We’re back with the second half of Kevin and Mary’s coastal trip around Ireland. The first installment of their two-week adventure took them all around the coast of Ireland from Northern Ireland to Counties Donegal, Galway and Clare. Next up is Kerry, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wicklow and even Meath!
It is a super tight itinerary, but they showed us exactly how it can be done with great tips to boot. I love how I am constantly learning from you guys. Did you catch the amazing tip from last week’s post about Ardtrabane House B&B on Day 3?
Don’t worry, I’ll wait. :-)
Ok, let’s see what Mary has in store for week two. Take it away, Mary!
Day 8, October 5
- Dingle Peninsula Drive: Just love this drive and Dingle itself—my favorite part of the vacation.
- Gallarus Oratory: Skip the visitor’s center and park for free by veering to right of parking lot up a lane bordered by hedges. About 1/4 of a mile up the lane there is a five car lot. Follow the foot path 100 yards to the Oratory.
- We were able to find the stone marker commemorating the 1588 shipwreck of the Santa Maria de la Rosa of the Spanish Armada above Blasket Sound.
- Near the end of the drive, we detoured to visit Brandon’s Creek – very picturesque stop.
- Conor Pass: We were grateful we did not have a larger car!
- Brandon’s Viewpoint: This drive took us to some pretty remote spots and “roads,” but was so worth it. At the end there is a free parking lot, and wooden steps to allow you to climb the hill for the best views. We had the place to ourselves! We even found three cows with their very young calves.
Milltown House, Dingle, Kerry (second of two nights)
John Benny’s Pub, Main St, Dingle
Day 9, October 6
Drove Ring of Kerry to Cahersiveen (including Cahergal and Leacanabuaile Ring Forts); Inland drive to Killarney via Ballaghisheen Pass, Glencar, Molls Gap and Ladies View; Gap of Dunloe; Drove to Waterville
- Ballaghisheen Pass: The Pass is fantastic and a contrasting beauty to the cliffs and coastline.
- Gap of Dunloe: We couldn’t find a road down there (even though it was on the atlas!) so I asked someone at the gift shop at Moll’s Gap. She was wonderful and her directions were spot on. It was the highlight of the trip for my husband:
- Incredible waterfalls, huge boulders, vistas, lakes, and tons of peat bogs with the bricks stacked the old-fashioned way to dry.
- Warning: you have to be a very brave driver to drive this and have an even braver navigator!!!! Everyone underestimates the bravery of the navigator and the constant impending perils of the hedges and stone walls! :-)
- Skellig Michael: Be aware if you visit Skellig Michael, there are 650+ steps to the monastery and beehives, and boat service can be limited or cancelled due to weather.
- Driving: The drive and photo stops made for a long day today.
Brookhaven Guesthouse, Waterville, Kerry: An absolutely fantastic stay. Mary is great and her hospitality is classic Irish. No wonder many of her guests are annual repeaters. We would return in a minute.
Fisherman’s Bar, behind the Butler Arms Hotel: Very nice.
Day 10, October 7
- If you spend 15 euro per person in the town of Cashel for anything (including food), ask for voucher for free admission to Rock of Cashel. We wound up not paying for admission or parking.
Joy’s Rockside House, Cashel, Tipperary: Lovely establishment and the host was very helpful. It had parking and they allowed us to keep the car there during our tour of Rock of Cashel the next day.
Feehan’s Bar: Very good and reasonable. We had a table next to a peat fire and didn’t want to leave!
Day 11, October 8
- Rock of Cashel: Great views of the Rock of Cashel from Hore Abbey.
- Jerpoint Abbey: Kevin loves ruins and I was glad he found this one. We paid the €8 for two person’s admission and were then asked if we wanted to tour on our own or have a free guided tour.
- Opt for the tour: Our tour was conducted by Margaret, an Office of Public Works employee. The OPW is something new to me, but it’s fantastic. She was so knowledgeable and such a great tour guide.
- We found out late in the trip that OPW offers free admissions to all their sites on the first Wednesday of each month in 2015. List of sites can be found at Heritage Ireland.
- Kells Priory: We were advised to park at the mill and walk along the river, crossing over a bridge to the Abbey. It was all so lovely.
Waterford Marina Hotel, Waterford: Good location and the most accommodating staff. Their check out is noon, allowing us to leave the car with them while we toured the next day.
The Three Shippes: Within walking distance to hotel with above average pub food. Rugby bar!
Day 12, October 9
- Waterford Crystal: Very good tour. While Waterford Crystal is still open in Waterford City, but most of their production has been moved to Slovenia.
- Kite Design Studio: Some of the former Waterford Master craftsmen have opened their own studio, where you can watch them blow glass and purchase items at a far more reasonable price. They were very receptive to questions and explaining what they were doing.
- Reginald’s Tower: Look for cannon ball embedded near the top.
The Old Coach House, Avoca, Wicklow
The Meetings: Was within walking distance of the B&B.
Day 13, October 10
- Glendalough: Free parking. We skipped the Visitors Center admission; but used Rick Steves’ tour in his guidebook.
- Powerscourt House and Gardens: Various beautiful outside gardens over 47 acres with accessible paths.
- Not as crowded as Glendalough, which is probably due to admission cost.
- The actual house has been converted to various gift shops and a café.
- Be sure not to miss the “To Have and to Hold” room, which explains the history of the estate in two movies, along with plaques and diagrams on the walls.
Killossy B&B, Killashee, Naas, Kildare
Lunch & Dinner:
Armory Café, Glencree, Wicklow: Great spot with good food at fair prices (better than Powerscourt) and great views. Nearby is cemetery for German U-boat sailors, and civilians, who washed ashore during WWII.
Bardon’s Pub, Kilcullen, Kildare: Good value and nice staff.
Day 14, October 11
Trim Castle; Return rental car; Flight home
Trim Castle: Admission to keep (castle) and tour is worth every penny. Another tour by an OPW staff member and he was great.
Kevin & Mary’s Final Tips:
Mary: Do as much research as possible. There is a ton of info out there, the more you can prepare in advance, the easier your trip.
Kevin: Don’t overestimate driving distances. It generally takes longer to travel than Google says and the blind corners are challenging.
Whoa! What an amazing trip. I am not sure about you but reading all the different things they were able to see really got me itching for trip to Ireland! Thanks so much to Mary who wrote up this wonderful report!
So what does your road trip around Ireland look like? Share your plans in the comments. :-) Already been or heading out soon? Contact Stephanie if you’ve got a great trip report to share!