Great Irish Road Trips



Great Irish Road Trips
Great Irish Road Trips
Great Irish Road Trips
Molls Gap, Co. Kerry
The Ring of Kerry
The Causeway Coastal Route
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Music to your ears
St Patrick’s Trail
Let’s play in Ireland
Gorgeous gardens of County Wicklow
A Tale of Two Cities
Driving in Ireland – A Practical Guide
Distance Chart
Map of Ireland 8
72 82
There are no wrong turns
in Ireland
Driving on the island of Ireland’s gently winding roads,
you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve strayed into a
breathtaking watercolour. The roads of the island dip and
weave through a fantasy landscape where valleys, hills
and coastal enclaves come blanketed in beauty: picture
the royal purple heather of the Sally Gap as it straddles a
bright blue Wicklow sky; the glimmering emerald greens
of the Glens of Antrim as they hug the Causeway Coast;
and the shimmering Fermanagh lakes as they twist and
turn and glisten with idyllic tranquility.
Wicklow Hills
Keep your eyes – and your heart – open as you may
well fall in love with what you discover around the
next corner. The wind-whipped Atlantic view from the
towering Cliffs of Moher in County Clare; that elegant
turn in the River Shannon; or the mist that settles at
the foot of the Mourne Mountains in County Down all
crackle with the first glimpse of an Ireland love affair.
And there are no wrong turns in Ireland. Down that
road, a local waves hello, greetings are exchanged and
directions to the creamiest Guinness and the freshest
seafood are warmly imparted. You see, when you take
to the road in Ireland, you’re painted into the picture,
you’re written into the story.
That story never ends. It tells of history and folklore, of
legends and myths, of St Patrick and mythical warrior
Cú Chulainn. And it’s played out to the sound of zipping
fiddles and pounding bodhráns (hand-held drum).
New chapters begin at a bar counter in Belfast city, at
an elegant restaurant in the heart of Dublin, or when
you drop in on the buzz of a local music and arts festival.
Enjoying a drink at the Crown Liqueur Saloon, Belfast
Remember to let your instinct guide you in Ireland.
Whether you’re following the trail of St Patrick or on
a culinary odyssey, take Ireland at your own pace.
Dip in and out of the story and make friends at the local
pub, share a story at the kitchen table of that cosy B&B,
and feel truly welcome with every passing hello sent
your way.
So take to the open road, meet the people, taste the
food, breathe the air and, most of all, revel in the joy
that is driving in Ireland.
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry scenic drive in the southwest of Ireland traces the coastline of the
stunning Iveragh peninsula, and covers some 170 kilometres peppered with pristine
beaches, medieval ruins, mountains and loughs. Blissfully lush, by four or two wheels
or even on foot, this magnificent area is the stuff that movies are made of.
Ladies’ View, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Co. Kerry
The typical Ring of Kerry experience resembles a night at
the drive-in movies; scenes of raw rural beauty flicker
non-stop across your windscreen as you circumnavigate
the peninsula’s coastline – running anti-clockwise from
Killarney, through Killorglin, Cahersiveen, Waterville and
Kenmare. Every so often, the drama builds to a crescendo,
and the simply stunning elevates to the awe inspiring: Skellig
Michael’s iconic cone rises majestically from the Atlantic west
of Waterville; shards of sunlight rain down on the saw-tooth
peaks of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks; the glens and lakes of
Killarney National Park beckon you towards them. As good
as this is, the best way to experience the Ring of Kerry is to
pause the film, leave the car behind and explore on foot to
just breathe in the scenery.
John Hickey tours these areas every day. He’s dotted the trail
with places to while away the hours, or as John describes
‘think about nothing’ time.
Killarney to Killorglin
Killorglin to Cahersiveen
A bustling little town that trips off the first leg of the Ring of Kerry, Killarney cannot
Leave Killorglin in your rear view, and take the road southwest to Cahersiveen.
be raced through. Traditional jarveys (operators of jaunting cars) will regale you with
This stretch of ring road is bound by scattered blanket bog (wetland) and pricked
tales of the Ring while pulling you and their jaunting car and horse through the pretty
every now and then by ancient coach roads. Look out for signs to Fox’s Bog Village
streets. The neo-gothic Pugin creation of St Mary’s Cathedral dominates the town’s
and the Bog Village Museum: an assortment of thatched cottages that steps you
skyline: take a peek indoors and the stained glass windows will radiate a rainbow
back in time where rural life once lived off the land in this awe-inspiring isolation.
of colour. Then stop for a while at the cedar tree opposite its entrance – it marks
The winding road from here takes you through Glenbeigh, possessing an almost
a massed grave for famine victims, and is a sober reminder of Ireland’s tragic past.
alpine character, so massive in its scale and so contrasting to the bogland just
Head northwest on the road to Killorglin where you cross the shores of Lough Leane.
left behind.
The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks rise up above you as you pass through Fossa (depending
By now, you’ll be about half way between Killorglin and Cahersiveen, and one
on the weather, Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest peak at 1039m, will spire towards
of those aforementioned coach roads lifts easily up to a crest on the shoulder of
the heavens in full view). Another few rounding bends and you’re side by side with
Drung Hill, a brooding presence on the northern coast. At its feet lies Dingle Bay,
the River Luane – famous for its wild salmon – before you hit Killorglin. Best known
the massive beaches of Inch and Rossbeigh batting back the waves like two big
for its rather unique Puck Fair in August, the worlds of horse traders, cattle drovers
sandy pinball flippers. Just above the crest you’ll find a wonderfully mysterious
and wheeler-dealers collide in Killorglin, culminating in the crowning of Puck –
and seldom visited Ogham stone. You’ll also see the Blasket Islands trailing in the
yes, a goat – perched high above the cheering crowds in all its regal glory.
distance off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula.
Leave the bleak landscape of highland moors behind, descend into a cleft in the
ground and wind seaward through lush, deciduous woodlands until you pop out
into the sleepy fishing village of Kells. The safe and secluded beach here makes an
idyllic spot for a quiet swim in the lovely waters of Dingle Bay. John Milington Synge
(Irish playwright and co-founder of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre) introduced this quiet spot
to the world in his plays when he spent time here developing his Irish language skills.
Jaunting Car Ride, Killarney Lakes
Skellig Michael
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a conical
mass of rock that rests a mere 12km offshore
from Valentia. It offers a wonderful look at the
living conditions of the hardy monks who once
worshipped here. Eagle-eyed visitors can also spot
seals and some 27,000 pairs of gannets! Numbers
of visitors are restricted, so book well in advance.
Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry
Cahersiveen to Waterville
Waterville to Derrynane
Southwest again to Cahersiveen and don’t make the same mistake John Hickey
Fifteen minutes uphill from Waterville to Coomakista, get your camera ready for
did, once telling his driver to drop him at the top of the village and arranging to
picture perfect shots. In the late afternoon sunlight, no place in Ireland can quite
meet at the other end. “This is one very, very long street,” says John, “and its centre
match the beauty of Derrynane, a place fondly referred to as ‘Heaven’ by Tony
is dominated by the imposing edifice of Daniel O’Connell (Ireland’s Great Liberator)
O’Callaghan, a native of Tralee. He tells a story of his father taking him and a close
Memorial Church – it leaves the impression that the builder initially wanted to
friend there as kids. At the sight of Derrynane in sunshine, the friend turned and
construct a trail-blazing cathedral, but ran out of money and so settled for something
asked, “Uncle Tony, is this heaven?” If it isn’t, it certainly comes close.
in between. But it’s adorable nonetheless.”
The sunlight shimmers turquoise green off the sandy bottom of the shallow waters
From here, John suggests a little detour to the spectacular rock island of Skellig
of Derrynane strand. A maze of paths covers the slopes above historic Derrynane
Michael. For many, Skellig Michael is the absolute-must-take detour on the Ring
House, the former home of Ireland’s Liberator Daniel O’Connell. Walk these paths
of Kerry. You can take the ferry from The Skelligs Interpretive Centre while you’re
in springtime and you’ll find it carpeted in bluebells; the ever-changing views of
in Portmagee, or from Valentia and Ballinskelligs, for that matter.
the coast framed by the purple rhododendron and the dangling red-earrings of
Once back on the mainland, if hunger pangs are making themselves heard, head
the fuchsia.
back onto the Ring of Kerry route to Waterville and a little spot called Butler’s Hotel.
After visiting Derrynane House, follow the so-called Mass path out to the ruined
Definitely not the only place in town, but here you can pause at photos of Charlie
chapel and the superb views of Abbey Island. The path passes right in front of
Chaplin and family enjoying themselves during summers spent in Waterville.
Bridie Keating’s Bar, making it the perfect place to relax and refuel on your way back.
His daughter loved the place so much, she settled here permanently.
Another one of those paths is an old butter road, the remnant of a network that once
Wave goodbye to Charlie’s statue in town, but before you make a beeline for
flowed from the tips of the peninsula like golden arteries taking butter from Kerry to
Derrynane, if you’ve packed your golf clubs now is the time to take a swing at
the Butter Exchange in nearby Cork. Some of these arteries have since been paved
exquisite Waterville, proud home to not one but two amazing 18-hole gems.
over to become, in places, the Ring of Kerry coast road. Others have hardened in
time to the width of a narrow path like this one near Derrynane.
Derrynane to Killarney
Sweep on from Derrynane through Caherdaniel and onto Sneem, where the road is
At the heart of the National Park is the Gap of Dunloe, sweeping down as a mountain
split in two by the River. Countless world leaders have descended on this spot in their
pass beneath the imposing Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. Standing here will make the rest
time, and each has some sort of monument – think Charles de Gaulle, Chaim Herzog
of the world dissolve, as if insignificant in light of what surrounds you. Just 10km
and our very own President O’Dálaigh, Ireland’s fifth president who served from 1974
southwest of Killarney is a place called Ladies’ View. The strange name comes from
to 1976.
the time Queen Victoria and her friends visited and used to admire the view from on
Continuing on, you’re in eyeshot of the Kenmare River – it’s actually more of a bay,
high. So while driving between Kenmare and Killarney, stop at any one of the quaint
to be honest. Kenmare itself translates from its Irish Neidín, which means ‘Little Nest’,
souvenir shops and they’ll kindly point you upwards to a three minute walk, which
an apt moniker for this perfect town as it nestles between river and mountains. Its
will offer you the best place for a panoramic ‘Ladies’ View’.
colourful façades, are laid out in a triangular design with buildings in close proximity
Feeling the sense of trepidation that your trip around the Ring of Kerry is almost
to each other, bustling bars, cafés, and arts and craft studios where you could literally
complete, slow down just four kilometres outside Killarney and marvel at the Torc
spend all day.
waterfall. The Owengarriff River cascades through the wooded Friar’s Glen into
Another paradise is next on the Ring of Kerry and is actually made for parking up and
Muckross Lake. A pretty path winds up to the top of this 18m high waterfall,
discovering on foot or bike – Killarney National Park is 10,000 hectares of mountains,
revealing views of Torc Mountain. Take a minute to stop and listen. If it’s evening,
moorlands, woodlands, lakes and waterfalls, with Muckross House and Garden at
you might just hear the cuckoos calling out to you from their hiding spots amongst
the heart of it. A new network of signposted trails opens the park up for walkers; and
the clumps of brown heather.
a cycle track along the Kenmare Road makes getting from Killarney to the Muckross
Estate a biking breeze. Don’t miss fully restored Ross Castle, the 15th century home
of the O’Donoghues, or the monastic remains on Innisfallen Island.
Muckross House and Garden, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Dingle Peninsula
A lifetime afoot
With both his parents coming from hillside Kerry
farms, Seán Ó Súilleabháin figures he has the
contours of the Iveragh Peninsula imprinted in
his DNA. What wasn’t already there at birth, he
certainly has added in well over 60 years of
walking Kerry’s hill country.
Earlier inhabitants of this part of Kerry, Seán
explains, didn’t travel along the coast. They took to
higher ground and followed more direct lines; and
they left behind an intricate maze of prehistoric
tracks, old coaching roads, medieval pilgrimage
paths, and disused butter roads. “We wanted to
preserve these ancient lines of communication and
bring them back into use,” Seán says. It took him
and others 11 years and lots of voluntary labour
to achieve their goal of creating the Kerry Way.
“I see it as a linear heritage site that opens up
access to a tremendous range of natural habitats.”
In retirement, Seán has been busier than ever as
a sought-after walking and local history guide,
and can often be seen heading up the slopes of
Carrauntoohil with a group in tow. Clearly, it’s in
the DNA.
Seán Ó Súilleabháin, along the Kerry Way Walking route
Great Blasket Island
Dingle Bay
Valentia Island
s Ross Castle
Derrynane House &
National Park
Iveragh Peninsula
Little Skellig
Great Skellig
Macgillycuddy’s Reeks
Mountain Range
Skellig Heritage Centre
Lakes of
Muckross House
National Park
Molls Gap
Coastal Route
Embark on the Causeway Coastal Route, and immerse yourself in one of the top driving
routes in the world: a meandering coastal and rural trail offering a wealth of visitor sites
and attractions, all blended with a rich and diverse cultural heritage.
The Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim
Causeway Coastal Route
Belfast to Ballycastle
The enigmatic basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway
undoubtedly stand as the smoky gem of Northern Ireland’s
natural attractions – but they are just one sparkler in a
lustrous crown of spectacular, scenic-studded coastline.
The Causeway Coastal Route stretches between two spirited
cities, Belfast and Londonderry, to make what is officially
listed as one of the world’s greatest road journeys in some
one hundred eventful miles. It’s not a great distance, but
it’s a journey to be savoured.
The road traverses bridges, arches and hairpin turns, passing
sheer cliff coves, deserted white strands and otherworldly
rock formations. Those rocks have wrecked ships; those cliffs
nurture rare fauna; the beaches stretch for miles and those
rugged turns are by ancient volcanic design. This route is a
lesson in history, heritage, geology and biology, but above all,
in the astounding power of nature’s creation.
First stop is Belfast where you should prepare yourself for sensory overload in the
Track along the Antrim coast making a visit to the pretty village of Cushendall,
cosy atmosphere of a traditional pub like Whites Tavern, between the throbbing walls
landmarked by the curiously shaped Curfew Tower. This handsome oddity was built
of a music venue, such as the Empire Music Hall on Botanic Avenue, through the
in the 19th century as a garrison and back then served as a lock up for ‘idlers and
gleaming windows of a shopping mall and outwards onto the buzzing cobbled
rioters’. The tower is now a residency for artists who have enjoyed a friendly welcome
streets themselves. Before bidding goodbye to Belfast, visit the site of Harland and
from a community described by the Northern Ireland poet John Hewitt as being
Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built. Excitement sated, put the iconic
heavily steeped in neighbourliness.
silhouette of the shipbuilding cranes in your rear view and take to the hills.
Next along the route is the picturesque village of Cushendun, which makes for a
Belfast Lough will glitter to your right as you join the Causeway Coastal Route at
sleepy seaside idyll. Perched on a northern inlet the village is neatly outlined with a
Newtownabbey and cruise north towards the seaside town of Carrickfergus. The
handful of distinctive black-and-white houses designed by Clough Williams-Ellis. The
town’s harbour-side Norman 12th century castle has seen over 800 years of action,
beach and the green here are managed by the National Trust who recognise it as a
right up until World War II, with portcullis, ramparts, canons and a chilling dungeon.
true gem-on-the-sea, and tiny Mary McBride’s Pub is a landmark in its own right.
Continue northwest of Larne and the Causeway Coastal Route will pass the foot
The signposted scenic route to Ballycastle sees the trail snake precariously around
of each of the nine Glens of Antrim – glacier-gouged valleys of charming seaside
steep slopes between Torr Head, Murlough Bay and Fair Head. Torr Head was once a
villages and highlands of coniferous forests, bogland and waterfalls. The same
strategic signalling and lookout station for transatlantic shipping. Now the old station is
geological forces that created the terrain of the Causeway also created the Glens,
a shelter for sheep and a wild sea continues to rage around its headlands. Fair Head
the southern-most of which is the charming village of Glenarm: host to Glenarm
propels spectacular views from its 650ft perch above sea level, while the gentler
Castle and its lush parkland and walled garden.
slopes and wild flower meadows of Murlough Bay to the east provide a contrast to
Further north, dramatically sculpted escarpments flank Glenariff, the ‘Queen of the
the starkness of its neighbour.
Glens’, as it runs uphill from the Irish Sea. Here, you’ll find the delightful Glenariff
Forest Park and the Ess-na-Crub waterfall, the perfect spot for an invigorating walk
to stretch the legs.
View down Glenariff, Co. Antrim
Causeway Coastal Route
Ballycastle to The Giant’s Causeway
The next slice of dazzling coastline belongs to the town of Ballycastle; a dainty marina
The Causeway draws huge crowds for its scenic mix of geological marvel and
framed by colourful town houses and extensive seaward views, from the slant of Fair
mythical intrigue, but resist just following them straight to the main attraction.
Head to the rugged profile of Rathlin Island. Local gems include the banks and knolls
Instead, follow the path behind the visitor centre and up round towards the cliffs
of the part-links, part-parkland golf course, the generously sized sandy beach and the
for wind-whipped views off the beaten track.
annual Oul Lammas Fair. Ireland’s oldest fair (that’s putting it at early 17th century)
From up here, looking down at those iconic dark pillars, you suddenly see the
assembles sheep and pony sellers, stall-holders, and scores of locals and out-of-
Causeway as one small geological element in a much larger and more elegant
towners for two days at the end of August. Expect a charming blend of hustle,
pattern that drops down over the entire coastline like a topographic net – it’s a truly
bustle and local food specialities like dulse (edible seaweed) and yellowman
breathtaking, or should one say a ‘gigantic’ experience. One thing’s for sure, the new
(a tooth-cracking honeycomb toffee).
Causeway Visitor Centre (launch 2012) deftly blends the most modern geographical
Between Ballycastle and the Giant’s Causeway arguably lies the most scenic stretch
aptitude with some pretty mesmerising mythological intrigue in such a way that you
of the trail, with sea cliffs of striped black basalt and white chalk, charming harbours
never quite know which you’d prefer as the truth.
and broad sweeps of beach. The cliff-top trail can be managed on foot, marvel at
the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the singularly stunning little church and harbour at
Rope Bridge
Some variety of rope bridge has connected the tiny
island of Carrick-a-Rede to the mainland for over
250 years, serving commercial fishermen catching
salmon off the island until 2002. Hanging gracefully
over a 75ft deep chasm of rocky cliffs and bluegreen waters, the latest version is sturdy enough to
stay up all year round and now serves those who
dare to cross to the island for the striking views of
the Causeway coast.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Co. Antrim
Ballintoy and the sweeping sandy beach of White Park Bay.
Next along the serrated coastline is the UNESCO World Heritage Site itself: the
celebrated Giant’s Causeway. The curious assembly of 40,000 basalt columns,
formed by molten lava cooled into mostly flawless hexagonals of dark stone steps,
appear so perfectly artificial it is no surprise that the rock formation has spanned
such enduring myths as this one:
The Causeway legend claims the great Celtic warrior Finn MacCool built the basalt
highway to Scotland to challenge a rival giant, Benandonner, to a scrap. But Finn’s
first glimpse of the enormous Scot sent him scurrying back to Ireland, where his
quick-witted wife disguised him as an infant. Benandonner arrives, sees the hulking
baby, reasons ‘If that’s the kid, I don’t want to meet the father’ and turns tail back to
Scotland, ripping up the highway behind him.
Causeway Coastal Route
Giant’s Causeway to Derry~Londonderry
From those dizzy cliff heights, an inland detour to the village of Bushmills and home
The final miles of the journey sees the peaceful quiet dissipate as the night draws in
of the Old Bushmills Distillery will beckon. This is not just the oldest working distillery
and the bustling city of Londonderry, also known as Derry, rises from the horizon.
in Ireland, it happens to be one of the most beautiful as well – a genteel assemblage
Pass an evening in this UK City of Culture 2013 by taking your pick from the line-up
of 19th century industrial buildings tucked in a small cleft alongside the River Bush,
of theatres and concert halls, or streets of pubs throbbing with traditional music
as if lifted straight off an old postcard. And the whiskey isn’t too shabby, either. One
and the famously friendly locals. Deserving pitstops include the newly refurbished
of the best places to sample it locally is The Bushmills Inn. This superb hotel does
Waterside Theatre and the new state-of-the-art Irish language arts and cultural centre,
everything right – outstanding service, great rooms, a public area full of cosy snugs
Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin. This arts and culture hub is brimming with excitement as it
and nooks, a pub full of atmosphere and character, and a restaurant using local
pushes towards the year of cultural celebration, but you’ll find tasters even now in
ingredients to create culinary magic.
the museums, galleries and community arts organisations that flourish in the city.
Back on the Coast Road and due west, the romantic remains of Dunluce Castle will
Although all manner of creative events are held annually, it’s the fervour of the Banks
appear teetering on the rocky headland ahead. The 14th century stronghold was
of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival (October) that swallows the city whole with its five
abandoned in 1641 after part of the kitchen collapsed into the sea during a storm.
days of parades, fireworks, story-telling and general mischief.
In the adjoining graveyard are more victims of the crashing Atlantic: buried sailors
from the wrecked Girona, while treasures recovered from the wreck can be seen at
the Ulster Museum in Belfast.
The UK City of Culture 2013 is already well
prepared for its crowning year. Arts, drama, comedy
and all types of music have dedicated annual
festivals in this buzzing city. The remarkably intact
17th century walls, complete with watchtowers and
cannons, make a handy promenade from which to
view the modern grid layout of the city – a result
of it being the first ever planned city on the island
of Ireland.
The Walled City of Derry, Co. Londonderry
Further west lie the lively seaside resorts of Portrush and Portstewart. While Portrush
stands as a mecca for surfing, sandy beaches and championship golf courses,
Portstewart is a reserved Victorian town with a glorious stretch of golden strand and
Suitably culture-stocked, take the next morning to tackle the must-do activity: a walk
of the 17th century walls taking time to get your bearings for a day of exploration.
Whatever you choose to see, the locals’ sense of pride in their city is palatable – it’s
their hometown, after all, and they want to welcome you inside their massive stone
walls for however long you want to stay.
a stroll-perfect promenade.
Along the coast from Portstewart is Mussenden Temple. Perched precariously on the
edge of a 120ft cliff above Ireland’s longest strand, Magillagan Beach, and nearby
windswept Downhill Strand, more often than not, walking these fine sands will give
you a sense of being completely alone in the world, such is their vastness.
Causeway Coastal Route
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
Giant’s Causeway
Rathlin Island
ss s s s s s s s
s ss
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Mussenden Temple
City of Derry
Telling Tales in
The Glens of Antrim
“The Glens are so rich in folklore, every stone
has a story to tell,” says Liz Weir, one of the few
people who can call themselves a professional
storyteller. Her tales of the Glens drip with
magic and playful fairies, whose music can be
heard on the thirteenth moon of the year, and
who bestow heapings of misfortune on anyone
who cuts down their beloved Hawthorn trees.
A traditional storytelling session
Fair Head
Murlough Bay
Torr Head
Glenariff Forest Park
Carrickfergus Castle
George Best
Belfast City
Only have 10 days? Take to the road less travelled, skimming sky-high cliffs and into buzzing towns
and villages with our pick of the highlights along the way!
Torr Head, Co. Antrim
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Day one:
Dublin to Tramore
Day two:
Tramore to Cork
(Distance: 190km/118mls)
(Distance: 117km/73mls)
Where better to begin our tour than the city of Dublin, the capital of the Republic
Leave the bustle of Tramore behind for Waterford’s amazing Copper Coast. Virtually
of Ireland. Designated a UNESCO City of Literature, it holds the accolade for being
unknown but to locals, the Copper Coast enjoys the status of a UNESCO Global
TripAdvisor’s Friendliest City in Europe and is an all round great place to hang out.
Geopark, essentially an outdoor geological museum.
So before passing through the city limits, take a stroll around the cobbled streets of
Built up an appetite? Do something about it in the harbour town of Dungarvan, where
Temple Bar, colour co-ordinate the Georgian doors in Merrion Square, sample a swift
you can join the locals for lunch at the beloved Thursday Farmers’ Market. Between
pint of Guinness at St James’s Gate and don’t miss a visit to Trinity College and the
Dungarvan and Youghal, the landscape presents more subtle pleasures, while the
famous ‘Book of Kells’.
popular cliff walk around Ardmore Head and Ram’s Head passes monastic ruins out
A lush wilderness suddenly takes over a little south of Dublin. County Wicklow, known
towards Goat Island. Unspoiled villages dot East Cork’s countryside, which, thanks to
as the ‘Garden County of Ireland’, has seen many people come to get lost in its sun-
Myrtle Allen and her family in Ballymaloe Cookery School, is the heartland of country
yellow gorse, deep purple heather, majestically green forests and the 20 hectares of
cooking. Before pushing for Cork, stop off at the Jameson Experience in Midleton for
eclectic botanical splendour at Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry. As you push south
a whiskey tour. Remember to designate a driver!
you can choose to beach hop along the Wicklow/Wexford coast, including Curracloe
in Wexford, where Spielberg gathered an army of extras to film the beach landing of
‘Saving Private Ryan’. Or you can opt for lush river valleys by skirting Mount Leinster
and the Blackstairs Mountains and heading for the River Barrow. Whether by coast
or river, find your way to Hook Head, before dashing back up the estuary for a short
ferry crossing to Passage East and onward to the seaside town of Tramore.
Hook Head Lighthouse, Co. Wexford
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Day three:
Cork to Killarney
Day four:
Killarney to Galway
(Distance: 151km/94mls)
Get the day started by soaking up the atmosphere of Cork city, designated Europe’s
Take the opportunity to detour around the famous Ring of Kerry. Decision time. One
2005 Capital of Culture followed by a stop in the English Market, the Victorian
option is to follow the main Killarney to Limerick road through rolling farmland and
landmark at the heart of Cork’s culinary soul. Blarney Castle, just outside the city
the pretty village of Adare. In Limerick, gaze at the Shannon river from the walls of
should not be missed, with its famous stone said to impart the gift of eloquence on
King John’s Castle before crossing the river into County Clare via Bunratty Castle and
all who kiss it.
Folk Park. The alternative takes you through Tralee and North Kerry. A half an hour
From Cork to Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southerly point, a chain of meticulously
should do for a gentle walk around Nun’s Beach at Ballybunion, and then it’s off to
kept villages lies strung along the coastline. First is medieval Kinsale, a favourite of
Tarbert for a ferry across the Shannon to Clare and a drive up the Atlantic coast.
seafood enthusiasts; then on to Clonakilty, the proud birthplace of Michael Collins.
High or low, all roads lead to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren’s contorted limestone
Glandore, Unionhall, Baltimore, Skibbereen, Schull… all the way to Mizen Head. Take
landscape. Follow the coast road around Galway Bay, stopping in Ballyvaughan or
time to beat a path north through Glengarriff and Garinish Island before it’s up and
Kinvara for a late afternoon break before an overnight stay in Galway city, venue for
over Healy Pass. Catch your breath in Kenmare then onto Moll’s Gap, followed by a
the finish of the Volvo Round the World Ocean Race in 2012.
twisting descent through Killarney National Park and into Killarney.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Day five:
Galway to Westport
Day six:
Westport to Donegal
(Distance: 138km/96mls)
(Distance: 194km/121mls)
Make your way out along the northern shore of Galway Bay. The landscape grows
Instead of heading to Achill Island, a rugged gem glittering in the Atlantic, today’s path
increasingly bleak until Rossaveal. Suddenly, an enormous expanse of watery bog
heads inland to the town of Castlebar and the Museum of Country Life. Head north
unfolds, along with the moody shapes of the Twelve Pins. But don’t let the apparent
through Ballina back to the shoreline at Inishcrone. This is surf country, where the
bleakness fool you. Intriguing pockets of life can be found tucked away. Deep in the
north Atlantic swell sweeps into Donegal Bay creating world-class surf breaks. Follow
heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, the peninsula of Carraroe is a hotbed of Irish
the coast to Strandhill before heading into Sligo town, stopping for a short hike to the
language and culture. The village of Roundstone surges with energy in summer, and
top of Knocknaree to enjoy the views. After pausing in Sligo to gaze at Jack B. Yeats’
the coast road from here to Clifden is speckled with pretty cottages. Continue on to
paintings at the Model Art Centre, you enter poet and Nobel laureate W.B. Yeats’
Letterfrack for the Connemara National Park. Scenery hounds will follow the road to
country – his grave is at the foot of Benbulben in Drumcliff. The evening light bathes
Leenaun, while culture vultures will aim for Kylemore Abbey. Everyone joins up at
the coastal drive from here to Donegal town in shades of shimmering green.
Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord – before crossing into Mayo and Clew Bay. From
here to Westport the road skirts Croagh Patrick, where centuries of pilgrims have
scrambled barefoot up its scree-covered slopes.
Benbulben, Drumcliff, Co. Sligo
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Day seven:
Donegal to Derry~Londonderry
Day eight:
Derry~Londonderry to Belfast
May the sun linger above as you take the back road over remote bogland to Ardara,
On a journey packed with highlights, it isn’t easy to single any out any as the pick of
then just south to Maghera Beach. The route then heads north again, through
the litter. But the Causeway Coast may just get the nod. Leave Londonderry’s famous
Glenties and across the Gweebarra River to The Rosses. As you round Bloody
walls behind, following the Causeway Coastal Route to the chalky cliffs at Whiterocks.
Foreland, windswept Tory Island and the imposing bulk of Horn Head come into view.
From here, it’s just one superlative after another: cliff-top Dunluce Castle; Bushmills,
Take a break in Ards Forest Park before crossing the bridge of upper Mulroy Bay
Ireland’s oldest working whiskey distillery (easy on the tasting!); the iconic Giant’s
to the Fanad Peninsula. Follow the Fanad scenic drive for Malin Head – Ireland’s
Causeway and the headspinning Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Pick your jaw back up
most northerly point – until Rathmullan. Whether you take the ferry to cross Lough
and on to the Glens of Antrim, nine wonderfully unspoiled valleys, and the pretty
Swilly (summers only) or drive round the coast, be sure to stop in Burt. On the hill
villages of Cushendun and Cushendall. Venture to the head of Glenariff for a wander
above, you’ll find An Grianán Ailigh, an iron-age ring fort presenting stunning views
around the waterfalls, before returning to the coast road and on to the shores of
over nearby Londonderry city on the banks of the river Foyle; the only remaining
Belfast Lough and finally Belfast itself.
(Distance: 167km/104mls)
(Distance: 117km/73mls)
completely walled city in Ireland and UK Capital of Culture 2013.
Dunluce Castle, Co. Antrim
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Day nine:
Belfast to Newry
Day ten:
Newry to Dublin
(Distance: 194km/120mls)
(Distance: 108km/67mls)
This gentle southerly glide along the Irish Sea will take you back to Dublin. As for
For one last taste of Ireland’s wilder side, make a beeline for the Cooley Peninsula,
highpoints, there are plenty in Belfast. Walk the beat from the Ulster Hall with
home to the Cooley Distillery, Ireland’s only independently owned whiskey maker.
the Belfast Music Tour and your ears will fill with harmonic delights – from Van
If tasting, remember to designate a driver! Avoid any urges to jump on the M1 at
Morrison to the more contemporary Snow Patrol lads. Raise a glass to the toil of the
Dundalk, heading instead through the villages of Castlebellingham, Clogherhead and
Harland & Wolff shipbuilders who, 100 years ago, created the floating palace known
Termonfeckin. Leave plenty of time for County Meath’s Boyne Valley and the richest
as the RMS Titanic. Visit the iconic Titanic Belfast® which tells Titanic’s story or choose
assemblage of historical sites and monuments found anywhere in Ireland. For early
a selection of specialist Titanic and Maritime tours that make the Titanic Quarter a
Christian folklore, pop over to the Hill of Slane where St Patrick supposedly lit his
must see in 2012.
famous paschal fire, claiming Ireland for Christianity. From here, the entire Boyne
Finally, you simply can’t leave Belfast without paying a visit to the city’s museums
River Valley opens up. Complete the arc by crisscrossing the hedgerow-lined laneways
including the award-winning Ulster Museum in Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Folk
stopping off at Ireland’s largest Anglo Norman castle in Trim. Return to Dublin via the
and Transport Museum in Cultra, just a little way out of the city. Leaving the city,
coast road, taking in Malahide, Portmarnock, Howth and the truly unique sanctuary
head to the Castle Espie Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre on Strangford Lough, an
of Bull Island.
ornithologists paradise and delicate habitat for wintering Brent Geese. From there
continue to the understated beauty of the Ards Peninsula. A short ferry journey takes
you from Portaferry to Strangford. On the far side of Dundrum Bay is Newcastle
and gateway to the Mournes. Lose the wheels for a ramble up Slieve Donard, then
spare a thought for the hardy souls who built the wall over its summit. Refuel in the
emerging food centre of Warrenpoint before finishing up in the city of Newry.
Trim Castle, Co. Meath
10 Day Tour of Ireland
Off the beaten track:
And if you have more time along the route …
A magical trip following the timeless river Shannon
Stop off at New Ross, County Wexford. Board the
Dunbrody Famine Ship and walk in the footsteps of a
group of Irish famine emigrants on their journey of hope
across the Atlantic Ocean
with those where the river seems to ooze into the low-lying nooks and crannies of
Visit the House of Waterford Crystal in Waterford city. Take
a guided factory tour giving you first hand access to all
areas of traditional crystal production.
Pay a visit to Bantry House and Gardens, a majestic stately
home overlooking the beautiful Bantry Bay Co. Cork. You
can take house tours or relax in the landscaped gardens.
Visit the spectacular Aillwee Cave near Ballyvaughan,
County Clare. Guided tours will take you through
beautifully lit caverns featuring stalactites and stalagmites
alongside a thunderous waterfall.
Take a day trip to the world famous Aran Islands in Galway
Bay – the traditional heart of Ireland.
Check out the charming village of Cong in County Mayo.
Time appears to have stood still since the classic movie
‘The Quiet Man’ was filmed here in 1951.
Immerse yourself in a vast prehistoric landscape; a natural
wild-ecology of blanket bog, dramatic cliffs and coastline at
the Céide Fields in north Mayo.
Enjoy the spectacular sights of Slieve League, south-west
Donegal, the highest sea cliffs in Europe.
Take a wander round Glenveagh National Park and Castle
in north-west Donegal. It is a remote and hauntingly
beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine
lakes, a great place to spot wildlife.
Take the ferry from Ballycastle Co. Antrim and lose yourself
in the peace and tranquillity of Rathlin Island.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Achill Island
throwing wonderfully sleepy towns like Bannaher, Shannon Harbour and
Shannonbridge a lifeline to the world. Around a lonely bend slightly further north
Croagh Patrick
Visit the pretty seaside village of Carlingford Co. Louth,
littered with evocative ruins and whitewashed houses.
Enjoy the stunning views of Carlingford Lough and the
Cooley Mountains and listen to the wealth of myths
and legends which make Carlingford a unique holiday
Key or Lough Allen, touching on the Shannon-Erne Waterway to Lough Erne and
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Galway Bay
Enniskillen, or even following the route of the Royal Canal to Dublin, if you like.
Hill of Slane
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journey in itself!
Garinish Island
Powerscourt House
Bunratty Castle
Blackstairs Mountain
New Ross
Molls Gap
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Blarney Castle
Mount Leinster
Just remember, at some point it ceases to be a detour and turns into a full-blown
Dundrum Bay
were once the centres of life along the river and still have hidden remains to prove it.
Mourne Mountains
deciding when and where to stop. You could follow it to almost anywhere… to Lough
Shannon Erne Waterway
Aran Islands
But this raises the one problem with a detour like this one along the Shannon –
Lough Erne
Killary harbour
Lough Erne
George Best
Belfast City
Ireland West Knock
Scattered across the surface of Lough Ree, the next flowing patch on the river, are
fifty tiny islands, currently uninhabited places like Hare Island and Inchcleraun that
Clew Bay
looms Clonmacnoise, the monastic jewel in the Shannon’s crown.
Follow in the footsteps of Ireland’s Patron Saint and explore
the 62 mile long Saint Patrick’s Trail through Counties
Armagh and Down. Discover a range of Christian Heritage
sites relating to Patrick and his legacy.
City of Derry
of Killaloe you hit the first bit of ooze in the form of Lough Derg, a haven for water
Above Lough Derg, the Shannon filters through an unspoilt midlands bogscape,
following the river past Ardnacrusha – the hydroelectric station that brought power to
sports enthusiasts of all types.
Donegal Bay
The largest waterway in the British Isles, our off-the-beaten track adventure begins by
Rathlin Island
the surrounding countryside, turning hilltops into islands and doing its best impression
of a lake.
An Grianán Ailigh
Shannon takes on a gently repeating pattern, stretches of meandering river alternate
rural Ireland and still looms large in the Irish national psyche. At the pretty Clare village
Dunluce Castle
Every road-trip has its own distinct rhythm. This detour along the banks of the river
sss ss
Giant’s Causeway
Relaxing on a Lough Erne jetty, Co. Fermanagh
Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
Tory Island
Hook Head
Mizen Head
Music to your ears
From bows zipping on fiddles to toes tapping on barstools, traditional music in Ireland is
alive and kicking. Listen once and you may be dancing to a different tune …
Enjoying an informal music session
Music to your ears
From the jigs to the reels, the marches to the aires,
traditional Irish music is hip. Don’t believe it? Just spend
a few days at the next Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, which
is Ireland’s largest festival of music, song and dance held
in August each year. Literally thousands of traditional
musicians and their supporters descend upon the
event’s host town to lose themselves in three days of
concentrated music: they come to hear it, play it and
talk it; and they come to compete.
Music flows from pubs, cafés, outdoor stages, and impromptu street corner sessions.
Martin knows the gems that make up this melodic expanse like the back of his hand
Smiling children can be seen carrying accordions from venue to venue to show
– little places with big musical souls and each with its own traditional fingerprint.
their burgeoning skills. Tin whistles poke out of men’s shirt pockets. Ladies dangle
Journey from the southernmost point of Dingle in County Kerry, up to Tulla and
concertinas from their wrists. Trendy teenagers sport fiddles, mandolins and bodhráns
Feakle in County Clare, and onto Achill Island in County Mayo, and you’ve got the
(hand-held drum) as though they were the latest urban fashion accessories.
makings of a music trail through Ireland’s western gems. Moving northwest from
After the dust clears, a new group of musical aficionados arrive to perform for the
there, head to Ballaghaderreen and Keadue in County Roscommon, Tubbercurry,
crowds, from fiddlers and harpists, lilters and ballad singers, Uilleann pipe and button
Ballintogher and Riverstown in County Sligo, Glenfarne and Drumshanbo in
accordion players to tin whistlers and céilí (traditional Irish dancing) bands.
County Leitrim, and then to Glencolmcille in County Donegal, and your passion
The Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the pinnacle of a calendar of traditional music
for soul-soaring sessions will be almost sated.
events happening up and down the country, especially along the western stretch
But, adds Martin, as you begin your journey, you’ll suddenly realise that to make your
between counties Kerry and Donegal, and there are regional fleadhs and festivals,
journey whole, you must also learn to hear the regional distinctiveness at each port of
impromptu sessions, concerts and dances, courses and lessons across the Island
call. Only then will you really discover parts of Ireland that few visitors ever see: rural,
of Ireland.
close-knit, and steeped in music.
Martin Gaffney plays a mean tin whistle. As one of the movers and shakers behind
So how should you go about embracing the harmonies in Ireland? Well, to use that
the Fleadh, he knows the country’s traditional music landscape better than most. The
well-known phrase, we’re going on a whistlestop tour along the west coast, bringing
local festivals, he says, are the heart of traditional music. “From April to October, you’ll
you to the very heartland of Irish traditional music.
find another one nearly every week. They’ll take you to out-of-the-way places with a
strong musical heritage, places where people are looking to connect with the music
and each other.”
Martin Gaffney playing at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann
Music to your ears
County Kerry
How could we possibly start a journey about music in Ireland without heading straight
The relaxed, lyrical style of east Clare can be heard throughout the year in local pubs,
to Dingle in County Kerry? In fact, there’s a well-known phrase down in this lush
such as Shortts and the Pepper Pot in Feakle, or Minogues in Tulla. But one of the
green Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area that goes some way to explaining how much
area’s musical highlights comes in August with the Feakle Festival. “Feakle has this
traditional Irish music is engrained in the Dingle Peninsula’s psyche. Apparently,
real folk feel to it,” Martin Gaffney says. “The master classes are probably the best in
if you want to heap praise on someone around here, you say “Mo cheol thú”
the country.” A month later in September, the captivating festival buzz moves just a
(“You are my music!”)
few kilometres down the road to Tulla.
It’s fitting then that musicians far and wide have settled in and around the area, such
As County Clare’s musical route flows on from Tulla to Ennis with its Fleadh Nua
is the lure of the love of music on the peninsula. It’s also why lots of the sessions of
(held annually during May), to Miltown Malbay and the Willie Clancy Summer
song and dance are still held in each other’s houses. But don’t you worry too much –
School (held in early July), and finally to Lisdoonvarna’s festival (throughout
these supremely talented musicians and singers also love an audience, and bars such
September), which injects traditional music with rock star status, and a wee bit of
as An Droichead Beag, Mac Cárthaigh’s and John Benny Moriarty’s make the perfect
matchmaking as well, you soon realise that the county is essentially synonymous
stages for such occasions, especially for singing and set dancing.
with traditional music.
Kilfenora has its renowned céilí band, and the corner of the county near Kinvarra
County Clare
Veer northwards and straight up to east Clare. In this part of the county, gently rolling
has more musicians per square foot than anywhere else in the country. To stand
out against this crowded backdrop of contenders says something extraordinary
about the depth of musical heritage in east Clare.
hill country extends west of Lough Derg and the River Shannon. This isn’t the place
to come to if you’re in a hurry. As Martin Hayes, the renowned fiddler and east Clare
native, once put it, “we take life a little slower here, our music, too”.
The hub of east Clare’s music scene clusters around two small villages – Tulla and
Feakle – and figures like Mary McNamara, the concertina player and teacher, the Tulla
Céilí Band, and Hayes, the virtuoso fiddler. But individual figures in traditional music
seldom come without a family attached and this holds especially true in east Clare.
Irish Dancing Festival
Music to your ears
Pubs and Music
from counties Clare
to Donegal
You’ll literally find hundreds of pubs where
good Trad (traditional) music is played
regularly, from the generally well-known like
Matt Molloy’s in Westport, County Mayo,
Anderson’s Thatched Cottage in Carrick-onShannon, to McGrory’s of Culdaff in Donegal.
Then you’ve got the more local gems, such as
Cleary’s in Miltown Malbay and Ciaran’s Bar
in Ennis, both in County Clare, and Killorans in
Tubbercurry, or Teac Jack in Derrybeg on the
Donegal coast. A basic rule of thumb for finding
lively pub seisiúns (sessions) is to focus on the
localities where music festivals and summer
schools take place, a sure sign of a vibrant
local Trad scene that is also likely to be found
playing regularly in the area’s pubs.
Pub session. Matt Molloy’s, Westport, Co. Mayo
County Galway
County Sligo
The trip so far is only beginning to scratch the surface of the west coast traditional
With its undulating hills and twisting lanes, south Sligo rarely appears on the radar
scene, where intimate pubs are packed to the rafters as impromptu sessions are
screen of passing visitors. Often described as ‘bouncy and intricate, with so many
played out amidst the silence of the surrounding countryside. Moving north to
twists and turns, dips and whirls, it’ll remind you of driving on Irish roads but without
Galway, Martin Gaffney says, you’ll find “brilliant music every week, all year long in
the sheep’. Be it dancing or just tapping your foot, Sligo fiddling will have you burning
Cnoc Suain,” a breathtaking cultural retreat in Spiddal. “At the heart of what’s going
a few more calories than its laid-back relative from east Clare.
on there are these amazing musical authorities like Mary Bergin, the tin whistle player,
The south Sligo scene revolves around the activities of several local branches of
the fiddler, Dearbhaill Standún, and their group, Dordán.”
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the main body for the preservation and promotion of
Irish traditional music. “Local branches are generally the best source of information
County Mayo
on what’s happening anywhere in the country,” says Martin Gaffney.
Into Mayo now, and Martin Gaffney calls Scoil Acla, the annual summer school on
centres where you’ll find everything from music sessions to singing classes. And the
stunning Achill Island, the Rolls Royce of traditional music with “nearly two weeks of
south Sligo branch keeps the village of Tubbercurry alive with traditional music and
top class traditional royalty attracting some of the best musicians out there.” Included
dance. The highlight of the season is the week long South Sligo Summer School
on that list in the past are players and teachers, such as the flautist, Hammy Hamilton,
(early July), where you’ll have plenty of chances to move your feet to local tunes,
the fiddler, Paddy Ryan, Uilleann pipe player, Robbie Hannon, sean-nós (old style,
such as The Killavil Jig.
unaccompanied) singer, Síle Uí Móngáin, as well as poets like Nobel laureate,
The beautiful village of Riverstown plays host to the annual James Morrison Traditional
Seamus Heaney, and the Whitbread winner, Paul Durcan.
Music Festival at the beginning of August. You’ll find sessions in the pubs, concerts in
Gurteen is home to Ceoláras Coleman, one of Comhaltas’ new regional resource
the local community hall, céilís on the town ‘Diamond’, and classes in Morrison Teach
Cheoil, the branch’s new Irish cultural centre. In nearby Ballintogher, the Fred Finn
Branch commemorates the flute player, John Egan, with an annual festival, as well as
organising the annual Ballintogher Traditional Music Festival at the end of October.
Music to your ears
County Donegal
City of Derry
It used to be said that for every house in County Donegal, there was a fiddle indoors,
Knowing your seisiúns
from your céilís
too! While not all of Donegal’s inhabitants keep one on their shelf these days, it’s still
Irish music derives almost entirely from dance
music of one form or another – jigs, reels, polkas,
hornpipes, waltzes, and strathspeys among them.
If you’re more of a listener than a dancer, it’s the
seisiúns you should be on the look out for – informal
gatherings of players in pubs and venues where you
can tap your feet along with the beat. For those who
want to get those feet really moving, céilís and are
the place to join in the set dancing.
resonates through the county, especially upon mentioning the name Altan – a local
Musical styles and tastes shift from region to region
in Ireland. If the polka predominates, you’re likely to
be in Cork or Kerry. Donegal fiddling is fast paced
and rhythmically ‘driving’, Sligo fiddling still fast paced
but more ornamental, while Clare slows everything
down a notch and leans towards the lyrical.
Ceol Sa Ghleann’s Scoil Ceoil (music school) in Glencolmcille, where the people
The tradition of sean-nós (old style, unaccompanied
singing and dancing) also varies in style from
Northern Ireland to the South and West of the island,
the areas where it is most popular. For anyone who
equates Irish dancing with step dancing, the fluid,
and often witty, improvisation of a sean-nós dancer
is an experience not to be missed.
a tradition that provides this county with its own distinctive style of music, centering
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around the fiddle, naturally. You’ll recognise musicians hailing from these parts by the
remarkably rapid pace those fiddlers move their bows. The local pride in their music
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six-piece band that seriously knows its strings and whose hard-hitting jigs and reels
are legendary.
With such a close proximity to Scotland, it’s also no surprise that Donegal’s near
Achill Island
neighbours have been influential here, too. Take a trip to Ardara’s Cup of Tae Festival
(held in April/May), and you’ll find Donegal natives mixing with their Scottish
Ireland West Knock
counterparts for many a rip-roaring session.
Like what you’ve heard in Donegal and fancy facing the fiddle? Steer towards
who live and breathe this tradition will help you make your own beautiful music.
Spiddal GALWAY Q
Sometimes, though, like with all things in life, the best traditional experience is the
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one you find by chance. Travel those twisting roads of counties Kerry, east Clare, east
Galway, south Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim, or southwest Donegal and you’ll get plenty
Milltown Malbay
of chances.
Irish Fiddle Player
St Patrick’s Trail
In Ireland, the legacy of Patrick and those who followed him add unique character to
the landscape. Soaring round towers and mysterious monastic remains can be found in
almost every county and corner of the island.
Slemish Mountain, Co. Antrim
St Patrick’s Trail
County Down
The legacy of St Patrick is etched in the paths worn smooth
by the centuries of people who have followed in his
footsteps, like on the slopes of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo
or Slemish Mountain in County Antrim; it’s embedded in the
stones of Ireland’s monastic ruins and in the sky-piercing
round towers in counties Armagh and Down.
Much more than that, though, it lives and breathes in tradition
and folklore, in the thousands of people who gather at
Croagh Patrick on ‘Reek Sunday’ (the last Sunday in July) to
brave those scree-covered slopes; in the millions of people
the world over who, in the name of St Patrick, celebrate the
elusive idea of ‘Irishness’.
But what do we truly know of the life of St Patrick? Following
him up Croagh Patrick or Slemish opens windows on the
experiences that shaped his spirituality. Picking up his trail
in County Down allows us to delve just that little bit further.
Following Patrick’s trail, you are struck with the realisation that he was a well-travelled
Examples of Patrick’s effect and impact are scattered liberally here with iconic
soul. He is said to have baptised converts in a well near the site of Saint Patrick’s
sites like Saint Patrick’s Cathedral watching proudly over the massive granite stone
Cathedral in Dublin; at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary he converted Aengus,
marking Patrick’s Grave in Downpatrick. County Down’s affection for Patrick is further
the King of Munster (accidentally putting the spiked end of his crosier through the
channelled through Down County Museum and The Saint Patrick Centre, the world’s
King’s foot in the process); but the undisputed heartland of his mission was here,
only permanent exhibition dedicated to Patrick’s life and legacy.
in counties like Down, where you can still find the greatest concentration of sites
Housed in a chiseled 16th century fortified
attesting to his lasting legacy.
building our next stop, Bagenal’s Castle in the
Known locally as ‘Patrick’s country’, County Down is generously dotted with saintly
city of Newry, breaks up the drive from
sites. We kick off our Christian heritage trail in Bangor Abbey. Built in the 6th century,
Downpatrick to Armagh city. Pop in for
the Abbey trained many of the missionaries who kept the light of Christianity alive in
a peek at some wonderful finds from
the darkness of the Middle Ages. Nearby, you’ll find North Down Museum, located
Newry’s Cistercian Abbey and maybe
in Bangor Town Hall, furnished with a cosy atmospheric gallery attesting to Bangor
a cup of coffee before making for
Abbey’s period of Patrick-inspired Christianisation between 590–990AD.
Armagh city, and yet another page
Stretching south from Bangor, enter the majestic Grey Abbey. This is an ideal spot
in the life of Ireland’s Patron Saint.
for a leg-stretch and fresh air before the short drive to the ruins of Inch Abbey.
Taking locals’ directions, just ‘out the road’ from Downpatrick’s centre, lives the bucolic
calm of Inch Abbey; stone-walled proof of Patrick’s Christian legacy lives here. The
quaintly ruined abbey sits a short distance from the lovingly constructed stone façade
of Saul Church, watched over by a statue of the great Saint from nearby Slieve Patrick.
Departing Inch Abbey, curve outwards slightly towards the coast and spend some
time viewing the little beehive mounds of Struell Wells. Said to have been blessed
by Patrick himself, the wells and chapel ruins here make a very charming picture.
After the pastoral repose of Struell Wells it’s forth to Downpatrick where the Saint’s
life is ingrained not only on the history but on the landscape too.
Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo
St Patrick’s Trail
County Armagh
County Mayo
Patrick’s story, his life really, remains well established in Armagh with his saintly hue
Across the island on Ireland’s west coast you will find County Mayo and Croagh
Did you know?
lingering in places such as Armagh Public Library and Armagh County Museum.
Patrick, sitting tall and bulky, just waiting to be climbed. Although the breadth of the
St Patrick and the
A stone’s throw from the Museum lies Saint Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex, where
island is wide, the presence of St Patrick is felt as strongly here as it is in counties
visitors can peruse the Saint’s writings and sneak a little closer to understanding him
Armagh and Down. Ask anyone who has ever climbed Croagh Patrick: they’ll tell
before visiting his two Cathedrals sitting atop Armagh’s hills.
you the holy mountain’s lower slopes are disarmingly deceptive.
Perched stoically on the Hill of Armagh, Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral
You move along with relative ease, soaking up the views of Mayo’s Clew Bay, with
Looking for a simple way to explain the Holy
Trinity to potential pagan converts, an inspired
Patrick plucked a shamrock (a clover but with only
three leaves) from the soil. The druids had always
believed that the shamrock had the ability to ward
off evil so by choosing the shamrock to explain
Christianity, Patrick had found a middle ground.
Legend then has it that Patrick went on to use
the three leaves on the plant to
represent the Holy Trinity of The
Father, The Son, and The Holy
Spirit, just as Roman Catholic’s
bless themselves today.
oozes stoic good looks, its handsome exterior matched inch for inch by the vaulted
Achill Island shimmering like an emerald jewel in the distance. At the ridgeline, the
beauty hiding inside. Similarly located on another of Armagh’s grassy hills is Patrick’s
majestic views open up to the remote valleys and rugged mountains. From here,
Roman Catholic Cathedral, begun in 1840 but unfinished (due in part to the Great
the summit seems a mere stone’s throw away.
Famine) until 1904. A quick look heavenwards at the intricate detailing goes some
And just when you think the going is that bit too easy, the gradient ramps up a notch
way to explaining any tardiness.
and you hit the deep layer of scree that covers the upper third of the conical slopes.
Visiting all of these splendid dedications to Patrick’s life in Ireland, it’s curious to
For every step forward you slide two back as the jagged, loose rock gives beneath
consider that one of the great ironies of St Patrick’s story is that he was brought to
your feet, and the peak fades into the distance. Don’t worry. With a little faith and
Ireland against his will by slave traders from the Welsh/English coast. Bonded into
a dose of perseverance you’ll reach it, just like St Patrick did, the experience of
shepherding sheep on Slemish Mountain in County Antrim, Patrick is inspired to flee
the summit all the more memorable for it. No pain, no gain and no pilgrimage
Ireland by a vision of the Angel Victorious.
without perseverance.
Patrick escapes his slavery by jumping aboard a boat back to Britain, where he
experiences his first conversion. They find themselves shipwrecked and the sailors
ask Patrick to pray to his God. He does, and a herd of pigs appear. The sailors are so
impressed they convert to Christianity. And so begins the life of one of Christianity’s
most widely revered icons. Dally in Armagh a while before heading for County Mayo
and Croagh Patrick, the site of the Saint’s greatest pilgrimage.
St Patrick’s RC Cathedral, Armagh city
St Patrick’s Trail
A Pilgrim’s Journey
St Patrick’s influences touched many lives in other parts of
the island, too. Journey south of the St Patrick Trail and
you will be taken to a collection of Ireland’s most stunning
and sacred Christian sites: Monasterboice in rural County
Louth was named for the obscure St Buite, who founded
a monastery here in the 5th century. In the remains of
Slemish Mountain
that monastery, you’ll find two of Ireland’s oldest and most
important early Christian High Crosses – the West Cross and
Muiredach’s Cross – still standing on their original sites.
Hill of Slane, the place where St Patrick lit his famous Paschal
Fire, to announce the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. From
Armagh City
the top, the entire Boyne Valley – Ireland’s most historic
The remains of the old monastery that once stood in Kells –
the town that gives its name to the masterful ‘Book of Kells’,
which is preserved in Trinity College Dublin – include
a round tower, three high crosses, and St Columba’s House,
an ancient stone-roofed church.
Belfast City
BELFAST Q George Best
Just a few miles away in County Meath you’ll come to the
patch of land – opens beneath your feet.
Achill Island
Clew Bay
Hill of Slane
Croagh Patrick
Finally, in the sublime setting of the Shannon River plain
in County Offaly, you’ll find the remains of Clonmacnoise,
the 6th century monastery founded by St Ciarán and his
followers, and once one of Europe’s most important
centres of religion, learning, craftsmanship and politics.
The magnificence of the artefacts matches the beauty
of the setting.
Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly
Let’s play in Ireland
With over 400 courses to choose from, haunting scenery that will inspire the soul, and
some of the friendliest locals – Ireland is one of the top golfing destinations in the world.
Ballyliffin Golf Course, Co. Donegal
Let’s play in Ireland
County Down
For incredible championship courses, great value hidden
gems, plus a golfing experience that is simply unforgettable.
Choose Ireland, the home of champions!
Don’t just take our word for it: Rory McIlroy, Padraig
Harrington, Christy O’Connor Snr, Fred Daly, Graham
McDowell MBE, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley are just
some of Ireland’s homegrown heroes who have honed their
skills from an early age on their local courses.
The only burning question you may actually have is where to
take your clubs? We’ve decided to take you up north, trailing
the coastline through counties Down, Antrim and Donegal in
pursuit of golfing pleasures on and off-green.
The long-time correspondent for the Irish Times, Conor O’Cleary, grew up in the
If your tour allows, then stop off in Belfast. This buzzing city has some pure golfing
seaside town of Newcastle, near Royal County Down’s championship links. On top of
gems up its sleeve, including Royal Belfast, which was founded in 1881 (supporting
his list of reasons why this tiny corner of the golfing universe punches so far above
its claim to be the oldest course in Ireland), and the 27 holes at Malone Golf Course.
its weight is the fact that everybody here plays on the county’s sheer abundance of
Stay a while on either and you’ll have ample opportunity to perfect your stroke.
courses, be it local pitch-and-putts or world-class links.
Royal County Down has to be one of the island’s most formidable courses. Golf
Digest calls it their ‘favourite course outside of the US’ thanks to designer Tom Morris,
who lightly shaped the natural undulations of sand dune pastures on the edge of
Dundrum Bay into a links layout that is as beautiful as it is challenging.
The Mountains of Mourne provide this sculptural masterpiece with a dramatic
backdrop, but a word to the wise: don’t get distracted by your surroundings at any
of the five blind tee shots, deep pot bunkers, domed greens and narrow ribbons of
hummocky fairways, or you’ll rue your scorecard in the Irish 19th, the clubhouse. And
unless you can reliably stick to the middle of the fairway with it, leave the driver in the
bag and get to work on your bump and run game.
With the baptism of fire behind you, time now to take your newly honed links golf
shots on the road. A good drive and a five-iron would nearly get you from Royal
County Down and northeast along the coast to Ardglass Golf Club, as good a place
as any to start assimilating the local sense of appreciation for subtle differences in
turf. Here’s what David Feherty, the golf broadcaster and commentator from just up
the road in Bangor had to say about it in Emerald Greens, Larry Lambrecht’s book on
Irish golf. “Some of the holes have a linksy feel to them, while the inland holes tend
to have more of a pasture-like turf. It’s kind of a sheep-versus-cattle thing.” Eskimos
know their snow; in Ireland, they know their grass.
Royal County Down Golf Course, Newcastle
Let’s play in Ireland
Royal Portrush Golf Course, Co. Antrim
County Antrim
County Londonderry
Less than an hour’s drive from Belfast is the golfing diamond known as Ballycastle.
Steer west again from Portrush to nearby Portstewart. Any course draped over
Location, like all golf courses in Ireland, is everything, but this one just happens to be
towering dunes on a patch of ground called Thistly Hollow must have more than a
perched along the world-famous Causeway Coastal Route. If you want to keep the
few prickly surprises up its sleeve. Portstewart’s expansion into the realm of Thistly
swing grooved and the putter hot before tackling another milestone of world golf,
Hollow in the 1980s elevated an already good course to exalted new heights where it
you really must squeeze in a round at Ballycastle Golf Club, a part-parkland, part-links
easily holds its own in comparison with the better-known ‘royals’. In 2008, the writer
course that climbs to a tremendous height. The towering views out over Fair Head,
and golfer Tom Coyne walked the entire Irish coastline playing every links course
Rathlin Island and Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre rise along the beach to a crescendo, until
along the way. He summed up Portstewart’s front nine in a word – WOW – and then
the top holes begin to gradually do this course justice.
placed the whole ensemble amongst his top five in Ireland.
But don’t pack away your clubs just yet, take the westward bound road from Ballycastle
Hook your car south and loop around Coleraine before gearing north again to the
across to Royal Portrush. The front nine on this championship course will help you
Mussenden Links at Castlerock. By the time you strike the first ball on Castlerock’s
work up a fierce appetite before you even get a look-in at the 210-yard 14th, also
championship course you’ve entered uncharted waters. On this par 73 with five
widely known as, ‘Calamity Corner’. Short, left or long here means trouble, right
par fives, the most talked about challenge is the nerve-jangling ‘Leg o’ Mutton’, the
means staring into a yawning chasm. Go long with your approach on the sublime 5th,
200-yard 4th with a railway line to the right, a stream (called a ‘burn’ in this part of
a dogleg 411-yard par-four, and your ball may one day wash ashore with the surfers
the world) to the left, and raised green sitting ominously in the distance. The ‘Leg’
on nearby White Rocks Beach. Members at Royal Portrush have been known to steel
plays tough even without the wind, and few get a bite of it without wind. As if this
themselves for such adventures with a little medicine from Dr Moore’s locker – a
wasn’t enough of a surprise, Castlerock has another little gem in store – a magnificent
concoction of Drambuie, whiskey and ginger dispensed from a white pail with a red
nine-holer. Tom Coyne called it a blast, racing up and down the dunes, lots of irons
cross on it.
off the tee, placing shots, playing bounces – in other words, real links golf.
Let’s play in Ireland
County Donegal
Golf Links or Links Golf ?
Got any balls left in the bag? Because just when you thought you’ve hit the end
Golf links can be found anywhere in the world. Links golf, on the other hand, tends
of the road and played everything this coast has to offer, we’ve got a little tip for
to be played on a treeless, coastal landscape known as ‘machair,’ where clumps
you. Step out onto Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula and head north up the coast
of marram grass, heather, and spiky gorse bushes populate the dunes and scrub
to Ballyliffin, and probably the best kept secret of Irish golf.
pasture. This little island has one third of the world’s links courses, so there’s plenty
Ballyliffin is home to two contrasting championship links courses, The Old Links and
of machair and marram to go around!
the Glashedy Links, both outstanding in their own way. The Old Links – the quirkier,
Master links designers such as Old Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Harry Colt, Pat Ruddy
more natural, and shorter of the two – has received two rejuvenating facelifts in its
and Eddie Hackett used a minimalist’s touch to shape the existing landscape into
life, once under the talented eye of Eddie Hackett and, more recently, courtesy of
golfing masterpieces, laying their courses down like blankets over the undulations and
Nick Faldo. Luck of the bounce counts as much as skill on this 6910-yard, par 71.
the hollow, the humps and bumps, the pit and the pots where the wind has blasted
Glashedy is its bolder, brasher, younger brother. The Pat Ruddy and Tom Ruddick
a hole in the turf.
design weaves through mountainous dunes and takes in huge coastal panoramas.
Links golf isn’t truly links golf if the wind isn’t blowing. Some have compared it to
With open views comes plenty of windy exposure, meaning this par 72 plays even
sailing; those who excel at it are the ones who can read the wind and the topography
longer than its 7217-yards.
and know what to do with it, applying fades or draws, keeping the ball low, changing
Still got a few balls left in the bag? We can keep this going as long as you can…
their stroke and stance to punch it when they must. Links golf requires good decision
from Ballyliffin, head north along the coast to Portsalon, Rosapenna, Murvagh, Rosses
making, it takes place on the ground, not in the air.
Point, Carne (Golf Magazine declared this stretch the finest array of links courses in
the world)…
There is just one thing you won’t discover on Ireland’s final frontier of golf, the meaty
green fees that normally go hand in glove with such a distinction.
Greencastle Golf Course, Co. Donegal
Let’s play in Ireland
A question of character
Mount Juliet, Kilkenny
Ireland’s proud golf prowess is certainly not confined to our northern coastline. No,
The 1991 pomp and ceremony opening of Mount Juliet Golf Club featured a head-
we have crystal clear winners across the island, where everyone from our modern
to-head of golfing legends between Christy O’Connor Snr and course designer, Jack
greats to the more modest amateur can take a swing at improving their scorecard.
Nicklaus. Set in a world of its own on lush parkland just 20 minutes from Kilkenny, it
Here are just a few that’ll make you want to sweep the cobwebs off your clubs…
is the first and only Nicklaus signature golf course in Ireland. Meticulous in his design,
feature holes include the stunning third hole, a par three from an elevated tee to a
The K Club, Kildare
Not for the faint of heart, The Palmer Course has always been talked about as the
greatest inland golf course ever developed in Ireland. So it was a rather fitting tribute
green guarded by a natural stream and lake – one that golfers always remember, be
it for better or for worse. The final hole, a long par four with water all down the left
and a narrow approach to the green, has decided many a tournament result at this
stunning Irish Estate.
to its class when tears of joy were shed by Team Europe as they grasped victory to
lift the Ryder Cup trophy in 2006 at its 16th. Fitting, too, that it was Northern Ireland’s
Darren Clarke who put paid to Team USA’s chase. Across the River Liffey that splits
the K Club’s two 18s, the best way to describe the Smurfit Course is that of an inland
links, with dramatic landscapes and dune-type mounding throughout. Golfers state
that it is almost impossible to make a comparison between the two, even with regard
to the landscaping: on the Palmer Course, specifically planted areas using cultivated
plants presented in a formal fashion are the norm; on the Smurfit Course, wild
species of plants have been planted at random, more or less as nature would have
The K Club, Co. Kildare
Let’s play in Ireland
Portmarnock, Dublin
It is easy to understand why Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links
Royal Portrush
has emerged as one of Ireland’s premier links. Designed
City of Derry
by Bernhard Langer, it opened for play in 1995 and has
hosted countless amateur and professional events in its
time. Much of this is thanks to Langer’s keen eye for detail,
which made full use of the surrounding dunes and natural
terrain to provide a layout that will delight golf purists, not to
mention the characteristic links sea breezes that provide a
George Best
Belfast City
stern challenge to all who walk its greens. The Portmarnock
Hotel itself is built on part of the former Jameson Whiskey
family estate, so you can unwind before and after golf, maybe
taking a tipple of this famous whiskey either in celebration or
Rosses Point
Royal County Down
commiseration, perhaps?
Ireland West Knock
The K Club, Kildare
Mount Juliet, Kilkenny
Portmarnock Golf Course, Co. Dublin
Gorgeous gardens
of County Wicklow
From the granite-topped peaks of the Wicklow Mountains down to the lush colourways of
its valleys, the ‘Garden of Ireland’ on Dublin’s doorstep beguiles you with its manicured
perfection set astride nature’s own wild artistry.
Kilruddery House and Gardens, Co. Wicklow
Gorgeous gardens of County Wicklow
Powerscourt House & Gardens, Enniskerry
Driving through the Sally or the Wicklow Gap on the road
southbound from Dublin, looking out over the heathery plains
and the great granite massif of the Wicklow Mountains, this
part of the ‘Garden of Ireland’ has often been more accurately
described as Beckett Country (after Samuel Beckett, one of
Ireland’s greatest writers). The bleakness of the landscape is
thought to have inspired the equally spare and stripped-back
environments portrayed in his plays and novels. What could
more perfectly symbolise the modern human condition than
solitary, wind-blown trees in an endless struggle for survival
against harsh and unforgiving elements?
But then, just when you’re beginning to feel like one of those characters being
Perhaps the best place to start our trail is in the foothills near the quaint village of
knocked about by forces beyond your control, up pops one of the wondrous pockets
Enniskerry, where the 1st Viscount of Powerscourt, Richard Wingfield, and the seven
of lushness that fill the niches in Wicklow’s much more hospitable lower elevations:
Viscounts that followed him, created the primary reason for Wicklow’s reputation as
hidden green valleys of small farms and country cottages, grand estates of manicured
Ireland’s garden, namely Powerscourt House & Gardens.
lawns and formal gardens, streams flowing through wooded glens, parklands
What appears the product of one grand design in fact took shape organically through
surrounding tranquil lakes, hedgerows and herbaceous borders, canals and mazes –
two centuries of successive Viscounts. Particularly active among them was the 7th
in short, verdant worlds both native and exotic.
Viscount, Mervyn Wingfield: like an aristocratic magpie, Mervyn revelled in finding
In stark and intriguing contrast to the upland bleakness, these pockets engage the
eye-catching bits for his garden. This includes the sculpted terraces that fall away from
senses with an ever-changing overload of smells and colours, shapes and patterns.
the stately Palladian mansion to embrace the distant views of Wicklow’s Sugarloaf
Driving from one to the other gives the impression of leaving the eternal woolly wilds
Mountain. In the lake at the centre of that transition he placed the Triton Fountain, its
to enter into the imagination and mindset of a different people and a different time.
30-metre-high jet of water becoming a cascading exclamation mark.
Take your pick, from the medieval to the modern.
He acquired statuary from the Palais-Royale in Paris; the walled garden’s intricate,
Some of the most precious jewels of our garden journey though are secreted behind
gold-leaf Perspective Gates came from Bamberg Cathedral in Lower Bavaria. He
towering wrought-iron gates and meandering up tree-lined driveways: Powerscourt
planted North American conifers in the Tower Valley and Japanese Red Cedars
House & Gardens in Enniskerry is filled with ancient intertwined evergreens, trickling
around the Dolphin Pond. He created the deer park near the landmark Powerscourt
streams and historical gems; Kilruddery near Bray is considered to be one of the
Waterfalls and introduced the Japanese Sikka deer to Ireland. The 8th Viscount
finest existing examples of a 17th century garden in the British Isles; Mount Usher
followed by adding the serene Japanese Garden, and to celebrate the 1911 visit of
in Ashford blends to nature in its infinite wisdom, rather than imposing man’s
the Prince of Wales he commissioned the building of the Pepperpot Tower in Tower
sometimes heavy-handed touch; and Russborough House in Blessington is as
Valley – his wife’s silver pepper mill supposedly providing the design inspiration.
elegant a country home as you could ever hope to find, with magnificent gardens
As fascinating as it may be to know which Viscount’s fingerprints can be found where,
to match.
it has little bearing on the pure pleasure of the garden’s multiple moods as they
change with the time of day and year, with the weather and Wicklow’s dramatic light.
Such is the drama of this stunning location, film producers flock here in their droves
to take advantage. Remember the films ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Excalibur’? Don’t let the
costumes fool you, it was Powerscourt’s earthy soil they were treading…
Powerscourt Gardens, Co. Wicklow
Gorgeous gardens of County Wicklow
Avoca Handweavers
Avoca and gardens are nearly synonymous
with each other. Their clothing lines and
fabrics are alive with the patterns, colours,
and shapes of a vibrant herbaceous border,
their homeware and accessory collections
put a modern twist on country living, and
their recipes wonderfully update the flavours
of the Irish country kitchen. No surprise
then that their tranquil Kilmacanogue base
inhabits an arboretum that was once a part
of the estate of the Jameson Whiskey family.
In keeping with their love of good gardens,
you’ll also find Avoca cafés at Powerscourt
House and Mount Usher Gardens.
Kilruddery House & Gardens,
near Bray
Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford
The garden dreams of Captain Edward Brabazon, the 4th Earl of Meath, are alive and
Shakespeare, he espoused a gardening art, ‘which does mend nature, change
well in the two Long Ponds he sunk into a rectangular lawn to create the centrepiece
it rather: but the art itself is nature.’ Put simply: he had had enough of the early
at Kilruddery. Designed as entertainment to the masses, the gardens themselves are
Victorian penchant for the rigidly formal and manicured, for clipped topiary and the
comparable in size to that of a park, combining a fine balance between expanse and
artifice of bedding annuals. Instead, his free-flowing, naturalistic approach to garden
points of interest to all who visit, and are regarded as mainly the work of the 4th and
design became known as Robinsonian; Mount Usher Gardens has become known as
6th Earls. The French Landscape architect named Bonet, a pupil of Le Notre, was also
one of the world’s best examples of the style.
known to have been employed by the resident Earl of Meath in 1682.
Next on your trail are the teachings of Irish horticulturist, William Robinson, who struck
a chord with late Victorian gardeners like the Walpole family of Mount Usher. Quoting
Over 5,000 species of native and exotic plants line the banks of the gently flowing
The Angles of Kilruddery are at the middle section of this lush green entertainment,
River Vartry as it tumbles over weirs on its way to the sea. From each of the four
and consist of a series of walks flanked by majestic hornbeam, lime or beech
suspension bridges crossing the river you’ll enjoy magical views of the whole and
hedges. Find your way to the low yew hedge nearby: it encloses a rose and lavender
changing perspectives on the magnificent details: meadows and glades speckled with
garden with a fountain in the centre, its mix of sweet and heady soft scent practically
the blooms of native wildflowers; woodland groves of eucalyptus and maple; flaming
wrapping its arms around you.
banks of azaleas, exotic clusters of Chusan palm, southern beech, and eucryphia. The
If Kilruddery’s green finery looks familiar to you, so it should. Taking their lead from
overall effect has earned Mount Usher a top ranking from The Good Garden’s Guide
the garden’s incredible array of highlights, location scouts have used this as a base for
to the British Isles, making it one of only three Irish gardens to achieve it.
countless movies and TV series, including ‘Far & Away’ and ‘The Tudors’.
The people of Avoca Handweavers have been organically managing Mount Usher
since 2007. Once you’ve revelled in the horticultural delights of the garden, you
can continue with the culinary ones in the Garden Café, or take some tips from the
experts at the Greenhouse Garden Store and the Potting Shed.
Mount Usher Gardens, Co. Wicklow
Gorgeous gardens of County Wicklow
Russborough House, Blessington
Wicklow Gardens Festival
As handsome as country houses come, Russborough is practical evidence that with
Ever wished you could hop right over that garden fence to take a closer look at some
age comes beauty. He just sits there, like some stoically perfect gentleman looking
of horticulture’s finest specimens, rather than admire from afar? Well, the Wicklow
out peacefully at the lush expanse of the Blessington Lakes. Inside, the halls are
Gardens Festival, running from Easter to September (so it should really be called
slices of period decadence where you can imagine Army Captains and aristocrats’
a season) lets you do just that. The festival allows you access to a host of glorious
daughters dancing quadrilles under the light of the exquisite chandeliers. Ornate
gardens up and down the county – many of them not normally open to the public
tapestry’s hang dramatically from walls like little keyholes into the area’s artistic history.
– from vast estates to cottage gardens, each with its own unique style. Robinsonian,
If the house is a dapper old gent, Russborough Demesne is an elegant Dame.
walled, formal, Victorian, and modern, you’ll find all on display here.
A national treasure and one of Ireland’s finest intact examples of 18th century
Once you’ve seen how the experts do it, test out your own green-fingered talent at a
landscaping, the Demesne here combines vast parklands with wooded avenues,
weekend gardening workshop. From walks and talks to workshops and courses, the
small lakes and gardens. Following the Demesne walk will take you to see most of it,
Festival covers every possible aspect of the horticultural world.
including the walled kitchen garden with its orchard and flowering cherries; the moat
and island with its specimen trees and bog garden; and those parklands with their
views of the distant Wicklow Mountains. After soaking up the expanse, you can lose
yourself in the beech maze, a more recent addition to the overall ensemble.
As you can tell, Wicklow doesn’t do exquisite gardens by half, but to do this county
justice, you really must go for the full-on Garden of Ireland experience and leave the
valley floor for just a while. Take your hiking boots on any one of the many walks
leading up into, and in some cases over, the Wicklow Mountains. You’ll find the
upland terrain teeming with far more life than Beckett’s stripped-back abstractions
would have you believe. That said, there’s also nothing quite like the sense of
salvation you feel as you descend back down into the relative Eden below.
Russborough House, Co. Wicklow
Gorgeous gardens of County Wicklow
The Gardens beyond the Garden
Wicklow may be the Garden of Ireland but it’s not the only county in Ireland with
wonderful gardens. In fact, once you’ve seen the best Wicklow has to offer, you could
push ahead into the neighbouring counties of Wexford, Kilkenny, or Carlow, stopping
at masterpieces like Altamont Gardens in County Carlow, the late Corona North’s
labour of love.
In 1982, the passionate horticulturist inherited 100 acres of promising dereliction
from her aged mother. Corona doggedly ensured that Altamont’s promise didn’t go
to waste. Here you’ll find rare azaleas, rhododendrons and magnolias, camellias and
hollies, Chilean fire trees, wild daffodils, dwarf conifers and shrubs, and plenty of fern
and native bog flora. Assumpta Broomfield commemorated Corona’s achievements
s ss
Russborough House
by designing the wonderful double herbaceous border in the walled garden, now one
Mount Usher Gardens
of Altamont’s highlights.
Next up, the English yews at County Carlow’s Huntington Castle. This one may send
some shivers down your spine, as the house itself is thought to be haunted by the
ghost of a 17th century Cromwellian soldier. But don’t tremble too much, outside the
gardens built by the Esmondes in 1625 include French limes on the avenue, glassy
Kilruddery House
Altamont Gardens
fish ponds either side of the central walk and, naturally, a delicious collection of yews,
along with hickory, cut-leaved oak and buckeye chestnut. A collection of such aged
Huntington Castle
stature that will, spooks aside, take your breath away.
To continue your garden journey, travel onto the Demesne at Kilfane Glen in County
Kilkenny which is a pristine example of a garden of romance, developed during
the 1790s by Sir John and Lady Power. Its clematis, honeysuckle and jasmine will
rouse the senses to a crescendo of joy, as much as the density of its beech, sweet
chestnut, oak, larch and Scots pine hold you tight. Kilfane’s man-made waterfall will
also pounce, but be sure to give yourself time to let the intensity of it all whisk you to
another world for a little while.
Altamont Gardens, Co. Carlow
A Tale of Two Cities
Two cities, two distinctive styles, one fantastic experience in the company of the warm,
witty and welcoming people who make these two neighbouring capitals – Belfast and
Dublin – come alive with urban spirit.
Meeting friends outside Belfast City Hall
A tale of two cities
Belfast calling
No two cities could appear more alike and yet be more
different. Dublin fans out from where the River Liffey
spills into the Irish Sea. The Dublin Mountains loom in
the background, anchoring the seascape with an earthy
counterbalance. A mere 150 kilometres up the coast, at the
point where the River Lagan empties into Belfast Lough and
that very same Irish Sea, you’ll find Belfast spreading into the
landscape, the Black Mountain pressing at its back.
A Black Taxi tour of Belfast with Billy Scott
Two similar port cities, next-door neighbours in the grand
scheme of things, until you scratch the surface of the
generalities and discover wonderfully unique cultures. More
than anything, though, it’s the people who define the unique
character of their cities. Behind all their humour and big city
bluster, you’ll never meet warmer, more humble hosts than
the natives of Belfast and Dublin.
Billy Scott is arguably Belfast’s most famous taxi driver. Join him in his black cab and
A far cry from its century-old beginnings, these days The Titanic Trail has gone
he’ll take you to all the hidden nooks and crannies, the hotspots and the highlights
decidedly hi-tech. You can pick up a hand-held device at the Belfast Welcome Centre
of his native city, entertaining you along the way with one colourful Belfast story after
in Donegall Place, and guide yourself on a tour that takes you from Belfast City Hall
another. For many visitors, the favourite place to start is with the murals, dubbed by
to Queen’s Island, and onto the Titanic Quarter to view the Titanic’s Dock & Pump-
the English travel writer, Simon Calder, as the world’s greatest open-air gallery.
House and the SS Nomadic, which was built by White Star Line to carry passengers
Over the years, each community told its stories through large-scale murals painted
out to the RMS Titanic from the port of Cherbourg. On the outskirts of Belfast at the
on the houses and walls lining the River Lagan. Their presence has now become
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra, explore the world of Titanic at TITANICa:
a symbol of Belfast’s vibrant rejuvenation and bright future. “The paintings have
An Experience of All Things Titanic.
become richer,” Billy enthuses, “more historical and inclusive.”
As much as Billy knows about Belfast, one of the best ways to experience this
In fact, Willie Jack, the owner of the Duke of York pub in Belfast, recently
city with a village at heart is to walk its streets, taking in the full spectrum of its
commissioned a new mural showing a veritable who’s who of Northern Ireland and
architectural gems and absorbing the living atmosphere of its maritime heritage.
Belfast. Actor Liam Neeson stands side-by-side with the musicians Van Morrison,
To get your bearings, make your starting point Belfast City Hall in Donegall Square.
Rory Gallagher, and Derek Bell of the Chieftains, with boxing-legend Barry McGuigan
From the heart of the city, you can follow your whims in a number of different
and arguably the best footballer the world has ever seen, George Best. An intense
directions. Heading south leads you to the Victorian grandeur of Queen’s University,
appetite for life, something uniquely Belfast, unites these diverse figures. Spend time
the restaurants and nightspots of the Queen’s Quarter, and the lush Botanic gardens
with Billy, and you’ll experience its infectiousness first hand.
and the wonders of the Ulster Museum. West brings you to West Belfast and the
Any story of colourful characters in Belfast naturally leads to Samson and Goliath, the
Falls Road, the traditional centre of the Roman Catholic community; northwest to the
massive yellow cranes hovering above the Harland and Wolff shipyard. When the
Shankill Road and the hub of working-class Protestant Belfast. Northeast and east
RMS Titanic departed here in 1912, she was the biggest ship ever built and proof that
takes you to the heart of Belfast’s legendary Titanic Trail, the Odyssey Complex, W5
Belfast could achieve anything it set its industrious mind to. The fact that the Titanic
and a flurry of other new urban renewal projects popping up along the River Lagan.
didn’t survive her maiden voyage has never dampened the spirits in the city that built
There are plenty of guided options to choose from, be it by foot, bus, taxi or even
her. As Billy rightly points out: “She was afloat when she left here.”
by boat on the River Lagan, and there are plenty of people, like Billy, who will be
delighted to show you around their home city highlights.
A tale of two cities
Two exciting cities,
one breeze of a journey
The Ulster Museum
Belfast’s riverside and waterfront quarters have been undergoing enormous changes
in recent years. One of the first big projects completed is the Odyssey Complex, the
Whether by road or rail, travel between Belfast and Dublin has never been easier
huge entertainment emporium on the east side of the River Lagan, where you’ll find
thanks to the completion of massive upgrades to the M1 Motorway and substantial
restaurants, bars, cafés, an IMAX cinema, even a 10,000 seat sports arena.
new investment in the Enterprise Service, the flagship rail link operated jointly by
Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnród Éireann.
But the highlight of the Odyssey has to be W5, a world-class interactive discovery
centre that will keep kids entertained for hours upon hours doing things like designing
Like an oversized cabinet of curiosities, Belfast’s
Ulster Museum brings together everything but
the kitchen sink within its newly renovated walls.
Although, who knows? You may even find an iconic
Belfast sink somewhere in this wonderfully eclectic
collection that includes an Egyptian mummy, relics
from the Spanish Armada, Neolithic axe-heads and
modern Irish art and design.
By rail: The smooth journey provided by the Enterprise runs eight journeys both
and building structures, bringing robots to life, composing music, creating cartoons
directions Monday to Saturday, and five times on Sundays. From Belfast, you leave
and animations, and of course learning a thing or two along the way. It nearly goes
from Belfast Central Station, and from Dublin, you depart from Connolly Station.
without saying – if the kids are happy, the parents probably are, as well.
Walking from one gallery gives the feeling of
swapping one museum for another. Like when you
pass through the Industrial History Gallery, with its
fascinating presentation of Belfast’s shipbuilding
and linen-weaving past, on the way to the equally
mesmerising collection of incredibly life-like and
impeccably preserved Irish birds. Worlds collide,
producing a truly intriguing and entertaining set
of contrasts.
by Translink in Northern Ireland and Bus Éireann in the Republic of Ireland). If you’re
By car: From Belfast take the M1 motorway southbound towards Newry through
Dundalk, Drogheda and on into Dublin. Just remember that road signs and speeds
are in miles in Northern Ireland and in kilometres in the Republic of Ireland.
By bus: There are plenty of cross-border buses on this route (buses are jointly run
leaving Belfast for Dublin, head for The Europa Bus Station and if you’re in Dublin,
you’ll depart from Busáras in the city centre.
And if that isn’t enough to keep your brain
stimulated for a few hours, tack on a visit to the
even more exotic worlds of the nearby Botanic
Gardens, or head back into the city to see what’s
exhibiting at the Ormeau Baths Gallery.
Visitors enjoying exhibits at the Ulster Museum, Belfast
A tale of two cities
And onto Dublin
The pace of modern life in Dublin is so electrifying even the natives have trouble
Linger for a while amongst the world-class collections of the National Gallery before
keeping up at times. In a city that seemingly transformed overnight into a
discovering the surrounding beauty of Merrion Square’s stunning Georgian aesthetics.
metropolitan meteor of culture and commerce, don’t be surprised if much of the
For a one-of-a-kind glimpse at the wondrous world of 19th century zoology, take
thrillingly original, new architecture is as fresh on the cityscape to you as it is to
a look inside the Natural History Museum; for a peak behind the curtains of Irish
some locals.
political power, take a tour of the government buildings next door.
The recently completed Grand Canal Theatre now anchors Grand Canal Square.
To see Dublin Zoo, you could hop off the bus in the Phoenix Park. Of course, no
The Samuel Beckett Bridge hovers over the river like an elegantly winged creature,
tour of Dublin would be complete without a visit to the home of the black stuff,
and the completely refurbished O2 Point Theatre places yet another architectural
the Guinness Storehouse. No worries, the bus stops there too.
The slick, sophisticated world of the Guinness
Storehouse couldn’t be further from the homey,
traditional pub atmosphere most of us associate
with a pint of the black stuff. But don’t let that
stop you working your way through the hugely
entertaining exhibitions of this high-concept pint
glass, moving ever upward through the history
of Guinness and brewing in Dublin, until you
metaphorically flow into the creamy head on the
top, otherwise known as the Gravity Bar.
and entertainment accent at the end of the Quays. Thanks to the LUAS, Dublin’s
Some say that the perfect way to experience Dublin is to wander to your heart’s
state-of-the-art light rail, all are conveniently close by.
desire ‘between the canals’. Discover the narrow streets of artisan cottages in
For all the new – the cutting-edge galleries and museums, the creative restaurants
traditional working-class neighbourhoods like Smithfield, The Liberties, and Ringsend;
and contemporary cafés, the fashionable shops and boutique hotels – the Dubliners
the revitalised Quays and bridges old and new spanning the River Liffey; the new
have held tightly onto their heart and soul. This is still the home of authentic pubs
architectural wonders of the Docklands and their elegant predecessors around
and Georgian squares, the UNESCO City of Literature that produced the rich genius
Merrion Square. People watch in St Stephen’s Green or just head out to the quiet,
of Joyce, Beckett and Wilde, and where world-famous theatres such as the Gate and
wide-open spaces of Phoenix Park.
the Abbey continue to push creative bounds of the modern stage.
For those who prefer to do their walking with a bit more focus, take your pick
The views from up here on the 7th floor are without
a doubt the best in Dublin; and some say the
complementary pint they’ll pour you is the best in
the world, but we’ll let you be the judge of that. May
we suggest enjoying the views and the pint before
retiring to one or more of those cosy traditional
pubs to compare? Here are a few suggestions
to get you started: Mulligan’s, The Stag’s Head,
Neary’s, Kehoe’s, The Long Haul, Grogan’s, The
Palace, Slattery’s, McDaids, Smyth’s…
One of the best ways to find your bearings is with a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour. Just
from the dozens of guided walking tours, such as the ever-popular Literary and
like their colourful taxi-driving counterparts in Belfast, the guides are native wits with
Musical Pub Crawls. Follow in the footsteps of St Patrick or set out in search of
an endless supply of yarns to spin about their beloved Fair City and its salt-of-the-
Dublin’s ghosts and goblins; or perhaps avail of the Dublin Bike Sharing Scheme
earth people. Feel like lingering? Go ahead, hop off the bus; sure another one will be
and peddle to the city limits. Let any of these quick-witted and knowledgeable
along shortly.
guides weave you through the streets of Dublin and you’ll uncover a deep-rooted
Take time to explore the historical warrens of Dublin Castle. When you finish there,
pride amidst all the tall tales – it’s their home turf, after all, and they’ve got a lot to
pop over to the warren of twisting laneways of Temple Bar with its funky eateries,
be proud of!
Don’t miss in Dublin:
The Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
hip nightspots, boutique shops and trendy galleries.
A tale of two cities
Dublin Writers Museum
In 2010 Dublin was designated UNESCO City of Literature and is only the fourth
city to be awarded with this prestigious title. This honour acknowledges Ireland’s
and Dublin’s rich literary heritage which includes such stellar figures as Nobel Prize
winners George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.
Other literati associated with Dublin include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Sean
O’Casey, Denis Johnston, Flann O’Brien, Brendan Behan and Jennifer Johnston –
and of course James Joyce, who’s inimitable and iconic Leopold Bloom wandered
Belfast Lough
George Best
Belfast City
the streets of Dublin and the pages of Ulysses.
To embark on your own literary odyssey The Dublin Writers Museum is an essential
starting point for exploring hundreds of years of literature, letters, portraits and
personal memorabilia.
Situated on Parnell Square, the museum presents the history of Irish Literature from
its formation through to the present day. As the journey unfolds consider variously
the phases, movements and notable names of Dublin’s literary past, from Gulliver’s
Travels to Dracula, from Ulysses to Waiting for Godot.
In the Gorham Library first editions and critical works rest beneath the stunning
Stapleton ceiling, while throughout the museum is a treasure trove of portraits and
various curios that offer further enlightenment into Ireland’s world of Literature.
The Dublin Writers Museum is also one of the only museums in the city where you
can experience the collection by digital audio guide. There is also a cafe within the
museum and the opportunity to catch a performance at the lunchtime theatre.
Visitors to the Dublin Writers Museum
Dublin Bay
Driving in Ireland
– A Practical Guide
Tranarossan Beach, Co. Donegal
Driving in Ireland – A Practical Guide
Driving Laws
Driving in Ireland is on the left and seat belts must be
worn at all times in the front and back of the vehicle.
•In the Republic of Ireland, signposts denoting
•All intending drivers need to hold valid driving licences.
Non EU visitors require an International driving Permit,
which is readily available from motoring organisations
in the country of origin. Let your insurance company
know if you’re bringing your own car over to Ireland.
•It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in both
the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland unless it
is a hands free device.
distance and speed limits are in kilometres per hour
Road signs
•Republic of Ireland signposts and place names
are displayed bilingually in both Irish (Gaelic) and
Stop Sign
Yield Sign
Irish Yield Sign
No Parking
Taxi Rank
School Warden
There are strict laws on drinking
and driving and those found to be
contravening these laws will be heavily
penalised. The best advice is don’t
drink and drive.
Rules of the road
Steer to the centreline. It is difficult to
judge distance from the left-hand side,
so use the road centre line.
Ahead Only
Turn Left
Speed Limit
No Left Turn
No Entry
No Right Turn
Keep Left
End of Speed
Slippery Road
Steep Ascent
in miles per hour (mph) and place names are
displayed in English.
Speed Limits
End of
New speed limit (km/h) for Republic of Ireland with approximate equivalent in mph (* = special speed limits)
= 31
Information Signs
The maximum speed limits:
•Towns and Cities 50 km/h
Towns & Cities
= 50
Regional & Local Roads
= 62
National Roads
= 75
= 19
National Roads
= 37
Urban Roads
Urban Roads
•Regional Areas and local roads 80km/h
(Speeds displayed by white signs)
•National Roads 100 km/h
Stop Sign
Give Way
No Stopping
No Parking
School Trip
(Displayed by green signs)
Speed Limit
No Left Turn
No Right Turn
No Entry
Speed Limit
Heavy Weight
Right Turn
Ahead Only
Left Turn
Keep Left
T Junction
Cross Road
Steep Hill
Series of
•Motorways 120 km/h (Displayed by blue signs)
•Special speed limits: 30 km/h and 60 km/h
End of
Speed limit (mph) For Northern Ireland
The maximum speed limits:
•Towns and Cities 30 mph
At roundabouts go clockwise, and give
way to the traffic on the roundabout.
Turn Right
•In Northern Ireland, all signposts and speeds are
•Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear helmets.
•All children under 3 years of age must use an
appropriate child restraint when travelling in any car
as must children aged 3 or more years old and up to
135cm (4ft 5in) in height. Rear-facing baby seats must
not be used in seats with an active frontal air-bag.
•Regional/Country roads 60 mph
•Motorway 70 mph
Picnic Site
Towns & Cities Regional /Country
Driving in Ireland – A Practical Guide
Car hire
Driving Associations
Passports / Visas
Personal Safety
Most major car hire companies have desks at ferry
There are numerous car parks in all towns and cities,
Driving Associations (membership required) within
Non UK nationals must carry a valid passport. Citizens
Though the general level of personal safety is high,
terminals and airports, although you’ll often get a
however, parking charges also apply for on-street
Ireland include:
living within the EU and most other Western countries
should you be unfortunate enough to be a victim of
better rate by pre-booking (advisable at peak times,
parking when a Pay and Display sign appears. Failure
including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South
crime, contact:
especially). Sat Navs and Child seats should also
to display a valid ticket may result in your car being
be booked in advance. All drivers must hold valid
clamped and heavy fines. Before you park, make sure
licences. For insurance reasons tell the car hire
to check the parking restrictions and also what time
Tel: +353 (0) 1 617 9950 or visit
company if you’re planning to cross between the
the car park closes.
to Northern Ireland should contact their local British
Tel: +44 (0) 870 600 0371 or visit
Embassy / High Commission or the Consular Office
Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Always
check the terms and conditions with your car rental
company before making a booking.
The trade organisations for the car rental industry are:
Car Rental Council
Tel: +353 (0) 1 676 1690 or visit
Petrol / Gas Stations
& Tolls
There is a good network of petrol / gas stations
throughout the island of Ireland, selling unleaded
petrol and diesel. Barrier-free tolling is operational on
The Automobile Association (AA)
Africa do not require visas. All other countries should
contact their local Irish Embassy / Consulate prior
to travelling to the Republic of Ireland, and visitors
Irish Tourist Assistance Service (Mon-Fri),
6-7 Hanover Street East
Dublin 2
for Northern Ireland.
Tel: +353 (0) 1 661 0562
Tel: +353 (0) 1 800 535 005
For further information contact the Department of
Foreign Affairs
Tel: +44 (0) 870 572 2722 or visit
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 478 0822 For a list of Irish
The RAC Motoring Service
Embassies, visit
certain motorways in the Republic of Ireland – visit
NORTHERN IRELAND for further information.
Further information is available from your local British
British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
Embassy or Consulate. For British details contact the
Tel: +44 (0) 1 494 434 747 or visit
Foreign and Commonwealth Office at
Email: [email protected]
Store Street Garda Station
(Weekend & Public Holidays),
Dublin 1
Tel: +353 (0) 1 666 8109
Contact the local police where support will be available.
Tel: +44 (0) 845 600 8000
Email: [email protected]
Victim Support
Republic of Ireland uses the euro (€), whilst Northern
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9024 4039
Ireland uses sterling (£), although the euro is
(Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
accepted in most major towns in Northern Ireland.
Tel: +44 (0) 845 30 30 900
(After 5pm, weekends or public holidays)
Email: [email protected]
Driving in Ireland – A Practical Guide
Travel to Ireland
Travel to the island of Ireland has never been easier
with an increasing number of air and ferry routes now
available. To find your most convenient route visit
Glasgow International
City of Derry
George Best
Belfast City
Ireland West Knock
Isle of Man
Aran Islands
Leeds Bradford
Doncaster Sheffield
East Midlands
All information correct at time of going to press but may be subject to future
changes by operator. Up to date information on access routes can found at
London City
Driving in Ireland – A Practical Guide
Where to Stay
In a country where hospitality is second nature,
Hotels & Guesthouses
Country Houses
Ireland has a wonderful range of places to stay, from
The Irish Hotels Federation
The Hidden Ireland Guide
Tel: +353 (0) 1 808 4419
Tel: +353 (0) 1 662 7166
Irish Self-Catering Federation
Tel: +353 (0) 818 300 186
the friendliest Bed and Breakfasts in the world to
5-star hotels.
Visit for thousands
of offers on accommodation in Ireland and to check
out a range of attractive inclusive packages available
from many tour operators. You can find welcoming
Bed and Breakfasts throughout Ireland, even in the
most remote areas, with a friendly personal service
and delicious full Irish or Ulster Fry breakfasts. To
feel part of the countryside, nothing compares with
a Farmhouse holiday but book early as they are very
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9077 6635
An Óige – Irish Youth Hostel Association
Tel: +353 (0) 1 830 4555
Tel: +353 (0) 1 295 8900
Ireland’s Blue Book
Situated in lovely surroundings, Ireland’s elegant
Tel: +353 (0) 1 676 9914
Country Houses offer a truly unique place to stay and
often provide access to a variety of pursuits, from
angling to country cooking courses. Book in advance
Good Food Ireland
if possible. Inexpensive and comfortable, Ireland’s
Tel: +353 (0) 53 915 8693
large network of hostels gives budget travellers great
independence. Facilities vary so check in advance.
The Northern Ireland Self-Catering Holiday Association
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9043 6632
Independent Holiday Hostels
Tel: +353 (0) 1 836 4700
Visit to find a
comprehensive list of all approved accommodation
Hostelling International Northern Ireland
on the island of Ireland, including hotels, B&Bs,
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9032 4733
guesthouses, hostels, self-catering, camping and
Camping & Caravanning
Irish Caravan and Camping Council
usually near the most beautiful scenery, is another
Bed & Breakfasts
way to enjoy the countryside on a budget, while
B&B Ireland
self-catering holidays, in traditional Irish cottages or
Tel: +353 (0) 71 982 2222
modern apartments and chalets can be enjoyed in
villages, towns and cities.
Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels
popular – it’s a great way to get to know local people.
Camping and Caravanning in Ireland’s 200 sites,
Northern Ireland Hotels Federation
British Holiday and Home Parks Association
Tel: +44 (0) 1452 526 911
Northern Ireland Bed & Breakfast Partnership
Tel: +44 (0) 28 2177 1308
Itinerary Notes
Itinerary Notes
Text: Maxmedia
Design: Burrows
Print: Nicholson & Bass Ltd
Photography: Tourism Ireland, Faílte Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board,
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann – Sheila Rooney, Brian Morrison, Arthur Ward,
Lorraine Teevan, George Munday, Stephen Power, Dominique Davoust,
Kevin Murray , Don MacMonagle Photography, iStockphoto, Alamy,
Scenic Ireland, National Museums Northern Ireland
Additional image reference:
Page 15 – Ross Castle, Co. Kerry
Page 25 – M
ussenden Temple, Co. Londonderry
Page 33 – C
ottage at Bunratty Folk Park, Co. Clare
Page 37 – T itanic Belfast® visitor attraction
Page 45 –Malachy Kearns, Bodhran maker, Roundstone, Co. Galway
Page 55 –Stained glass window at Saul, Co. Down
Page 63 – US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy
Tourism Ireland is the marketing body for the island of Ireland, covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern
Ireland. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the compilation of this brochure. Tourism Ireland and
its agents cannot, however, accept responsibility for errors and omissions but where such are brought to our
attention, future publications will be amended accordingly.
Connemara, Co. Galway
390 219 424 486
242 136 264 302
113 209 117
70 130 73
128 183 180 151 402
79 114 112 94 250
149 323 156 157
93 202 97
133 130 148 347
92 215
135 127 167 230 256 237 233
78 104 143 160 147 138
163 130
101 81
306 320 209 272 204 212 237 177
190 199 130 139 127 136 148 110
257 116 284 353 148 335 309 114 197 231 172
160 78 177 219 92 208 192 73 123 144 107
102 244
64 152
451 115 188 196 115 170 337 319 499
280 71 117 122 71 106 209 198 310
377 232 436 474
234 144 271 295
441 407 304 350 355 193 198
274 253 192 219 220 120 123
270 121 323 367 105 328 296 193 242 248 104 113 111 392
168 75 201 228 65 204 184 123 150 154 65
69 244
152 361 142 157 105
94 224 88
112 250 228 408
70 155 141 253
224 246 251 211 151 156 151 104
139 153 156 131 94
283 133 346 380 128 351 282 218 264 261
176 83 215 236 80 218 176 138 165 162
135 135 372
84 231
145 117 206 192 336 135
73 128 119 209 84
138 245 343 226 232 174
86 152 213 140 144 108
214 166
135 104
158 264 247 149 169
98 164 153 94 105
286 201 330 382 208 397 391 153 245 315 274
178 130 205 237 129 247 243 101 153 196 170
275 348 211 257 241
171 216 131 160 150
320 154 234
199 96 146
325 218
203 136
301 164 333 391 126 383 357 163 242 281 220
187 108 207 243 78 238 222 98 151 175 137
193 357 129 266 208
120 222 80 165 129
152 293
95 182
264 184 309 360 187 378 372 135 226 293 253
164 117 192 223 116 235 231 88 141 182 157
254 326 190 235 222
158 202 118 146 138
213 307
133 191
Whilst every care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the compilation of this map, Tourism Ireland cannot accept responsibility for errors or emissions.
Because of the small scale of this map, not all holiday centres can be shown. The information on this map is correct at the time of going to press. © December 2011 Tourism Ireland.
Train Route
Tourist Information
Key to symbols
10 20 30 40 50mls
20 40 60 80km
Distance chart
Great Irish Road Trips
Great Irish Road Trips
Molls Gap, Co. Kerry

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