Category Archives: Self Drive Tours Ireland

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast

The best way to get to Northern Ireland’s famous Giant’s Causeway is by taking the magnificent Causeway Coast driving route. Starting in Belfast, the road wraps around the nine Glens of Antrim, winding between charming coastal villages and stunning scenic locations.

Places to visit on the Causeway Coast –

Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Castle, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Carrickfergus Castle

Built in 1177, this castle is one of the best preserved medieval buildings in Northern Ireland. The castle has an impressive 17th century cannon display and lots of historical information about the buildings eventful history including tales of besieging by Scots, English and French.

The Gobbins
The Gobbins, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
The Gobbins

The Gobbins is a cliff-face path at Islandmagee.  It runs across bridges, past caves and through a tunnel along The Gobbins cliffs which are recognised for their rich geology and birdlife. Those not wishing to walk the cliff path could enjoy the Visitor Centre and learn about The Gobbins through the on-site exhibition.

Note, the Gobbins is closed right now (March 2016) due to storm damage and is due to re-open in a few weeks. The visitor centre will remain open.

Glenarm
Glenarm Castle, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Glenarm Castle

Nesteled at the foot Glenarm, the first of the Nine Glens of Antrim you will find the picturesque village of Glenarm with its sandy bay and beautiful Georgian Streets. Not far away is Glenarm Forest Park, an 800-acre nature preserve and Glenarm Castle where you can visit the Castle’s Walled Garden.

Carnlough
Carnlough Harbour, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Carnlough Harbour

Carnlough is a pretty town with a lovely harbour and prominent historic hotel. Take the steps going uphill next to the Harbour Lights building to the stunning Cranny Falls.

Ballycastle
Murlough Bay Ballycastle, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Murlough Bay Ballycastle

Ballycastle has some beautiful view, a pretty harbour and a sandy beach simply called Ballycastle Beach! Fair Head, Ballycastle’s headland rises to 196 metres out over the bay and is the subject of many scenic Northern Ireland photographs. A short drive will take you to the pretty inlet at Murlough Bay.

Rathlin Island
Rathlin Island, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Rathlin Island

A short ferry from Ballycastle will take you across to Rathlin Island, the Causeway Coast’s only inhabited offshore Islands. There are some nice walks to be taken around the Ireland and a visitor centre where you can learn more about the island’s history.

Carrick- A – Rede
, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Carrick- A- Rede Rope Bridge

You may have seen pictures of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which links the small island of Carrickarede to the mainland. Some fantastic views are awarded to those brave enough to take on the rope bridge but if this particular stroll doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are some nice cliff walks that can be done in the area instead!

The Giant’s Causeway
Giant's Causeway, Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim

Last but certainly not least, the Causeway Coast’s most famous attraction, the Giant’s Causeway! According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill.

Book your Causeway Coast Tour Today-

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

 

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Our Top 5 Ireland Proposal Ideas

Our Best Ireland Proposal Ideas

If you are thinking of popping the question in Ireland, then I wouldn’t blame you. Ireland is often described as a beautiful, romantic country and everything that has been said, is 100% true! We’ve got rolling countryside, dramatic sea cliffs, stunning lakes and thousands of historic sites to visit, with our heritage going back thousands of years! So yes…Ireland is a great place to propose… do it!!

Before writing this post, I asked the Irish Tourism staff for their Ireland proposal ideas and between us, I think we’ve come up with some pretty good ideas:

  1. Fanore Sea Cliffs, Followed by a pint at Gus O’Connors Pub & a Doolin Sunset

Fanore is located on the main road from Doolin to Ballyvaughan, in the Burren region of County Clare. Coming from Ballyvaughan, before you reach Fanore there is a rocky viewing point overlooking the Wild Atlantic Way. You will know the spot when you see it because there are laybys to park along the side of the road. On a good day the views over the cliff are breath-taking and all you can see is deep blue Atlantic Ocean, an ideal place to propose! Afterward head in to Doolin to celebrate with a pint or two and some great traditional music at Gus O’Connor’s pub! In the evening, head down to Doolin Pier where the sun setting over the rocks is very romantic!

Doolin Pier at Sunset
Doolin Pier at Sunset
  1. Check-in to an Irish Castle

Ireland has a massive number of castles dispersed around the countryside, from romantic ruins, to grand castles that may have been once home to Irish Chieftains and Lords. There are many castles that have been converted into hotels where you can enjoy a romantic stay.  Many of these Castle hotels have wooded walks or pretty gardens where you are sure to find a romantic spot to propose. Ashford Castle is situated beside a lake and boat trips can be booked from the reception. Wouldn’t that be a picturesque proposal….on a boat, just the two of you, overlooking one of Ireland’s most magnificent castles on stunning Lake Corrib!

Ashford Castle, County Mayo
Ashford Castle, County Mayo
  1. Is your Partner a Film Fan? Choose one of Ireland’s famous film locations for your proposal!

Many movie-makers chose locations in Ireland to feature in their films. Most recently the Skellig Islands which you can reach by boat from the Ring of Kerry was featured in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. There are several locations in Northern Ireland that were included in Game of Thrones filming including a haunting path of meandering beech trees near Armoy in County Antrim which became the ‘Dark Hedges’ and Shane’s Castle near Randalstown which featured in the tournament scene. The Dingle Peninsula was the setting for both Ryan’s Daughter in the 1970’s and Far & Away in 1992 and the stunning Cong region in County Mayo was the scene of John Ford’s Epic film, The Quiet Man.

The Dark Hedges, County Antrim
The Dark Hedges, County Antrim
  1. Locations Associated with the Romantic Legend of Diarmuid & Grainne

One of Ireland’s most famous romantic legends is that of The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne.  Gráinne had been betrothed to the leader of the Fianna, Fionn Mac Cumhail but on her wedding day; fell desperately in love with one of Fionn’s warriors, Diarmuid O’Duibhne. Putting a spell on Diarmuid to make him love her, the pair fled across Ireland, all the time being pursued by Fionn Mac Cumhail and the rest of his warriors. One day with Fionn closing in, Diarmuid and Grainne came across the heath of Benbulben in Co. Sligo, where a giant boar charged and fatally wounded Diarmuid. Many Neolithic stone monuments with flat roofs (such as court cairns, dolmens and wedge-shaped gallery graves) bear the local name Leaba Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne (Diarmuid and Grainne’s Bed), being viewed as one of the fugitive couple’s campsites for the night. An example would be Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare.

Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare
Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare
  1. Look up your Partner’s Irish Heritage & Included the County of their Ancestors in your Itinerary.

Over 10% of the American population report that they have Irish ancestry. If there may be an Irish connection in your partner’s family tree, it may not be as difficult as you would think to find out where in Ireland their family came from. Talk to the elderly members to try and find out rough details; family name, approx. time leaving Ireland and possible county. You can cross reference any information you get on the Irish National Archive which has records back as far as 1821. If you do find a person connected to your partner, the site will tell you where they lived and you could perhaps stay nearby and take a trip there.

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us for a quotation today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

 

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The Road at the Edge of the World: Porsche on the Wild Atlantic Way

In May this year, more than 30 Porsche enthusiasts began the trip of a lifetime! Driving the entire 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way.  Beginning at Malin Head in County Donegal, the drivers made their way South, taking in all the stunning scenery the Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.

Check out the video here, it may give you some inspiration for your own Wild Atlantic Way Tour!

Would you like to explore the Wild Atlantic Way yourself? Then get in touch with us today and we can handle all the arrangements!

USA & Canada 1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com

 

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Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way tops Lonely Planet’s Offbeat Coastal Road Trips list

By Orla Spencer

The Wild Atlantic Way has come out number 1 in a new list of the Top 5 “offbeat coastal road trips” by Lonely Planet, the world’s most successful travel publisher. And who would argue with them?

The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s longest coastal driving route, stretching from the very top of Ireland’s West coast at Malin Head in Donegal to the very bottom at Kinsale in County Cork! In between, the coastal path along Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry are striking.

Here the sheer power of the ocean has carved a coastline that is jagged, wild, raw and truly beautiful! Along the Wild Atlantic Way you will discover ocean cliffs that are amongst the highest in Europe, beautiful strands and an array of wildlife that thrives from the cool waters of our coastal shores.

Wild Atlantic Way Picture Gallery –

 

Mullaghmore Peninsula, Co Mayo
Mullaghmore Peninsula, Co Mayo
Mullaghmore Peninsula, Co Mayo
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It would be difficult for anyone to do the entire Wild Atlantic Way driving route in one go, so the Irish Tourism Group have designed a series of tours that break the journey up into manageable segments. View our tours here

Would you like to explore the Wild Atlantic Way yourself?  Then get in touch with us today and we can handle all the arrangements!

USA & Canada 1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/ 

 

 

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A Couple of days in the Boyne Valley

By Orla Spencer

The Boyne Valley in the counties of Meath and Louth contains some of Ireland’s most historic visitor attractions. It is very easy to get around the Boyne Valley by car and there are plenty of activities and sites to see to keep all of the family amused! Here is a short summary of some of our favourites;

Brú na Bóinne; Newgrange & Knowth

The Brú na Bóinne visitor centre is where you can gain access to the passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth. The centre itself contains informative interpretive displays and viewing areas.

Newgrange

Newgrange dates back to 3,200 B.C making it older than Stonehenge and even the ancient pyramids of Egypt! At dawn on December 21st each year a ray of sunlight enters the tomb and lights up the inside chamber. To gain access on this special day there is an annual draw. It’s free to enter with your ticket so make sure to put your entry in the box! Knowth can also be accessed from Brú na Bóinne. What is special about Knowth is that you can climb up on top of the tomb and see fantastic views of the Boyne Valley. The inside of Knowth is artificially lit and makes for an interesting snap shot!

Our advice is to make Brú na Bóinne the first stop on your Boyne Valley tour and allow plenty of time for your visit. The site gets extremely busy and you may have to wait some time before you can visit the tombs. Also if you have 15 people or more in your group, you need to pre-book well in advance. If you’ve booked your package with the Irish Tourism Group, we can make that booking for you.

The Battle of the Boyne Site –

Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre

If you are interested in Irish military history then a trip to the Battle of the Boyne Site is not to be missed! The Battle of the Boyne on the 1st of July 1690 was one of the most significant military events in Ireland’s history. King William the 3rd’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne was the turning point in James the 2nd’s unsuccessful attempt to regain the Crown and ultimately ensured the continuation of Protestant supremacy in Ireland. The visitor centre and museum give a good overview of the events of the battle and its lead up and if you happen to visit on a Sunday (11am to 4.45pm in June, July & August) you can witness some very interesting re-enactments!

Trim Castle & Living History Museum

Trim Living History Museum

Trim castle is the largest and best preserved Anglo Norman castle in Ireland. Over hundreds of years Trim was adapted to suit the occupant’s needs and changing political climate however the main fabric of the building hasn’t changed much since Anglo-Norman times. Access to the castle is by guided tour only, the tour is wonderful but we recommend taking the tour only if you are not afraid of heights! There are quite a few steps to climb to get to the top but when you do, the views are spectacular!

Just down the road from the castle you can easily find Trim living history museum. Here a group of dedicated volunteers take you through the history of the town from life in Anglo Norman times to the making of the film Braveheart! Here you may be able to try on a suit of armour, feel the weight of a sword or practice your mace swing!

Saint Peter’s Church & Oliver Plunkett’s Head

St. Peter's Church Drogheda
St. Peter’s Church Drogheda

St. Peter’s Church one of the finest Gothic Revival Churches in Ireland and is most famous for housing the shrine of St. Oliver Plunkett. Plunkett was born in County Meath and was appointed Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland in 1669. He was arrested in 1679 on false charges of plotting to bring a French Army into the country, and of organising Irishmen to have rebellion. His remains were recovered and given to the Sienna Nuns of the Dominican Convent at Drogheda and here they remained. Thousands of people come to visit the church each year, if you visit yourself, please be quite and respectful as this church is still in use.

Old Mellifont Abbey

Old Mellifont Abbey
Old Mellifont Abbey

You can do a self-guided visit of Old Mellifont Abbey yourself but we recommend that you join a guided tour which can be arranged at no additional charge (May-September) at the museum reception. Your guide will take you through the various histories of the site from its origins as Ireland’s first Cistercian monastery, through to the period that it was owned and lived in by the Moore Family. During this time, the building played a pivotal role being the location where the Treaty of Mellifont was signed. This treaty changed the course of Ireland’s history by laying the foundations for the division of Ireland’s Northern counties from the South.

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation today –

 

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

 

 

 

 

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7 Things to do around Sligo

By Orla Spencer

Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, in the northwest of Ireland, Sligo is perhaps most well-known for its connection with the famous Irish poet and playwright, William Butler Yeats. The town is perfectly situated to explore the surrounding countryside and the region that gave inspiration to many of Yeats’ most famous works.  Here are some suggestions for places to visit and things to do while you are in the area –

See Benbulben/Benbulben Forrest Walk

Benbulben Sligo, Ireland
Benbulben Sligo

Benbulben, one of Sligo’s and indeed one of Ireland’s most famous mountains can be seen from many different angles and locations around Sligo.  Fantastic views of the mountain can be enjoyed in particular from the Benbulben (Gortarowey) Looped Walk. The entire loop is about 4KM and there is a nice track which you can follow through the trees.

Take a Seaweed Bath!

Seaweed Bath

People have been enjoying seaweed baths in Ireland for centuries and Strandhill in Sligo is famous for them! Voya Seaweed Baths is situated on the sea front of Strandhill, right beside its beautiful sandy beach. Although the smell won’t be to everyone’s tastes and it feels a bit slimy, these features are not permanent and the bath will leave your skin feeling wonderful! In addition to the skin benefits, studies have shown that the vitamins and iodine in seaweed helps to improve circulatory complaints and eliminates toxins from the body.

Visit Parke’s Castle

Parke's Castle, County Leitrim, Ireland
Parke’s Castle, County Leitrim

Parke’s Casle is about 20 minutes’ drive from Sligo Town, it’s actually just over the border in County Leitrim. Charmingly located on the shores of Lough Gill, the castle was once the home of Robert Parke and his family. The region was previously ruled by Brian O’Rourke who assumed leadership of his family by assassinating his older brothers. O’Rourke himself was hung, drawn and quartered after he sheltered survivors of the Spanish Armada, upsetting the monarchy in England. The Castle has now been faithfully restored using authentic materials and traditional craftsmanship and tours of property will give you an insight into what life was like in Ireland at the time.

Take a Boat Cruise on Lough Gill (& see the Lake Isle of Innisfree)

Lough Gill, County Leitrim, Ireland
Lough Gill, County Leitrim

The Rose of Innisfree is moored right beside Parke’s Castle and they do a wonderful waterbus tour of Lough Gill. Lough Gill inspired a number of poems by William Butler Yeats, most famously, the Lake Isle of Innisfree which you will see up close on this one hour tour. Catch a glimpse Church island which has the ruins of a 13th century monastic settlement. You will also see Beezie’s Island which is named after its sole resident, Beezie Gallagher who lived on the island alone until she died in 1951.

Take a Snap Beside Glencar Waterfall

Glencar Waterfall, County Leitrim, Ireland
Glencar Waterfall, County Leitrim

Glencar Waterfall is located in Glencar County Leitrim, about 15 minutes from Sligo and about 15 minutes from Parke’s Castle, so you could visit both attractions easily in one day. The waterfall is particularly impressive after rain and can be viewed from a short wooded walk. There are plenty of lakeside tables and benches in the area, making it a lovely place to enjoy a picnic.

 

Visit Rosses Point

Rosses Point, Sligo, Ireland
Rosses Point, Sligo

At the entrance to Sligo Bay, you will find the stunning coastal village of Rosses Point with its spectacular long sandy beach. Yeats and his family would have spent their summers in Rosses point, staying in Elsinore House which is now in ruins. In this little village you can enjoy good food especially seafood, some fantastic little pubs and sometimes great traditional Irish music. The village enjoys fantastic views over Sligo Bay and there are some lovely seafront walks to enjoy.

Visit Drumcliffe & Yeats’ Grave

Drumcliffe, Sligo, Ireland, Yeats' Grave
Drumcliffe, Yeats’ Grave

Drumcliffe is 8 km north of Sligo town and it is best known as the final resting place of W.B Yeats. In the church yard, you will find Yeats’ grave marked with the simple inscription ‘cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by’. Yeats instructed that these words be placed on his grave stone and that there be no marble or conventional phrases on it. The graveyard also contains a high cross and a 6th century monastery.

Get in Touch-

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

http://www.irishtourism.com/

 

Ireland’s Sunny South East

By Orla Spencer

irelands-sunny-south-east

Ireland’s Sunny South East is made up of the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, South-Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Is the South East sunnier than other parts of Ireland you might ask? Well apparently so! According to Ireland’s National Meteorological Service, Met Eireann – the extreme southeast gets an average of more than 7 hours a day in early summer when the rest of Ireland gets between 5-6.5 hours! This fact aside, Ireland’s South East has a treasure trove of interesting places to visit and here are some of them-

Wexford-

Wexford is well known for its annual Opera Festival, which has gained reputation internationally for introducing audiences to previously neglected works. Other places of interest include the Ring of Hook, a spectacular drive around the Hook Peninsula with the oldest operating lighthouse in the world at its tip! History and heritage seekers will love the Irish National Heritage Park, here trails run through replicas of Stone-Age to Early Christian and Viking dwellings giving an interactive insight into Ireland’s varied history. The ultimate Irish Castle experience can be found in Wexford’s Johnstown Castle– a remarkable Gothic Revival Mansion and in New Ross discover The Dunbrody, a full scale replica of a ‘coffin-ship’ used to take those suffering the Irish Famine to more hopeful lands.

Wexford Opera Festival
Wexford Opera Festival

Waterford –

The City of Waterford has strong links with the Vikings. The name Waterford itself is  believed to derive from the old Norse word ‘Vedrarfjiordr’ and in what is known as the Viking Triangle you will find a number of interesting museums; Reginald’s Tower which has an exhibition that displays a superb collection of historic and archaeological artefacts, The Bishops Palace built in 1743 by renowned architect Richard Castle and the Medieval Museum which includes numerous well preserved medieval structures, including the beautiful Chorister’s Hall. Before you leave Waterford city we recommend a stop at the wonderful Waterford Crystal Museum where you can see one of Ireland’s most famous exports in the making. Further southeast, Dunmore East is a pleasant fishing village and popular seaside retreat. The heritage town of Lismore is also within easy reach and amongst the many interesting period buildings in the town you will find Lismore Castle and St. Carthages Cathedral.

Bishop Palace Museum, Waterford
Bishop Palace Museum, Waterford

Kilkenny-

If you are interested in sport at all try to take in a Hurling match! Kilkenny is most famous for its fantastic hurlers, having won the All-Ireland Hurling Championship 35 times! Kilkenny City itself is one of Ireland’s busiest, a popular destination for hen and stag parties and a popular family holiday destination. Sites of Interest include Kilkenny Castle ancestral home to the Butler family, Saint Canice’s Cathedral where a climb to the top of its adjacent round tower offers fantastic views of the city. Further north check out Castlecomer Discovery Park which as an interesting coal-mining museum and craft yard. In Thomastown you will find the extensive ruins of  Jerpoint Abbey and Jerpoint Park, Ireland’s best example of an abandoned 12th Century Medieval Town.

St. Canices Cathedral, Kilkenny
St. Canices Cathedral, Kilkenny

South Tipperary –

Tipperary is rich in historic sites of interest; The Rock of Cashel which rises dramatically above Cashel town was once an important symbol of kingship and religious power. In the early 5th century it was the seat of the Kings of Munster and was famously presided over by Brian Boru. Later the fortress was given to the church and now there are many religious monuments to visit including the hall of the vicar’s choral and the ruin of an ornate gothic cathedral. Close by in the heritage town of Cahir, Cahir Castle can be visited. The castle retains so much of its original character that it has been the set for many films including Excalibur. The renovated interior of the castle includes a large great hall decorated with authentic furniture.

Cahir Castle, Tipperary
Cahir Castle, Tipperary

Carlow –

Carlow town is picturesquely situated where the River Barrow and the Burrin River meet. At one point in time it was believed that there were four lakes here, hence the Irish word Ceathar Loch, or Four Lakes. A small county, Carlow has few attractions relative to other counties in Ireland; however the few available are well worth a visit. Borris House in South Carlow is the ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanaghs, who were once kings of Leinster. Borris House’s past can be traced back to the Royal families of ancient Ireland and a tour of the house covers all aspects of this fascinating history.

Altamont Gardens, Carlow
Altamont Gardens, Carlow

One of Ireland’s newest museums, Carlow County Museum gives a fascinating insight into the social and industrial history of Carlow. Exhibits include a wonderful 19th century hand carved pulpit from Carlow Cathedral.  If gardens is your thing, be sure to stop by the Altamont Gardens, on a 100 acre estate, these gardens are often considered as Ireland’s most romantic!

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Top Outdoorsy activities to do in Ireland with Kids

By Orla Spencer

Wondering what kind of outdoor experience there is in Ireland for kids and families to enjoy? Then look no further!
With plenty of green fields, national parks, wildlife reserves and farms, there is no shortage of outdoorsy places to visit with the kids in Ireland! Some outdoorsy suggestions;

1-Visit one of our Fantastic Zoo’s or Wildlife Reserves

We’ve got a few Zoo’s and Wildlife Park to choose from;

Dublin Zoo, Dublin: in the Phoenix Park in South Dublin is the biggest wildlife reserve in Ireland. Spanning over 28 hectares of Phoenix Park, it is divided into areas named World of Cats, World of Primates, The Kaziranga Forest Trail, Fringes of the Arctic, African Plains, Birds, Reptiles, Plants, City Farm and Endangered Species.

Tayto Park, Meath: If you know the Irish, then you know that we have a bit of an obsession with Tayto Crisps! A number of years ago Tayto developed their own family fun Park and Nature reserve. I have been here a few times with my family and I have to say, it’s a great day out. They’ve got lots of animals and birds to see including Owls, Cranes, Geese, Goats, Cattle, Sheep, Pigs, Mountain Lions, Leopards and Tigers. They also have several playgrounds, one of Ireland’s longest zip wires, a sky-walk and climbing wall. Please note, some things require additional cover charge.

Fota Wildlife Park, Cork: The Fota Island estate was the home of the Smith-Barry family for about 800 years until it was sold to the University of Cork in 1975. The wild-life park opened to the general public in the summer of 1983 and now welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Animals include Tigers, White-faced Saki, Gibbon, Giraffe, Lemurs, Ostrich, Meerkat, Zebra and Kangaroo. The Park also has a great playground.

Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
Fota Wildlife Park, Cork

2- Go Farming!

Ireland is known for its ample green fields and prosperous farming community. Many farms are now open to the public and they are a great day out for families. Some of our favourites include;

Kissane’s Sheep Farm, Kerry: Kissane’s is a working sheep farm with more than 1000 working mountain sheep and hundreds of lambs. The family have two border Collies who expertly move the sheep where the farmer requires them. Sheepdog demonstrations as well as sheep shearing demonstrations are done regularly for guests.

Cows!
Cows!

Rathbaun Farm, Galway: A visit to Rathbaun typically consists of watching the family’s trusty sheepdog ted rounding up the sheep, followed by a sheep shearing demonstration and time feeding the cute baby lambs! Who can resist some time with a cute baby lamb?!

Stonehall Farm, Limerick: Stonehall is located in Curraghchase Forest Park (which has lovely forest walks by the way) in county Limerick. You will find an array of exotic and domestic animals on the farm including Ostriches, Emus, Llamas, Alpacas a variety of Birds of Prey and the domestic animal breeds including, Sheep, Ponies Ducks and Geese. They also have some great kids play facilities and a nice picnic area.

Geese
Geese

3- Check out some of our Cool Caves!
Ireland’s Karst Lanscape has provided us with a vast system of Caves throughout the country and many of them are open to the Public. Some of our favourites for families include;

Crag Caves, Kerry: This 350m wonder offers an amazing insight into how caves are formed. Here you will find fantastic examples of pillars, stalagmites, stalactites, curtains, flowstones and straws that have been changing over the last 15,000 years. Crag Caves also have a great indoor and outdoor play area for kids and recently began to offer Falconry demonstrations where Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Owls can be seen up close and personal!

Crag Caves
Crag Caves, Kerry

Mitchelstown Caves, Tipperary: On a guided tour of Michelstown Caves you witness caverns as high as 31 meters high, stalactites, stalagmites and one of Europe’s finest columns; the Tower of Babel.

Mitchelstown Caves, Tipperary
Mitchelstown Caves, Tipperary

Doolin Caves, Clare: We like Doolin Caves for families because it’s got a great Cave system featuring the longest stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere but also because they have a great nature trail that kids love! The trail features goats, cattle, sheep and chickens and is included in the cave entry price.

Aillwee Caves & Birds of Prey Centre, Clare: A tour through the caves in Aillwee caves entails a 30 minute stroll through their beautiful caverns, with internal bridges across the caves chasms witnessing unusual formations and by a really cool underground waterfall! On site, one can also find a Birds of prey centre with Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, and Owls from all over the world.

4- Visit some of our Free Entry National Parks
There are 6 National Parks in Ireland, they are all free entry, offer great walks or bike riding opportunities and are especially great for sunny days! Some of our top park pics include;

Killarney National Park, Kerry: This Park contains many features of national and international importance such as the native oakwoods and yew woods, and a herd of native red deer! The Park is great for walks and cycling and bikes can be rented from a few places in Killarney town. Do check out Muckross House if you get the opportunity.

Killarney National Park Deer
Killarney National Park Deer

The Burren National Park, Clare: Situated in the south-eastern corner of the Burren, this park includes great examples of Limestone Pavements that are almost moonlike in appearance. The Burren region is internationally famous for its unusual landscape and unique flora, found here are certain species of flowering plants which although rare elsewhere are abundant in the Burren.  Even more remarkably they all survive in a landscape that appears to be composed entirely of rock!

Connemara National Park, Galway: This Park covers around 2,957 hectares of rocky mountains, bogland, heaths, grass and woodland. The park contains many wildlife, flora and fauna. Kids love the heard of Connemara Pony that can be seen here. Although typically a domestic animal, this pony is very much part of the Connemara countryside.

Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park

Wicklow Mountains National Park, Wicklow: The beautiful open vistas are broken up only by forestry plantations and the picturesque winding roads. Fast-flowing rivers descend into the deep lakes of the wooded valleys and continue their course into the surrounding lowlands. The most visited area is the attractive Glendalough Valley where the ancient monastic settlement of St. Kevin is located.

Get in Touch-
The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –
USA & Canada1877 298 7205
UK FreeFone0800 096 9438
International+353 69 77686
www.irishtourism.com

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Ireland’s (Off the Beaten Track) Romantic Spots

By Orla Spencer

When you ask about Romantic places in Ireland, most people will say the old favourites; the Ring of Kerry, The Cliffs of Moher etc. etc. and these are truly remarkable places but if you are looking for a romantic escape in Ireland with less crowds, then check out our top five ‘off the beaten track’ romantic places!

1. The Loop Head Peninsula, Clare
Loop Head is a finger of land pointing out to sea at the most westerly point of County Clare. Here you will find panoramic cliff views, abundant local restaurants, a great selection of water activities, and plenty of quiet spots to share a romantic moment. Visit the picturesque fishing village of Carrigaholt, Kilbaha, Cross and Loop Head’s main town; Kilkee which was frequented by Charlotte Bronte and Alfred Tennyson to name but a few. The most outstanding natural feature on a trip to Loop Head is the Bridges of Ross on the western side of Ross Bay harbour, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean.

Loop Head Lighthouse, Loop Head
Loop Head Lighthouse, Loop Head

2. Sheep’s Head Way, West Cork
The Sheep’s Head Way runs from the tip of the unspoilt Sheep’s Head peninsula to the early Christian settlement at Gougane Barra. You might decide to take the ferry from Bantry town to Whiddy Island where stunning views back across the bay. Here you will find walking routes, and historic sites, the perfect place for a quiet romantic stroll. Also on the Sheep’s Head Way you will find a traditional spot for marriage proposals – The Marriage Stone at Caherurlagh where at one time simply passing your hand through the hole in the stone and holding your loved one’s hand on the other side, was enough to see you married! Finally we recommend taking a romantic picnic at Carriganass Castle. This location was a key staging post in the famous ‘Flight of the Earls’, the castle is a prominent and picturesque ruin overlooking a lovely waterfall.

Sheeps Head Way
Sheeps Head Way

3. An Blascaod Mór, Kerry (Great Blasket Island, Kerry)
Is there anything more romantic than a stroll on a deserted island? We don’t think so. This island sits about 2km from the mainland at Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula, 13KM west of Dingle Town, a ferry can be taken from the closest town, Dunquin. The island was inhabited until the 1950’s when the last residents were transferred to the mainland. The island is unique because it has produced a remarkable number of gifted writers, the most famous of which being Peig Sayers. On the island you will find fantastic views and a number of abandoned buildings including the house of Peig Sayers.

Great Blasket Island
Great Blasket Island

4. Inis Meáin (Inishmaan, Aran Islands, County Galway)
Inishmaan is the middle of the three main Aran Islands in Galway Bay on the west coast of Ireland. Here you will find narrow winding roads, sheltered paths and quiet trails across the small island, karst hillsides at the south of the island and deserted sandy beaches on the north shore. Visit the oval fort of Dún Chonchúir and the church of Mary Immaculate with its beautiful stained glass windows by the famous Harry Clarke Studios. This enchanting island was visited often by the distinguished playwright John Millington Synge. It is the subject of numerous books, and proves continually to be of inspiration to visual, dramatic, literary and other artists.

Inis Meain, Aran Islands
Inis Meain, Aran Islands

5. Hook Peninsula, Wexford
The Ring of Hook peninsula is dotted with ancient ruins, including castles, abbeys and forts and beautiful beaches. The drive encompasses rugged coastline and stunning views of the Saltee Islands and the fishing village of Dunmore East in Waterford. At the tip of the peninsula you will find Hook Lighthouse, the oldest working lighthouse in the world. We recommend a visit to Loftus Hall which overlooks the Three Sisters Estuary, the building is famed as being the most haunted building in Ireland.

Hook Lighthouse, Wexford
Hook Lighthouse, Wexford

The best way to learn about Ireland is to visit yourself. Contact us today for a quotation including some or all of these locations today –

USA & Canada1877 298 7205

UK FreeFone0800 096 9438

International+353 69 77686

www.irishtourism.com

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Tips for Driving in Ireland

By Orla Spencer

Left is the Best!
I will tell you this because it might help, even though I know that I will get stick for it in the office! When I was learning to drive here in Ireland, I would say to myself ‘left is the best for driving’ every time I got into the car, as I was petrified that I would drive on the wrong side of the road. So remember my silly rhyme while you are in Ireland to remember that we drive on the left!

If you are someone like my fiend Una who can’t remember her left from her right, do what she does and make an L shape with your index finger and thumb! (If it looks like an L, then that’s your left!)

Tips for not getting lost in Ireland

Connemara Signposts
Connemara Signposts

Ireland is known for its spectacular scenery, its wild Atlantic Ocean views and majestic mountain passes. Ireland is not known however for its great directional signage! Some roads have many, more have too many (image) others have a few signs to tell you where to go and then some roads simply don’t have anything! This is something we complain about frequently and improvements have been made, but we have a long way to go before we are up to the standards of the rest of Europe. There isn’t anything you or I can do about that now, so the best thing to do, is prepare yourself!

Buy a good road-map; the bookshops at the airport usually have up-to-date maps. Check the publication date and buy the one that was printed most recently.

Plan out your route in advance and have a general idea of where you need to go. We provide a detailed itinerary with our self-drive tours of Ireland that usually has a number of ways to get to your destination, and this should help you plan.

If you want to make things very easy for yourself, invest in GPS before you go. For more information and prices see: www.irishtourism.com

The Dreaded Roundabout!
We know roundabouts are scarce in the United States & Canada but in Ireland prepare to encounter quite a few! Don’t be scared though, roundabouts are generally harmless and easy to navigate once you are familiar with them.

The Dreaded Roundabout!
The Dreaded Roundabout!

The Rules –

The first thing to do is be prepared. Know where you are going so that you can get into the correct lane.

Always Yield to traffic approaching from your right and traffic that is already on the roundabout.

Lanes –
• Roundabouts in Ireland can have several exits and you need to be aware of the lane you should be in depending on which exit you are taking.
• Generally a good rule of thumb is if you are taking any exit from the 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position, approach in the left-hand lane.
• If taking any exit between the 12 o’clock to the 6 o’clock positions, approach in the right-hand lane

 

**Read the signs on approach, sometimes the lane rules above are changed and signposts approaching the roundabout will tell you where to go***

Roundabout with lines

Indicating –
• If taking the 1st exit left you indicate left while you are in the lane to turn left
• If taking the 2nd exit left: enter the roundabout in the left-hand lane but do not indicate until you have passed the 1st exit, then indicate a left turn and leave at the 2nd exit.
• If you are going straight on, do not indicate left until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take.
• If turning right by the 3rd or any subsequent exit, get in the correct lane and indicate right. As you pass the exit before the one you intend to leave by, indicate a left turn and, when the way is clear, move to the other lane and take the desired exit

Tips for Driving on Narrow Irish Roads

Gap of Dunloe, Kerry
Gap of Dunloe, Kerry

You will find some of Ireland’s best scenery as you drive our narrow country roads. Here are some things to be aware of as you travel;

Extra care needs to be taken when there is no white line in the centre of the road. You need to use your personal judgement, sometimes there is enough space for two cars at either side of the road and sometimes there will only be space for one car and one of you will need to give right of way. Either way, drive slowly, especially around bends where there may be oncoming traffic, cyclists or walkers.

Narrow Road Valentia Island
Narrow Road Valentia Island

Where there is not enough space for two cars you will notice lay by areas at the side of the road like the one pictured above. If the lay by is closest to you on your left, you would pull in here and leave the other car pass you by. If the layby is behind you, you may have to reverse. If there is no layby, you may need to use the entrance to a house or farm. Take your time, use your mirrors and be very careful. Watch out for signs in the area telling you want to do.

Remember, if you are nervous driving on our very narrow roads, you can always pre-book a day long coach tour in some of our top driving routes like the Dingle Peninsula & Ring of Kerry. For more information, please contact us. 

Parking in Ireland

Pay attention to the signs where you are located. Don’t park beside a double yellow line and don’t park in a yellow grid box.

Where possible choose a car park, we have plenty. Watch for signs telling you how to pay. Sometimes you need to purchase a parking disk (just ask where in the closest shop) and sometimes you need to pay in advance and display a parking ticket.

If you have a disability, European Parking Cards (also known as Disabled Parking Permits) can be used by disabled people within the 25 member states of the EU. If you are visiting Ireland or are from outside of the EU you should bring your Disabled Parking Permit/European Parking Card with you. Your Disabled Parking Permit/European Parking Card should be visibly displayed in your parked car.

Irish Driving Customs
If you meet a stranger coming towards you on a quiet country road and they give you a pleasant wave, don’t be alarmed! We are a friendly bunch and it not uncommon to wave at total strangers!

If you pull into the slow lane to let a car pass you out, if they flash their back lights this means ‘hey, thanks a lot’! If you see someone flashing their lights as you drive towards them it means either there is some kind of danger nearby or the Gardaí are checking for speeding cars up ahead! (By the way, flashing your lights to tell people Gardaí are nearby is illegal so don’t do it yourself).

Des Bishop does a good comedy routine about Ireland’s driving communications. Check it out here:

Some handy websites for more information on driving in Ireland –
http://www.citizensinformation.ie

http://www.rsa.ie/

http://www.theaa.ie/

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