Ireland Overview

If you're interested in the fashion, food, and fine details of our April trip to Ireland, check out the individual posts of Day OneDay TwoDay ThreeDay Four, and Day Five. This post will go over the broad strokes of our trip and outline the route, stops, and must-sees that we loved the most.

Nashville --> Boston --> Dublin

Because Alex travels so much, we are lucky to have lots of points with with to book our flights. We flew to Boston from Nashville using the Southwest Companion Pass -- we paid for Alex's flight and mine was free. We had a bit of a layover before our red-eye into Dublin, so we left the airport and hung around Boston for a few hours.

Our flight to Dublin was with Delta. We booked with points so the trip was freeeeeee! If you have the opportunity to use points, check in on your airline's website for special deals and offers; we found a trip to Ireland three weeks out from our travel date for almost the exact amount of points we had to spend.

Dublin --> Killkenny

When we arrived in Dublin, we passed quickly through customs and immigration, grabbed our bags (we packed light and basically just carried on because we knew we'd be in and out of the car constantly, and I also have a healthy fear of my luggage getting lost). We decided not to spend our first night in Dublin, and instead rented a car and high-tailed it to Killkenny.

It was about an hour and a half drive, and on little-to-no sleep, and driving on the other side of the road, it was pretty scary! I'd still do it this way, but I'd stop for more coffee and snacks to keep us going.

On our way to Killkenny, we stopped in Wicklow, which was definitely worth both the stop, and the drive into the mountains to get there. We saw goats crossing the road!! We had lunch at Wicklow Heather Restaurant, which was so cozy and cute. We stopped briefly to take in the views at Sally Gap, and if we had had more time, I would have loved to tour Glendalough.

Once we checked in to the Killkenny Inn, we took an hour long nap before dinner. This hotel was adequate -- it was close to town, affordable, and comfortable -- but it lacked charm. It's definitely the "worst" hotel we stayed in during our travels. Still, it worked for what we needed it for: a crashpad.

We had dinner at Marble City, but I would have also loved to have eaten at Petronella on the Butter Slip. After dinner, we had a few pints on the live music patio at Kytellers Inn. This place is kind of touristy, but Alex said the musicians were good, and it was pretty fun to see the amount of Hen Parties that came through. Felt a lot like Nashville on a Friday night!

Killkenny --> Killarney 

I keep getting these two places confused, so hopefully this helps clear it up for both me and you.

When we woke up in Killkenny, I was really craving a sweet treat so we walked over the CakeFace. I can't recommend this cute tea shop enough! It's totally instagram-worthy from an aesthetic standpoint, but the pastries were delicious, too. Wish I had taken more of them for "take-away."

From there, we loaded up to Rock of Cashel. This is my far the most touristy spot we visited, but was definitely worth the trip. We got a bit confused about parking and getting to the location, but we ended up parking in the town and then walked about five minutes up to the site. I think we only spent about 45 minutes there, and that was plenty of time to take in the sights, evesdrop on a tour group, and snap all the photos I wanted. This magical place felt like stepping back into history and being on a movie set all at the same time.

It was also in the city of Moor that we paid our first toll. If you pass through the automatic toll booths in Ireland and you don't have a pass, you have until 8pm the following day to pay the toll. You can do so in almost any gas station by giving the attendant your license plate number, and paying with cash or charge.

From Rock of Cashel, we road tripped on to Killarney. We passed through the town of Kinsale for lunch at Dino's. I'd highly recommend it for the view and the fish chowder. We also grabbed a tea at Poet's Corner before we drove off to Kenmare. This colorful town is the mouth to Ring of Kerry, and we got another cup of tea at a little ice cream shop before venturing on. My favorite spots along the Ring of Kerry were Ladies View, and Torc Waterfall. If you're driving the Ring of Kerry, you have no excuse but to stop while passing through.

The Ring of Kerry spat us out in Killarney, but we didn't spend much time in the town. We stayed that night at The Europe Hotel and Resort. This place was far and away the nicest hotel I could ever even hope to stay in. Overlooking Lough Leane, this high-end hotel features luxurious guest rooms, and unbelievably relaxing pool, and a restaurant with views of the lake and quite possibly the most increidble meal of my life. I had the mixed seafood plate, and no joke, I almost blacked out because it was that delicious.

Hotel Europe also offers complimentary horseback rides when the weather is permitting. It wasn't on the morning of our departure, but we did get to stop by the stables so I could meet the equine friends living there before we set off for Doolin.

Killarney --> Doolin

This day was quite possibly my favorite because it was a full day of... ANIMALS!! From Killarney, we set out along the Wild Atlantic Way to Dingle. If you do nothing else in Ireland, go to Dingle! The drive along the coast was stunning, and seeing cute goats, fairy forts, baby lambs, and ancient beehive huts was the highlight of my trip. Since we were visiting in May, Skellig Michael wasn't open for tourists, but we could barely peep it from the cliffs, and I would have loved to visit if we had been there in the summer months.

After exploring the coast, we went into the town of Dingle, which was cute, and colorful. We stopped to buy a print Dingle Art Works, and had lunch at Pantri and stopped for a pint at Dick Macks Pub, before loading back in the car, and driving our way along the Conor Pass. 

We set our GPS to take us from Dingle to Adare, just so we could take in the unparalleled views of the Conor Pass. I hope I never forget that drive! In Adare, we stopped for a cuppa at The Good Room, and wandered through the parks and churchyards in the center of town. It was idyllic! Then back on the road to Doolin.

When we arrived in Doolin, we checked into the Hotel Doolin, and instantly headed to Fitzpatrick's Bar to get a good seat for live music, and drink the free beers the hotel provides. We stayed there until closing, singing along with the locals.

Doolin --> Rosleague

Doolin's proximity to the Cliffs of Moher, was what initially drew us to the locale, but I honestly enjoyed the village there so much, too. The Sweater Shop is famously pink and worth stopping by just for the photo op, but stay for tea and cake at the Ivy Cottage next door.

While the Cliffs of Moher were among the more touristy things we did, it was definitely worth it. If we had had more time, I would have loved to schedule a boat tour out of Doolin to see the cliffs from the sea. I've heard other tourists have approached the Cliffs from another angle, for free, and away from the throngs of visitors, but for the amount of time we had, going the conventional route was just fine. I don't really think you can travel to Ireland's west coast and not see the Cliffs!

One of the stops I had been looking forward to most was visiting Moran's on the Weir -- it's a Oyster Cottage! The twee little stop off the beaten path just before arriving in Galway, is adorable, friendly, and the food was great. This was Alex's favorite meal, and he doesn't even eat seafood!

After lunch, we stopped in Galway for a walkabout. We walked down Shop Street which was bustling, and then cut up Buttermilk Walk to Hazel Mountain Chocolate, and Charlie Byrne's Bookshop. Our favorite little shop we found was called Coffeewerk + Press. Alex got a tea for takeaway while I coveted every single item in their Scandinavian-level minimalist shop.

Rosleague was where we stayed that night. Just outside Connemara National ParkRosleague Manor is the CUTEST bed and breakfast style accommodations. I wanted to stay there just because it was pink, but the friendly dog, Tyson, delicious dinner, and gorgeous views really were the cherry on top!

Our hike in the park at sunset was stunningly gorgeous and ended with us seeing wild baby goats in the parking lot. My fantasy come true.

Rosleague --> Finn Lough

Our last major drive of the tour took us into Northern Ireland for the first time. But not before stopping in Westport for tea at This Must Be The Place, and Strandhill for lunch at Shell's. If we hadn't been in such a hurry to get to our hotel and spa for the evening, I would have liked to spend a couple houring chilling in the seaside surf town.

If you ever have the chance to stay in the bubble domes at the Finn Lough Resort, do it. This place was the highlight of our trip. Seeing the Big Dipper while laying in bed in our private geodome was... emotional to say the least. What was even more incredible was the walking spa treatment experience. We spend two hours enjoying 20-to-30 minute rests in saunas, salt baths, hot tubs, the icy lake, tea rooms, and more. I left that experience feeling like a new woman. At the end of a long and exciting trip around the country, it was the ideal way to relax and take in the whole tour. 

Dinner at the resort was also unparalleled. Fancy drinks at the bar and cinema room before hand definitely got us in the spirit of the place. One night at Finn Lough was definitely not enough and I look forward to returning there very soon.

Finn Lough --> Dublin

The morning of our last full day in Ireland, we hauled ass clear across the country in order to get some Dublin time in. Admittedly, Dublin wasn't have the height of my must-see list, but a few notable spots were: St Michel's Church (they didn't have the mummies on display due to recent vandalism, but the crypts were cool AF), Stephen Green ParkThe National Museum of Ireland (got to see some bog bodies there!!), Krust BakeryP. Macs Bar (super cool vibe with drippy red candles and dark little nooks), and Carousel for cute little Irish-designed dresses -- in fact, all the shops in that neighborhood were great! Our stay at the Grafton Guest House put us right in the thick of the action, but the rooms were cute, comfortable, and quiet enough to get a good night's rest before our flight home in the morning!

Phew!! I hope that was helpful! Enjoy your trip to Ireland and tell me all about it when you're back!!


No comments

Back to Top