Updated: Feb 13, 2019
Can you drive stick?
Can you drive stick with your left hand?
Get ready because you’ll have to if you want to road trip through Ireland with some stellar city-jumping, all-in itineraries that include your round trip flights, hotels, and car rental. My 9-day trip covered Dublin > Kilkenny > Kilarney > Newmarket-on-Fergus > back to Dublin and everywhere that I could fit in between on this mother-daughter heritage excursion.
We took turns trying to drive, but ultimately we concluded she should steer while I shifted with my right hand resulting in high intensity hilarity. “We need to go faster, shift up”, mom would snap. “I can’t shift up, you have to put the clutch down!” I’d retort. “There are people honking at us” / “watch out!” And on it would go until we’d find our groove. Fortunately, the distance between destinations is long and arduous, so we had plenty of time to get it right.
My mom and I are close but very different people if you know what I mean. While we both prefer the "cram as much as possible into as little time imaginable" style travel, she loves visiting old churches, shopping, and museums. I'd rather take in the local culture, food, and historical or natural sites. Duo-travel means compromise, so my trip covered a little of everything. And while you can visit my personally curated google map for the complete guide, I'll cover my must-see experiences below.
Between my mothers obsession with hand-cut crystal and my glass-blowing hobby, our first stop after landing in Dublin had to be Waterford to witness the finest crystal cutters in the world at work. The brand might be pristine on the outside, but these guys get their hands dirty. Training for 15 years before becoming a true Waterford artist. An easy stop and worthwhile hour to see them in action.
No doubt you'll see many castles on your trip, but a stunning way to start if you're staying in Kilkenny is to visit the the Rock of Cashel. The expansive views will ground you in the fact that you are indeed, far from home.
There are plenty of caves, castles, and greenery in the area, but when you're ready to wind down for the evening, one of my favorite meals of the trip was at Micheline star, Campagne. Pretty reasonable prices for outstanding food. If you want to save a few bucks but still have the experience, lunch is equally mind-blowing.
We made it through the Cahir Castle. Now it's called Cahir Castle, but it's better known as a "tower" or stronghold. The majority of the castle is open space where they kept defensive weapons and militia. The main building is comprised of a spiral staircase that leads from one large room on each floor with about 4 floors from the barracks to the main bedroom, and entertaining hall. Fun fact: the Cahir Castle is known as the "safest castle in Ireland" due to it's many defensive structures like machicolations and other "murder holes".
Before we made our way to Killarney, I had to see the oldest stone circle in Ireland, the Drombeg Stone Circle. On our way we grabbed a bite at the Cork English Market and rang the Shandon Bells. The Stone Circle is exactly what it sounds like, a circle of stones. You drive up to a relatively unmarked area to park, and walk through a small opening in the greenery to traverse down to a wide opening revealing the stones. Worth it in my opinion, but I like ancient anomalies.
To be continued...