First we went to the Barren Experience Centre – audio visual show at €5/person which was a good introduction to the neolithic stone tombs of the area and the limestone karst geology that made them possible. A few wild flowers were out and it was remote and beautiful in the area. Then we drove over the Cliffs of Mohar – here’s a hint if it costs €4 to park but the site is free – its well on the tourist circuit!
Frankly I’ve seen better cliffs – notably in South Australia and Victoria – these were nice enough and the weather was fine – but I wouldn’t put them on your must see list unless you have never seen the water meet the land before (head up to Northern Ireland for the Giant’s Causeway for something much more interesting).
Driving south back to Cork – we stopped off to see the ruined Abby at Ennis. Trying to get around Limerick in the middle of the afternoon involved about 40 minutes in traffic jams on the ring road – I’d avoid it like the plague at anytime when it was supposed to be busy – like rush hour! That said the good thing about Ireland is that it really is a very compact place and you can see a lot with your own vehicle.
I can’t help much with rental rates- we borrowed a little yellow van from relatives and paid for the extra drivers on the insurance. The van was small – had limited visibility out the back and only 2 seats up front – but it was just fine. You don’t need a big vehicle – a sub compact would be just fine – and an advantage on some of the B-roads off the beaten track. This entire trip got more and more touristy as we headed north – so if you want to get off the beaten track get out of Dublin and the “big sights” close to it and head to Cork and the south.
Weather a lot drier and warmer today. We drove the loop around Corcomoroe. Stopped at Kylenoc (sp?) house €10 to see the grounds and the house – hardly worth it. But they did have a nice gift shop – I bought a jade dolphin to add to the collection – and they tried to charge my credit card in US$ – hmm excuse me what country is this again – I’m surprised its even legal – but its definitely a rort – always make sure your card is charged in the currency of the country you happen to be in!
We had a pub lunch in Clifden – actually the first time we’ve bought lunch. Quite a few more tourists in this part of Ireland – far more than we saw down south. We had to drive back around Galway to get the the Burren – remote and wild limestone country – covered in simple Neolithic tombs – its the history of the place that gets me. The standard B&B in town was charging €60/2 – though we are managing to stay under budget at around €140/2 per day.
The weather turned nasty so our attempt at long distance walking ended in failure. Its interesting compared to the UK Ireland is really not set up for walking. The concept of common ways doesn’t exist in Irish law and tracks seem very poorly marked – you really need to have the detailed topo maps – which of course we haven’t got. I think we need to save our walking dreams for England – in the summer, a hot summer.
The sure do know how to make these old stone building waterproof though – the tenth century Gallarow Oratory was still very watertight!
Change of plans with this rubbish weather and we are off to Galloway. The Connor Pass was – of course -covered in cloud – but was spectacular anyways as the sun broke through as we got over to the other side. We took a vehicle ferry over the Shannon river for about €15. Got a nice B&B in Salthill in Galloway for €65/2.
We like the town centre of Galloway which had lots of pubs and a nice pedestrian area and waterfront.
In the morning the weather wasn’t so bad so we went to see the grounds of Muckross House in town. Walked to the bottom of the Torc Waterfall which was about 4km return – and on the return it started raining again. Still cold with snow on the hills. Didn’t go into the house – not sure on the cost – but expensive I should think. Also skipped the pony traps.
Drove to Dingle via Inch Anaeul on the South Coast. At Dingle bro had paid for a very nice fancy B&B – had all mod cons such as TV, ens suite , fantastic views, window seat, tea and coffee in the room and even a phone! Luxury at E87/2. Walked into Dingle town for a cheap meal. Basically anything under E10/main is cheap – and the best place to find it is in the country pubs – which aren’t bad so long as you aren’t bored with Shepard’s Pie, Scampi, Fish & chips. You’d be out of luck as a vegetarian or other odd religion though! Had a spectacular hail storm and found a tiny local pub which at one time had been a shoe repair shop – in one 1/2 and a pub complete with snugs which sat maybe a dozen people in the other half. Ki
Raining still in the morning but it did improve during the day. There had been snow on the hills overnight and it was a lot colder and windy compared to what we had been having. Drove the Ring of Kerry the Ring of Beara’s more famous sister. We took a €5 car ferry over to the island of Valentina – the loop around the island showed off some really wild coastline.
The Skellig Experience Museum on Valentina was doing at €4.4 pp – the film on the famous Skellig Monastery was excellent – we didn’t get over there though because the rough seas had stopped the boats. Those early Irish priests really liked their remote locations. We looped around some very minor roads – moss growing in the middle of the road minor – to Portage. We went to Derryrane Park – didn’t pay to go inside but wandered around the grounds. Stopped at Staigie Fort as well – another Iron Age fort a the top of a valley with a nice view down. Driving back took us across the Kerry Peninsular over some very narrow roads – scary if we’d met an American driving on the wrong side of the road coming the other way!
I’ve been to Kinsale several times over the years – the first time because my brother decided to hold his wedding reception there – which included booking out a local restaurant and paying for a B&B for the night. Kinsale is about an hour’s drive south of Cork in Ireland’s south.
If you are new to Europe and are not over the “cute village” thing yet – Kinsale does cute very well – obviously better on a nice day – but still pretty good year around. Kinsale gets a lot of day trippers in the “season” – so you might want to overnight to avoid the hoards. Kinsale has a local reputation for excellent food and produce so it gets pretty busy on the weekends with the locals too.