An Ireland Roadtrip
Ireland is spectacular; at almost every turn along the winding roads there are magnificent vistas and scenery. From sandy beaches in Lahnich in County Clare, to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, tiny fishing villages along the coast of Ireland and Northern Ireland, granzite mountain peaks in Connemara, and the Irish countryside dotted with lakes and moss-covered peat bogs against a backdrop of craggy mountains or lush green hills, it’s almost surreal. There are as many varied landscapes in Ireland as there are shades of green.
We fell in love with this beautiful country. Wanting to see as much as possible in two weeks, our itinerary was aggressive. We flew to Dublin, where we stayed for two evenings and then headed north to Belfast to see the city and embark on a Games of Thrones tour that took us to the northern most reaches of this beautiful country and the Irish Sea. We then drove south to Kilkenny, over to Cork and Kenmare, up to the Cliffs of Moher and along the Wild Atlantic Way. Our last few days were spent north of Galway and then we headed down to Limerick before flying out of Shannon Airport.
Several resources I used in planning this trip suggested this route (we added Northern Ireland) and said the itinerary could be done in ten days to two weeks. After completing this trip I can say we saw a lot of the country, which was our objective, but we suggest a slower and more focused approach. Once you arrive in these quaint little towns and check-in to beautiful properties offering so many activities and dining options, you’ll want to allow ample time to take it all in and enjoy the experience of the destination properties, lively nearby towns, and warmth of the people.
Most importantly, even though Ireland is only the size of Indiana (and I heard this as justification from several people as to why you could cover so much territory in a short amount of time), the narrow and winding roads don’t allow you to drive very fast. What should take an hour ends up taking three hours and you want to stop along the way to capture photographs of all of the jaw dropping scenery. As our Game of Thrones tour guide said, he calls his tour the “WOW Tour” because people say “Wow” at every place they see. So did we.
And of course, you’ll want to pop into local pubs for lunch, have a Guinness (or two) and meander through the little towns, take a brewery or distillery tour, and shop for Irish linens, sweaters, or something green to take home. You also need to be prepared for the unexpected: the encounters with the rogue sheep who’ve wandered off their land and the occasional farmer herding his cattle down the road from one field to another, but all of this is part of the Irish experience.
I refer to fast-paced itineraries as the American way of traveling since we tend to do everything “fast” in the U.S. (especially when traveling and dining). We have traveled at this pace in other countries and not felt as rushed, but Ireland was different. We really wanted to spend more time enjoying this country’s charming, warm, witty, and friendly people. Oh, and maybe a few more pints of Guinness, Smithwick’s, or Murphy’s and another local music session or two.
Listen to “Whiskey in the Jar,” sung by Peter Carey and recorded at Ballynahinch Castle Pub and also the version by The Dubliners (see note at bottom)
Note – The Dubliners music is available for purchase at Amazon.com.
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