Let’s be clear… a road-trip on the highway (M-something in Ireland) is of zero interest. A road-trip on the main roads (N-something in Ireland) is of very little interest… but a road-trip on the single-track routes boarding the cliffs while constantly banging your right hand on the car door because you’re just not able to shift gear with your left hand… Now we’re talking! Enters the Wild Atlantic Way.
Following the Wild Atlantic Way
And, because I am who I am… getting off track more often than not!
I already told you everything about my landing in Dublin, discovering the city and mastering the drive on the “other side”. From there I slowly made my way along the coast, all the way to the Connemara lakes (which made me sing at the top of my lungs in the car… but, more on that later) and, sadly, back to Dublin.
Leg 1: From Dublin to Kinsale
I chose to drive straight from Dublin to Kinsale, with only a couple of stops along the way to witness the majesty of the Wicklow Mountains and the sandy beach of Curracloe. Turns out on a sunny Sunday, the beach there is as lively as the ones on the Mediterranean sea on a hot summer day! It’s just bigger, wilder, breathier…
But I had heard so much about the picturesque Kinsale that I practically ran over the Ed Sheeran fans that were swarming towards his concert in Cork. I wanted to get there early enough to enjoy a tour of the village and meet up with a local friend.
Of course, I arrived the night of a rugby congregation… the town was buzzing, the beer was flowing, the locals were hiding. Kinsale is a very bright village with a cute harbour and a general hispter feel to it. Little did I know that this colorful gem was only one of many along the Irish coast.
It is also close to the majestic site of Old Head of Kinsale, where we took my first mini hike before heading toward Killarney.
Leg 2: Kinsale – Killarney
Following yet another incredible and right-wrist-banging drive, I arrived at my next check point: the town of Killarney, where I had planned to stay three nights in order to take my time to explore the Ring of Kerry.
One of the highlight of the trip was a boat trip around the Skelling Islands, and, unfortunately, the weather condition didn’t cooperate and the plan was cancelled.
That didn’t prevent me from enjoying a lot of green hikes… and they had to tie me to a tree to stop me from photographing yet another one. We’ll simply say, I got a little carried away in the Killarney National Park.
And yes, of course, I was also talking to them…
Leg 3: Killarney – Kinvarra
Because things don’t always (ahem… never?) go according to plan, of course, there was a snafu in my AirBnB bookings and I ended up with only one night in Kinvarra… On the way from Killarney, I explored the Dingle Peninsula, and headed directly to my warm little house on an island.
I loved how Kinvarra, with its green, blue & ruins aura, reminded me of the Scottish island of Skye.
Leg 4: Kinvarra – Clifden
I took a small detour south to visit the Cliffs of Moher. They’re the pride of Ireland. And I’m granting that they’re impressive.
But it had more of a been-there-done-that-check feel and I much preferred getting lost, yet again, on in the middle of the fields. At least, there, I was making friends with something more than French tourists…
After passing Galway, I enter the county of Connemara.
Did you know that, an 80ies French singer (Michel Sardou) wrote a song called “The Connemara Lakes“? It’s highly popular in France… and it’s really ugly when it’s sang out of tune. But, that’s also the way it should be sung. Turns out, it’s also a tradition to blast it out in the car when entering the county… My travel buddy was highly doubtful of this last statement…
I must confess, there is a special place in my heart for the hospitality and wilderness of Connemara. I will remember fondly our time there despite all the Irish whisky that was consumed.
Before making my way back to Dublin, this time straight through on the highway, it was important to make one more stop, one more memory and a few more (four-legged) friends: Henry, Clive and company…
And I said goodbye to Ireland.
May is the perfect month for such a road-trip in Ireland. Before, the risk of showers is too high, after, the risk of tourists is too unbearable…