Reader Trip Report: Solo Travel in Ireland


This blogging thing I get to do is pretty awesome. Because now and then I get to make new friends. :-)

Here’s how it happens. It usually starts off with an email and quick question about an upcoming trip to Ireland, which leads to another email and then another. Sometimes, we steer off the Ireland planning path and talk about the weather, our families and other things going on in our lives.

I love these emails. I love making friends while I’m sitting on my couch in my pj’s—does that make me sound pathetic?? It does, doesn’t it? Umm, I mean…I am glad I get to meet you guys and, well, that you don’t actually see that I am still in my pj’s responding to you at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon. Not pathetic, right? Just a friendly, lazy blogger. :-)

I’d like to share one such friend with you today. Her name is Shawna and she went to Ireland this October. We started chatting about her trip way back in March. She was a little nervous going to Ireland as a solo traveler and had a bunch of questions at first. I’d say she got the hang of this traveling thing (I mean just look at the pictures below!).

Hi Shawna!
Hi Shawna!

I asked Shawna to share with us a little bit about her vacation in Ireland with a trip report and she didn’t disappoint. Take it away Shawna!


Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you wanted to go to Ireland.

I live on the central coast of California and am originally from Wyoming.  I’ve been a massage therapist for the last 18 years.  Many interests in the natural healing field led me to interest in Celtic mythology, elementals, etc.  Ireland was simply a place I  felt instinctively drawn to.  I’m not much of a traveler, haven’t had a huge interest as well as not many opportunities before.  It just seemed like a window opened up and I was surprisingly and magically able to manifest this trip for myself.  I wanted to go solo also, as I wanted a peaceful time to connect with nature and the spirits of Ireland.  And I want to go back this next year to revisit some places and see a few new ones!  

Rainbow and Sheep in Ireland
My 1st Irish Rainbow.


Where did you go? 
I stayed in Kenmare, Dingle, and Ennis, so roughly covered the SouthWest corner of Ireland and I was visiting for 12 days.

Row Houses in Eyeries, A Small Village on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork
Eyeries, A Small Village on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork


Favorite places you visited:
I loved it all but I think some highlights were Kenmare and the Beara Peninsula (the whole peninsula but especially liked the area around Bonane and Glengariff), and the Burren in County Clare was breathtaking too!

Kilcatherine Cemetery Stormy Skies
Looking out from Kilcatherine Cemetery and Stormy Skies in County, Cork


Favorite meal/pub:
I had many lovely pints at the Lansdowne Inn in Kenmare, (people are super friendly who work there) and for favorite meal (again, I loved it ALL) I might choose Kate Kearney’s Cottage near the Gap of Dunloe.  It may have been that I was absolutely famished when I got there..but I ate the biggest meal ever and loved every single bite!  Vegetable soup with brown bread, Bacon and Cabbage, and really really good apple pie!   I’ll also mention I had an amazing Beef and Guinness Stew at Breen’s Restaurant in Sneem too. 

New Church, Lough Gur
New Church, Lough Gur, County Limerick


Best B&B:
I stayed at 2 Airbnb’s and 1 B&B….which I would absolutely recommend to anyone..wonderful place, wonderful hostess, beautiful area in walking distance (a huge plus) to Kenmare called the Limestone Lodge

Limestone Lodge B &B Kenmare
Limestone Lodge B &B Kenmare, County, Kerry


Did you have any surprises or unexpected issues?
I would say the only issues I had were with my plane flight on the way over.  It was full of problems….and so I had to change my itinerary slightly…though thankfully I got to stay the same amount of days..I just had to rearrange things.  Otherwise, once there I think everything was good!  Oh, a surprise…I couldn’t believe how crowded the Cliffs of Moher were!  I was shocked and not used to it after many days in quieter, less touristy areas. Next time I visit the Cliffs I will see them from a different vantage point!  

Cliffs of Moher O'Brien's Tower
O’Brien’s Tower at the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare


Did you stumble upon any hidden gems you didn’t plan to visit?
I loved Molly Gallivans…it was so charming and in a really lovely location near Bonane.  Aside from that it would be little coffee shops, and treats at the local stores that were unexpected finds and all very lovely.  I stopped in a gallery near Ardgroom that I really liked..only because I was lost and couldn’t find the stone circle!  She led me to a nice route back to Kenmare which I wouldn’t have taken, over Healy Pass..gorgeous.  A recommendation from my hostess at the Limestone Lodge to drive down through the middle of the Ring of Kerry was fabulous too…over Ballygasheen and Ballaghbeama passes.  And I went to a last minute spontaneous music concert at the Dingle Music shop that I really enjoyed.  

Fresh Cut Peat in orange cart
Burning Peat smells soooo good!


You rented a car for your trip and were a solo traveler–how did it go?
It went well!  This was a source of a lot of anxiety; would I be able to navigate a foreign place while focusing on the different driving situation.  It turned out to be quite fun.  After the initial jitters of getting on the road I actually enjoyed it, and drove around during the days quite a bit.  I planned on renting a manual car, as the cost was so much less.  I changed my mind at the last minute though and paid extra for the automatic as I was just too nervous.  I’m glad I did, I think it was the best choice for me at the time, and I might even be inclined to do that next time I visit.   I also had maps with me and was able to borrow my sister’s GPS. I would say both were invaluable…I had to use each equally with one not being always the best in all situations. As I was solo I needed that saved me many times..and yet sometimes I turned it off and was able to follow road signs and understand the map.  I would definitely recommend using both!   I was also there right after the busier tourist season, so many roads I traveled on were basically empty….that was very nice!  

Compact Automatic Car Ireland Sliver
My little car..with the wheel on the right side, driving on the left side..such fun!


What tips would you share for others making their first trip to Ireland?
I would say all the research I did beforehand really helped.  I know you can go without a plan and wing it…and that could be fun, but for me I would not have had a clue where to go or what could be down that tiny road if I didn’t know at least something about the area.  So, I was glad with my preparation and felt it helped me get the most out of my time.  And with that, it’s easy to have too much on your go with the ideas of things that are ‘musts’ and things that are ‘if there’s time’, while allowing for unexpected events too!  I think having a flexible mindset and being able to go with the flow resonates well with Irish travel!  


Shawna gave me 100+ photos to choose from to post on the blog and I had a hard time narrowing it down to a handful. So I didn’t. :-) Here are few more amazing pictures from Shawna’s trip.

Dunquin Pier Dingle
Dunquin Pier Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry
Orange Farmhouse Ireland
Misty Skies and Irish Farm Living
Bridge and Water in Mountain Gap
Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry
Seal Island Glengariff Harbor
Seal Island in Glengariff Harbor, County Cork
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
Water and boats in harbor
Dingle Harbor, County, Kerry
Sheep in a fort
My magical purple sheep in Staigue Fort, County Kerry
Dog in a boat on the water
Bella, on the Boat to Inisfallen Island from Ross Castle, Killarney, County, Kerry
Green fields of Ireland
Kealkill Stone Overlook, County, Cork
A beautiful sheep in the Irish countryside.

I am so grateful to Shawna for sharing her story with us. I love reading Ireland trip reports. If you had a great trip, I’d love to hear about it. Tell us your story in the comments or you can always contact us. Perhaps you might even find yourself in the spotlight next!

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  1. What an interesting blog. Thanks Shawna for sharing your tips. It made me yearn to be back in Ireland. Loved the photos. I spent a month in Ireland & got to travel the length & breadth of the island. We stayed in Kenmare, Dingle too & loved the Burren & Co. Clare. At the time, there was no talk of the Wild Atlantic Way & I remember telling my friend that Co. Clare needed to be promoted more. While there is plenty of information around, especially about Cliffs of Moher, nothing prepared me for how beautiful Co. Clare was. I’m so pleased to see the Wild Atlantic Way promotion has drawn more attention to this fabulous part of the country.

    I hope you have more friends Stephanie, who will share their experiences with us. I love your blog by the way. I’ll be using it a plenty, when I decide to return to Ireland.

    Paddy [from New Zealand]

  2. Hi Paddy! I remember reading about your trip–you won part of all of that holiday, correct? It sounds like you had a wonderful time! Are you itching to go back? We always are! :-)

  3. Shawna, It certainly seems that you had a terrific trip. Your photos are nothing short
    of spectacular. They indicate that you must have had some good weather.
    I have been traveling alone to Ireland alone almost twicw a year for the past 15
    years and stayed in the Republic but have never been to Donnegal. March 2 I will
    leave to spend a month there to see how much of that area I can explore. At this
    stage I’ve stopped planning. Just learning some history and then where ever the
    road takes me. So much beauty and warm welcoming folks. Hope you venture back.

    1. Hi Marie! Your trip is coming up so soon! I am quite jealous of your month in Donegal! We absolutely loved Donegal and are itching to get back there. Have a splendid time. :)

  4. It was great reading Shawna’s trip report! Great photos too. I fell in love with Ireland and will be going back in May this year to visit friends, but also will be spending some time on my own, which is a little unsettling but this has given me more confidence to get out there and explore solo :)

    1. Hi Rebecca! I am so glad this has been helpful to you! Shawna is quite the inspiration and even though I travel with my husband most of the time. There have been a few trips while I was on my own and I quite feel like I conquered the world when I navigated a tricky place or even when I just showed up somewhere on time. I hope you do too! :-)

  5. Your trip sounds great, Shawna! So glad you enjoyed your trip and shared your beautiful photos. I’m heading on my first international solo trip to Ireland in May and have found so many tips on this blog. Thanks for being so thorough, Stephanie!!

    1. Hi Bryce! I hope you have a great trip in May. I think everyone should do a little solo travel every now and then. I think you will find you really like it. :-)

  6. We just returned from Ireland and also spent all of our time on the west coast. Our first stop was on Sheepshead Peninsula, which I don’t see mentioned much, but we loved it. We stayed in “Sheila’s Cottage (AirBnB ” Peace and Quiet) near Ahakista and loved it. Also loved Arundel’s Pub by the Pier, the walk to the lighthouse and Goat’s Pass. Beautiful place, Ireland!

    1. I love sheep’s head Mary! Such a fantastic place to visit. We’ve even been drumming up a plan to do a quick trip there in the fall. So glad you had a great time. :-)

  7. hi,

    i am from india and have been to bali and australia travelling solo. now, gng to england and ireland in sept 2015. a friend from france (french) is joining me and we plan to hire a car. after a lot of reading, watching, exploring on the net, i am still where i was! there are too many places i want to visit, too much to experience to cram it all in one week….interested in nature, culture and maybe a night of seeing the tradtional pub and folk culture…any suggestions on the iterinary?

      1. Hi Jyoti!
        I can understand your confusion! There is a lot to consider when planning your trip to Ireland. How can one small country be so complicated? :-)

        The best thing I can tell you is not to try do too much in the week that you have. If you were to spit up the country in 4 equal parts with a +, I would try to stick to one quadrant. You will be able to cover a lot of ground if you aren’t driving from one quadrant to the next within the 7 days you have. If you really aren’t sure where to start, I might suggest checking out the south west. It is really quite fantastic for those visiting to Ireland for the first time as there is so much to do. You will not feel as though you are missing out on anything. If you want to get off the beaten path a little, check out West Cork. Bantry is one of our favorite towns.

        I hope this gets you started! Have a fantastic time (September is our favorite!).

  8. This is something good”” “Reader Trip Report: Solo Travel in Ireland” What an intriguing online journal. Much obliged Shawna for sharing your tips. It made me long to be back in Ireland. Adored the photographs. I spent a month in Ireland and got the chance to venture to every part of the length and broadness of the island. We stayed in Kenmare, Dingle too and cherished the Burren and Co. Clare. At the time, there was no discussion of the Wild Atlantic Way and I told my companion that Co. Clare should have been advanced more. While there is a lot of data around, particularly about Cliffs of Moher, nothing set me up for how lovely Co. Clare was. I’m so satisfied to see the Wild Atlantic Way advancement has attracted more consideration regarding this fantastic part of the nation.

    I trust you have more companions Stephanie, who will impart their encounters to us. I cherish your web journal coincidentally. I’ll be utilizing it by the drove, when I choose to come back to Ireland.

    Jessica Ray

  9. greetings,

    Great work”” “Solo Travel in Ireland” i am from india and have been to bali and australia voyaging solo. presently, gng to britain and ireland in sept 2015. a companion from france (french) is going along with me and we plan to procure an auto. after a great deal of perusing, viewing, investigating on the net, i am still where i was! there are an excess of spots i need to visit, a lot to experience to pack it all in one week… .keen on nature, society and perhaps a night of seeing the tradtional bar and people culture… any recommendations on the iterinary?

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