Returned a couple of weeks ago from another trip to Ireland -- the fifth time I have been there, and the third time I have gone during St. Patrick's Day festivities. Most of the time the weather was great -- as in little to no rain -- but the weather was cooler than I experienced in earlier March trips. It was no problem, however, as I dressed in layers as usual and peeled them off or put them on as needed.
Here is a quick recap of our trip:
Day 1 -- arrived at 6 a.m. in Dublin, got our rental car at the Dooley desk at the airport, and were thrilled to find out that their cars are now at the airport, and not off site! All we had to do was take an elevator from the desk two floors down and straight to our car. We had a Ford Focus standard transmission, brand new, and off we went. The easiest we have ever had getting our car and getting out of the airport.
We drove a couple of hours to Tullamore, stopped for coffee and breakfast, and then continued on to Clonmacnoise. We arrived as the place opened, and since it was on a Tuesday, we had the place all to ourselves. What a magical place that was. I could have stayed there staring at the Shannon River for hours. After leaving there, we returned to Tullamore, taking a different route, and located our B&B, The Brookville House. It was a tremendous location, right by the canals, and we took off on foot soon to take the tour at the Tullamore Dew Distillery, which sits right on the water. Wonderful and informative tour -- with tastings -- and we enjoyed it. Continued our afternoon quest of staying awake by going to the following pubs: Annie Kelley's, Hugh Lynch's and Bolands. Then had an early dinner at the White Horse, and went back to get a much needed night's rest.
Day 2-3 -- Easy drive to Westport the next day, via Cong. Arrived in Cong mid morning and toured all the Quiet Man areas, Cong Abbey, and the surrounding sites in brilliant sunshine and 55 degree temperatures. From there we made our way to Westport, where we checked in for the first of two nights at Linden Hall B&B. This was a wonderful B&B in a great location, just a few steps away from a great little locals hangout called Toby's. We went there each night for pint before returning back to the room, and met several nice people who befriended us so quickly we were taken aback! The two days in Westport were spent checking out the countless traditional pubs in town, with music each night at Malloy's and the Porter House. Day trip to Doo Lough and Crough Patrick.
Day 4 -- We were headed to Dingle for St. Patrick's Day, and wanted to break up that trip and do some genealogical assistance for one of our travelers. Decided to stay in Ennsytymon for one night, as it was close to the cemetary and abbey were we looking for to get the ancestry information from. On the way there, we stopped at Monk's in Ballyvaughn for the best seafood chowder in the world and then continued on to try and find Kilshanny Cemetary. After that was complete -- and we found the place quickly -- we checked into the Station House B&B and took an afternoon trip to Doolin to see the castle and the beautiful scenery there. Of course we had to have one pint at O'Connors, and then we made our way back to Ennystymon via Lahinch, and had dinner. Evening visits to a few of our favorite pubs there -- Eugene's, Cooley's, and Daly's. Station House was fine for one night and the owner was quite helpful, but it was a bit dated and I would stay somewhere else next time.
Day 5-6-7 -- The next morning we got up early a long and slow journey to Dingle. It was long because we went via Loop Head, before coming back and taking the Tarbert Ferry across the river. Michele had piqued my interest with some of her comments on Loop Head, and it was wonderful! Had great weather that day -- no wind, 50 degrees, sunshine. Fabulous scenery in a place where we saw few people. Felt like we had the place to ourselves. After a couple of hours at Loop Head, we continued on toward Dingle, stopping in nearby Annascaul to see some people we have got to know from earlier trips. A pint and some conversation with John at Teach Seain is always a treat, and he surprised one of our group by calling him by name after we came in. We then said a quick hello over at the South Pole Inn, and were on our way for the short journey to Dingle. Arrived late afternoon at our favorite B&B in Ireland, The Emlagh Lodge, a gorgeous place that sits right on the bay. We were greeted with hugs from the owner Maggie, who knows us well now from our previous stays. We walked into the village for a pint or two at Foxy John's, had dinner at Lord Baker's, and went to bed early to rest up for the next day's St. Patrick's Day activities.
The weather on St. Patrick's Day was cold and wet, but the parade went on without a hitch, and all the pubs that afternoon had fires blazing as you walked in. It was wonderful. We went to several that afternoon before staying for a few hours at The Courthouse, a great little pub that had an early music session hosted by owner Tommy O'Sullivan. After some food at John Benny's, we made our way to O'Flaherty's for the evening music, and it was awesome. A long and fun day that could not be thwarted by cold and rainy weather.
Our third day in Dingle featured good weather again -- no wind, sun -- so we showed our one "newbie" to Ireland the sights of the Slea Head Peninsula. He loved the drive and all that it brought to his senses. We took the long way around, went through Camp, stopped at Mulcahy's Pottery, and walked some remote areas on the north end of the penisula before heading back to Emlagh Lodge. An evening meal was on the docket at The Half Door, followed by pints at McCarthy's, Dick Mack's, and Murphy's before taking the glorious stroll along the bay back to Maggie's great B&B.
Day 8 -- Up early, drove across the middle part of Ireland toward Dublin Airport. Stopped in Cashel for lunch and to see The Rock of Cashel, and then on to airport to drop off car. Took shuttle to Bewley's for early dinner and a drink, went to bed, and then got up early for the shuttle back to airport (only a few minutes away). Bewley's is a great option if you are dropping off a car early and you have an early flight back. Unlike a few places around there, the price is great (paid 52 euros for a single), and the shuttle runs 24-hours.
Day 9 -- Fly home
A few random thoughts:
1. Tullamore was a surprise. I really liked where we stayed, and will consider it again at that "first day" landing spot. Usually with us it's Kilkenny, but this was something different and we enjoyed it.
2. Westport and the area of Mayo it is near, is spectacular. We really liked the town and will go back, and Linden House is just off the canals in town enough to make it a quiet and relaxing place that is still quite near all the pubs and shopping. The rooms are some of the largest I've seen in Ireland. We would stay there again.
3. Dingle is a place we enjoy a great deal -- so we go back often. Because of that we actually know a few people around there now which makes it special. Like Westport it is a treasure trove of traditional music options year around.
4. Our friend who had never been to Ireland before said when he got back everyone asked him "What was you favorite thing about Ireland?" He said it was easy. The scenery was wonderful, the food great, and drink awesome, but there was something that was much more amazing. "The people is what made it special," he said. "To be that friendly to strangers was not something I was expecting -- I will never forget that."
As you can note, we probably now have another Ireland traveler who is hooked for life.
More later, and some photos when I get them together.
Thanks again to everyone.
"Ireland Expert" Michele ErdvigClick links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland ItineraryVisit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.
Thanks Michele. It was the first time I had been to Loop Head, and my other friend with us had been there before and said the weather we had this time was spectacular. He battled wind the last time he was there. There was not even a breeze the day we were there. We did not get to the Bridges of Ross, but I have that on my list for next time. The photos I have seen online look really intersting. We were covering a lot of ground that day, didn't find it initially, and then after going to the lighthouse, we continued on to Tarbert Ferry via another route.
I liked Loop Head and that area better than Cliffs of Moher. So much of a more remote and tranquil setting. I would have stayed there all day if we had been staying in Kilbaha or somewhere nearby instead of trying to get to Dingle.
I really enjoyed watching our "newbie" the first few days of the trip, as he must have taken 500 photos. Finally he said, "I've got to be a little more selective on what I'm taking, or that is all I'll be doing over here -- everything looks pretty enough to photograph!" He is still mentally in Ireland I think, and the trip is now two weeks ago!
As Michele noted, you can't plan a trip in Ireland around what you think the weather might be. Some of the best days I have had in Ireland -- Dingle in fact -- started out with rain in the morning followed by fabulous sunny afternoons that were great for touring. Just go to areas you want to see, be prepared to add or subtract clothing as the weather changes ... you will do just fine.
Also if the weather is an issue, roaring fireplaces and traditional music in pubs is a great option as well!
I love traveling and your sharing is great. I wish I could be here.