Green hills, sheep, dark beer, and ancient ruins. I don’t know about you, but those things always come to mind when I imagine what Ireland is like. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Emerald Isle is aptly named! The rolling hills were as green as ever- with flocks of sheep scattered around exactly as I had pictured it. Interestingly enough, it was not the landscape nor the rich food and drink that gave the country its charm and friendliness- but the people! We, and our three small children, were welcomed everywhere we went. Not once did we feel out of place or treated as a nuisance with the little ones. I mention that only because Europe can sometimes be difficult or unaccommodating when traveling with small children. I commend Ireland for their hospitality, even for large families!
We spent one night in Dublin, right in the city center. Driving was a trick, if you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road! My husband was a dear though, and handled it like a pro. While in Dublin, we toured the Guinness Storehouse, which I would highly recommend! We spent a few hours on the self-guided tour, and with the price of our ticket were able to enjoy a pint of Guinness on tap at the end! My husband learned the art of pouring his own glass, and they even provided a certificate of his “Achievement”! We enjoyed the Guinness stew for lunch and purchased a few things at the store before we were on our way. The Dublin castle was nearby, so we made a brief stop for a picture. After piddling around the city until the afternoon, we jumped in to the car and drove up to Belfast, Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.). See this post for details!
Our road trip itinerary took us from Belfast, Northern Ireland, down to Kilkenny, Ireland. We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast just outside the city in the countryside (Newlands Country House). I would not have had it any other way! It was quiet, the fields were lush and green, and we discovered the Kell’s Priory. The Priory was first built in the 1100’s, and has remarkably survived for the most part throughout all those years. Of course, it is in ruins, but there are still structures and towers standing. It is open, free to the public, and visitors are welcome to explore on their own. During normal tourist season (summer), the main tower is open for guided tours, but was locked up when we were there. No matter, the grounds were awe-inspiring and fun to look around at our own pace!
It was nearing lunchtime when we left the Priory, so we drove in to Kilkenny and happened across a food festival going onin the city center, next to the castle. We ate some great food from the tents set up there, and enjoyed people-watching and marveling at the grand Castle. I would have loved to look around the city a bit more as it was intriguing and appeared very historic.
We drove from there to Killkenney. Most definitely a tourist town, but it was the beginning of the Ring of Kerry and had plenty to do as far as walking, hiking, shopping, eating, and touring. Starting in the morning after breakfast, we drove the Ring of Kerry, stopping every now and then to take pictures, eat, or look about the towns along the way. If I were to go back, I would love to get out and do some hiking!
Have you ever road-tripped through Ireland? I’d love to hear your experiences! Leave me a comment or message me details- perhaps you can be my inspiration for our next visit (sometime in future years)!
‘Till next time!