Ireland. Where can the journey start? the answer is clear: Dublin!
There are many things to do in Dublin, every guide will tell you to spend at least one night in Temple Bar,. but if you don’t like to be in a really crowded and messy place, you would prefer to take a walk in the nice garden Saint Stephen’s Green. We did both, of course 🙂 And what to say about the dubliners? More colorful than you expect from JJ tales (JJ is my friend James Joyce… and i hope is also yours) they are great people, very easy going and funny.. and of course, they are mostly drunk 😀 In every pub of the center you can have: a cold and wonderfully tasting Guinness, a warm atmosphere and live music! Just make your choice, it will be great anyway.
Also it is worthy to move a bit from the city to visit the nice beach near Dalkey and the lovely village of Howth, where you can also eat a tasty typical Irish chowder near the see. you won’t regret that.
But let’s the journey start. We rented a car (it’s a bit expensive in Ireland, but if you are 4 friends like we were it’s OK. also the gasoline was expensive.. something like 2 euros/litre, but if you want to move freely across the country it’s still the better option) and we drove to Lisdoonvarna, not so far from the Galway bay.As soon as you move from the city you realize that you are going to see wonderful and green landscapes, and breathtaking ruins in the middle of nowhere. Our first stop was the Trim Castle,in the county of Meath, not far away from Dublin. You maybe know about this castle because of the movie BraveHeart, anyway, it’s a Anglo Norman castle and it was begun in 1179.
We visited then the Fore Abbey (county westmeath), founded around 630. Now you can see the remains of this ancient benedectin abbey, and i think you probably should take the time to stop there.
One of the most famous sites in Ireland anyway is the monastic complex of Clonmacnoise. It’s really amazing seeing the ruins and walking between the high crosses while the wind blows restless and the river Shannon flows across the most green meadows i’ve ever seen. Unluckily there are tons of tourists visiting this place..
The same happens when you visit the Cliffs of Moher. The place is really stunning, it was the first time that i saw the ocean, and seeing it from the cliffs is somehow exciting. We were there in September, and it was cold and windy, so ,you better wear a softshell and a warm jacket.
It worths a stop also the small and not so famous Corcomroe Abbey, a delicious gem in the north region of the Burren, in the County of Clare. We were completely alone there and the atmosphere was really amazing.
And do not forget to take a walk in the wonderful Burren!
If you’re traveling with the car don’t forget to stop in the small village of Kinvarra, it’s a lovely place, perfect for having some rest and food in a small typical Irish pub. I can say the same for Lisdoonvarna.. where i had the most delicious cake ever..called Death by chocolate.. and you can imagine why..
I was a bit disappointed from the Poulnabrone Dolmen, it’s not so impressive..nevertheless the rock is about 1,5 tons..not bad 🙂
And now i have to tell you something you absolutely should not miss: The Loop Head Lighthouse. It’s in the west clare and i guess it’s not famous as the cliffs of Moher but it’s really really amazing. I felt better here than in Moher. Maybe it was because there weren’t so many tourist.. Anyway i think it’s one of the nicest places in Ireland, together with the Slea Head, in the Dingle Peninsula.
We took a break to visit the Bunratty castle and eat something in the pub next to it. Also i got my favorite drink: the Mead.. an alcoholic beverage made out of honey that was believed to have fertility powers, that’s why was considered the “honeymoon liqueur”. Anyway, believe me, it tastes great.
While many of you already know the famous ring of Kerry, i tell you that in the same county it’s also nice to see the Inch Beach: a strand of sand long more than two miles that juts down into the sea.
If i ask you to tell me an Irish city a part from Dubly you will probably answer Cork. And that was our next stop. A really nice city, a small, less chaotic Dublin. If you don’t mind being surrounded by a lot of people you should take a walk in the picturesque English Market. If you prefer to do something else you could just visit the Beamish Brewery or drive to the Blarney Castle, in order to get eloquence skills by kissing the Blarney stone.
By the way you shouldn’t miss a trip in the Killarney National Park, where you can have a nice walk along the mining trail and also rent a boat and row to the little Innisfallen island, at the center of the lake, where you will find the ruins of an ancient monastery founded around 640.
Next stop: Wicklow Mountains, of course after visiting two main attractions in Irland, that are the Rock of Cashel and the Cahir Castle, both in the County Tipperary.
We took a walk on the Sugar Loaf (County Wicklow), purple with erica. It’s just a hill about 500 mt high, but it’s still a nice place where having a relaxing day. Just take care because there are big military areas on the wicklow mountains, do not cross gates if you don’t want to step on an unexploded mine 😀
Most of you will have to take the plane back to your country from Dublin. On the way back i suggest to take some time to visit Glendalough and the remainings of the monastic settlement and to have a dinner in Hollywood, a very small village on the countryside that shares just the name and the sign on the hills with the big Californian district. There is just one restaurant i guess, and i recommend you to have the delicious T-Bone and obviously a pint of Guinness 😀
- The amazing soups and chowders that you will find in almost every pub, served with tasty soda bread and butter
- The original and inimitable Guinness Beer
- The delicious salmon you will find in the Dingle Bay
- The Death By Chocolate Cake
- The beer you will find in small pubs with their own little brewery.. and remember the red ones are always the best 😉
TIPS &FUN FACTS:
- If you want to rent a car, remember that most of the companies want you to assure that you have enough money in the credit card to cover the insurance expenses.. in our case it was about 3000 euro. Just ask and make sure about all the costs you will have to face.
- Having dinner in pubs is cheaper than restaurants, of course, but still a bit expensive. You can just buy food in supermarket and eat in nice places such as the Killarney natural park or the Slea Head.. we did like that.
- there are many B&B and Hostels across Ireland that are quite cheap and that offer a SUPER traditional breakfast 🙂
- If you travel the M50 you will have to pay a fee. It’s not that expensive but they will send you the bill anyway 🙂
- Most of the roads are very very small..but still the limits are 80-100 km/hour… but you better go slowly than that (trust me), and be ready to use the passing places
MUST SEE LIST:
- Clonmacnoise Abbey
- The Burren
- Corcomroe Abbey
- Loop Head
- Dingle Peninsula & the Slea Head
- Killarney National Park & Inisfallen Island