Ireland – Part 2: The Scenery

Posted 30 October, 2014 by Trish in Life, Road Trip, Travel / 24 Comments

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Ireland

Oh Hi. So no, Scott and I didn’t randomly just take a trip to Ireland.

Ahem.

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.

Ireland Map

 

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.

Kilkenny County

 

Cork Ireland

Top: Kitties near Rock of Cashel; Bottom Right: Blarney

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).

Kinsale Ireland

 

Dingle Peninsula

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.

Dingle

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

TL: Sybil Point, BL: Gallarus Oratory (1,300 years old); BR: Crossing Conor Pass

Dingle Peninsula

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!

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

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).

County Clare

Adare

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!

Adare Ireland

 

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.

Dingle Peninsula

 

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?

 

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24 Responses to “Ireland – Part 2: The Scenery”

  1. I love these pictures! I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and it’s such a short trip from here, it’s kind of a mystery why this hasn’t happened yet. One of the places I’d really like to see is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

    • I REALLY wanted to go to the Giant’s Causeway when we visited. It’s one of my big regrets. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous up there. Even a day trip to Belfast wasn’t enough. Hope you can visit soon! It is so close to you.

  2. Tu

    I have never been out of the country! These photos are so lovely. Looks like you had a great time and although it is a lot of driving, I think that is often the best way to get around. I have a friend who takes tours all the time and she is always stuck on the bus and not able to look at stuff but she seems to like being taken to places and just looking at them from the window.

    • I think everyone who’s been following the blog for a while knows how much we LOVE being in the car. It really is the best way to see the countryside. A tour might be fun for the social aspect but how terrible to not be able to stop when you want to! And I KNOW that those buses could not make it down most of the narrow roads we traveled.

  3. Love this post! The photos are beautiful and I love reading the stories behind them!

    My mom was part Irish, so I’d love to visit Ireland one day! My DH’s cousin went there for his honeymoon and they loved it!

  4. I drove when my mom came to visit me in the UK. It’s a bit scary! Love these photos and reading about your trip. Ireland/Scotland is a hoped-for trip.

  5. I’ve never been to Ireland, but my daughter and her boyfriend were there a year or so ago for a wedding. They were in Dublin for most of their trip and loved it! Said it was the best vacation they’d taken and they’ve been to a lot of countries!

    So, Sceptre Tours. After reading your post, I gather that this was more of a self-guided tour? I’ve never gone on a “tour” but part of me thinks that would be ideal when traveling to a new country, such as Italy or France, just to let someone else deal with all the details. But maybe not. I’ll have to look at what Sceptre Tours has to offer. I really do want to get overseas again sometime in the near future. I think Alaska is next on our list, though.

    Gorgeous photos, Trish! Looks like a wonderful trip. Hope you get to do more traveling as the girls get older.

    • Les, I just spent 6 months in Alaska and loved it. I was in the Denali area. If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Regardless of where you go there I can’t imagine having a bad time. The state is so beautiful and unique.

      • Thanks, Bree! I suspect our first visit will be via Holland America, but we’re thinking about buying a trailer/camper, so hopefully we’ll be able to visit more of the state that way. I’ll save your email and contact you once we get closer to the actual planning stages. :)

        • I worked for their sister company. You cant go wrong with either company. Both do a great job. A cruise is the best way to see a lot of the south in a short amount of time. I highly recommend adding a land package if you can afford to. The interior is much different than the coast. Here is my email: thethingsweread@gmail.com

      • I would love to see the interior of Alaska! We took a cruise (Princess) and did drive into Yukon by bus (from Skagway). Wish we could have made it to Denali.

        • When I go back next summer, I’m focusing my travel on the southern part. I heard lots of good things about Skagway area and Kenai penisula.

    • Yes, the tour was completely self-guided–I’m guessing there were others at our hotels that were doing the same package, but other than the first night we didn’t connect with anyone else. We were provided passes to two castles, cliffs of Moher, Waterford museum (we skipped this one) but they were open tickets so we could use them any time on our trip. It was nice not having to worry about picking the hotels we stayed at and I believe there was quite a discount since we booked air/car/hotel all at once? Alaska is GORGEOUS!