Cathy and I were in Ireland for a couple of weeks in late August. We’d never been before but will probably go again. There is so much to see and do and you don’t have to drive forever to get from site to site.
Couple of pieces of advice if you’re driving: opt for a compact car and don’t let the rental agency “upgrade” you to a larger vehicle. The roads can get very narrow, and the parking spots are not what you’d expect in North America. Secondly, we drove around the island in a counter-clockwise direction and found that not only did you get the flavour of Dublin and Belfast and the histories therein up-front, you also seemed to get stuck following the majority of tourists travelling in the opposite direction…
Here’s a few of the highlites!
The Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. A bitter history lesson and a terrific tour.
The Guinness Warehouse. A huge museum dedicated to all things Guinness. And, very refreshing!
A Black Taxi tour in Belfast. We learned of and felt some of the tragic separation histories describing Catholic and Protestant sects – which persists to this day. We toured the multitude of murals. Our cabbie Stevie was fabulous – a non-partisan, gifted tour guide. The rain only added to the atmosphere.
The Giants Causeway near Bushmills Northern Ireland. Like Scotland Staffa Island, this geology is otherworldly. Unlike Staffa, this otherworldly geology is more accessible.
Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge near Bushmills Northern Ireland. What began centuries ago as a means of accessing the migrating salmon stocks is now a well-worth-it tourist attraction. Arrive early!
If you are a Game of Thrones enthusiast, you’ll want to visit the Dark Hedges not far from Bushmills. On your way back, stop in at the distillery for a tour and a taste.
Westport is a beautiful staging point for day trips, and the town itself has some great scenery and really good food.
You can drive and stop and drive and stop all through Canamarra. We did. The scenery draws you in.
One of the most scenic and entertaining stops we made was at the Joyce Country Sheepdogs. Highly recommended, even if it is out of the way.
Kylemore Abbey. The grounds and gardens are spectacular and the history is pretty cool too.
The Cliffs of Moher as see from a boat cruise, the path atop the cliffs, and from our bedroom window. 700 ft high and a great hike from the Visitor Center to Hags Head.
The Dingle Peninsula. Dingle town. SO much to see.
Ladies View lookout on the twisty road from Killarney to the Ring of Kerry.
The Rock of Cashel. A vantage worth taking advantage of.
Kilkenny Castle – now beautifully restored. One of many sights to see within walking distance of each other in lovely Kilkenny. Of note, many Kilkenny pubs feature music live at 6 or so for those who aren’t staying up too late :).
Glendalough. Don’t miss this place.