I've already broached the matter Ireland in my travel duel Dublin versus London and that I've already visited the country of leprechauns, Guinness and lush, green nature. My excitement for Dublin has also been limited but this time, everything's about my round trip and the Ireland, everyone's dreaming of.
My tour started in Dublin, followed by Kilkenny, a short stop in Cashel, Cork afterwards and from Cork off to Killarney and the ring of Kerry, followed by Limerick, the Cliffs of Moher afterwards, ending up back in Dublin. The route had 1.026 kilometers / 637 miles and I've been on the road for fourteen days – enough to see what I wanted to see but without having to rush.
I don't have to tell you much about Dublin anymore. I've already mentioned everything important in my travel-duel about the Irish capital city. My then-accommodation was located a bit further outside of Dublin, view on the Irish sea, and was may more beautiful than the one on my second visit. Unfortunately, I don't know the name anymore but it was a Bed & Breakfast. In my opinion, it's always a good idea choosing a small Bed & Breakfast for your stay in Ireland. You get taken care of pretty well, get to meet all kind of different people and most of the time, you even get important tips from the locals.
Let's start with Kilkenny, approximately a two hour drive from Dublin and not just known for the same-named beer but also because it's a well-preserved, medieval city. Narrow alleys and the famous castle of butlers, also known as Kilkenny castle. Kilkenny lies at the river Nore and the city is a great start into the Irish way of living. Roughly sixty kilometers / 37 miles from Kilkenny is lies Rock of Cashel. A mighty fortress is sitting on top of the rock, which is worshipped since the dark ages as home of ferries, ghosts and leprechauns. The strong belief in those creatures is omnipresent in whole Ireland after all - of which more later.
It's no surprise that the fortress is said to be haunted by ghosts since it's already existing for about 1.700 years. It was a really impressive sight to see, since it just had stopped raining, when I visited rock of Cashel and wafts of mist swirled over the green fields, with the fortress outstanding and a nearly black sky as background.
100 kilometers / 62 miles and approximately one hour drive from Cashel, you can find the port city Cork. With it's 120.000 citizen, Cork is the second biggest city in the republic. If you're visiting Cork in November, you should join the Cork film festival, which has become an internationally known short movie festival over the years. All jazz-lovers should visit Cork in October since this is the month when the Guinness Cork jazz festival is happening. But don't worry, there's enough to see for everyone who doesn't like short movie festivals or jazz, just like the English market from Monday to Friday, 8 am till 6 pm. Enjoy the diversity of the traders and find everything you want.
After Cork, we drove to Killarney. Killarney is perfect for everyone, who wants to drive the ring of Kerry. A roughly 180 kilometers / 112 miles long route along coast with a scenic landscape, parts with white sand beach, bright blue ocean and the Killarney national park.
I've already talked about the strong belief in leprechauns prior. If you're visiting a certain point inside of the Killarney national park, called the ladies view at the N71, you'll be able to find a very special road sign. It's tipping you off to drive slowly since not animals but leprechauns are crossing the road. If you want to grab something to eat after driving the ring of Kerry, I'd recommend the village Kenmare, half a hour from Killarney. You will find colorful houses next to each other but Killarney is also very colorful and picturesque.
Next stop on my route, after Killarney, had been Limerick, approximately 111 kilometers / 69 miles further up the country.
Limerick itself isn't that smashing. When I've visited Limerick for the second time, I've got my shamrock tattoo done there, by a real Irish man, even with ginger hair – luck of the Irish and stuff like that ;) If you want to get a little souvenir under your skin, I can recommend the Allstark Ink tattoo studio. But we've only got an appointment there 'cause somebody called one off, shortly before we've visited the studio.
Back to Limerick. Like I said, it wasn't the nicest city on the route. There's King John's castle right next to the Shannon, the milk market and lots of pubs. Visitors and owners of said pubs can appear quite grumpy. On my second visit, I've blundered into one of those pubs with my friend, since it had been raining pitchforks and we wanted to warm ourselves up. The elder gentlemen occupying the bar in the early afternoon threw us some wary looks and the landlord didn't look too keen by our arrival either. Then we ordered two hot chocolate instead of two beers as well. Damn tourists.
But the first impression isn't always correct. The hot chocolate was awesome. The landlord even decorated it with brightly colored, tiny marshmallows and served it to us with a big grin on his face.
If you want to experience how living in Ireland has been in the past, then you should visit Bunratty castle & folk park, twenty minutes by car from Limerick. A small town presenting the formerly houses and lifestyle. From the poor farmer, living in a small cottage, up to a shire estate as well as Bunratty castle itself. If you're booking your ticket online in advance, it's only 11 euros / 13 dollars. It's wasn't too crowed and it's actually quite interesting and built with a love for the detail.
What you definitely can't miss, when visiting Ireland, are the famous cliffs of Moher. The cliffs stretch for 8 kilometers / 5 miles along the Irish coast with a height of roughly 120 meters / 394 feet and even 214 meters / 702 feet at their highest point. When I've visited back then, It was even possible to walk to the edge of the cliffs, lay on the ground and stare down into the abyss, watching the ocean crash against the vertical walls. Now, I think, there's a hiking trail along the cliffs.
From the cliffs of Moher, I went back to Dublin in a three hour drive. Starting point as well as final destination of my tour.
If you rent a car for your trip through Ireland, mind that, besides the left-hand traffic, there are parts where the roads are darn narrow. Once a truck approached us on a B-road and in order to avoid him, we had to drive halfway into a field. Otherwise he would not have been able to pass us by. Biggest adventure in Dublin was an eight-lane roundabout, following right after the airport. We had to drive an extra round, until we finally got out of it again. The most curious thing to eat, I've seen, wasn't Haggis – the stomach of a sheep filled with offals – no, it were deep-fried Mars bars. Yes, it's true, they really are existing. However, I have tried it no more than Haggis.
Ireland is always worth a visit. The weather may be rainy, but the landscape is utterly awesome. The people are hart to hart and there is so much to explore.