Ireland is famous for spectacular coasts and rugged scenery, wonderful hospitality, great pubs with lots of music and lots of incredible history.
We travelled to Ireland on a family holiday and started in Belfast where we picked up our car rental at the airport.
The roads in Ireland are very easy to navigate with minimal traffic on the roads and the distances are very close. The only road hazards we discovered were tractors and the roads can be narrow.
The first day we drove up the coast, a pretty drive, stopping at a few towns en-route. A must is a visit to the Carrick Rope Bridge with great views, spectacular coast scenery and the bridge crossing was well worth it. Afterwards we continued onto Giants Causeway Bay a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places.
Continuing on to Bush Mills Whiskey Distillery which offers daily tours of the site before heading past Dunluce Castle ruins perched dramatically on the cliffs edge and to London Derry for the night. We found many ruined Castles scattered though Ireland and some in paddocks scattered with cows.
The following morning we had a guided walk around Londonderry city walls before heading down to the BOGS where the former IRA was prevalent. We found Derry or London Derry depending who you spoke to very interesting with lots of interesting history.
Today we headed to Southern Ireland and to Castle Leslie in County Monaghan for a two night stay. Castle Leslie is a 5 star stunningly beautiful country estate. The estate is on 1000 acres with a Castle, Lodge and Riding Stables. We loved our stay here and I enjoyed riding in the grounds and around the lake. The food here was of an excellent standard and we felt very spoilt.
After County Monaghan we drove to Galway and wandered around the old cobbled streets and enjoyed dinner in a traditional Irish pub. The following morning we drove to the Cliffs of Moher and spent a few hours here taking in the spectacular views before heading to Dingle.
Dingle is a coastal town with a port and worth spending some time here. We stayed in a small B&B for two nights. Dingle is a very pretty, colourful town with more pubs than I can remember. There are some lovely drives around the area and a boat trip to the heads is worthwhile to see the resident Dolphin called Fungi. Just walking around the town was enjoyable. There is plenty of Irish music at the pubs in the evening and Seafood Chowder is on most menus and one of our favourite and can definitely recommend trying this.
Continuing on we drove around the ring of Kerry. This can take a day if you stop at various points. We visited some interesting Castle ruins, explored old forts and saw some lovely seaside towns. Muckross House close to Killarney, a lovely 19th century mansion with large gardens is another must see. We spent the night at Killarney before heading to Cork and onto Blarney Castle which is not to be missed. The Blarney House, Castle and gardens are very well kept and lovely to visit and you must not forget to kiss the Blarney stone.
Afterwards we drove to the pretty seaside town of Cobh for lunch famous for the Titanic before heading to Waterford where we spent the night at a Country house. We had dinner at Jack Meades pub one of Ireland’s older pubs from the 1800’s.
Today we headed to Dublin via the National Horse Stud in County Kildare. The horse stud was very impressive with some of Ireland’s best stallions and the Japanese garden are a must see. We stayed just on the outskirts of Dublin as car parking can be a problem in the city centre. The local dart train was convenient into the city each day for a minimal cost.
Temple bar is a popular bar and restaurant area in Dublin and we enjoyed dinner here after spending the day exploring Dublin and visited Trinity College and the surrounding areas.
I thoroughly recommend Ireland as a self-drive holiday although there are many great tours also available. Allow at least 10 days and the longer the better as you can stay longer in some places and explore further.