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We arrived from Scotland mid afternoon and caught the Aircoach bus from the airport which pulled in right outside our door at the hotel. This is the only bus that does and it takes about 25mins and they leave every 15 mins from the airport. See my review of the hotel above. We settled into the hotel for the evening.
We could have caught a bus right outside the hotel to the city centre but opted for a taxi which we flagged down instead (about 8 euro).We got out near Collins Street where we ambled around town as my spouse did not want to go on the hop on and off bus. I enjoyed the shopping here as there were sales on and Collins Street really had boutiques that I had never seen before and we picked up some bargains. We walked over the Halfpenny bridge and around the Temple Bar district but opted for a drink and a meal further afield. It was pleasant just mingling with the locals. On the way back in a cab to the hotel, we picked up our hire car from Sixt which was basically a street or two away. There was a bit of a wait for it to be delivered though and we were glad we had booked it for the afternoon before we left. The hotel has a car park which was great. That night we dined at our hotel.
We left the hotel reasonably early without breakfast and headed south to County Cork. Along the way, we dropped into the Rock of Cashel where we spent a good half hour looking through the ruins and taking in the scenery around it. To think that there have been quite a number of Kings inhabit this castle which is C1100. We quickly pulled into Cahir and saw Cahir Castle on the River Suir which had nice autumn tones along the bank. This castle is one of the largest in Ireland.
After a bite to eat we headed down skirting Cork to Kinsale, booked into our self cont. 2 bedroom apartment with great views over Kinsale Harbour and a short walk into town. There is also Scilly walk just outside the door. Loved this area and it was hard to head out at times and lovely to just sit and take in the goings on, on the harbour. Which we did this first afternoon once we bought in our supplies.
Charles Fort, Desmond Castle and town centre
Also have a review of Kinsale with photos
The next morning, I ventured up to Charles Fort (C 1600's) which was in view on the harbour from the studio.After paying the entry fee, I wandered through the museum, watching the videos, and then went outside and around all the ruins of this star shaped fort with it's five bastions It has an outstanding view around the harbour and across the other side is the smaller ruin of James Fort. Chains were strung between the two to scuttle invading ships. Plenty of great photos here back across to the marina in Kinsale and the smaller settlements of Summercove and Scilly.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the colourful streets of Kinsale, looking in shops, seeing Desmond Castle, an urban tower house C 1500 and built by the Earl of Desmond. This in it's time has been a Spanish arsonal, a prison for both French and Americans and now houses the Wild Geese Wine museum. It was then back to the sun room at the studio, relaxing and taking in the scenery on the harbour.
Drive south west coast to Skibbereen
We decided to drive along the south coast route to Skibereen. This is quite a scenic drive passing Harbour Beach although the tide was out, Timoleague with it's Franciscan abbey C1240, Courtmacsherry fishing village up a dead end road, Clonakilty and it's pretty streets and then at Ros Carbery we turned south driving to Glandore, sighting Union Hall across the harbour. Got some nice photos here while the traffic controllers held us up repairing the road. Once we reached Leap, we turned back onto the road to Skibbereen. This is a quaint and pretty town and we settled down for a nice huge lunch in Annie May's cafe, watching the very attentive and active waiter working up a storm, serving everyone in great timing! From Skibbereen after browsing through a few shops, we returned back to Clonakilty where we deviated and headed up to Brandon and down into Kinsale. I decided to wander along the Scilly Walk. This takes you along the harbour front and down the streets, along past Bulman's Pub at Summercove and up to Fort Charles. It is a popular walk as I noticed many walkers on the street below us each morning. We settled in for the drive north to Dingle the next day.
Ring of Kerry en route to Dingle.
Leaving Kinsale our intention was to drive as far north west as Clonkeen on the N22 bypassing Cork and then take the smaller road out to Kenmare, then drive up through Killarney National Park to Killarney and onwards. On the way into Kenmare there was lovely green countryside at Kilgarvan. Once we had a look around Kenmare, we decided to add in the Ring of Kerry. I had heard not to drive in a clockwise direction as we may have to pull over for the tour buses coming in the opposite direction. Fortunately, this did not happen as the three we saw had pulled in either for sights or a meal. I must say that there were road works going on along this road to widen and improve it and it really does need attention as I found that we seemed to be riding a bucking horse quite a bit of the time as this road had been badly made. We only stopped for a few photos here and there as we had a lot of ground to cover to get up to Dingle. We got some fantastic photos of scenery around, Sneem and across to Daniel's island, many around Castle Cove including some ruins? down a side lane and cottages on the waterfront, houses on the hill near Abbey island and more around the picturesque Ballinskelligs Bay, then a glimpse across to the Dingle Peninsula which seem ages away at that point...this was a fleeting visit which probably didn't do the Ring justice in our short visit but at least we had seen some of it. We turned at Killorglin and then west at Castlemaine, heading along the southern Dingle Peninsula.
We stopped at Inch, which has the second longest beach in Ireland, then headed through Anascaul and into Dingle arriving just in time for us to book into our accommodation. See review
The Dingle Peninsula
After a hearty breakfast, we headed out around Slea Head, firstly stopping at Ventry, which has a lovely beach, then after Fahar, I scrambled up the very high dirt path to the Beehive huts (ring forts) which are about 4000 years old and were used until 1200 AD. They were high up on the hill over the bay with good view back east along the peninsula. Good walking shoes here and stamina! From here we drove around the very scenic Slea Head, sighting the Blasket Islands off shore. This is Western Europe's furtherest land. There is The Blasket Centre near Dunquin about the people who left the Blasket Island's for a better life in the 1950's. The ruins can be seen through a good camera lens from the road. Peering over the side of the cliffs below on a small jutting parcel of rocky land were two sheep nibbling on the grass...no fear of height over the deep ocean below for them!
Once we turned the corner, we came across Commenouel Beach down below This pretty sandy beach was used in the movie, Ryan's Daughter. There is a parking area there and the spotted nose sheep in the paddock were quite oblivious to my taking their photos...well fed and content!
Once we passed Dunquin we turned a corner and the most magnificent scenery opened up before us. This was the view across to Ballyferriter under the three sisters (cliffs) in the distance. A great panoramic shot here on such a beautiful clear and sunny day. From Ballydavid we headed back into Dingle town to look around the colourful streets and the marina area. Dinner both nights were bar food in a pub along the waterfront across from the Marina, Benny's. I ate locally caught and fresh sea scallop meal both nights...they were so good!
Leaving Dingle the weather became inclement and looking up towards Connor's Pass which we had wanted to take north, it was obvious that it would be well under cloud cover and impossible to drive and we were advised by our B & B proprietor, John not to go there and so it was back to Anascaul and then the road north across to the top of the peninsula and out through Camp. Around Brandon Bay the colours of the red and green hills even though in mist, afforded a lovely photo opportunity. We ventured on through Blennerville with it's windmill near the bridge and were detoured by the police with a road block at Castleisland. Adare was a stretch of the legs along the main street to capture and see the little thatched cottages, one a nice boutique. Then we eventually arrived in the rain into Galway City. Snapped a couple of shots around the harbour from the car as we headed through and out to Salthill. Salthill is only a few minutes or so by the car out of town but it is best to get a bus back in or a cab, which wasn't that expensive at all. Our B & B was well situated and we had off street parking. As it was still raining and my husband wasn't into going out after the long drive, I went into the city and literally shopped until I dropped. Galway City has some lovely pedestrain only streets, but they were hard to really appreciate in the pouring rain, jumping puddles. We dined in a nice family type Italian restaurant down in Salthill that evening, L'Osteria Da Roberta. Even had my favourite Italian red wine.
Leaving Galway City, we headed north to Oughterard and came across a lovely little park there in full autumn colour with a fast flowing stream and a walk bridge over, from there we travelled past Lough Agraffrad where there was a storm brewing on the horizon and past Derry Clare Lough with it's treed island. We then turned south onto a smaller road which took us to Roundstone. This is a very picturesque small fishing village which looks across to Inishnee and houses across the water. Many photos were taken around this area and the small harbour and it's boats high and dry with the tide out. I even bought some stirling silver jewellery in a nice little shop along the street. Along around the road we got some nice photos of white cottages at Ballyconneely where a cow was determined to hogg the road all the way into town!
This route brought us around into Clifden, the main town of Connemara. A quick look around and then we headed north through the national park, past Kylemore Lough and Connemara Pass, Killary Harbour, which is Ireland's largest fjord and where we sighted many mussell farms along it's water and finally captured some nice photo shots around Leenaun. We stayed the night in the pretty little town of Westport at the Boulevard Guesthouse ( review) on South Mall which is right beside the river and in walking distance to main street, pubs and restaurants.
Connemara area and back to Salthill same B & B for the night.
Before we left Westport we drove out to the harbour, which was a bit non-descript but we got a view over Croag Patric, the mountain where Saint Patric scaled barefoot and fasted up there for 40 days. He also threw all the snakes out of Ireland, which was a good thing! Every few years there is a pilgrimage up the mountain to the church on the top which incidentally can be seen on approach coming into Westport.
Cong, a very small village down a country road from Ballinrobe, was a place I wanted to see. Be aware of the signs in Ballinrobe to Cong as we ended up a country lane some 10 kms out of town before we realised we were lost. The sign in town seemed to point ahead but actually we needed to turn to the right there. Cong (review) is a pretty little village, ducks on the canal, walk over bridges, lovely autumn colours at the Abbey ruins C1106 and Monks fishing cottage. I even saw holly growing for the first time in my life. We spent an hour or so walking around the village and the ruins, seeing the points of interest on the outskirts. I enjioyed this area.
We arrived back to the same B & B Tara House and ventured down to Salthill where we went in for a drink in the interesting O'Connor's Bar...entrance down the side. This is a real eye opener, with the many oil lamps hanging from the ceiling and all the oddities around. We even had a sewing machine table with the machine still on top..interesting to say the least. Dinner that night was in another family restaurant, Lohans, which became packed quickly and there was a queue waiting for their table.
We bade farewell to County Galway and took the M6 across to Dublin Airport, but drove out to Howth on Dublin Bay to spend some time. This fishing village is perched up on a high promontory. It was the bank holiday and the place was packed so much so, we couldn't find a park within cooee of the waterfront. There were people everywhere, walking out along the lengthy pier to the lighthouse and moorings, up on the top of the hill around the walking paths. I took some fleeting photos down over the marina, while my husband drove around in circles looking to park. Finally we gave up and headed back to our airport hotel, The Carlton, where we packed and re packed, had a few leisurely drinks in the bar and had dinner and waited in anticipation for the 27 hour journey back home the following morning. Thank goodness the bags weighed under! Fare thee well, and well you fair, Ireland! Loved your pretty cottages, the green rolling hills, the interesting fishing villages and the happy go lucky folk.
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