Tour Your Way through Ireland, Part I
If you are looking for an adventure where you can learn about history, eat amazing food, and view stunning scenery, look no further than Ireland. For a unique experience that is not limited to a specific city, rent a car and prepare for breathtaking views as you drive from Dublin to Belfast. Be sure to pack your comfy walking shoes, a light jacket and let’s get going!
Captivated by Dublin
To make the most of your stay, I suggest staying in the heart of downtown Dublin to enjoy the historical sites and easy access to local attractions. It’s here that you can learn about Dublin’s beautiful history by taking a stroll. Visit the Christ Church Cathedral dating back to 1030AD and take a tour of the oldest crypt in Ireland dating back to medieval times. Next on your walk is Dublin Castle, where you can explore on your own or take one of the tours. I highly suggest a tour as they provide entertaining information about the Castle and Irish History.
After all of your exploring, visit Grafton Street for fantastic shopping, food, and several great local pubs. One of my favorite stops is Alfie Byrne’s inside the Conrad, for their delicious falafel burgers.
On day two of your stay in Dublin, I suggest taking a bus tour. The Do Dublin tour offers 33 stops and is a great way to see the city. A favorite stop along the way is the Teeling Whiskey Distillery; go on the Trinity Tasting Tour, which includes a tasting of three featured whiskeys distilled in-house. Next is the fascinating Kilmainham Goal, which was once the largest prison in Europe. Be prepared to climb a few flights of stairs while learning about an interesting part of Dublin’s history. Another popular stop in Dublin is the Guinness Storehouse where you should make sure to visit the Gravity Bar for a fantastic view of the city. Be sure to check out the National Library of Ireland, which houses a wonderful genealogy department, where you just might find your Irish roots.
Hit the Road to Cork
You should really consider renting a car to hit the road and visit picturesque locations like the city of Cork. Here are a few tips for renting a car in Ireland: Be sure to check the car for general safety, make sure the GPS works and if you get a vehicle with a diesel engine please note that you will notice a difference in the horsepower of a diesel vehicle.
Once you have your car and are on the road, there is a lot to see! The Rock of Cashel is along the way with amazing history and breathtaking views of mountains and rolling green hills with surrounding towns you can see for miles. The Rock of Cashel was once the seat of power for the Kings of Ireland; while you are standing on the grounds you can see the same countryside views that the Kings saw ages ago. Only a short 15-minute drive from Cork is the Jameson Distillery. They have officially been distilling since 1810, yet bottles say 1780. I guess you’ll have to take a tour there to find out why! There are also many great restaurants in Cork including SpitJack Rotisserie Brassiere; I recommend getting the Rotisserie Chicken or Mushroom Risotto for dinner.
When you leave the city of Cork, head to Blarney Castle. It boasts beautiful gardens that surround the property including the Poison Garden. This fascinating garden grows plants we currently use for medical treatments and compares how they were used differently in medieval times. Of course, you have to be sure to climb to the top and Kiss the Blarney Stone, they say it grants you the “Gift of Gab” or Eloquence of Speech, I guess it all depends on your perspective.
As the old saying goes all roads lead to Killarney. The Ring of Kerry is the must-do in Killarney. This scenic driving path around the south-west area from Killarney to Kenmare is perfect for Instagram worthy photos of the rocky Atlantic shoreline and a few beach areas.
Venture to Galway
Next, get back on the road and adventure over to Galway. Stop by the Cliffs of Moher and prepare for stunning views while walking the trails suited for all experience levels. Galway Bus Tours offer daily tours from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. The village of Doolin, known as the Spanish Quarter, features several bed and breakfasts and the streets are lined with many shops and restaurants. Several of these restaurants and pubs offer live music and on the weekends you will find entertaining street performers. The Quays Carvery Bar is a personal favorite where they offer daily entertainment and excellent food. For a touch of history, visit St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, one of the oldest medieval churches still in use today, or if you want a “newer” location, venture to the Galway Cathedral, a fairly new church by Ireland’s standards but very beautiful. Lastly, don’t miss your photo op under the Spanish Arch, part of the last remaining city wall from 1584.
Come back next week to read the second half of my adventure through Ireland. Continuing on from the Wild Atlantic Way heading further north, we will discover a small village made famous on the big screen, a picturesque stopping point with a famous resident and crossing the border into Northern Ireland where more whiskey awaits.
Know Before You Go