- April 2016
- 10+ hours of driving∼estimated over 20 hours with stops
- 680 km = 422 miles
- 6 days
- 2 People
Day 1: Cork→Killarney→Dingle
Day 2: Dingle→Slea Head Drive→Dingle
Day 3: Dingle→Limerick→Ennis
Day 4: Ennis→Cliffs of Moher→Dublin
Day 5: Dublin
Day 6: Dublin→America
Flying in from Bristol, England, we landed in Cork, picked up our reserved car, and headed straight for the coast. On the way, we stopped in Killarney to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. As with most of our trips, we ended up exploring one of the quaint pub filled streets until we found Sceal Eile Restaurant. A small, two story shop offering both local dishes and basic staples for picky eaters.
After a dinner of delicious traditional stew, we found ourselves invited in to Grandpa Charlie’s Sweet Shop, an old fashioned candy store. The owner was kind and generous, offering some of his homemade candies for us to try. We indulged in chocolates, raspberry hard candies, and coconut clusters before making our purchases, thanking the owner, and returning to the car.
With no cell data, and no GPS, we followed our map toward Dingle, where we would be staying for the next two days. The sun began to set, but not before we stopped for our first taste of the glowing Irish scenery and Inch Beach.
We reached Dingle at the height of twilight and checked in to Dingle Harbour Lodge. We were welcomed with an upgrade to one of private rooms in the main lodge due to low occupancy and delighted to find that the window in our room faced the harbor and the rolling green hills across the water.
The hostel was right outside the main town, about a 5-10 minute walk. It was a little chilly and rainy our first night, so we drove the 2-3 minutes to the center of town and found a parking spot amongst the pubs. We took the advice of the lodge receptionist and found the pub known to have the best trad music- An Droichead Beag. It was uncomfortably packed, but the music was just what you would image you’d hear in an Irish pub.
We stayed for a set or two before heading to a less crowded pub down the road, enjoyed some drinks, then made our way back to the lodge for the night.
We set out around 9:30am for Slea Head Drive. Located almost immediately off the main road in Dingle, Slea Head took us around the harbor and out along the coast of Dingle. We stopped at multiple points along the road to climb over the edge of the earth walls and take pictures.
We made our way all the way out to the Dingle Peninsula..and then we hiked it. It was an incredible hike on a path that is neither worn, nor hard to find.
It took us over the rock wall of a pasture and along the slopping side of the peninsula. After about 20 minutes, we reached the tip of the peninsula and were able to view the Blasket Islands and The Sleeping Giant.
Upon our decent from the peninsula, we drove on and stopped at Louis Mulch Pottery, a shop filled with all types and styles of gorgeous pottery, as well as a small cafe on the second floor with homemade scones. We completed the full Slea Head circle before returning to Dingle around 3pm; just in time to catch one of the last Fungi Boat Trips!
Without a reservation we walked up to the ticket booth right on the harbor and booked two seats on the next boat for 30 euros. It’s a decent price to pay, but the attendant informed us that there was a full reimbursement for any trip that does not get a sighting of the dolphin. We ended up seeing Fungi several times, and had a spectacular ride between cliffs and mountains being silhouetted by the setting sun.
After arriving back on land, we crossed the street to have a traditional dinner before returning to the lodge for a couple hours rest. Around 11:00 pm we spontaneously returned to Slea Head drive to stargaze. We drove for only the first 15-20 minutes of the road, but the cold and slightly creepy feelings of driving around cliffs and through farm land in the pitch dark started to get to us. However, seeing hundreds of stars and a few shooting stars was well worth it.
We set out around 10am for Conor Pass. This was an incredible, winding drive with spectacular views.
Upon reaching a small pull off and waterfall, we scaled the mountain side for about 15 minutes to reach the small lake that was feeding the waterfall.
A steep climb down, and a foot full of mud later, we completed our drive through Conor Pass and continued on to stop in Limerick for quick dinner.
After Limerick, we drove on to Rowan Tree Hostel in Ennis. We arrived, again, right as the sun was setting and explored the colorful streets of Ennis before spending the rest of the night making friends with two other travelers in our hostel dorm room.
We left as the crowds grew, following our map to Corcomroe Abbey. It is located about 5 minutes down the back road of farm land. We weren’t entirely sure we were allowed to be there, but there wasn’t anyone to stop us climbing through a small, gated opening in the wall and exploring.
We spent the rest of the afternoon driving all the way across to Dublin. It was an easy night, checking in to our AirBnB and going into the city for a late dinner.
We spent the morning returning our rental car and exploring Dublin in daylight.
In the afternoon we walked around the streets of Dublin, exploring small alley markets, picking up souvenirs, and wandering down Grafton Street.
Eventually we found our way to J.W. Sweetman Brewery, a three story pub/bar/restaurant that offers multiple floors of live music, good beer, and great food.
This dinner was enough to be a perfect end to our last night in Ireland..but we ended up getting lost on a wayward bus ride late into the night. If you’re interested in that story, head over to my post “I got lost in Ireland, and this time it wasn’t my fault!”
Because of the previous night’s adventure trying to find our way back to the Airbnb, we decided to spend the morning/early afternoon in our room. We left only to eat at a small cafe at the end of the block and reminisce of the trips greatest moments before taking a cab to the airport.