Well, Spring break was coming up soon, and we needed a destination….
We just took a vacation to the Caribbean in February, so we were looking for more sightseeing and not as much heat. Somehow we thought of Ireland and after reading about it, we realized that it was the right destination for our purpose. Considering that we were going with a 10 year old and a 7 year old, lots of trip details mattered in order for it to be a successful family road trip. 7 hours flight didn’t seem that long. The driving time between destinations seem reasonable. Abundance of national parks, green scenery, gorgeous coastlines ,castles, forts, cows and sheep seem to accommodate interests of every family member. Emerald Isle was waiting and we were ready for adventure!!!
We bought our air tickets to Dublin using Momondo website. It was the first time that we’ve used this website, but it gave us the best prices and reservation went on smoothly. We rented a car through EuroCar.
We arrived in Dublin in the morning. The shuttle bus took us to the EuroCar rental place and 20 min later we were on our way out of Dublin. The first day total driving time according to Google maps was around 5 hours, but that is of course not counting all the stops on the way. We had a long drive ahead and everyone was tired after the flight.
Our first stop was Kilkenny Castle in Kilkenny town. We parked the car in the little paid parking lot for 1 hour not far from the castle. This is a fully furnished, remodeled and restored castle. During one hour, we quickly toured the castle, but didn’t have enough time to walk the beautiful grounds.
Our next stop was Rock of Cashel. We were the last ones to go in before it closed. This is a ruined castle. It was a surreal feeling standing in the middle of the castle surrounded by the tall, ruined walls. The day was gloomy, the crows were circling in the air above the castle. It felt like we were standing in the battlefield after everyone was gone.
By now, all the other castles that we wanted to visit on our way, like Blarney Castle, got closed, so we continued to drive to our B&B for the night. We have booked Kilmacale House from Booking.com located in Kilbrittain village in Cork county. The house is located right by the shore of Celtic Sea. The surroundings were very surreal and calm. Seeing a herd of cows in front of the house was a bonus. We were greeted by a very nice woman who is the owner of the house and lives there. In the morning we had a beautiful home-made Irish breakfast in the living room.
Day 2. The plan for the second day of our trip was to drive around Beara Peninsula and get to Kenmare for the night. Initially, we were not sure if we wanted to take a small detour and stop by Mizen Head Signal Station and Visitor Center in the Kilmore Peninsula, but we were so glad that we did! We parked the car near the visitor center and bought tickets which covers visit to a small visitor center and a beautiful walk along the cliff of Atlantic Ocean crossing the bridge. The weather was warm and sunny. We never thought that Atlantic Ocean could have such a gorgeous aqua blue color as we saw there. We have encountered an unforgettable array of views!!! The kids were very excited that we had spotted couple of seals swimming in and out of water.
We had quite tasty lunch of fish and chips in the cafeteria in Visitor Center. By this time kids were tired of walking and we headed to the Healy Pass road which crosses Caha Mountains in the Beara penincula. This was our first encounter with the Irish sheeps.
We stayed at the Lodge Guesthouse in the Kenmare village which was a walking distance from the village center.
Day 3. The plan for the third day was to take on the Ring of Kerry. We started the day with visiting Killarney National Park. Our first stop in the park was called “Ladies View” stopping point which offers a spectacular overlook of the Ring of Kerry.
The next stop in the park was Torc waterfall. I was not too impressed with the waterfall itself, but the walk to them was magnificent. We parked the car in the parking lot, and once we started walking the path to the waterfalls, we found ourselves what felt like in magical hobbit-like forest. Everything was covered in the saturated green colored moss…the ground, the trees… The shapes of the trees were very unusual.
After this wonderful walk, we had to drive back through the Killarney park to start our drive of the Ring of Kerry. Our next stop was Staigue Stone Fort which is a ruined ringfort located in the middle of nowhere I would say. The kids had fun climbing the walls of the fort.
By the time we reached The Skellig Experience Visitor Center it was closing. We stopped by the Ballycarbery Castle, which is a ruined castle. It was kind of cold outside and drizzling, so only my husband got out of the car to take some pictures.
Fourth day was the drive around the Dingle Peninsula. The first stop was Blennerville Windmill. We took a guided tour to see the windmill and enjoyed it very much.
The next destination was to cross the mountains using Conor Pass. Once on the pass, there was an area where people could park the cars and hike the cliffs. After a 10 minute hike, we encountered a magnificent view of Peddlers Lake.
We followed the Slea Head Drive to visit The Prehistoric Fahan Beehive Huts. At the end of the drive, we took another hike, parking by the beach. Apparently we were supposed to see a Sleeping Giant which is an island shaped like a giant from the top of our hike.
We finished out day with a filling dinner in Dingle town in the Out of the Blue restaurant which only serves seafood.
We waited for our fifth day with big anticipation, because this was the day when we planned to visit Cliffs of Moher, which is supposedly one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction. We started of the day with a pleasing visit to King John’s Castle in Limerick. This castle is more like a museum, so the kids got to learn more about Ireland’s history.
Next stop was Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. This castle is a restored castle where you get to go inside and climb all those winding staircases to see different rooms of the house. The folk park was also very interesting because it showcases different houses of people of different professions and social standing.
So, now finally we were on our way to the Cliff of Moher. The weather was very foggy, windy and on the rainy side. But in spite of everything, the cliffs were magnificent. We took a hike all the way too see them in all their beauty.
Day 6 was relaxing day, where we had nothing planned. We drove back in the Dublin direction, and spent two last days in the small town Bray near Dublin. Our hotel was right on the boardwalk, so we spent the rest of the day walking along the beach and eating ice cream. We also found the great pizza place called Platform Pizza in this town, which was highlight of the day for the kids.
On day seven, we visited Glendalough Monastic City in Wicklow. We got there in the morning, but parking was already full. So we decided to visit Powerscourt House first and then come back. The gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed walking around then for around 2 hours.
So, our final tourist destination in Ireland was Glendalough Monastic City. We were able to find parking this time around. There is an easy walking trail on site, so we spend a good couple of hours walking around and enjoying the views. And we finally saw the clovers!!!
Thank you, Ireland, for such wonderful green scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way. It was a great trip!!!