United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Ireland

Posts and related media in this series (note that links will be added when the associated posts are published):

  1. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Background and Overview

  2. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - England

  3. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Scotland

  4. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Ireland

  5. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Wrap-Up and Miscellaneous Thoughts

  6. United Kingdom and Ireland Trip - Photo Gallery

  7. Aviator Jeans Travel Story (External Link)

Saturday, August 31st

Picking up where we left off on the Scotland post, we made our way to the Edinburgh Airport, through dealing with RyanAir’s bag check and security, and boarded our plane to Dublin. There were a couple of minor hiccups during that process, most notable of them being the complete lack of information on how the folks at Edinburgh wanted your bags/items separated into the bins for security screening, and therefore causing us a bit of a delay. This did make us cut it close getting to the gate in time, but since there was not an issue it isn’t really worth going into detail. Upon arrival we made our way to the Avis counter to pick up the keys to our rental, and with a little confusion about where to go we finally made our way to the correct car park and started our journey out of the city. Saturday was, in essence, a “drive around and see stuff” day, with a very loose itinerary: Wicklow Mountains, Rock of Cashel, and make it to our Airbnb (Connoles Gatehouse). In preparation for our trip I had at least plotted out some points as a rough guide for the road trip, just to have some idea of how long we could spend with random side trips and at a couple of points along the way.

Rough Outline from Road Trip Planner

Our first point of interest was to enter the Wicklow Mountains. From the very first area we stopped I fell in love with the Irish landscape, and the awe and excitement only continued to grow with each passing moment. Never before have I visited a place that I found so breathtakingly stunning, so diverse and intriguing, and so strongly calling to me as the place I should stay, and yet every portion of Ireland we visited reaffirmed those feelings time and again.

We spent a lot of time just driving down rural roads, making random stops to enjoy the views, and wandering around. It took a little bit to get used to driving on the narrow roads, not so much because of the roads being narrow but because my point of perception (the right side of the vehicle while driving on the left side of the road) was simply different. Factor in needing to shift with my left hand instead of my right, and it probably took the better part of a couple of hours to really feel comfortable driving around. By the end of the trip, however, I will say that I felt like I was driving more like a local than a visitor. Embedded below is a video clip from one stretch of road that was particularly enjoyable to drive.

During the course of our travels, we stopped at the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre for lunch (and, of course, a tasting flight of their whiskeys). The food was excellent, and I found the 15 Year Trilogy expression to be extremely enjoyable. It still does not top my preferred Irish Whiskey, but it is one I would definitely purchase if I saw it in one of the local stores.

Continuing our journey we spotted many castles and gorgeous vistas, taking it all in as we made our way to the Rock of Cashel. Part of the reason this was our choice for stopping and exploring on our journey related to its proximity to the route we would need to take to reach our accommodations for the evening, though its historical significance made it extremely appealing as well. From Discover Ireland:

The Rock of Cashel is an ancient royal site of the kings of Munster and first attained importance as a fortress. Its origins as a centre of power go back to the 4th or 5th centuries. Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel. They are St. Patrick whom according to legend, arrived in Cashel in AD 432 and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler. The second was Brian Boru, he was crowned High King here in 990. He is the only king who was able to unite all of Ireland under one ruler for any significant period of time.

As we left Cashel dusk was fast approaching, and so we made our way to our accommodations in Fanore. Although we could not see the landscape well by the time we arrived, the sound of the ocean and the perfect weather reassured us that the view in the morning would be as advertised, though we were not prepared for it to be so absolutely gorgeous once the sun crested the horizon in the morning. I cannot recommend Connoles Gatehouse highly enough, and I will look for no other place to stay in the event we make our way back to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Sunday, September 1st

After enjoying the sunrise at Connoles Gatehouse, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. I have no words to adequately express how majestic, awe-inspiring, resplendent… let’s just say spectacular… the Cliffs of Moher are in person. Though this is a running theme for much of our trip, it seems that (of what we were able to see and visit) I have the most difficulty describing how profoundly gorgeous I found Ireland compared to the rest of our journey.

After leaving the cliffs, we ate lunch at StoneCutter’s Kitchen and then made our way to Moher Cottage for coffee and fudge. I highly recommend both locations.

We continued to explore Liscannor before heading back toward Doolin, spending the rest of our day exploring The Burren Region and the Wild Atlantic Way. Two videos will be linked below, a clip of the waves crashing against the coastline at one of our many stops (because I enjoyed the peacefulness of just watching and listening), and a timelapse of the view from our cabin as the sun set over the Atlantic.

Monday, September 2nd

Monday was, perhaps, the dreariest day we encountered during the entire trip. Not only did we have to leave a place that was absolutely perfect to travel back to Dublin, but almost the entire time we were in Dublin there was a light rain. We went to the Guinness Storehouse first and enjoyed learning more about the history of the famous stout, as well as enjoying an absolutely spectacular meal in one of the on-site restaurants for lunch. I have had many variations of Guinness stew, and I can unequivocally sat that the best I’ve had yet was at the Guinness Storehouse.

Leaving the storehouse, we went to Dublin Castle before proceeding to Trinity College and the Book of Kells exhibit. While I certainly understand concerns about photographing important works, the one disappointment for this portion of our trip was that no photography was allowed in the Book of Kells exhibit. Regardless, it was still enjoyable, though overpriced.

We did not have time to explore further, as we had a flight to catch to return to London. If you missed the details about the remainder of our trip, the second post in the series (England) covers the first few days and the last two days.

I can easily say that, while I fell in love with Edinburgh and what little we were able to see of Scotland, my heart definitely belongs to Ireland. Emily made the right choice in having Jacob stay home with her parents, because if he had been with us there is a very, very good chance I would have found a way to stay.