Best sites of Ireland - Trip Report

Our flight was into Dublin International Airport, which is about 20 minutes from Dublin City Center. We were spared the ordeal of scoping out accommodation among Dublin hotels thanks to the hospitality of our friend in Celbridge (30 kilometers from North of Dublin) and for the complimentary stay offer at the Park Plaza Tyrrelstown hotel, 20-minutes outside of Dublin. The four-star hotel is outstanding, the only downside being the distance from Dublin city center. Rooms are upwards of €100, but occasional deals can cushion the cost. Ireland is an expensive place, restaurants outrageously so, making pub food seem fair game at less than €10 per person. For accommodation in Dublin proper, the best option we found was Hotel Isaacs Dublin - proximity to many attractions, public transportation, and clean, economical rooms along with great service.

The world-renowned Irish countryside effortlessly outdoes expectations and the natural beauty leaves you searching your lexis for superlative expressions. A road trip is undeniably a must and it provides. Ruins abound in varying stages and the richly diverse landscape is amazing for such a small country – the unique limestone paved mountains of Burren gives way to fairly rugged terrain and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher in a matter of miles. There is no visitor center in the Burren area leaving the onus on the visitor on how best to absorb the terrain. Burren is indeed bliss for the inward eye and time helps by standing still. Cliffs of Moher on the other hand is fully commercialized with a beautifully built visitor complex blending and paved paths leading up to wonderful views. The fury of the Atlantic is not decimated even from atop the Cliffs. About sixty miles south of the Cliffs of Moher is the Ring of Kerry, a 110-mile touring-route starting and ending at Killarney – several vantage points provide outstanding views of the lakes of Killarney- hiking and camping options are available at Killarney national park facilities. Water falls, mountains, and coastal scenery add to the kaleidoscopic view. The sight of peat stacked along the roadside was a first for us. A day is only enough for a fleeting glimpse of the area - allow more time, if possible to fully appreciate what is on offer. For those inclined towards souvenirs, the visitor center at the Cliffs of Moher has a varied selection.

Routes along Irish country-side are devoid of bypasses – for a tourist, the additional time it takes to navigate in and out of small villages is a blessing in disguise as it is a chance to catch a glimpse of life in Ireland. Adare, considered Ireland’s prettiest village along with several other villages have the thatched cottages, striking stonework, and ruins all in a wooded countryside setting. Glendalough, about an hour south of Dublin in the Wicklow Mountains is accessible through Sally Gap, an especially narrow road across the vast expanse of colorful moorland – small shrubs (around two feet) pack the entire landscape. Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall, cascading over rocks is a stunning sight. The bogland with heather in various shades of purple are again distinctive and different from the rest of Ireland’s geography. Glendalough, an ancient monastery, referred as the “valley of the two lakes” has a visitors center explaining its history. Both sets of ruins are about a mile apart and can be covered in about two hours – the first group lies east of the Lower Lake and the other group has the buildings associated with St. Kevin dating back to the 6th century. The western Irish countryside we toured was dotted with gorgeous houses that projected an air of relative affluence – the farming community along with empty nesters form the majority of the dwellers.

Dublin is a pedestrian friendly city with most attractions within walking distance of each other. The hop-on, hop-off buses (€15) is another alternative for getting around as they provide entertaining commentary and with around twenty some stops to hop on and off as you wish. The city is congested with both pedestrians and traffic alike and using public transportation or a taxi to get to the city center is a good option. The major attractions include the Book of Kells at the Trinity College library (€8 to see the library and €10 to also participate in the guided tour of the college) in Dublin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Dublin castle. The carvery (meat carved in large portions and served with vegetables such as boiled cabbage/cauliflower and potato) lunch in most pubs in Dublin is representative of the bland but meaty nature of Irish food. Black Pudding (or blood sausage), a traditional Irish breakfast item is an acquired taste and was not palatable for us while the White Pudding the bloodless counterpart fared better. Guinness, the ever-popular Irish stout beer is served everywhere – an exhibition is available at the Guinness Hop Store complete with a self-guided tour that takes visitors through 200 years of Guinness brewing history.

The car hire (rental car) and the first drive in Europe took some getting used to - the rental cars are neither the brand spanking new ones nor are the categories the ones you are accustomed to in the US – a Toyota Yaris with18K miles categorized as a mid-size car served our purpose. Most roads tend to be on the narrow side with the exception of the motorways – sometimes it is a struggle for two cars to pass each other. The GPS will guide through roads not even paved. Orientation issues (you drive on the other side of the road, the steering wheel is on the other side as well, and the signal lights change in the reverse order as in Red-Yellow-Green as opposed to Green-Yellow-Red) and the narrowness of the roads demanded half an hour from us to get our bearings right. After our wheels kissed the curb repeatedly we realized why, even with full insurance, the rental policy explicitly states ‘No coverage for Tires’.


Related Posts:

1. European Vacation – Gotchas to avoid and frugal options for cost conscious American Visitors.
2. Best sites of London & Cambridge - Trip Report.
3. Best sites of Edinburgh - Trip Report.
4. Best sites of Ireland - Trip Report.

Last Updated: 01/2015.



2 comments :

Fergal said...

Hi, I'm sorry but I have to correct you on your comment about traffic lights (Red-Yellow-Green as opposed to Green-Yellow-Red) Traffic Lights at road junctions in Ireland change Green-Amber-Red.
Amber meaning prepare to stop.

Its only at pedestrian crossings that they will change Green-Amber-Red-Flashing Amber.
Flashing Amber means you can go as long as there is nothing coming (ie. no people on the crossing)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blogs. My wife and I will be in England (London), Scotland, and Ireland for 20 days in August, 2009. I will be driving, just in Ireland, for the last 5 days of the trip and appreciate your tips about travel there.

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