This week my mind has drifted back to a trip to the Emerald Isle back in 2015 with Zach and Sam. In fact, over the years we visited several times as we all enjoyed the hospitality, culture, and beauty of this magical place.
Ireland’s charms know no bounds!
Prior to visiting, Ireland had been a constant reminder of my family heritage as my grandfather was Irish and who immigrated to Australia during the early 20th century.
As you would expect we decided on a road trip for the initial portion of our 10 days exploring the Emerald Isle.
We decided on a southern loop of Ireland, from Dublin down via Cork, Killarney, and then up the west coast through Limerick and Galway before cutting back across to Dublin.
Theoretically you could drive the route easily in a couple of days, but as you’d expect with any great road trip you tend to linger and explore!
Our first stop on our tour of the Emerald Isle was Waterford. Yep, the same place that they have produced the world renowned Waterford crystal since 1783.
Take the time for a factory tour as it was awesome to see how they hand craft every piece that they produce. Just incredible craftsmanship
Our guide Tom had worked at the factory for 38 years and during his time had worked in every area of the production of these incredible pieces of crystal, and so he knew the fine details of every part of the process.
After an overnight stay in Waterford and a dinner of traditional fish and chips we set off for our next stop, Blarney Castle.
Blarney Castle was built in 1210, destroyed and rebuild in 1446 as a medieval fortress by the chieftain Cormac MacCarthy. It’s home to the legendary Blarney Stone.
Legend has it that by kissing the stone (you must lay on your back and kiss it from below over the edge of the battlements), that it gives the person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness.
Well, not sure about the myth but it was a cool experience to see the castle and learn the history of its development and destruction over the centuries.
We spent the afternoon exploring the town of Cork before heading toward Killarney (our next stop) and the gateway to the Ring of Kerry.
I’d always wanted to explore the Ring of Kerry.
Starting in Killarney, the Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. This 179 km-long, circular route takes in the beauty of the rugged, coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages.
This is quintessential Ireland!
To ensure we got the full measure of our Irish adventures we stayed in the village of Ballinskelligs. I had booked Rose Cottage in the village for our overnight stay and wasn’t disappointed.
During our day exploring the neighbouring area Sam discovered a local chocolate factory and café – Skellig’s. Situated only 7 kms over the coastal hills it was a lovely respite and more importantly a delicious interlude.
The early morning found me out and about in the local village and down on the beach with my camera while the kids slept – the perfect way to begin the day!
After a tasty breakfast we set off on the next leg of our adventure along the coast road toward Tralee and an overnight stay in Limerick.
Limerick was founded in 812 by the Vikings and is home to the largest population of red headed people in the world. As with every aspect of Ireland there is so much history… not to mention crazy facts!
The next important stop was experiencing the Cliffs of Moher.
Normally there would have been lots of people, bus tours and tons of visitors, however the day we visited there were only a handful of us hearty souls willing to brave the gale force winds buffeting the coast and cliffs.
I’ve never seen an updraft from cliffs that made a reverse waterfall.
In essence, the wind was so powerful that it was picking up the ocean water and blowing it up the cliff face and high into the air drenching us in a biting cold rain.
We had to stand leaning heavily into the breeze to keep upright but strangely the sun was shining overhead so rather a confusing mix…
The Cliffs of Moher are stunningly beautiful and of all the things on the Emerald Isle this would be one of our highlights!
Our final stop before completing our loop of the southern Emerald Isle was Galway.
Galway is an interesting city in the during the Middle Ages it traded primarily with Spain and France, and because of this has deeply Latin roots.
When in Galway you must visit the Latin Quarter and the Spanish Arch which give you insights into its incredibly complex history.
It was a great place to take my kids, with friendly locals, delicious fare and an eclectic history and culture to keep even your teens interested.
We would highly recommend Ireland as a travel destination!
Until next week