxing most of the time we were there. The nearby coastline was beautiful though.
Donegal would be the farthest point north for us as we had reservations booked for our next accommodations the following night down in Aglish. This stop was another one night stop at a bed and breakfast with some more live music at a quiet little pub. Good music and a couple more Guinesses.
Aglish is a village pretty much in the middle of nowhere. They have a pub (as does every village in Ireland), but this one you get to sleep in. Although many people have slept in a pub before, this one actually has beds. Conroy’s Pub is a converted two-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen behind the bar and it might just be the neatest place we’ve ever stayed. We’ll leave it at that as we plan to do another post about it coming very soon.
Dublin 4 Nights:
Dublin, the capital and biggest city in Ireland was our final stop on our around the world trip before returning to the U.S. We returned the rental car and found our way to another AirBnB apartment for our final three nights in the land of the Leprechauns. We had arranged to meet with an Ambassador of the city who is a volunteer that works out of the Little Dublin Museum near St. Stephen’s Park. The ambassador took us on a short walk where we ended at a pub (you can also choose a café, but you know us). We enjoyed a free pint on the city while we asked questions and talked about Ireland in great detail. This is a really good introduction to the city and we highly recommend it. You can find out more about the City of a Thousand Welcomes ambassador program here. Needing to get ready for our trip home, we left a day for taking care of loose ends and we spent another wonderful day at the Guinness Storehouse, but we’ll save that for another post.