AROUND THE EMERALD ISLE

Map of Ireland

Map of Ireland

Driving from Dublin it took about 4 hours to get to the small village of Kinvara, south of Galway on the west coast of Ireland.  We had a nice dinner on the seaside and then were treated to a gorgeous sunset before going back to the hotel for an early morning.

Reflection on the harbour in Kinvara

Reflection on the harbour in Kinvara

Sunset in Kinvara

…and sunset – gorgeous!

We awoke to a mostly sunny day and got on the road for a drive through an area called The Burren, which is made up of plains of criss-crossing limestone formed from glaciers, that spills into the sea near the Aran Islands.  It’s beautiful in a wild, desolate way.

The Burren landscape

The Burren landscape

About an hour south, we stopped at one of the most spectacular parts of Ireland – the Cliffs of Moher.  Soaring 700 feet above the sea, and topped with the most gorgeous mossy green that cameras can’t do justice, you can hike right along the top of the cliffs to Hag’s Head (about 2 hours out and back), and you’re rewarded with amazing views all along the way.  Just when you think you’ve seen the best vista, the next one tops it.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Another view

Another view

Oops!  Don't fall!

Oops! Don’t fall!

Cairn field at the Cliffs

Cairn field at the Cliffs

 

Horses at the Cliffs

Horses at the Cliffs

After our hike, we hopped back in the car and continued down the west coast, across the River Shannon via the Kerry-Clare car ferry and ended the day in the town of Killarney.  Our home for the next couple of days was the elegant Europe Hotel, situated on Lake Lough Lein and a perfect location from which to explore southern Ireland.

Mom on the Clare-Kerry ferry

Mom on the Clare-Kerry ferry

The next morning we took a drive to Dingle (only in Ireland does that name work) where we walked around the town, then took a boat ride to see the famous Fungie, a dolphin that’s made the Dingle Harbour its home since 1983.  He made several appearances on our 90-minute boat ride to the delight of the passengers.

The town of Dingle

The town of Dingle

Fungie the dolphin greeting boat in Dingle Harbour

Fungie the dolphin greeting boat in Dingle Harbour

Next we drove the Dingle Loop, which follows small country roads around the Dingle Peninsula, and provides lots of dramatic photo ops of the ocean overlooking the Blasket Islands, verdant hills diving into the sea, vivid wildflowers all along the roads, sweet little villages and, of course, lots of sheep.  It is Ireland, after all.  Ah, and you also run across the most westerly point of Europe…the next land stop to the west is the USA.

Wildflowers & rolling hills in Dingle

Wildflowers & rolling hills in Dingle

Beehive house on the Dingle Loop

Beehive house on the Dingle Loop

We stopped along the way to do a hike near the Blasket Islands Visitor’s Centre which was very pretty until we got caught in a rainstorm with literally no shelter, so we just kept trudging along until it stopped.  When the rain stopped we happened to make it to the small schoolhouse where the Robert Mitchum movie “Ryan’s Daughter” was filmed in 1970.  I haven’t seen it, but it’s now on my “to watch” list.

View from Conor Pass

View from Conor Pass near Dingle

We ended the day with a good ol’ pub dinner of lamb stew for me, and fish & chips for Mom.  A very good Irish day indeed.

Traditional pub food - Irish stew and Guinness

Traditional pub food – Irish stew and Guinness

We began the next day with a 7km hike into the Gap of Dunloe, (very close to our hotel) a narrow pass in the mountains of the McGuillycuddy Reeks.  It was a lovely hike, surrounded on both sides by velvety green, through the middle of which flowed a river with stone bridges zig-zagging across all along the way.

Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe

After our hike, we did a hurried drive around the Ring of Kerry (considered by many to be one of the best activities in Ireland, but if we had to choose, we preferred the views on the Dingle Loop), with a stop in the town of Kenmare before we headed toward Cork for dinner.  After a chaotic drive in the Cork city limits, we found a super cute tapas restaurant (Jacques), then took off for our next stop: Kilkenny.

We had a good night’s sleep in Kilkenny, and then spent the day exploring the town.  Highlights include Kilkenny Castle and numerous churches…particularly St. Canice Cathedral which has a detached tower that you can climb up for great views of the town below.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Flowers at Kilkenny Castle Butler's house

Flowers at Kilkenny Castle Butler’s house

View from tower at St. Canice

View from tower at St. Canice

After a late lunch, we got back on the road.  It was time to head north to Dublin, turn in the car and stay the night near the airport as we both had early flights the next morning:  Mom was heading back to the US, and I was on my way to Amsterdam…

What a great trip!  T’anks for a great time Ireland!

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2 Responses to AROUND THE EMERALD ISLE

  1. Jane says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking me with you. Wonderful memories of a special time together. I will always remember the spectacular scenery, Cliffs of Moher, the wild flowers of the hedgerows and driving those narrow roads. Loved it, love you! xo M

  2. Kim Natale says:

    Of course! It was wonderful to explore together and spend some quality time! Love you too! xx

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