I'm back after an eight day trip to Western Ireland. This was my fourth trip to the country. I'm of Irish descent and have a great love of the country.
I went with a friend from work who had never been, so it was a mix of new sights and repeat visits. We flew into Dublin because it was cheaper than Shannon.
My car rental was through Easy Tour Ireland, with Hertz, inclusive of all insurance. It was expensive, but I decided the peace of mind would make it worth it.
It was an overcast day on arrival. We got through immigration in speedy fashion. Bags were a little slow to appear and then we quickly got our car and were on our way.
I missed my exit at one point and got a little delayed getting back on course, but not too bad. I had purchased a disc to load into my Garmin with Ireland maps. I give it mixed reviews.
We stopped for lunch at Athenry, at The Old Barracks. Its a cute place and was pretty decent.
Onward to Galway/Salthill where we would spend two nights. We stayed at Coolin House just a few houses from the water and promenade. I wanted to stay at Marless House, where I stayed long ago, but it was full. It was actually very hard to find a place that had two rooms, even though we were searching five months in advance. I give Coolin House a C. The hosts were very friendly and nice, but the cooking was not very good. Also, my friend's room was next to the familys personal area and she complained that they were having a little party fairly late and kept her from getting to sleep after a long journey.
We spent the remainder of the day wandering around Galway. We parked next to Galway Cathedral. We popped in the cathedral, along with St. Nicholas Church and the Augustinian Church. Walked by the Spanish Arch and just rambled around before we lost all energy and went back to retire for the night after a long, long journey. No dinner, just some snacks from Marks and Spencer (my favorite food hall in the British Isles).
Day Two- Connemara day. It rained all day today. L First stop was Aughnanure Castle (4 euro). I enjoyed this stop. Theres not a ton to see, but I think its still a good stop. Next stop, Clifden to walk around, get a snack and window shop. I recommend Walsh's Bakery for a fine snack and clean restrooms.
On to Clifden Castle. We parked the car and then headed down the narrow, rocky road that leads to the castle. It was really raining steadily at this point and the wind was fierce. I had to give up on my umbrella because it was not up for the battle against the wind. The cows looked at us with great wonder, clearly thinking we were lunatics being out there by choice. Even though we had on rain coats, we got soaked and muddy. I say I received many Irish facials during this trip, with all the wind and rain that beat on my face.
We were wanting to do the Sky Loop Drive, but there was no visibility, so we skipped it. We drove to Kylemore Abbey, photographed it from the fence, shopped in the gift store and then moved on. My friend was not interested since the price was high and the weather crummy. We visited Cong Abbey and then went to Ashford Castle but there is a guard in place now. Last time I went, it was a friendly place. I know it recently changed hands and its much more expensive and apparently they want to keep people out. They allowed us in to look at the Cullins coffee shop and gift store, but we didnt try to get past the next guard.
Headed back to Galway for dinner at a pizza place called Woodzees or something like that. It was pretty good. I picked up a few gifts at McCarthy's jewelry shop.
Day Three- Time to pack up and head to Killarney, with a few stops along the way. First stop was Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. The sun made a brief appearance here and it was so pleasant. Then on to the Poulnabrone Dolmen, where it started raining again. I liked this stop and it was my first time.
There was a guy selling jewelry there and when he asked us what we did and he found out my friend is an attorney, he started asking her legal questions. I guess the county council is trying to kick him from his perch at the monument. I thought he should have given her a piece as compensation for her time! There were several people clearly wanting to ask him about his merchandise, but he ignored them to ask my friend his questions.
We also stopped at Leamaneh Castle for a photo op.
We proceeded to Doolin where we had a snack at the Stonecutters Kitchen. We thought it was cute and the food was good.
We then went to the Cliffs of Moher, which is as busy and magnificent as always. 6 euro per person is too high though. Then we made our way to the Doolin Pier to make our 3 pm Cliffs cruise that I had booked in advance (15 euro per person). This was with Doolin Ferries and they were late and disorganized. We finally got going and the seas were rough. Some crazy mother and her two wild young kids stood against the front railing jumping up and down with the waves for most of the journey. They were really obnoxious and unsafe. A couple of other passengers tried unsuccessfully to get them to knock it off. The crew just ignored them. The perspective of the cliffs from the sea is very nice and Im glad I got to see them from this vantage point
It was about 4:30 by the time we got done and we needed to make our way to Killarney. Its a bit of a drive, but that Limerick bypass Bob told me about was great. Thanks, Bob!
B&B was Crystal Springs. The place is a few minutes drive from town centre. It is very clean, has a wonderful breakfast, friendly hostess and lovely backyard on the river. My room was super tiny though and I was disappointed to find it did not have a mini fridge, since I had been told by email by the hostess that all rooms had a mini fridge. My friend's room and that of another set of guests did have mini refrigerators, but they didnt work! When I had been doing my research to select a b&b, I had narrowed down to this place and another place and had selected Crystal Springs because of the mini fridge claim.
While we were walking around town, an older gentleman fell backwards off the curb into the street and hit his head. The police had driven by just as it happened, and ignored the scene, even with me trying to wave them down. I and two other people picked him up, got him out of the street and sat him down away from the street. It became clear he was intoxicated. He had a woman with him, probably his wife. I really didnt know what else to do, he wasn't bleeding, so I moved on with my friend. It was sad.
Dinner was at an Italian place that had a nice atmosphere, but the food was very bland and overpriced.
Day Four Great breakfast, rainy morning. It was a very wet, dreary morning. We were to drive the Ring of Kerry, but we decided to go into town for a little while to see if it would clear out. We parked in town center and split up for two hours. I visited the Franciscan Friary, St. Mary's RC Cathedral, St. Mary's Church of Ireland, and did some shopping.
By the time my friend and I met back up, the weather was clearing and we hopped into the car to hit the Ring of Kerry. First stop was Ballycarbery castle in Cahersiveen. This entails a bit of a drive down a really narrow, single lane road. Luckily, we didnt encounter any other cars along the way. Wouldn't you know it though, by the time we reached the castle, it was raining again and very windy. It would be a theme that whenever we visited ruins, the skies would rain down on us.
Nevertheless, it is a cool ruin to explore, rain or shine. I went inside the shell, to the consternation of my friend who admonished that it was dangerous and that I should at least hand over the car keys in case the thing should collapse.
Then we went to check out the two nearby forts. We ended up exploring just one, Leacanbuaile. It was pretty neat, but we decided one was enough given the crummy weather conditions.
We went back to Cahersiveen town proper and went into the Daniel OConnell Memorial Church. Its very nice.
We got a snack at a nearby bakery and then moved on down the road. By the time we got to the Skellig Ring, the weather was nice again! We enjoyed the views and also enjoyed a fun stop at Skellig Chocolate Factory and Café. This is a well- run establishment that provides generous samplings of chocolate. Its also a good bathroom break with clean restrooms.
I enjoyed the candy samplings so much, I spent $50 buying a variety of truffles for myself and family.
Continuing down the road, I think it was the Coomakesta Pass that provided some interesting driving. Its a bit of an incline and portions are one lane only. There were some interesting encounters along the way with people having to back up to let others go by. I had to do some backing up and pulling over myself several times throughout my vacation.
We also visited the Staigue Fort which was cool. The journey had some solid stretches of one lane roadways that filled the ride with a lot of anticipation and crossing of fingers. It was a lot farther off the main road than I expected. Well, these one lane roads always seem long!
It was getting late when we reached Kenmare, so I just popped into the Holy Cross Church for a minute for a peek and to light a candle for my Aunt who had passed away the week before (and who dearly loved County Kerry).
Dinner was at Hannigan's Bar and Restaurant back in Killarney. Our hostess and some other B&B guest had recommended it. It was a long wait, but the atmosphere was nice and the food pretty good.
Sorry this is so long. More to follow and Ill try to make it shorter.
-- Edited by Ande on Monday 12th of September 2016 04:59:57 PM
Welcome back. Sorry about the weather -- I understand it's been a strange year.
Glad you still had a good time, anyway.
You are welcome for the Tunnel -- I had it built just for you!
Seriously, it's a GREAT time saver, isn't it?
Looking forward to hearing about the rest.
Help Us to Help You. The more you tell us about your plans (dates, interests, budget), the better we can tailor our advice to suit!
"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.
Ande -- Thanks for completing your report in such a timely manner -- Once again, you've put me to shame!
Wish I could take credit for the Rock of Dunamase, but -- as usual -- it was Michele who first made me aware of the site. It's a GREAT one, isn't it?
Skellig sounds every bit as enchanting (and scary!) as I've imagined. I'm going to have to make the journey soon -- or give up the idea entirely!