Land of Dance, Sing and Joy! 

Ok, I admit that I didn’t think of any other place but Dublin when I heard someone say Ireland. I think being honest here is the way to go 😛 My road trip around ireland, not just opened my visionary senses but also made a huge block of joy in my head, that I would never forget. 

This trip was planned according to our availability, so this isn’t an ideal ireland driving itinerary you would be looking at, but of course, we had fun doing trip so you might do the same 😀 

I directly didn’t fly to Ireland, I first flew to London to spend some days there before I could visit Ireland. London is beautiful as always and I can never get enough of that place. I discovered a very interesting cafe that actually inspires me when I was in London, and I will soon share everything about it. 

Ireland was my first ever solo trip, and I was feeling all the jitters that one should have before flying out solo. So that’s typical me! I flew out from London to Dublin, and then took a connecting flight to Kerry County. I went straight to Killarney because I was attending of the best in the Industry TBEX( Travel Blog Exchange) you can register here for next conference in Finger Lakes, New York. 

Some madness of TBEX before I dive into the trip 🙂 Also,  you can register here : TBEX

A little about Killarney

Killarney is a beautiful and a vibrant ‘little’ town in Kerry County. It’s widely popular for the incredibly beautiful surrounding countryside which makes Killarney a very special place indeed. Brim full of history, heritage, activities, and world-class hospitality. Oh yes, I was mind blasted as soon as I stepped into this little town. Before visiting, I made some friends who were joining me there and happened to share the hotel with them which was pretty close to where the conference was happening. The hotel we chose was Killarney Riverside Hotel which was a mid-range hotel and was perfect since 3 of us were sharing and walking distance was The Gleneagle Hotel where TBEX was held. It was a 3-day event where most of the day was spent at the conference by changing session rooms and later in the evening was jam-packed pub crawling. I swear to God, I never knew more about pub crawling until then and you bet I was blown away with all the crowd cheering, loud waves of laughter, tap dancing, and Guinness Beer taps, I have a smile while I am writing the name Guinness, ahh, I wish I had one in my hand right now. 

Quickly some facts about flights and Town: 

  1. There are no direct flights to Kerry, you’ll either need to choose Dublin or Cork as the major connecting airport to reach to Kerry. 
  2. Kerry has a pretty small airport, so you’ll not get lost and you may end up getting your bags almost immediately too, which I did, Yay! 
  3. Killarney Town is about 20km away from the airport and I jumped out of shock when I stepped outside the airport and learnt that there weren’t as many taxis or No Uber. Can you imagine an Indian saying that? 
  4. Taking airport bus services is the best advice, since its cheap about 5 Euros, plus you get a view from a level above 😉 
  5. Killarney has a lot of touristy spots, one among all stands out is the National Park and the Muckross House.
  6. The famous pubs are The Shire and J.M Reidys, both are so amazing, I have had a fair share of  Guinness in both the pubs, so no complaints 😀 
  7. Best luxury hotels are Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Killarney Park Hotel, The Europe Hotel & Resort 
  8. There are a lot of mid-high range hotels, also some very cool Air Bnb’s. 
  9. Saving the last tip, the walking tour is the best in any city, and Killarney town will leave you startled by its beauty, food and culture. 

There are many places to visit in Killarney, but we chose to explore Ireland by car driving through the famous Ring of Kerry. Road trip around ireland

You can rent your car from here:

https://www.budget.com/en/home 

https://www.irishcarrentals.com/

Explore Ireland 

Ring of Kerry 

One may wonder what exactly is Ring of Kerry,  I did too when I heard it for the first time.  Well, it’s a route. A trail. A road. But this is no ordinary road. 

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Its 179km-long, circular route takes in rugged and verdant coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages. Skellig Michael, a rocky island with an abandoned 7th-century Christian monastery, is a major destination point, with several boats from Portmagee making the 12km crossing during the warmer months. It’s a road that takes you from deep forest to the crashing waters of the wild Atlantic. It’s a road through rugged, majestic landscapes: where wild stag roam and where tumbling waterfalls crash into crystal streams teeming with wild salmon. It’s a road that shows you the real meaning of a holiday in Kerry, Ireland.

Our first stop on this road exploration was Gap of Dunloe which is located at a distance of around 20 km from Killarney. 

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain by glacial flows. The river running through the gap is the river Loe from where the Gap gets its name. The Gap begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. The road, narrow in many places, winds through the pass and descends into The Black Valley passing five lakes, Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake and Black Lough. Within easy walking distance from Kate Kearney’s cottage is a picturesque old bridge known as the ‘Wishing Bridge’. It is said that wishes made here really do come true! 

The Gap is approximately 11 km from north to south. You can either hire a jaunty car or hike, by the time we reached there it was drizzling and was freezing cold, we decided to fancy a jaunting car for ourselves. It costs 20 Euros per person, Tom our horse rode through the beautiful narrow road of the gap and the owner seemed to share a good rapport with the horse, it was fun to watch them tease each other. The ride lasts for around 45 mins and it’s definitely worth all the money. Also, if you fancy hiking,  it takes more than 2 hours both ways. 

After the chilly ride, the fog of smell was calling us from Kate Kearney’s cottage, where we decided to eat our scrumptious lunch. 

We had a long journey ahead, by the roads getting narrower,  fully fogged, where the visibility was less than 5 mts, and lanes getting darker. We booked our stay in Dingle for the night which was around 250 KM.  

The next passing by the village was Sneem.  Sneem is a village in Co. Kerry, South West Ireland, long associated with a remote and relaxed way of living.  

It is situated in the famous “Ring of Kerry” a route that encapsulates some of the best nature has to offer. 

Nestled between mountains and wild and rugged coast it offers some of the best views in the country, to be experienced either from the car, on foot or on a bicycle as the weather dictates!

The village is split into two by the Sneem River (have a look at the video for the flooded river), with the respective sides being known as North Square and South Square. Each part of the village has its own feeling and special beauty, there is really no better way than to spend a day exploring.

 The next connecting point was Ballinskelligs Pier, This is a Ferry Crossing Point (Embarkation Point) for The Skellig Islands. By the time we reached here, it was already evening and we could get catch the glimpse of Skellig Islands through sunset. 

Skellig Michael (or Great Skellig) is the larger of the two Skellig Islands and home to the ruined remains of a Christian monastery dating between the 6th and 8th century. It was inhabited by monks until the late 12th century and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The location is very popular amongst tourists as the location of the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The boat trip to this untouched beauty can be taken either from ballinskelligs Pier or Portmagee town. The cost of the round trip would cost you 85 Euros, there are some smaller trips too. The boat trips are available only to the Skellig Michael( Larger) and Little Skellig is closed to the public is home to a colony of over 27,000 pairs of gannets, the second largest colony in the world. However, many of the boat tours to the larger Skellig Michael circle Little Skellig on the return journey allowing passengers a closer view of this noisy and wondrous spectacle. 

Also, keep in mind that there are limited tours only, and they highly depend on the weather for you to take that awaited boat trip to Skelling Islands. We got unlucky and couldn’t witness this beauty because of bad weather and were happy to only get the pictures from a distance. 

PortmageePortmagee is another small colourful village in County Kerry, Ireland. The village is located on the Iveragh peninsula south of Valentia Island and is known locally as ‘the ferry’, in reference to its purpose as a crossing point to the Skellig island.

Dingle:  It was already getting late around in the night, and our last stop for today was Dingle. On your road trip, you can’t miss going to Dingle.  Dingle town is a busy, bustling town with colourful shop fronts, great restaurants and an incredible fifty-two pubs! Dingle is famous for its very friendly Bottlenose dolphin named Fungie who had been in Dingle Bay since 1983. Don’t miss to go on a boat trip to see the wild dolphin Fungie. Fungie, will come and swim along the boat or would flap around the boat and the experience is undoubtedly the best in nature. Dingle is also the birthplace for the Murphy Ice-creams, OMG, they just changed my taste so good that even when I am back in India, I’d still cry for them.  

Cliffs of Moher: After spending a whole day in Dingle, eating ice creams, running into pretty cafes and seeing my friend Fungie, the next day’s destination was Cliffs of Moher. Easily one of the top destinations to visit in all of Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. With over a 700-foot drop along the Wild Atlantic Way, this incredibly scenic coastal walk has become a must-see spot in Ireland and extremely popular with tourists. The cliffs of Moher are located just south of the Village of Doolin in Co Clare Ireland. Since we were driving all around Ireland, we definitely didn’t a lot of time for hiking, for which we regret now, but please don’t rush when you do to see Cliffs of Moher, and go hiking here and book a stay in Doolin. Although, there is no accommodation in the Cliffs of Moher, the close to the village is Doolin. Doolin is a vibrant place full of characters, stories and experiences and is home to some of the region’s best accommodation, eateries and beautiful local shops. The people of Doolin are passionate about their community and look forward to welcoming you with open arms. Also, It’s very cold and breezy out there, so when you go make sure your cover yourself up well. 

Since the drive was long from Dingle to Cliffs of Moher, so were tired from the conference and driving along the long journey,  we planned to spend the night in the Wild Atlantic itself and had the most delicious meal of the day at the Wild Atlantic Lodge in Ballyvaughan, Clare.

Our trip isn’t over yet, with delicious food in the belly and a gorgeous smile on our faces we went into a deep sleep that night. Next morning, the sun decided to shine upon us and we were thrilled to feel the warm sunrays hit our skin. After the delicious breakfast at our Airbnb, we pack and lock and go zooming and today we decided to visit the Galway City. 

Galway: I am sure, you are humming the famous song from PS I love you already and smiling to yourself. This was our exit day, meaning our last destination was Dublin, so on the way we planned to visit the world famous place for its pubs and culture, we spent those few hours by taking a walking tour around the city which only left us telling again that we should have allocated more number of days to spend in this gorgeous city.  If you are someone who loves art, bohemian and festivals, then this is your city, my friend. All towns in Ireland are vibrant and colourful, but Galway has more to offer you. Galway is legendary around the world for its entertainment scene be its brightly painted pubs heave with live music, while restaurants and cafes offer front-row seats for observing buskers and street theatre. It is also a popular seaside destination with beautiful beaches and a long winding promenade in Salthill. 

We were already sulking since the next stop was our last stop, Dublin!

Dublin: Now, circling back to the beginning of the post, yes when someone said Ireland to me I only thought about Dublin. After a quick tour around Galway city, we reached to Dublin and of course, our stop was to see The Book of Kells, the library is a must-see on the itinerary of all visitors to Dublin. Located in the heart of Dublin City, a walk through the cobbled stones of Trinity College Dublin will bring visitors back to the 18th century, when the magnificent Old Library building was constructed and which displays the Book of Kells, it’s magnificent since there was much less time, I couldn’t wait my turn through the long queue and skipped to for a quick tour around the city by walk, whereas my other two friends went in, and skipped the city walk. I went around the city, crossing many cobbled stones pubs, living neighbourhood, big malls, and lively squares. Later, I was told that it was magical, and I shouldn’t have missed it, but when you have only 2 hours to cover, It was important for me to see the city, go look at world famous Guinness Factory so I will not complain about my way that I didn’t see the city at all, Dublin. 😀  

 

Well, that was my story in Ireland. Let me know what do you think my trip to Ireland. Also, add any of your favourites in the comments and I will do them when I am going there next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Ring of Kerry to Star Wars : Road Trip Around Ireland”

  1. Love your story and thank you for sharing the experience. We were doing the Ring of Kerry last year and loved all the sights, towns, countryside, sheep in the road, the music in the bars, but the only thing we didnt see was the actual set where Star Wars was filmed. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere near it when we were there. But we are planning another road trip to Ireland soon, so who knows. 🙂

  2. Great article Divya 🙂 really enjoyed reading through this.

    This is some of the very best travel journalism I have read for quite some time now.

    As a huge fan of the Star War film series, I would love to visit the location in which they filmed the shots for Ach-to, especially since it featured heavily in the recent release, Star War: Last Jedi.

    Keep up the great work Divya!!

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