So, as some of you know, I recently visited Ireland with my step mom and two of my sisters.
We spent 10 wonderful days exploring this beautiful place and I highly recommend you add it to your bucket list!
Tip: Click here for travel requirements to enter Ireland from the US & click here if you are from Canada
See maps of each area of Ireland here
I am currently working on blog posts for each day that we spent in Ireland but thought it may be helpful to do one post that included our full 10 day itinerary.
Read Day 1 here, Day 2 here & Day 3 here
Please note that 2 of the 10 days are travel days.
At the end of this post, I will add things you may want to consider packing along with some other helpful tips.
Click here to check out the current weather in Dublin
So, let’s get started!
We left out on Wed., June 10th and returned the following Sunday, June 21st.
On day one, my sister and I flew into Boston from Nashville while my step mom and youngest sister flew in from Orlando to meet up with us.
My sister and I had a 6.5 hr layover in Boston, so we took a taxi into downtown and had lunch at the Cheers restaurant and then walked around for a bit before taking a taxi back to the airport to meet up with my step mom & youngest sister.
Shortly after arriving back to the airport, we all flew to Dublin on an overnight flight arriving the next morning around 8 am.
DAY ONE IN IRELAND
We took a taxi from the airport to the Carlton Hotel where we would pick up our rental car from My Irish Cousin. The hotel was only a mile from the airport.
I will mention that the hotel did offer a shuttle that would pick you up but we chose to get a taxi.
We worked with Malachy Quinn to book our rental car before arriving to Dublin and he was always very responsive! It was the best car rental experience we’ve ever had! He was the absolute sweetest!!
You need to message him on Facebook…it seems it’s the best way to communicate with him.
My Irish Cousin also offers private drivers for those who are either too scared to drive or want to experience a more relaxing trip without the stress of driving.
Since there was 4 of us, we rented the Nissan Xtrail which is larger than an intermediate vehicle…..the cost with full insurance and extra drivers was 1250 euros…..and let me just say, our luggage barely fit!
We each had one large sized suitcase and it was a challenge getting them all to fit …especially near the end of our trip after we had accumulated so many souvenirs!
We also got a quote from Conn’s car rental…they had really good reviews as well.
Click here & here for tips on driving in Ireland
The 3 of us sisters had decided before we arrived to Ireland, that we would take turns driving. We were all scared to death since we had read so many horror stories about driving on the opposite side of the road and the opposite side of the car!!
Malachy sensed our apprehension and offered to drive us into the city and drop us off at a central location so we could easily walk to the sights we were interested in seeing. He told us to call him when we were ready to be picked up!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a car rental company offer to do that before!
So, we took him up on his offer…
Click here for the most comprehensive guide to parking in Dublin.
Malachy drove us about 25-30 mins into Dublin and dropped us off near the Marsh’s Library which was our first stop for the day.
Click here & here for the best places to visit in Ireland
Marsh’s Library is the first public library in Ireland (1707) so you cannot miss it!
Unchanged for three centuries, this perfectly preserved library of the early Enlightenment, with its original oak bookcases, houses more than 25,000 rare and fascinating books.
The library is open every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm…except Tuesdays, Sundays, bank holidays, Christmas and New Year.
Visitors are asked to pay an entrance fee of €5, with €3 for students and senior citizens. There is no charge for young people under 18.
We spent about 20-30 mins here. Read reviews here
Our Next stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was only about a 1-2 minute walk from the library & I highly recommend visiting this cathedral…it is breathtaking!
Founded in 1191, it’s the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. With its 43-metre spire, St. Patrick’s is the tallest church in Ireland and the largest.
The cost is 8 euros for an adult, 7 for a student or a family rate of 16 euros for 2 adults and 2 children under the age of 16. They offer group tours as well.
The cathedral is wheelchair accessible. They also have a small gift shop and restrooms. They are opened Mon-Sun and their hours vary depending on the time of year.
Be sure to spend some time walking around St Patricks Park after leaving the church.
Our next stop was Christ Church Cathedral.…it takes approximately 7 mins to walk there from St Patricks.
Buy tickets here and read reviews here & click here to see Oddities of Christ Church
This is another church that I would highly recommend you visit! It is stunning!
The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church Cathedral to its present location around 1030.
On your walk to the church, you will also see the Dublinia Museum & St. Audoen’s Church.
Dublinia is a historical recreation museum focusing on the Viking and Medieval history of the city. It’s a popular tourist attraction in Dublin.
Buy tickets to the museum here and read reviews here
Our next stop was lunch at the Wild Duck Theatre Bar & Venue….do not recommend. Service was super slow and the food was average. It’s about a 5 min walk from Christ Church – Read reviews here
Tip: To find all of the public restrooms in Ireland click here
Our next stop was a must do for my sister….Laduree for their awesome macarons! It was a 6 min walk from the restaurant.
Read reviews here
On the way to Laduree, we passed the Dublin Castle. The castle was a 9 min walk from Laduree but only 5 from the Wild Duck. The castle was founded in 1204.
Buy tickets to the Dublin Castle here & read reviews here
We also passed St Andrews Church.
Our next stop was the Book of Kells. & the Old Library at Trinity College–This is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist spots.
Tip: In October 2023, the Old Library will close its doors for three years to begin the careful and important process of restoring and protecting it for future generations to enjoy. Read more here
The walk from Laduree to the Book of Kells is 6 mins and if you skip Laduree, the walk from the Wild Duck to the Book of Kells will be 10 mins.
The college was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I.
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. The book was created sometime around the year 800.
Click here for 10 things you should know about the Book of Kells
Buy tickets to the Book of Kells here & read reviews here
After this stop, we called Malachy to have him pick us up & take us back to the Carlton Hotel so we could pick up our rental car.
Click here for the 30 best things to do in Dublin, here for the best restaurants & here for the best hotels. Click here to take a tea tour on a vintage hop on/off bus! Read reviews here
Other places we had on the itinerary for Dublin that we didn’t get to: Kilmainham Gaol, Grafton Street, St. Stephen’s Green Park, Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, & Duckett’s Grove House (this was on the way to Kilkenny & 40 mins from Kilkenny)
Tip: For unlimited travel on the Dublin City Bus services, Luas, DART and Commuter Rail, purchase the Leap Visitor Card or for a taxi download the FreeNow app.
We then headed to our first hotel in Kilkenny called Kilkenny River Court Hotel.
The hotel had beautiful views of the Kilkenny Castle!
It took approx 1.5 hrs to get to our hotel from the Carlton Hotel.
View of the castle from the hotel
View of our hotel from Kilkenny Castle
Read reviews for the hotel here
After getting checked into the hotel, we walked to find something to eat…
Tip: Things close up early around Ireland so be prepared!!
We ended up finding a pizza place called Mizzoni’s....the pizza was awesome!
You can download the Just Eat app and order food to be delivered to your hotel if you don’t want to go out. It works just like Uber Eats.
Don’t miss the umbrella lined street! It’s near the Market Cross Shopping Center. There’s one in Dublin as well but we missed it!
After dinner, we called it a night!
DAY 2 IN IRELAND
On our 2nd day in Ireland, we started out with a delicious breakfast at the hotel!
We then headed to our first stop of the day, the Kilkenny Castle.
Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195.
It was a 5 min walk from our hotel.
Purchase tickets here & read reviews here.
Be sure to visit the tea room in the castle!
The castle’s gardens were beautiful!
We then walked back to the hotel to check out and head to our next stop, the Rock of Cashel., one of Ireland’s most historic sights.
Tip: 25 mins from Kilkenny is Jerpoint Abbey – a ruined Cistercian abbey, founded in the second half of the 12th century.
Click here for more things to see/do in Kilkenny
On the way there, we passed St Canice’s Parish so we made a quick stop. We also passed St. Lachtain’s Church, so stopped again…. Both were worth the stop!
St Canice was a 4 min drive from our hotel and St Lachtain in Freshford was a 14 min drive from St Canice.
The Rock of Cashel was a 35 min drive from St. Lachtain and 50 mins from our hotel.
Once you arrive to the Rock of Cashel, be sure to visit the ruins of a nearby Cistercian monastery, Hore Abbey.….and if you have time, check out the cute town of Cashel.
You can only purchase tickets to the Rock of Cashel at the site…the price is 8 euros for adult, 6 for seniors and 4 for a child.
I HIGHLY recommend a stop here!!
Read reviews here for the Rock and here for Hore Abbey.
Click here & here for more things to see in Cashel.
Tip: Don’t use the ATM machine at the gift shop at the bottom of the hill from the Rock…the exchange rate is horrible!!
Our next stop was the Cahir Castle. The castle is located approx. 20 mins drive from the Rock of Cashel. The castle was built in 1142.
Purchase tickets here
Tip: You can visit the castle for free on the first Wednesday of every month. Read reviews here.
For more things to see/do in Cahir click here & here.
Our next stop was lunch…we walked from the castle and found a place called, The Galtee Inn. It was a 5 min walk. The food was average. Read reviews here.
After lunch we headed to our next stop, Cobh where we would be spending our next night. The drive is 1 hour from Cahir.
On the way, we passed St. Paul’s Church so we made a quick stop.
Tip: You have to go through a toll on your way to Cobh if you drive the highway. Click here for tolls & charges in Ireland. Read here on how to pay the M50 toll. Read more here about the roads in Ireland.
After arriving to Cobh, our first stop was driving to Spy Hill to take that iconic shot of the colorful Deck of Cards row houses with St. Coleman’s Church in the background.
You have to look over a tall stone wall to get the shot.
Tip: Click here for the top attractions in Cobh, here for the best restaurants & here for best hotels
We then headed to our next stop, our hotel, the Waters Edge Hotel.
After checking into our hotel, we walked around Cobh. It was a beautiful place!
Don’t miss the Titanic Experience and the Heartbreak Pier where the last passengers of the Titanic boarded the ship!
DAY 3 IN IRELAND
We started our morning with a delicious breakfast at the hotel
We then headed to our first stop of the day, visiting the St Coleman’s Church. Make sure to check the days/hours before visiting. 7 min walk from our hotel.
It took 47 years to build this beautiful church….construction began in 1868. In 1916 a Carillon of 42 bells was installed. The largest bell is 200 feet above the ground and weighs 3.6 tons. The Cathedral’s organ contains 2,468 pipes.
Admission is free but donations are accepted. Read reviews here
Click here for the 10 Churches you should visit in Ireland
Our next stop was the Blarney Castle – the drive is approx. 40 mins but if you go through Cork on the way and it will take you approx 45 mins.
Tip: If you go through Cork you can do the Ballycotton Cliff Walk & St. Peter’s & Paul’s Church
Make sure to walk the beautiful gardens around the Blarney Castle
At the top of the tallest building in this pic, is where you kiss the stone! It’s a long walk up a very steep, narrow staircase!!
It was also freezing, so dress warm!!
Tip: This is a VERY busy area so get here early if you can. We waited in line 2.5 hrs to kiss the stone! You could easily spend 1/2 a day here. Also, if you have a tendency to be claustrophobic, you may want to pass kissing the stone!
There is someone at the top that takes pictures while you are kissing the stone.. so, if you’re traveling alone you can purchase the picture for like 10 euros. I had to purchase mine because my sister cut my head off in EVERY picture she took while I was kissing the stone!
Click here to purchase tickets to the Blarney Castle & read reviews here
Click here & here & here for other sights to see in the area.
Our next stop was Kinsale, considered the most picturesque town in Ireland. It’s a 40 min drive from Blarney Castle.
Click here for some hidden gems in Kinsale & here for things to see/do.
This area was super busy & we had a very difficult time finding parking!
Our 1st stop in Kinsale was Jo’s Cafe to purchase some of their famous lemon meringue pie/cake! We also read that their hot chocolate was amazing!
We purchased the lemon meringue cake & carrot cake & both were very good!
Next we headed to find lunch…we had no idea where to go so we just started walking & stumbled upon a place called, High Tide Cafe. I ordered the chicken bacon wrap with fries and it was delicious!! The cost was 8.50 euros.
After lunch we walked around the colorful town! You should really spend at least a couple of hours here….
Unfortunately, we had rented an AirBnb in Killarney & the lady we rented from kept calling us telling we had to check in no later than 6 pm so that ruined our whole day as we had many things on our itinerary that we had to skip!!
We had Charles Fort, James Fort, Desmond Castle, Old Head Lighthouse & the marriage stone on the list that we had to bypass!
So, after we walked around Kinsale for about 30 mins, we headed to Killarney to get checked into our room at the Park Place Apts.
The drive to Killarney from Kinsale takes approx. 1 1/2 hrs.
Read reviews here
When we arrived, the lady we booked with was standing outside to direct us to the underground parking area.
I would not recommend this place as the pictures were very deceiving…it’s also a place where people live full time.
We were put on the ground floor and would hear children running and screaming in the courtyard each morning and evening!
After getting checked in, we headed out to walk around Killarney.
Click here for best hotels in Killarney, here for best restaurants & here for things to see/do.
Like all the other towns we had already visited, Killarney was very colorful! It was a very walkable town with lots of shops & restaurants.
We stopped in TK Maxx for a little shopping.
We then headed to the Caragh Restaurant for dinner.
I ordered the Set Menu for 21.95 which included a starter, a main course & a dessert. I ordered the deep fried brie as a starter and then the slow roasted tender Kerry lamb shank & the Baileys Cheesecake with ice cream for dessert.
The food was very good!!
After dinner, we went to a nearby store to purchase some snacks and water to have with us in the room and the car while we were driving.
Tip: Aldi’s grocery store is all over Ireland and they just opened one in Killarney.
DAY 4 IN IRELAND
The next morning we had coffee & breakfast in our room since we had a full kitchen & was staying here for 3 days.
We then headed out to start our drive on the Ring of Kerry.
Click here for tips for driving the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a 120 mile loop that takes drivers around the Inveragh Peninsula, with much of the driving along the coastline. This drive takes most of the day especially if you stop at the many sights along the way.
It is recommended that you start this drive before 9 am to avoid most of the traffic.
Rick Steves suggests working your way clockwise to escape the tour-bus procession heading counterclockwise.
Click here to see a map and the stops along the way & here for the top 16 attractions on the Ring of Kerry
Our first stop was the Ballymalis Castle….it was being restored when we visited so we only snapped pics from the road.
This castle was built in the early 16th century. (I would skip this stop)
Our next stop was driving through the colorful town of Killorglin to reach the Railway Bridge (I would by bypass this stop).
Next we headed to Cromane Beach – a very quiet beach that is full of smooth, colorful rocks.
Jack’s (seafood) Restaurant is nearby. Parking and toilets available. (I would bypass)
Next we headed to an area called Glenbeigh. The roads were very narrow but navigable.
We made a stop at a popular viewpoint called, Mountain Stage. There were a few vendors set up selling their goods.
There was also a lady sitting outside playing her harp…it was a beautiful setting!!
The views on this drive are spectacular and I highly recommend!
Next we headed to Kells Bay Gardens to have lunch at their restaurant.
Kells Bay offers many activities …click here to read about them.
We ate at the Conservatory Cafe..The Café is open daily and serves a selection of freshly-made sandwiches, as well as scones, salads and cakes. The food was very good.
After lunch, we headed to our next stop, the Ballycarbery Castle. This castle sits on private property so you can only photograph it from the fence.
There was some kind of residence situated on the site of the castle as early as 1398 however the present ruins were constructed in the 16th century.
Read reviews here.
Next we headed to Top of the Rock Viewing Platform Trail….a short trail that offers spectacular views and ends at the Cahergall Stone Fort.
Tip: There is a another nearby fort called Leacanabuile Stone Fort
Views from atop the fort
Tip: There was a farmer who was set up here in the parking area…he had baby lambs and would let you hold them and then expected you to pay him. He tried to rip us off so be aware.
Next stop/area was Portmagee. This is where you would book a tour to Skellig Michael. Skellig Michael is a remote island and home to an ancient monastery & Puffin nesting site. It’s also one of the many filming locations for the Star Wars movie.
Tip: You need to book this tour in advance as it sells out quickly. Also, be aware that if you do book, there is no guarantee that the boat will be able to stop at the island due to weather and/or rough waters.
On the way to Portmagee, we went through Cahersiveen & passed this beautiful church.
And passed this!
Click here for more things to do in Cahersiveen
Tip: Next to the parking lot in Portmagee is the bathroom that was awarded Ireland’s Top Toilet Award in 2002! 😉
Tip: Once you arrive to Portmagee you can either cross the bridge onto Valentia Island to visit the Skellig Experience Center (teaches you about the history of the monks) & many other sights…. then you can drive along Valentia and take the small ferry back to the mainland or cross back over the bridge.
Next stop was, Beehive Village. There is more than one Beehive you can visit on the Ring of Kerry. Beehives are cone shaped huts believed to have been built between the 8th & 12th century.
The huts were built using no mortar. Instead, the builders meticulously stacked rings of stone one on top of the other, positioning each layer a little further inward until a snug, pointed roof was formed to cap the structure.
Read reviews about the Fahan BeeHive Huts here
Our next stop: We took a detour off the Ring of Kerry to what ended up being my favorite stop of the day, the Kerry Cliffs!! They were spectacular!!
The cliffs are located just beyond Portmagee on the Skellig Ring road, which runs along the western tip of the peninsula & is a 20 mile scenic route.
The cliffs are fenced unlike the Cliffs of Moher. There’s a carpark, coffee shop and camping available by the local landowner. The Cliffs are open from 9am to 9pm daily. There’s a 4 euro entrance fee as well.
Read reviews of Kerry Cliffs here
Tip: If you have someone in your party with a disability or mobility issues, ask the person at the admission booth if you can drive up to the cliffs. That’s what we did with our step mom as she has mobility issues.
There are many birds that can be spotted at the cliffs, including the famous Puffin!
Do NOT miss these cliffs if you are in the area!!
The roads on this drive were very narrow!
Our next stop was Skelligs Chocolate Factory to do a chocolate tasting! It was a 15 min drive from the Cliffs.
On the way, we passed a sign for the Holy Well.
Read reviews of the chocolate factory here.
The chocolate factory also served hot tea, coffee and desserts.
After tasting & purchasing some of their delicious chocolates, we continued our drive.
We made a quick stop to check out a view of Skellig Michael.
We then made another quick detour complete with the ruins of a castle with beach views on Ballinskelligs Beach. The castle was called Ballinskelligs Castle. (This was a 10 min drive from the chocolate factory).
Read reviews here
After leaving here, we headed to Waterville. (15 mins from the beach/castle)..
Read more on Waterville here, the best restaurants here and the best hotels/places to stay here.
Waterville is a quaint place sitting at the water’s edge…
Tip: Don’t miss the Charlie Chaplin Statue in Waterville
We continued our drive making a quick stop at the statue of the Virgin Mary
As we continued our drive, we spotted a restaurant & decided to stop and eat dinner…the restaurant was O’Carroll’s Cove Beach Side Bar & Seafood Restaurant. It was a 20 min drive from Waterville.
The restaurant had beautiful views of the beach!
I ordered the seafood chowder as a starter & the Salmon as my main dish…the food was delicious!!
Read reviews here
Tip: 12 mins from the restaurant is the Staigue Fort. Staigue fort is one of the largest and finest ring forts you are likely to see in Ireland.
After dinner, we continued our drive back to our hotel, we passed through Sneem on the way. (20 mins from the restaurant). Click here for things to see/do in Sneem.
Our drive took us through Kenmare. (30 min drive from Sneem). Click here for things to see/do.
As we continued our drive, we arrived in Molls Gap where we spotted lots of colorful sheep! (12 min drive from Kenmare).
Read more about Molls Gap here
We then spotted the Ladies View Overlook as we drove through the Killarney National Park. (10 min drive from Molls Gap).
Tip: My suggestion would be to start with this area first on your Ring of Kerry drive because by the time we arrived in Killarney Ntl Park, it was getting dark so we didn’t get to see much.
We stopped to photograph the Derrycunnihy Church (2 mins from Ladies View)
Other stops we had on our itinerary for the park that we didn’t have time for: Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, & Torc Waterfall
From here we returned to our room at the Park Place Apts in Killarney (30 mins from Ladies View).
DAY 5 IN IRELAND
We started our day with breakfast in our apartment.
We had set aside the whole day to do the Dingle Peninsula.
The Dingle Peninsula stretches 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean on the south-west coast on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
The magnificent coastline consists of steep sea-cliffs such as Slea Head & dramatic headlands broken by sandy beaches.
Read a more detailed blog about the Peninsula here & here and click here for a 10 day Itinerary that includes northern Ireland.
Stops along the Dingle Peninsula Drive:
Inch Beach – this beach is huge! It’s 4 miles long & definitely worth a stop!
You can even take surfing lessons here as well as drive your car right on the beach! (40 mins from our apt in Killarney)
From here you could do Conors Pass – Conors Pass is one of Ireland’s highest mountain passes. It’s a long, winding, one lane road with lots of traffic. If foggy, you won’t see much so check the weather before making this drive.
We skipped Conors Pass and headed to our next stop (35 mins from Inch Beach)
Dingle – one of Ireland’s cutest and most colorful towns & home to Fungi the dolphin! (Update: Sadly, Fungi has now passed away)
Click here for 25 things to do in Dingle. (Dingle is 25 mins from Inch Beach & 10 mins from Conors Pass)
While in Dingle, we had lunch at the Fish Box, it was listed as the #1 restaurant in Dingle on Trip Advisor. The food was a bit too greasy for me but the service was really good.
We walked around the colorful town & checked out St. Mary’s Church, the popular Dick Mack’s, walked the “walk of fame” in front of Dick Mack’s & finally headed to Murphy’s for some yummy ice cream that’s hand made in Dingle!
Our Next Stop was Slea Head Drive – one of Ireland’s most scenic routes that takes you on a 30 mile journey through historic sites, Irish speaking villages & famous Hollywood film locations. (15 mins from Dingle)
On this drive you can see an old cottage that was abandoned 165 yrs ago, beehive huts, stone dwellings from ancient times, Gallarus Observatory, a stone Christian church built 1300 years ago and more.
Read reviews here
Tip: Make sure you have your stops mapped out in the order you want to see them as we had a difficult time navigating this area.
Stops we did along the drive: Ballyferriter, Dunanoir Fort (read more about this area here), Ceann Sraithe, several stops to take in the scenery, the Blasket Center (read reviews here), Ventry, Corca Dhuibhne, Coumeenoole Beach, Radharc na mBlascaoidí aka Blaskets View, The Last Beehive Huts (small fee but you can hold a baby lamb!), Cashel Murphy – an ancient Celtic stone settlement from the iron age, – Dunbeg Fort – a prehistoric fort built during the iron age.
We ended back in Dingle and ate dinner at the Murphy’s Pub. I ordered a pasta dish that was very good.
We then headed back to our apartment in Killarney.
We stopped off to snap pics of St Mary’s Cathedral.
The church was built in 1842 & opened in 1855. (1 hr 10 mins from Dingle)
DAY 6 IN IRELAND
This morning we checked out of the Park Place Apartments.
On this day, we had set aside a full day to do the Gap of Dunloe.
The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain by glacial flows. The river running through the gap is the river Loe from where the Gap gets it’s name.
The Gap begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage. (15 mins from our apartment in Killarney)
We booked our tour with Deros. before arriving to Ireland. The cost was 32 euros each.
We had to drive to a parking lot near the Ross Castle. (15 mins from our apt)
We were then picked up by the tour bus who then drove to Killarney where we had to change buses & then wait for others to board the bus.
As we were waiting, a lady on our bus, who had visited Ireland many times, told us about a nearby donut place called, Celtic Donuts.
All I can say is, you have got to try these donuts! They were out of this world delicious!!!
After leaving Killarney, the bus dropped us off at Kate Kearney’s Cottage where we could hire a horse & cart to take us through the Gap of Dunloe.
We had to pay for the horse & cart separate from our tour…Our tour only included bus transportation and the boat back to Ross Castle.
The horse & cart was an additional 25 euros per person, 4 person max. However, I’ve read that even if there is only 2 in your party, you still have to pay for 4 people.
Tip: The most important tip that I can give you is, DRESS WARM!!! It was cold! I’m talking pants, sweater, jacket, hat, gloves & scarf! We come from a warmer climate…so, if you are used to colder climates, you may be ok not wearing as much.
Also, be aware, that you may have to get out of the cart & walk a part of the Gap. We had 4 adults in our party so 3 of us had to get out and walk probably 1/2 a mile up hill. My step mom stayed in the cart because she has mobility issues.
Please note: You can also hike or bike the Gap and then board the boat to Ross Castle. The length of the Gap is 7 miles.
Shots during the horse & cart ride through the Gap
After the cart ride, we were dropped off at Lord Brandon’s Cottage to have lunch & to wait for our appointed departure time on the boat.
The Cottage offers an open air cafe that serves simple sandwiches, soup, chips, desserts & drinks.
We ordered a cup of soup and a ham & cheese sandwich with chips. The soup came with the traditional Irish brown bread that is served in every Ireland restaurant. It’s amazing!
After lunch, we headed down the short path to where the boats were docked. The boats are 10 person motorized canoes.
After boarding the boats, we were taken on a 1.5 hr boat tour through 3 lakes and 2 rivers of the National Park.
We had the funniest tour guide that was full of folklore and legends!
Ok, so my opinion, skip the boat! I felt it was way too long and then we went through open waters that were very rough!! It was cold, windy and misting rain.
We were also given one big tarp to cover all of our legs because you will get slightly wet going through the lake!
The views, at the start of the ride, were nice but then you were out in open water with no views…and at times, I was fearful the boat may even capsize because the water was so rough!!
After surviving the long boat ride, we arrived to Ross Castle.
Ross Castle is a tower house, built sometime in the late 15th century by the O’Donoghue family who ruled the Killarney area at the time.
We just walked around the grounds of the castle and took a few pics.
Ross Castle is open to the public during the summer months.
Click here for other boat tours you can do in this area.
One of those boat tours is the Innisfallen Island Tour where boats leave Ross Castle regularly from 9.30am.
It takes 10 minutes to get to the Island where you can visit 12th Century Monastic ruins. There are also 21 acres to be explored. Last boat leaves the island at 5.00pm. Read reviews here.
After leaving the castle, we headed to where we had left our car in the nearby parking lot that morning.
We then headed to Ennis where we would be staying at the Old Ground Hotel for the next 2 nights. The drive from Ross Castle is 2 hrs 15 mins.
Click here for 15 must see/do things in Ennis.
On the way to Ennis we stopped in Adare. (1.5 hr drive from Ross Castle)
We had planned on visiting the Desmond Castle, Adare Manor & St John’s Castle in Limerick & possibly having a medieval dinner at the Bunratty Castle. but soon realized we couldn’t fit it all in!
On the way, we had a small delay with a cattle crossing!!
Once we arrived to Adare, we parked along side the road near the thatched cottages..The original thatched cottages were built in the 1820’s.
We then snapped pics of the nearby, Trinitarian Priory…it’s the only recorded Trinitarian monastery in Ireland.
We then walked to the nearby Adare Town Park….it’s beautiful!
After snapping a few pics of the park, we walked down to the Augustinian Friary.
The Friary was founded in 1316.
We spotted St. Nicholas Church nearby so walked over to snap a few pics.
We then continued our drive to Ennis.…(a 40 min drive from Adare).
After arriving to Ennis, we headed to the Old Ground Hotel to check in.
I highly recommend this hotel…it was beautiful!!! Read reviews here.
After getting checked in, we walked downstairs and had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, The Poet’s Corner.
I ordered the lamb served over potatoes that were covered in a brown gravy. The food was very good.
After dinner, we ordered dessert….so good!
See menu here
After a very long day, we called it a night!
DAY 7 IN IRELAND
We started our morning with a delicious breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant.
We then headed out to see the Cliffs of Moher….the drive took approximately 50 mins from our hotel.
The Cliffs are Ireland’s top tourist attraction & was one of the most crowded places we visited.
You can download a free audio guide for the Cliffs of Moher here. Purchase tickets here and read reviews here.
The visitor’s center at the Cliffs is huge and offers an array of food options, restrooms, gift shop & more. There are also wheelchairs available to use for free.
Tip: If you have a handicap parking tag, you can park very close to the visitors center.
I would suggest spending approximately 2+ hours here. You can walk as little or as much as you want.
You can also climb O’Brien’s Tower (2 euros) while you are here. Zoom in on this pic and you can see it!
Please be very cautious as you walk along the Cliff’s edge as there have been approx. 70 deaths at these cliffs since 1993. All it takes is one strong gust of wind to blow you off the cliff!
We had a beautiful, clear day! Some people who visit the cliffs will experience fog or rain and not get to see much so keep that in mind when you plan your visit.
After taking 2499 pics of the cliffs, we had lunch at the Cliffs View Cafe in the visitors center.
I ordered a pre made chicken tikka sandwich and a dessert….both were very good.
Tip: You could also visit the Burren to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen while in this area & be sure to check out Doolin.
Map of the area
After lunch we headed to our next stop, Kilkee Cliffs.on the Loop Head Drive.
Read more here & see a map of the Loop Head drive here
I highly recommend this drive!! The cliffs here are breathtaking and they go on forever & there was hardly anyone else around so that made it even more enjoyable!!
There are several sights you can see on this drive. It’s about an hours drive from the Cliffs of Moher.
Tip: Part of the film Star Wars: The Last Jedi was filmed at Loop Head.
On the way to the Kilkee Cliffs, we spotted a few sights.
One of those being the Doonbeg Castle. in Doonbeg & the home of Trump International Hotel.
After a short drive, we arrived to the cliffs and let me just say, we were in awe of this place! It’s incredible! We pulled over so many times to view the endless cliffs!!
Again, I would highly recommend you be extremely careful at these cliffs as there have been many deaths here as well. There is no barrier to keep you from falling off the edge!
Tip: If it’s warm enough, you can take a swim at Pollock Holes
We continued our drive along the Loop Head and stopped in the small fishing village, Carrigaholt. to pick up a few snacks at a small convenience store.
Our next stop on the loop was the Bridges of Ross. The Bridge of Ross is a natural sea arch. It can’t be seen from the road….you will need to walk the path along the fence about 1/2 mi to be able to see it.
From here we continued our drive to our next stop of the day, Loop Head Lighthouse.
There is a 5 euro admission fee to the lighthouse and with that, you get a short guided tour of the lighthouse. The lighthouse opened in 1854 & stands 75 ft tall.
After the lighthouse stop, we continued our drive on the loop and came across the Keatings Restaurant so decided to stop and have dinner. (10 mins from lighthouse)
The restaurant offers outside seating with views of the water…however, it was too cold for us to sit outside so we opted for inside seating.
I started out with the homemade Atlantic chowder served with brown soda bread for 5.95 & then ordered the Irish Sirloin Steak…. It was all delicious!!
My step mom ordered the fish & chips, one sister ordered the Irish angus beef burger and the other ordered the fried prawns. Everyone loved their food and the service was great as well!!
Tip: You can also start your Loop Drive from the location near the restaurant and end at the cliffs. The restaurant is 45 mins from the Cliffs of Moher
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel and called it a night!
It took approx 40 mins to arrive to our hotel from the restaurant.
DAY 8 IN IRELAND
We started our morning with another delicious breakfast at the hotel.
We then checked out of the beautiful Old Ground Hotel.
From here we headed to Doolin to catch our ferry to Inis Mor, one of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands. (50 mins from our hotel)
We had booked our tickets in advance with Bill O’Brien of the Doolin Ferry Co.
We booked the Inis Mor & Cliffs of Moher tour. This tour includes a ferry to Inis Mor and then on the way back, you get to stay on the ferry and view the Cliffs of Moher from the ferry.
Tip: When you book online you save 5 euros so our ticket price was 35 euros each instead of 40.
Tip: One of the most important tips that I can give you, is to take something for motion sickness!! You will thank me later…trust me!!
Our ferry departed Doolin at 10 am. We made a stop at the smallest island, Inis Oirr to drop off/pick up passengers.
We then arrived to Inis Mor…the ferry took approx 1.5 hrs. It was cold, wet & uncomfortable!
You do sit inside an enclosed area but it’s still freezing! The water was so rough that people were throwing up on the boat!!!
After being dropped off, you had a few options on how to see the island. You could walk, rent a bike, hire a taxi or hire a horse & cart. We opted for the horse & cart.
I believe we had the slowest horse on the island!! Our guide was very nice but he was more interested in talking than getting us to where we wanted to go!!
He was so slow, we ended up only having enough time to eat lunch and do some quick shopping before we had to get back to the ferry by 4 pm!!
Maybe it was because we negotiated his price from 25 euros pp to 20 pp!! This is a round trip price. 😉
Our driver took so long getting us to the cafe for lunch, that we had no time to walk to the old fort, Dun Aonghasa.
Personally, if I had it to do over again, I would skip the island. There wasn’t much to see or do and the island is very bleak.
Click here for things to see/do in Inis Mor
We had lunch at the popular, Teach Nan Phaidi Cafe. I ordered the fabulous beef stew for 13 euros!!
Read here for more restaurants in Inis Mor & here for hotels.
After lunch, I walked over to Paudy’s Ice Cream shop to purchase a cone but they only accepted cash and sadly, I didn’t have cash. 🙁
The Aran Islands are famous for their wool so I couldn’t leave without purchasing something…I ended up buying a wool blanket & some socks!
Some of the shops would even ship your purchases back to your home for free if you spent a certain amount (I think it was 100 euros).
After making our purchases, we found our horse & cart and headed back to the ferry.
On the way back, we made a quick stop at the Seal Colony Look Out Point.…however, we didn’t spot any seals.
Once we arrived back to the boat dock & figured out which ferry we needed to board, we stood in line and waited for our ferry to arrive.
Once we boarded the ferry, we made another stop on the way back at Inis Oirr to drop/pick up passengers.
We then arrived back to the ferry in Doolin where we stayed on the boat to tour the Cliffs of Moher.
The tour lasted approx. 30 mins & in my opinion, that was long enough. At this point, I was ready to get off the boat!!
We did get to see the cave that appeared in the movie, Harry Potter and the half blood Prince.
After the boat tour, we headed to our room in Galway at the Jameson Court Apartments.
Tip: 12 min from the Doolin ferry is the Doolin Cave — it’s 45 mins from Ennis & 1 hr 40 mins from Galway – Read reviews here.
Read reviews for the apartments here & book a room here.
The drive to our apartment was 1.5 hrs from the Doolin Ferry.
We passed the Dunguaire Castle on the way…
Purchase tickets here to tour the castle and/or to purchase tickets to their medieval banquet.
We arrived to Galway and checked into our apt…..it was incredible!! I highly recommend!!
The apt. had a full kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a table w/ 4 chairs, gorgeous views from the wall of windows in the living room, beautiful decor & balconies in the bedrooms!!
After arriving to the room, we were too tired to go out for dinner so we called in an order from La Collina Italian Restaurant. It was a 1 minute walk from our apartment.
We ordered a variety of things off the menu…from chicken, to potatoes, to salad ….everything was delicious!
We called it a night & went to bed! We were exhausted!
DAY 9 IN IRELAND
We started our morning with breakfast in the room & had coffee with this view!!
We made sure to always have water, snacks, coffee & most importantly, our favorite flavored creamer & sweetener with us at all times!
You can’t find flavored creamer in Ireland or your favorite sweetener (besides sugar).
After breakfast, we packed up and checked out of our room.
Our first stop of the day was, Galway Cathedral. There was no fee to enter but a 2 euro donation was encouraged. (10 min drive from our hotel)
The church was beautiful & we got to listen to the choir practice while we were there!
Things we had down to see besides the church but didn’t get to see: Eyre Square, Spanish Arch, Galway Bay, drive through Doo Lough Valley, Medieval city walls & Menlo Castle.
Sadly, we didn’t have a lot of time to explore Galway…we had a few things on the list to see/do but had to get going as this was the day we would be checking in for our castle stay at the Ballynahinch Castle!!
Our next stop was the Aughnanure Castle….only 2 of us got out and walked the short distance to the castle to snap a few pics and then we left. (35 mins from the church)
There was an admission fee of 5 euros to enter the castle & grounds.
Read reviews here
On the way to Ballynahinch, we stopped for lunch at the Peacockes Hotel. The hotel was 45 mins from our apartment in Galway & 25 mins from the castle.
Read reviews here
The Peacockes Hotel was very nice….it had 2 restaurants & a very nice gift shop where we purchased several souvenirs!
Read reviews for the hotel here. The hotel is 35-40 mins from the Connemara National Park.
Tip: Try to drive the nearby Connemara Loop if you can!
My sister and I shared a hot ham & cheese sandwich with fries and then we purchased a dessert to share.
The food was very good!
After lunch, we headed into the Connemara National Park….it was gorgeous!
We passed a field of peat!
We then drove through the coastal town of Clifden… (30 mins from the Peacockes Hotel)
We then headed down Sky Loop Road…this is a 12 mi scenic loop & I highly recommend this drive if you are in the area. (10 mins from Clifden)
We passed the Clifden Castle.
The Abbeyglen Castle hotel is also located on Sky Road.
See a map & guide of the Sky Loop Road here
After this drive, we checked into our rooms at the Ballynahinch Castle & it did not disappoint!! It was stunning! (25 mins from the Sky Road)
After checking into our fabulous rooms, we spent an hour or two just walking the beautiful grounds!
The hotel offers 700 acres of beautiful woodlands, gardens, lakes and rivers.
The terraced gardens by the river, the walled garden and the ten miles of river and lakeside paths, provide the perfect environment for a quiet and reflective walk.
Walking maps are available at reception and for those feeling a little more energetic there are bikes for hire and of course fly-fishing for salmon on the famous Ballynahinch River.
There is so much to see and do without ever leaving the grounds of Ballynahinch Castle.
The hotel offers an array of activities for their guests.
That night we enjoyed a 5 course meal at one of the Castle’s restaurant, called, the Owenmore. This is their more upscale restaurant while the Fisherman’s Pub is more casual.
We paid 70 euros each for the set menu that included the Chef’s Canapes, a starter, main course, a sweet treat & then a dessert.
The cost did not include your drinks & water is not free. The food was good but the service was extremely slow!
Reserve a table for the Owenmore here & here for the Fisherman’s Pub. Click here for the set menu at the Owenmore & here for the Fisherman’s Pub dinner menu & here for the Fisherman’s Pub lunch menu. The hotel also offers afternoon tea…click here for menu.
After dinner, we called it a night!
DAY 10 IN IRELAND
We started the morning with a delicious breakfast at the hotel.
This place was so wonderful that even your coffee smiled at you!! 🙂
Sadly, after breakfast, we had to check out and head back to Dublin where we would be staying our last night before our flight back home.
A shot of the hotel from one of the trails
After leaving the castle, we drove back through the Connemara National Park as we were heading to see the Kylemore Abbey.
The Abbey was a 35 min drive from the Ballynahinch.
The views in the park are spectacular!
Watch out for sheep in the road!
Once we spotted the Kylemore, we pulled off to the side of the road and snapped a few pics!!
We didn’t have time to tour the Abbey as we had about a 3.5 hr drive to get to our next hotel from this location.
We continued our drive through the Connemara National Park until we spotted Mr. Joyce’s Craft Shop where we decided to make a stop.
Across the street from the craft shop is the Connemara Giant Statue.
Mr Joyce’s Craft shop was full of beautiful gifts…especially wool made gifts.
As we left the craft shop, we spotted a restaurant next door called, Joyce’s Bar…so, we decided to go ahead and eat lunch.
I ordered a cup of the seafood chowder and the toasted ham & cheese sandwich..the food and service was very good.
After lunch, we continued to our next stop, the Clonmacnoise, an Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon.
The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe.
The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs are on display in the visitor centre.