Oh Hi. So no, Scott and I didn’t randomly just take a trip to Ireland.
Two years ago we visited Ireland as a part of a package deal that I found via Travelzoo–I couldn’t pass up this particular deal as part of SceptreTours. We flew to Dublin on a Saturday from Dallas (via Orlando) and arrived Sunday morning. The package included hotels in four cities (Kilkenny, Cork/Blarney, Limmerick, and Dublin), a rental car, air, breakfast each morning, and four excursions–one of which we skipped. For us it was the perfect trip because we were able to see a lot and our agenda was pretty flexible other than the night reservations. We drove at least 1,200 km in seven days and were quite exhausted by the time we got home!
I’ve already shared a picture post on the towns that we spent time in, including the sites we saw, so this post will focus more on the Ireland scenery that we saw. We can pretend that we just visited, right? We had a cold front blow in to Dallas this morning and it’s making me feel all fall-ish. I figured it was finally time to sit down and revisit my pictures.
All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Kilkenny County (Southeastern Ireland)
I really wish that I could have gotten some pictures of the Kilkenny town, but by the time we drove through we were already on our way to Cashel Rock. It was quite a bustling town! Not as these pictures below would suggest. What I loved about driving through Ireland was how many people were out and about–many of the mums walking babies–even though it was quite chilly. Apparently I’m a Texas wimp!
We spent much of our time around Kilkenny driving around. Just picking a lane and turning down it. We loved all of the old buildings–some abandoned, some not–and got quite a kick out of the hedge fences. Until we met another car and had to squeeze as far to the shoulder as we could. Unfortunately we had more scrapes on the car than we’d like to admit. Around Kilkenny we also visited Cashel Rock and Kilkenny Castle.
It indeed was very gray when we visited but we were fairly lucky with the rain. Even though many of the trees had already lost their leaves, many still hung on to autumn color.
Kinsale (County Cork)
Our big sight in Cork was Blarney (to kiss the Blarney Stone!), but since Cork is so close to the coast we also drove down to Kinsale and walked around and around the town. We had a nice fish and chips lunch and walked some more. Cork is very large and we did drive through it (and got lost a few times), but we stayed closer to Blarney and ate at the same little pub both nights we were in town. Pub food for the win (I was so craving salad by the time we left Ireland…and I’m not a salad eater).
Dingle Peninsula isn’t quite as famous as the Ring of Kerry (scroll back up to the map and the Ring of Kerry is the large part underneath the D drop pin). I knew that we wouldn’t have time to do the Ring of Kerry justice since we were due to spend the night in Limmerick, but Rick Steves (our tour guide) assured us that Dingle was just as must-see and much easier to accomplish on a tight time schedule. It took us several hours to drive around the peninsula on a road that was very very close to the cliff-like drop off down to the ocean.
The peninsula is incredibly quiet and feels so isolated. Through the trip we could sense the desolation of the area from the potato blight and the British oppression over the years. In some areas the old potato beds are still visible even though nothing grows on these lands now. The weather was fitting for the trip as much of the drive was very somber. In a way I’m glad we didn’t have time to do the Ring of Kerry as we didn’t have to contend with large tour buses or many other tourists.
On the way out of Dingle we took Conor Pass to Tralee. This is the second highest spot in Ireland and as you can see from the picture below (below below), there was zero visibility on a very winding and narrow road. I was terrified the entire time! Luckily we made it through and drove the rest of the way through lovely County Clare.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Insanity. Part of our package included tickets to Cliffs of Moher (really I think it was just the parking as to see the cliffs is free? Can’t remember). There was a visitor’s center but we basically snapped the shots and hightailed it out of there. Very cool to see, but it was another day of a lot of driving!
County Clare/The Burren
On our drive back to Limmerick from The Cliffs of Moher, we took a driving tour through The Burren which is a large plateau that is desolate. The entire ground is covered in limestone rocks and very little grows. The Bottom Left photo below is of a stone table. This is the only one that we saw but the area is rich in Iron Age forts and sights. While it doesn’t seem much to look at, I loved driving through all of the small seaside towns, including Doolin.
While we did come very close to Galway, unfortunately we didn’t have time to make it all the way up there. I would have loved to have visited but one of us is only willing to drive so much in one day (note: I did not drive).
A side trip, really. Adare is just outside of Limmerick (which is a big city that we didn’t care to spend much time in other than for sleeping). Adare is absolutely charming and a total trap for tourists. There is an old manor that has since been converted into a hotel and the area is full of parks. So we walked and walked and then visited a pub. Yay pubs!
And then Dublin, which I shared in the first post. And Belfast to visit the Titanic museum (also on first post). I really wish I had snapped some pictures of Northern Ireland as it is the lush green hilly Ireland that I had imagined. Not that the south and central areas weren’t, but they seemed more suited to farming–we did see lots of sheep grazing in the green pastures. And of course lots and lots of shrub-lined lanes.
Going through these pictures has made me so nostalgic. It was the perfect getaway and I hope that one day we can visit again.
Have you been to Ireland? What were the highlights for you?