But alas the rains have certainly fallen while we have been here!
From Derry we travelled to Balleymoney and stayed in an AirBnB with Dave who was a fantastic host, but best of all he had two spaniels – 1 x 7yr old [boss of the house], Oscar and 1 x 5 month old puppy Ruby …. love, love, love.
The next morning we headed to Donegal and travelled through Letterkenny and Ballybofey [just loving these names]. The Irish countryside reminds us so much of home, although it is much flatter with mostly only the rolling hills, taking us along the Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive. We stopped at a lovely BnB and headed into town for some dinner, a pint of Guinness and Irish music – how more Irish could that be 🎶 ☘️
After a lovely breakfast we drive around to Slieve League [which is a rival to Cliffs of Moher]. Wilder and less visited, we are glad we made the effort to head out to the west of Donegal to visit these towering cliffs. They are three times higher than Moher and drop dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean. It was pretty windy [and foggy] so we didn’t do the cliff top walk way, although did climb most of the way to the top.
Colin of course got as close the the edge as he could, with no worries at all about being blown over!!! There are sheep on parts of the cliffs and I can well believe that one or three are lost to the seas below!
We carried on towards Galway through Ballymagroaty, Ballyshannon, Sligo, Ballysadare and Tuan. Another AirBnB for the night (just ok!) and then into Galway in the next morning. It is a lovely city and we spent a couple of hours here walking around and seeing all the lovely sculptures, the canals and the gorgeous shopping village. Fortunately it didn’t rain but was still overcast, windy and a bit cold.
Wherever we go, whether it is in a big city or in a small town, there are always sculptures and art work to commemorate someone or something. This one was to Oscar Wilde.
After lunch we headed for the Cliffs of Moher. It was blowing a gale, had been rainy and the ‘Irish mist’ was hanging in the air, giving the cliffs a moody, melancholy feel. It was unbelievably busy [so glad we didn’t visit in the high season!]. The visitor centre that has recently [circa 2007] been built is incredible and has been built into the hills like a cave and plays host to nearly 1.5 million visitors each year. I asked how many people fall of [the cliffs] and they politely said that “every effort is made to keep people within the ‘walls’, but people make there own choices” – a politician in the making was that young man, that he was! I googled it and someone had only been blown over while taking a selfie a few weeks prior and approx 15 person die each year 😲. The famous ‘table’ is not accessible anymore … you wouldn’t have got me on it for love, nor money anyway – even with the luck of the Irish running in my veins!!
From the cliffs we headed on down to Kilrush for the night where we had booked a glamping pod in Kilrush marina. What an awesome experience! It was pretty wild weather and the marina was pretty choppy, so our wee abode had a slight ‘rock-n-roll’ to it … but we woke up to a nearly perfect morning, the sun was even out and no rain to be seen 😊
Rough when we arrived … calm when we awoke 🌞
Back on our road trip of the Wild Atlantic Way we headed of to catch the ferry to Dingle. While waiting for the ferry, we met a couple who had been in Christchurch as part of the earthquake rebuild. Both Irish, met in Christchurch and returned home together. It was lovely to chat with them, they were fascinated with our travels and invited us to their wedding later in the year!! They are back in New Zealand early next year, so may even visit us at home.
Once of the ferry, it was back on our scenic drive to Dingle. We took the Connor pass which is the highest mountain pass in Ireland. The roads are winding and narrow, the views spectacular even in the mist. We did stop a couple of times for photo ops, but it was so windy and cold that we just carried on for lunch in Dingle, which is such a gorgeous village.
When they say Wild Atlantic Way, it couldn’t be a truer statement. Some parts of the coast are so remote, but all along are outcrops of houses where farmers toil away at the barren and desolate coastline. It does however have a romantic feel here, and the sun rises and sun sets are meant to be incredible [just some sun, would have been good!].
Mile after mile we are seeing ruins – stone buildings that hold long forgotten memories of a time gone by. And if its not houses / barns, then it is churches crumbling, with the graves silently standing guard around them. It is hard to imagine people living in these stone houses, so tiny with little windows and the weather just so unforgiving!
From Dingle we headed [via Inch, which is a lovely peninsular] to Castlemaine for the night in an AirBnB. It took us ages to find it as google maps doesn’t seem to link right through the App! Actually we have had this problem at nearly every single place in Ireland!!! Our hosts took a while to warm up, but really they had no choice with us two 😂. They were a little bit shy, and then we blew in! By the time we left, they probably needed a rest! It was clean and comfortable and nice breakfast, so we were all set up for our drive to Cork. Not sure those hosts are cutout for having people in their home … we probably put them off for life 😂
We had intended to do the Ring of Kerry but we were fogged in! In some places we couldn’t see more than 50m. So to Cork we headed via Ballyvourney, Macroom and Blarney. Of course we stopped in at Blarney, to kiss the stone! I couldn’t do it!! Jesus begorrah, it is madness! Colin did and has now been gifted with eloquence!!
The grounds, castle and Chateau are all gorgeous. The descendants still live in the Chateau. Imagine having that sort of history 😮 All the spring bulbs have popped up and the trees are all budded up ready to burst. Spring is in the air.
Jameson Whisky was on our destination, after visiting Cork, but it was €22 each for the tour… we decided that having already done a whisky tour in the north we wouldn’t bother with this one! It was a beautiful building and lovely grounds. We hadn’t made an accommodation booking as we weren’t sure what was happening, but after a search on AirBnB we found a lovely place, who were happy to take our late booking. Again we had trouble finding it, but our hosts were great with their communication so all was well. Didn’t meet them until the morning [as they were out] but they were very easy to get along with and of course we invited them to NZ!
Next stop Waterford … had a walk around the town and a look at the shop – there is nowhere to see it being made! Some very impressive pieces, but not in our budget!
Waterford is a lovely town, full of Viking history. It is the oldest city in Ireland and has had many battles over the years [the Vikings, the Irish, the Normans …]. It has a lovely feel to the place and we had a wander around before heading to Kilkenny.
We did the tour here, which Colin had on his to-do list. Didn’t really get to see the place in operation but it was still interesting. Kilkenny is the name for the international brand, here is Ireland it is known as Smithwick’s. I don’t really like it, so was happy to have the lager.
Next stop was a wonderful AirBnB in Kilkenny. Our host Hazel was just amazing and we really enjoyed out time at her place. She couldn’t do enough to make sure our stay was perfect and we got to meet her two gorgeous dogs, which always gladdens my heart.
So Dublin was calling! We had a flight to catch to Bordeaux, so we booked ourselves two nights in Dublin. It was a flying stopover here, but we visited Guinness [had to really], did the hop on /off bus tour, Colin went to a museum while I wandered around the park and the shops! We also visited the famous Temple Bar, had this amazing harp bridge outside our window and walked over the Ha’ Penny Bridge along with 30,000 other people! Back in the day it used to be 400 people a day who would pay ha’penny to cross … they should still charge a small amount!
Just loved this incredible street art made from recycling!
So that is Ireland done and dusted. It has been amazing being here, we needed more time and I hope we will be back.
Until we meet again … 💖
“If you are lucky enough to be Irish … then you are lucky enough” ☘️