This is part 2 of our summer road trip (read part 1 here).
Last summer, we went to the 51st state with Andrew’s parents for a 5 day road trip. By 51st state, I mean Ireland. As we discovered, Ireland in July is crawling with American tourists – because Americans in general LOVE
St Patrick’s Day Ireland. Although it was a bit strange to unexpectedly be surrounded by American accents, we couldn’t help falling head-over-heels in love with this beautiful island. It definitely lived up to the hype, and well, I hope you like pictures because we took a lot.
Our Ireland road trip started in Dublin (see our route here), and ended in Cork after 5 days and nearly 400 miles on the road. In my pre-road trip excitement, I made a Spotify playlist to enhance the whole experience. Not to brag, but it was a hit (you can have a listen over here).
We spent a full day in Dublin, and managed to fit a lot in. Our first destination was Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells. Andrew’s parent’s sat this one out, but I had to see it. I love libraries, so I say this as someone who wouldn’t mind living in one, but I’d say it was worth the crowd and the wait.
We eventually left Trinity College, and walked past Dublin Castle to Christ Church Cathedral.
After visiting the church, and grabbing lunch, we headed over to the Guinness Factory.Let’s talk about the Guinness Factory. It’s really more of a theme park in my opinion. There are escalators and waterfalls and waiters that dance on tables! Dubliners definitely capitalised on their history as successful brewers. It was a bit of sensory overload, but we had a good time.
The next day, we drove west to Galway. It wasn’t the most exciting 2 and a half hour drive, but at least we didn’t have to share the road with tour buses. Galway is a cute town even on a rainy day, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring the shops.
On the third day, we hit the road early for 4 hours of driving. We headed south from Galway and stopped at Dunguaire Castle. We didn’t pay to go inside the tower, but we were able to stretch our legs exploring the grounds.
We hopped back in the car, and continued south to the Cliffs of Moher. It cost a small fortune to park the car in the main parking lot because there was a charge for each person in the car. If we’d have known, we might have jumped out down the road, and let Andrew park by himself! We spent most of the afternoon walking along the cliffs. There’s a visitor centre there that attracts all the tour buses, which means it’s crowded. But if you walk along far enough, it gets much quieter. We found a grassy spot to sit for awhile, and watched the seagulls hovering beneath us.
The cliffs themselves reminded me of being at the Grand Canyon. It was hard to comprehend how high they are! Photos do not do them justice, but I still love looking at them.
We still had a few hours of driving left before reaching our hotel in Killarney, so we couldn’t stay at the cliffs all day, but I could have easily spent more time there.
We were feeling pretty good about our Ireland experience after seeing the Cliffs of Moher, but our drive through County Kerry was my favourite part of the trip. We spent the fourth day driving from Killarney down to Cork, and we followed the Ring of Kerry part of the way there. The drive was absolutely gorgeous, and when we weren’t making a planned stop at an attraction, we were pulling over on the side of the road to take in the amazing views. We only fit a small part of the Ring of Kerry into this trip, and Andrew’s parents said they need to come back to see the rest of it. I agree!
Our first destination was Ross Castle near the town of Killarney. We were content with exploring the outside walls, so we decided not to pay to go inside the tower. There was also a free exhibition room that explained the history of the Castle that was built by 15th-century Irish chieftains.
After that, we drove a few minutes down the road to Muckross Abbey.The Abbey dates back to 1448 when it was founded as a Franciscan friary. It’s a ruin now, and open to the elements and the public. We all enjoyed wandering through it without really any restrictions.
Our next stop was Torc Waterfall. There are trails leading off from the waterfall, but we still had a lot of ground to cover, so we didn’t stay long enough to hike around.We stopped at Ladies View around noon, and it was perfect timing.
Ladies View is a bend in the road overlooking a valley. There is barely enough space for a few tight parking spots and a little cafe, so the tour buses can’t stop there. We had a chance to wander a bit before it started pouring with rain, then we waited out the rain in the cafe where we had lunch.
After lunch, we continued along the Ring of Kerry to Moll’s Gap, a pass in the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountains where there’s a cute shop and cafe.We made a quick stop, then carried on into the mountains. We had to pull over to get a good look at them …and take a bunch of pictures because wow.
Seriously, so beautiful.
It was time for us to leave the Ring of Kerry to head east over to Cork where we spent our last day.
Our final destination was Blarney Castle and Gardens just outside of Cork.
We got there early to make sure we’d have enough time to see everything, and of course the first thing we did was climb to the top of the Castle to see the Blarney Stone. All of us wanted to at least see it, but as we realised on our way up, none of us were actually that interested in kissing a rock that thousands of other mouths have been on. But after waiting in line and hiking up the stairs, it was decided that SOMEBODY needed to kiss it! So I became the designated Blarney Stone Kisser. Being the good sport I am, I did the honours, but I’m still waiting on the gift of eloquence.
I don’t think we could have fit any more into the two weeks that Andrew’s parents were here if we tried. In 9 days, we drove over 700 miles through Scotland and Ireland, and stayed in a different town every night. It was ambitious, but we had so much fun! I’m already excited for them to visit again, but I think we’ll limit ourselves to 1 country next time. 🙂