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!).
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!
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.
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!
I had many lovely pints at the Landsdowne 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.
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.
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!
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.
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 GPS..it 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!
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 list..so 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.
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!