West Coast Ireland

Trip Start May 23, 2008
Trip End May 31, 2008

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Flag of Ireland  ,
Thursday, June 5, 2008

A beautiful country, so green and lush (it makes sense they use green to represent Ireland!) The remains of old castles, forts etc reminded us just how old this country is and how much history/stories make Ireland what it is today. They truly embrace old traditions especially traditional music which we thoroughly enjoyed hearing in the pubs at night and along the streets from buskers during the day. The strange speed limits, windy roads and tractors always made driving interesting. Although Jay did enjoy the opportunity to get behind the wheel and pretend he was a rally car driver he was tired of driving by the end!!! At times the smell of manure was sooo strong we felt we could taste it!!  

Friday 23rd May: Galway
Our trip did not begin well. We rushed to Luton (as usual packing as walking out door!) and no seats available on train. Arrived to discover 1 person serving with a queue of at least 10 people, baggage over weight so apparently would incur a charge, then after quickly grabbing a sandwich for tea at M&S we soon were told when at the gate our flight would be delayed 3 hours!!!  We would now be leaving London at Midnight and arriving in Galway at 1:30am. As we had hired a car we then spent a lot of time trying to contact Hertz to arrange a new pick up time as their office closed by 11:30. After a long wait finally we boarded and both slept all the way.  Airport small as King Island and to our surprise Hertz had stayed open for the booking they had so the time we navigated our way into Galway to find Hostel we hit the sack at 3:00am-what a day!!!
Saturday 24th May: Galway
In a 12 bedroom dorm it was a rough night sleep! Spent the day walking and exploring Galway. Very gorgeous little city, all the shops that lined the streets and little cobblestone laneways just confirmed all those images we had seen of Irish pubs in Aus and England. There were quite a few buskers playing traditional music, pubs spilling onto the streets by 8:00pm and plenty of late night chanting/singing.
Sunday 25th May: Galway
Today after another poor night sleep got up early and took revenge on those who woke us. Again after trying to navigate our way out of Galway we drove up north along the coast to a little fishing town called Roundstone. We then surprisingly discovered a beautiful beach basically in the middle of a paddock! We took a detour and took a closer look. It was called Dogs Cove. We began walking along the beach and then into the paddocks with the cows! Stopped at Clifden for lunch and was recommended by a local to take the sky route (scenic) and head to Connemara National Park. Great advice, we took the middle walk on the park would have liked to push on for the big mountain but time not on our side. We then headed to Kylemore Abbey (a highlight of trip for me).  A beautiful castle now a girl's school run by Nuns. The surrounding gardens were very beautiful also.  
Monday 26th May: Doolin
Another early start for us. We left Galway to drive approx 2 hours to Doolin. From here we caught a ferry across to the Aran Islands. There are 3 islands altogether; we spent the day at Inisheer (the smallest of 3 and not as 'touristy' as the larger one). These islands due to their isolated position show traditional Irish culture. The main occupations of the islanders are farming, fishing and tourism. The language spoken on the islands is Gaelic so it was great to hear it although they did speak English to us.  Inisheer had a lot of similar landscape to the Burren, we have never seen so much rock!!! After seeing places of interest we decided spontaneously to head back on the earlier ferry which was leaving in 6 minutes. We could see the boat and we ran all the way from the top of the island to ferry, after thinking we were too late they saw us and kindly put out the ladder again for us to board. The next one was 2 and half hours away so we were glad we got that one! After 3 nights in hostel accommodation and feeling rather tired we treated ourselves and got a last minute hotel special-luxury how nice!! Doolin really small town not ATMs available! Went to the local pub for dinner and again heard traditional music.
Tuesday 27th May: Dingle
After a divine breakfast at our fancy hotel we went to the famous Cliffs of Mohir. These cliffs rise to a height of 200m and extend for over 8km. They were spectacular. It is very hard to describe their beauty and tranquillity so hopefully the photos can capture this. As you can imagine it also was rather windy! Driving onto Dingle we stopped at Shannon and Limerick out of curiosity but not much there. Dingle took us by surprise, a little fishing village with so many pubs, restaurants and seafood! Heard fantastic music that night, the girl had a fantastic voice.
Wednesday 28th May: Kinsale
Today was a day full of driving, driving and more driving! We had planned to drive from Dingle to Kinsale. We began to drive what is known as the Ring of Kerry. It is a route full of captivating mountains and costal scenery as well as many little fishing towns/villages. We stopped at most of the sights recommended along the way. This is also where we saw Staigue Fort (Iron age dry-stone fort- the best preserved in Ireland).  We drove to the lakes of Killarney and walked in the National Park to see the Torc Waterfall  and ate lunch at Muckross House (a 19th century manor).  We then set off to drive towards Scull where we thought we would stay becoming too late to make it all the way to Kinsale. We changed our mind after seeing Scull so decided to drive all the way. We had no accommodation so at 8:00pm Jay and I were running door to door trying to find somewhere. A busy little place most accommodation full, above a pub appeared to be all we could get!
Thursday 29th May: Cork
In Kinsale there is one of the finest remaining examples of a star shaped fort it is called Charles Fort. It was built in 1670's by the English to protect the harbour and remained in service until 1922. This place was huge and we were quite impressed by it. It was also difficult to comprehend the ground we were standing one was once a war zone where many people had died. Unfortunately by the time we arrived in Cork from Kinsale it was our first day of rain. We managed to squeeze in a few of the sights: St Finbarr's Cathedral, Elizabeth Fort (now a police station!) and Red Abbey (the remains of the oldest building in Cork-13th Century).  We were also interested in going to the old Cork City Goal, after a 45 minute walk there it was closed!
Friday 30th May: Kilkenny
Well this time we took the car and went back to the goal! The exhibit explored the lives of individual inmates imprisoned during the 19th and 20th century. We then headed to Blarney to see the legendary Blarney Stone. Kissing the stone is a long-standing tradition, intended to confer a magical eloquence (the gift of the gab/never lost for words!) on all who kiss it. To do so you climb to the top of the castle, lean backwards and kiss it (only in the bottom 6inches)!! It is a little strange kissing something that thousands possibly millions have done (as well famous people too!!). Kilkenny was our nightly pit stop and on arrival we discovered the Comedy Festival happened to be on. We looked into tickets and ended up seeing a show that night with comedians Adam Hills (Aus), Arj Barker, Andy Parsons and Karl Spain. Very funny, we laughed for most of evening.
Saturday 31st: Waterford
Today was our last day and a rushed one at that. Due to our later arrival in Kilkenny the night before we had not seen the sights! We headed for Kilkenny castle but needed to book into a guided tour there was a 40 minute wait so we quickly drove to the next sight St Candice Cathedral, climbed an old, and very, very narrow tower to see a great view of Kilkenny. We then quickly drove back but were late for our tour. Kilkenny castle was of interest to us as we were keen to see the interior. Many castles are falling down where this 1190's was restored to original state so very gorgeous. What a lifestyle these wealthy people had- furniture so extravagant and detailed. We then drove to Waterford and had a little (very little) look around.  Reginald's Tower explored Waterford's Viking past. After a quick bite we were off to the little airport, another delay (least only 1 hour) and back to London.
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starlagurl on

Even though your trip didn't start out too well, it seems you had a great time anyway. Keep it up!

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

croxandlilt on

Excellent update!
That's what I call thorough. Glad you guys enjoyed Ireland. It was certainly one of our favorites.

K & T

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