I have just returned from a camping trip to South and West Ireland, spending time in County Clare, Kerry and Cork, and what a fabulous place it is. Hopefully if you’ve never visited, this post may inspire you too.
A slideshow of some photos from our trip is at the bottom of this post.
We began our trip from the ferryport at Rosslare and made our way across Ireland via Tipperary and Limerick, both we felt not that worthy of a stop, to a hotspot of Irish tradition music in Doolin, County Clare via the county town of Ennis which had a much nicer feel and definitely worthy of exploring. A small but clean and quiet campsite in Doolin called The Riverside was our base, just a short walk to Fitzgerald’s for a regular intake of Irish music each night. There is another campsite advertised in Doolin called Nagles (http://doolincamping.com). It appeared very clean but was out of the village near the pier and right by the coast and bigger than the Riverside. Out of the two I think I would prefer The Riverside camping.
Although windy, the sun was shining and we started our trip by heading to Doolin Pier and the ferry to the Aran Islands. Dusty the Doolin Dolphin was there to greet us at the harbour and some rough seas churned up by the strong winds. We decided to visit the closest to Doolin Inisheer which was probably a good idea as it only meant 35mins on the rollercoaster ride of a ferry.
Inisheer was very scenic and had that relaxed air that small islands seem to have. A few horse and carts touting for business for trips around the island at the pier, but for us, it was tour on foot around the island. Tiny fields secured with stonewall boundaries was the predominant feature we noticed, as well as a fascinating 10th Century church that was sunk completely into a large mound presumably for protection from the weather. So much so that you looked down on it. Following Inisheer it was back to the mainland via a quick boat tour along the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, teeming with thousands of seabirds.
County Clare apart from being famed for its traditional music and the Cliffs of Moher, is also well known for ‘The Burren‘, from the Irish Boireann meaning ‘Great Rock”. A spectacular limestone rocky area it is, also punctuated with many ancient relics.
Leaving County Clare across the Shannon ferry to Tarbert, we entered County Kerry. A brief stop, (as it didn’t really appeal that much), in the busy town of Tralee for some provisions, home of the ‘Rose of Tralee’ festival. Next it was onwards to the small town of Dingle, on the peninsula of the same name, approaching it from the mighty alpine Connor Pass.
DIngle town is well worth a womble as it has a nice feel and whilst we were there, live music outside the supermarket by a band from Quebec in Canada. Imagine travelling The World with a Double Bass! We stayed near the Gallarus Oratory, beyond Dingle towards the end of the peninsula, for a single night, briefly exploring the area. Incidently if you do visit the Oratory, there is a visitor centre which you are signposted towards, mainly for the car parking, which then charges you for the priviledge. You do not have to pay however as the Oratory is a national monument, and a short 200M walk up the lane will lead you to a short public footpath that takes you straight to it.
Next on our itinerary was climbing Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland at 1039 Metres, so it was off to Macgillycuddy’s Reeks on the ‘Ring of Kerry’. The weather was still brilliant and arriving at Cronins Yard, mid afternoon with the summit in clear view was too good an opportunity to miss to get the walking kit on and head off.,,,, so we did. A lovely 2.5hr route to the top via Hag’s Glen until we hit the steep dried up waterfall, abundant in loose rock, that is the Devils Ladder. How more people don’t have accidents on this stretch I don’t know as its dangerous and not good for those who suffer with vertigo. But we made it to the saddle and an easy walk uo the final slopes to the top and the huge iron cross. A fabulous view in all directions greeted us. The route back we elongated to avoid the nasty descent via the ladder and got back to the car in a round trip of 5hrs. A fabulous mountain in a glorious setting…. well it is in good weather anyway.
Next it was The Beara Peninsula’s turn to impress us, and impress us it did. Staying at Creeveen campsite at Lauragh on the northern side of the Healy Pass. Heading around the peninsula via Eyries and its colourful mainstreet, to Allihies at the tip, is just stunning. Finishing off with the return leg over Healy Pass back to the campsite.
Finally, the weather broke so it was a day spent exploring Kenmare and Bantry – I must admit I thought Kenmare was nicer – as well as heading out on the peninsula bordering the south side of Bantry Bay, and onwards back to Rosslare.
I have to say, Eire is fabulous and well worth a visit. The people are great, very welcoming, lots of quite roads, towns and villages, a happy change from the busy UK, and as for the Guinness, it definitely does taste so much better. The rural roads are awash of colour. (and signposts!!) Wild flowers of all different types and the lovely red of fushias lining the roads all over, especially around Dingle. It was incredibly quiet though even though Eire schools had already broken up for the summer holidays – possibly something to do with how expensive everything was and what a mess the Irish economy is in. However, it is safe to say, we will be back.
A slideshow of all my photos from the trip
Doolin Campsite http://www.oconnorsdoolin.com/riverside_camping.htm
Dingle Campsite http://www.dingleactivities.com/camp&caravan.html
Beara Campsite http://www.creveenlodge.com/Site/Welcome.html
I would happily stay in all the above campsites again.