An Ireland Roadtrip

O'Brien's (1 of 1)

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.

On the Ring of Kerry headed to Killarney

On the Ring of Kerry headed to Killarney

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

Fishing villages in Northern Ireland

Fishing villages in Northern Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara

Wild Atlantic Way in Connemara

Peat bogs

Peat bogs in Connemara

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.

Map of Ireland by Day

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.

Once you're here, you don't want to leave

Once you’re here, you don’t want to leave

There's so much to do at these beautiful country inns and castles

There’s so much to do at these beautiful country inns and castles

Stone pathways through the properties

Stone pathways through the properties

Some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the world is here in these rivers

Some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the world is in these rivers

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.

The Games of Thrones Tour was a big WOW

The Games of Thrones Tour was a big WOW

The scenery in Northern Ireland was spectacular during our tour

The scenery we saw in Northern Ireland during our tour was spectacular

If you watch GoT, you'll remember this scene

If you watch Game of Thrones, you’ll remember this place

We stopped to take photos of this picturesque town in Northern Ireland

We stopped to take photos of this picturesque town in Northern Ireland

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.

Walking in Kilkenny

The streets of Kilkenny

When in Northern Ireland, we drink Bushmill's at the distillery

When in Northern Ireland, we drink Bushmill’s at the distillery

Don't leave Ireland without buying Irish linens, wool, or something green

Don’t leave Ireland without buying Irish linens, wool, or something green

The sheep often wander off their lands and into the roads

Happy cows are often herded into the roads to move them between properties

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.

A castle in Lahinch in County Clare

A castle in Lahinch in County Clare

On the Game of Thrones Tour

On the Game of Thrones Tour

One of our favorite beers in Ireland

One of our favorite beers in Ireland

stanzaListen 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)

We enjoyed the music of Peter Carey on several evenings

We enjoyed the music of Peter Carey on several evenings

Note – The Dubliners music is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

The view from our hotel in Kenmare

The view from our hotel in Kenmare

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