Our time in Ireland has flown by and my senses have been filled with the most evocative sights and sounds, smells and tastes. Ireland is a perfect little package wrapped in green. I am so glad we came.
Day 9 already and we only have one more day in this pleasant little country before we move on to Scotland. I’ve wanted to blog sooner, but I just don’t know where the time has gone. But let me now take a few paragraphs to share with you some of the scenic highlights we have enjoyed.
Although the cities were great, my favorite days were the ones when we were driving the coastal roads, the rolling hills and the mountainous passes. At each corner and around every bend we found breathtaking views.
The Ring of Kerry – our day driving the Ring of Kerry was perhaps our favorite – oh wait, no I don’t think I can have a favorite here! But the Ring of Kerry was everything the guidebooks promised and more. We took Rick Steve’s advice and did the road clockwise, against the tour bus traffic and found little traffic at all. Each vista and each stop was sparsely populated. Ireland is known for its’ green – but the hue of green here is nearly indescribable…and this for a girl coming from Washington – the Evergreen State! Unexpected finds on the Ring of Kerry were the turquois blue waters and the remnants of castle’s centuries old, farm houses abandoned in the famine and miles and miles of meadows with white grazing sheep.
Dingle Peninsula – the drive on the Dingle Peninsula is significantly shorter than the Ring of Kerry but you will not be disappointed in anyway. This windswept and barren peninsula has been farmed for generations and was the site where many lost their lives during the potato famine of 1845-1850. Today many of the abandoned stone houses are being reclaimed and rebuilt. My favorite part of the day was a hike we took out the Slea head to view Blasket Island and the smattering of other islands all around. The weather was excellent on this day and the hike was like something right out of a fairytale.
The Cliffs of Moher – it took most of a day to drive from Dingle to Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher, but its a must see in Ireland – one of the countries most visited sites. And it was no different on the day we were there, a disappointedly crowded site, I had to look beyond the thousands of other visitors and be open to the beauty of this jagged, rugged 650 foot high cliffs that plunge with breathless grace in to the Atlantic Ocean far below. Every year some tourists loose their life here – with stupid mistakes getting too close to the edge for a selfie or a dare. It’s not worth it and the views are perfectly good from a safe distance. A huge parking area and a nice visitor center round out the experience, but if you go I recommend arriving either first thing in the morning or right before closing to avoid the throngs of tour busses.
Today we planned to go to Giants Causeway, but the drive ended up being a lot longer than we thought so it didn’t happen. We will get up early tomorrow and see it before heading in to Belfast. Be sure and check Facebook tomorrow because I’m sure our Fab Fifty Foto of the day will be Giants Causeway. I have high expectations.
Ireland is about the size of the State of Washington but with about one million fewer people. The size is very manageable for a driving tour, and all though we took nine days I wish we had a few more. With a few more days I would have taken the boat tour to Blasket Island off the Dingle Peninsula. I also would have loved to take a boat out to see the Cliffs of Moher from the water. I’m sure that is breathtaking. And today’s activities definitely needed two days to make it more relaxed.
You do need to have a bit of a sense of adventure however to drive the small narrow roads, often one lane roads for two lanes of traffic. Oh and don’t forget – on the wrong side of the road! But after a few days we really seemed to have gotten the hang of it, and only once or twice a day I freak out when we meet a tour bus on a teeny tiny narrow stretch of road.
It’s been a wonderful tour and we have learned so much. Perhaps we will come back here someday and do the Dingle Way, a 179km walking hike across the Dingle Peninsula. If I ever come here again, that is how I would best like to experience the enchanting, charming, stunning and hospitable country of Ireland.