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IRELAND: EXPLORING THE SOUTHERN COAST
Although Ireland is compact and can be (theoretically) crossed by car in less than four hours, youd be much better off narrowing down to specific areas of Ireland and create an itinerary based on time availability and personal interests. Since two of our loves are coastal and culinary, we decided to focus on Counties Wicklow, Cork, and Kerry along the Southeastern coast.
Saving Dublin for the end, we headed south to the charming town of Arklow on the coast, with wonderful stops along the way at the ruins of a monastic settlement at Glendalough, Irelands oldest mill--Avoca Handweavers--in the scenic Vale of Avoca and a charming stay at Woodenbridge.
From there, we headed south through County Waterford (and the ubiquitous stop at Waterford Crystal) enroute to County Cork. Seaside towns like Ballycotton, a truly memorable meal at renowned Ballymaloe House (where classes can also be arranged at their nearby cooking school), Titanic and ship history in Cobh (this was the last place that Titanic stopped before her fateful journey in 1912), and the self-professed culinary capital of County Cork, Kinsale, made for a fascinating (and filling) couple of days.
Next up was County Kerry, featuring some of Irelands most iconic sights: fields of green, stone walls, jaw-dropping coastal scenery, rugged coastline roads, and misty peaks and bogs. The hub of County Kerry is Killarney National Park, including Muckross Estate, Ross Castle, the Ring of Kerry, and the Gap of Dunloe. And not to be forgotten is the Dingle Peninsula, the northernmost promontory in County Kerry and Europes westernmost point. Ring forts, ancient ruins, beach swimming and diving, and some of the best seafood of our visit made the day-long excursion well worth it.
Saving the best for last, we spent two days in Dublin. Which, frankly, isnt enough time. From the cobbled grounds of Trinity College, to all things books and printed wonders from around the world at Chester Beatty Library, to the landscaped escapes of Merrion Square and St. Stephens Green, to the religious wonders of Christ Church and St. Patricks Cathedrals, to the eclectic shopping and dining of Temple Bar and Grafton Street, to the thirst-quenching pint at the beer-lovers Disneyland of Guiness Storehouse, Dublin enchants.
So much culture. So much history. So much rain. So much fun. We cant wait to get back to Ireland.