Ireland

A Different Visit to Ireland

Category: My Ireland Itinerary

My Flight to Ireland

I flew Delta business class to Ireland.  I left from Atlanta (ATL) and flew to Dublin (DUB) by way of  Shannon Airport (SNN) in Limerick. Ireland is really beautiful from the air.
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Crannmor Country Guest House

Crannmor Country Guest House
Dunderry Rd, Trim, County Meath, Ireland

I spent my first night in Ireland at Crannmor Country Guest House, a Georgian house that was built in 1825.
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Trim, County Meath

Trim was the first town I visited in Ireland. It has a castle, old town walls, ruins of an abbey, a priory and the tower from an old hospital.
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Trim Castle

Trim Castle is beside the River Boyne in Trim, County Meath, Ireland.  It is the largest Anglo-Norman (Cambro-Norman) castle in Ireland. It was built by Hugh de Lacy. He was granted the lands by King Henry II of England in 1172 for his part in the Norman invasion of Ireland.
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Summerhill and Kildare

I left Trim after breakfast. I was making my way to Leixlip. I passed through Summerhill and Kildare and had some lunch.
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Leixlip & Car Wreck

At the very top of my list of things I wanted to find when I was in Ireland was Leixlip Castle. It is not open to the public. The book The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland by James Howley describes the “fine gazebo which still stands in the grounds of Leixlip Castle, at the meeting of the Rye Water and the River Liffey.” So, I found where the Rye Water and the River Liffey meet and looked for the gazebo.
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The Haunted Hospital

So… things didn’t work out the way I expected. I totaled the rental car. And the hospital…
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Greenacres Bed and Breakfast

Greenacres Bed & Breakfast
Kilteel Road, Rathcoole, County Dublin, Ireland

Greenacres Bed & Breakfast was a very comfortable inn in Rathcoole, one of the little villages around Dublin. It is convenient to Dublin, Leixlip, Castletown and some other places I was hoping to explore.
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Sunday, New Friends Near Dublin

Sunday I met city kids with ponies, played rounders and was completely welcomed by new friends.
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Dublin to Dungarvan through Kilkenny and Carrick-on-suir

Monday morning, the car rental company came to pick me up with the new car. I thought it would be a huge deal, but it just wasn’t. Good thing I had bought the extra insurance!
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Maple Leaf Guest House

Maple Leaf Guest House
Cork Road, Windgap, Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland

Maple Leaf Bed and Breakfast is on the Cork Road in an area near Dungarvan called Windgap. Windgap overlooks the estuary of the River Brickey, the Cunnigar, a 2 mile sandbar at the mouth of Dungarvan Bay, across to the lighthouse on Ballinacourty Point.
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Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle is in the town of Lismore in County Waterford. It was in a decorating magazine years ago. I tore out the pages, so I don’t know what magazine. I just wanted to drive by and see it on the way to Swiss Cottage. It is beautiful and I spent longer than I had expected.
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Lismore to the Knockmealdown Mountains

I left Lismore Castle, heading toward Cahir on an unnamed road that paralleled R668 heading into the Knockmealdown Mountains.
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The Vee & The Golden Vale

The Unnamed Road from Lismore met up with R668, the road that runs along the Knockmealdown mountains. The road climbed and climbed with beautiful views.  The Vee is the steep switchback as the road descends. The Golden Vale, or Golden Vane is panoramic pastureland visible from the mountains.
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Grubb’s Grave

I decided to drive to Cahir Castle along the ridge of the Knockmealdown Mountains. I had read about Grubb’s Monument, marking where Samuel Grubb was buried standing up overlooking the beautiful Golden Vale.
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Knockmealdown Mountains to Cahir

From the Vee, the switchback on R668 driving down the Knockmealdown Mountains, I drove through beautiful forests and valleys. In many places there are miles of old walls on the sides of the road. It was still early and I was in no hurry. I took various little roads, drove through a few small villages. Sometimes when the road forked, there were signs, but I was sure glad I had the GPS. I could take any little road I noticed. I passed beautiful lush fields, farms and cattle. There was remarkably little traffic.
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Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary, is one of the largest castles in Ireland. I visited it on the way to see the Swiss Cottage and I am so glad I did not miss it. It still has a keep, tower and defensive walls. The inner ward has a gatehouse and great hall.
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Swiss Cottage

Other than Leixlip Castle, I most looked forward to seeing Swiss Cottage. And it was not available to tour when I was there. But, I walked out to it.

Swiss Cottage is perhaps the finest example of cottage orné of the Romantic Movement.
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Hollymount House

Hollymount House
Upper Cahir Abbey, Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland

Hollymount House was the most modern place I stayed in Ireland. It was very comfortable. Breakfast was huge and spectacular. And available earlier than many other places. The shower was superhot, once I learned how to heat the water.
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From Cahir through County Clare

I left Cahir early, on my way to the Cliffs of Moher. I went through Tipperary and Limerick on N18.
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Dromoland Gazebo – Belvedere Folly

Driving down the M18 somewhere past Shannon, I saw something. Using Google Maps, I retraced my course and found it is the Belvedere Folly, the Gazebo at Dromoland Castle.
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Through County Clare to the Coast

I drove through County Clare to the Atlantic Coast. I saw the countryside to the Atlantic, through Ennistymon, Lahinch and Liscannor.
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The Cliffs of Moher

If you are going to Ireland, you have to see the Cliffs of Moher. They are the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride movie.
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Along the Coast to Doolin Harbour

The drive from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin was beautiful. I drove down R478, Ballard Road, along the coast.  I drove through Burren karst pavements, beautiful green fields, passed ruins and castles to Doolin Harbour.
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Craggy Island B&B

Craggy Island B&B
Ardeamush, Doolin, County Clare, Ireland

I had a wonderful surprise in the morning at Craggy Island Bed and Breakfast!

After a day around the Cliffs of Moher, I had a beautiful drive along the sea to Craggy Island Bed and Breakfast. Everything was new. Breakfast was delicious. Bev O’Connor was so very hospitable. Her husband, Adrian O’Connor is a local musician. It was an excellent choice to explore Doolin’s traditional Irish music pubs and the Burren. Doolin Cave is also nearby.
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Ballinalacken Castle

I left Doolin early, making my way toward the Burren. In the morning mist, I could see a tower in the distance. I found the entrance to Ballinalacken Castle near the intersection of R477 and R479, near Lisdoonvarna, Fanore and Doolin in Killilagh parish, County Clare, Ireland.
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The Burren

I left the Doolin area and headed up into the Burren. I found a castle, abandoned houses, an old school and an old tomb or something.
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Cows Grazing on the Burren

Driving through the Burren in Ireland I saw an amazing phenomena. Cows that seem to grow fat on pastures that are mostly rock.
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Along Galway Bay

I made my way along the small bays of Galway Bay on R477. I saw Ballynacregga Castle and Finavarra Tower, another Napoleon Tower, this one with an oval footprint. The route drives between the beautiful ban and the solid limestone hills of the Burren.  I also visited the little village of Kinvarra and its quay.
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Dunguaire Castle

I left Doolin, wandered through the Burren and found my way to Galway Bay. I found Dunguaire Castle as I drove along the shore.

Dunguaire Castle is a tower house built around 1520 by the O’Hynes clan. It is near Kinvarra on the Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland.  It is named after the fort that was here before the tower house was built. The castle is small, with a 75 foot tower and defensive walls.
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Farms near Ardrahan

I drove through the Burren and along Galway Bay, then turned toward Shannon Harbor and the Grand Canal. Near Ardrahan I stopped to photograph a thatched cottage. I parked where it was a bit wider on the other side of the road. A woman came out and asked me to photograph her horse. It was one of the most wonderful things that happened on my trip. She showed me medieval ruins, farms and so many animals.
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Ardrahan, Shannonbridge and Clonony Castle

I drove through the little village of Ardrahan, through County Galway, County Roscommon and County Offaly.  I saw more ruins and castles and crossed Shannonbridge, one of the oldest bridges still in use over the River Shannon.
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Birr Castle

I drove into Birr. The road ends at the walls of Birr Castle.

Birr Castle is the private home of the Earls of Rosse and family. It is not open to the public, but the grounds and gardens are.
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Birr Castle Science Centre and Telescope

There is a lot to see at Birr Castle, but I came for the telescope. Called the Leviathan of Parsonstown, it was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until the Hooker Telescope was completed at Mount Wilson Observatory, California in 1917.
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Birr Castle Gardens

Birr Castle Gardens are open to the public. There are 120 acres with five miles of walking paths. Two rivers, the Camcor and the Little Brosna meet within the Castle Demesne walls forming a lake and waterfalls.  An amazing display of rare plants and trees grows here in beautiful profusion. There are over 2000 different species of plants collected by the Earls of Rosse on their travels around the world or given to them by some of the most famous plant hunters.
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Shannon Harbour

Shannon Harbour is a very small village built where the Grand Canal meets the Shannon River. At one time it was a very busy area. If you descend from Irish Immigrants, your family likely passed through Shannon Harbour. Now much of it is ruins.
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The Harbour Masters House

The Harbour Masters House
Shannon Harbour, Birr, County Offaly, Ireland

The Harbour Master’s House was built in 1806; just five years after the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain were merged in the Acts of Union. It was built to house the Shannon Harbour Master  and his family. Shannon Harbour  was purpose built to support shipping on the Grand Canal which joined Dublin to the Atlantic, crossing Ireland to the Shannon River. If you descend from Irish Immigrants, your family likely passed through Shannon Harbour.
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Driving from Shannon Harbour to Ballycastle

I left Shannon Harbour with all day to make it to Ballycastle. I took side roads and wandered around. I don’t know where I was. I’ve tried looking at these photos to see where I was.
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Ardaghmore Guest House

Ardaghmore Bed and Breakfast Guest House
35 North Street, Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The Ardaghmore Guest House was built as a private home in the late 1800s. It is extremely comfortable and clean. The location is on the Causeway Coastal Route, ideal for visiting Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Dunluce Castle.
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Ballycastle

Ballycastle is a small town in Northern Ireland on the Antrim Coast in the Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The town is right on the sea. You can see Rathlin Island and all the way to Scotland. This was where I stayed. I made day trips to Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Old Bushmills distillery and Dunluce Castle.
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Kinbane Headland and Kinbane Castle

Kinbane Headland is about three miles from Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the way to Giant’s Causeway. The walkway leads along the cliff with views of a long narrow headland with castle ruins. The path is narrow and stepped. The view is beautiful, Rathlin Island, birds, flowers and ruins, and, of course, sheep.
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Along the Antrim Coast to Giant’s Causeway

I took Clare Road to Whitepark Road, the Causeway Road on the way to Giant’s Causeway from Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.
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Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is a World Heritage Site in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, three miles northeast of Bushmills, the oldest distillery in Ireland, four miles from Dunluce Castle, eight miles from Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and thirteen miles from Ballycastle, where I stayed.
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Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle might be the most well-known castle in Ireland. It is a romantic ruin dramatically set at the very edge of the cliff on the Antrim Coast near Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
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Old Bushmills Distillery

Old Bushmills is the oldest surviving licensed distillery in the world. Sir Thomas Phillips of Bushmills was granted a royal license in 1608. I toured the distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
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Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a white-knuckle crossing, a windy rope bridge from sheer cliffs over a deep chasm to an island that rises sheerly out of a turbulent sea. The chasm is a little over 75 feet deep and almost 66 feet wide. And it seemed more.
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Derry/Londonderry

I got up early to drive from Ballycastle to Derry/Londonderry. I had the address for the Kingdom Hall, programmed it into the GPS and set off confidently. It was a beautiful drive. I saw a McDonalds! Coffee! No… Even McDonalds makes foul coffee in Ireland. I am not a coffee snob, but this stuff is really bad. Just give up and drink tea.
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Lower Lough Erne and Belleek Pottery

I drove to Belleek Pottery along A46, Lough Shore Road. It was a stunningly beautiful drive. This is where I saw the most adorable thatched house on my trip.
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Arch House Tullyhona

Arch House Tullyhona
59 Marble Arch Road, Florencecourt,  Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland

When I got to Arch House there was some kind of mix up. Someone who was supposed to have checked out didn’t, so there was no room. Rosemary Armstrong said not to worry. She called around while I had a good dinner.
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Florence Court Estate

Florence Court is an excellent example of mid-18th century Irish Palladian architecture near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The setting is beautiful, in the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain, overlooking Benauglin Mountain, watered by River Larganess and River Finglass. The house is well known for exquisite Rococo plasterwork and Irish furniture. And it wasn’t open when I was there.
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Florence Court Heather House

I really wanted to see the Florence Court Heather House, a garden feature at Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh.
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Looking for Leixlip Castle

So… My last day! I have to get on a plane and fly home the next morning. I had a different plan, but instead I decided I would try to do some of the things I missed on the days I slept through after the car wreck.
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Open Gates at Leixlip Castle

I went back around to the other side of the river, back to the castle gates and they were open!
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Leixlip Castle Gate Lodge

Leixlip Castle Gate Lodge stands outside the gates. Although it looks Gothick, it was actually built in the early eighties. Before I  walked in the gates, I took these photos of the Gate Lodge.
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Leixlip Castle

I was invited to wander around Leixlip Castle and take photos. These are photos of the castle from the outside.
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Leixlip Castle Front Hall

The Front Hall to Leixlip Castle exemplifies Mariga Guinness’s style that “combined fantasy with history and the grand with the laid-back, all in a natural and seemingly uncontrived manner that belied the careful thought and planning behind it. Desmond’s views on restoration – that ‘a certain amount of shabbiness is an appropriate characteristic of an old house in any country, particularly Ireland'”
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Leixlip Castle Dining Room

At least when I was at Leixlip Castle, this was set up as a dining room. This is the room called the Gothic room in Irish Houses & Castles. The book shows a dining room in the tower. This is one of the oldest parts of the castle. I love these windows!
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Leixlip Castle Library

A print room was a decorative scheme specific to Georgian times. Prints and engravings of pictures were pasted on the wall, then decorated with cut-out garlands, frames, festoons and ribbons. It was the first decorating style that was a hobby, usually for the lady-of-the-house.
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Leixlip Castle Drawing Room

Leixlip Castle is filled with beautiful and whimsical things. In the drawing room, the gigantic Georgian dolls house is used as a cupboard.
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Leixlip Castle Stairs & Hall

The stairs and hallway of Leixlip Castle are beautiful!
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Leixlip Castle Kitchen

There are no photos of Leixlip Castle Kitchen in any of the books or magazines I have. Here it is!
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Leixlip Castle Gothick Greenhouse

Before I was invited to see inside Leixlip Castle, I photographed outside. The dogs led me around. Continue reading

Leixlip Castle Garden Temple Seat

The Garden Temple was built around 1920. It was made from salvaged pieces.
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Leixlip Castle Gates & Outbuildings

There are a few outbuildings surrounding Leixlip Castle. Here are more photos.
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Liexlip Castle Folly Gazebo Boat House

Where the the Rye Water meets  the River Liffey a Boat House Gazebo stands at the water edge. Before the dam was put in, the water flowed through the bottom of the boat house. The top used to be comfortably finished inside, with a fireplace.
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The Wonderful Barn

James Howley in The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland, one of the books I planned my trip with says “…the Wonderful Barn is… arguably one of the finest follies to be found in Ireland.” It is not on the tourist maps, but I had enough information to find it.
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Ireland’s Bethel

I visited Jehovah’s Witnesses Branch Office when I was in Ireland. I stopped to take photos and was invited in and shown around. They even invited me to stay for tea!
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The Skerries

At the very end of my last day in Ireland, I went to the Skerries. It is a little seaside town on and around Red Island, a tied island sticking out like a thumb into the coast just north of Dublin.
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Hillview House

Hillview House
Ballaghstown, Lusk, County Dublin, Ireland

I spent the last night at Hillview House B&B. I did not get there until late and I didn’t get any photos. The room was comfortable and very convenient to the airport.
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Flying Home

So, the end of my trip. I drove to the airport, turned in the rental car, intact this time, and flew home. It’s hard to believe it’s been three weeks.
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Driving in Ireland

You drive on the left lane and the steering wheel is on the right. The speed limit signs are in kilometers. That is slower than miles, even if there are miles on your speedometer. Many roads are narrow with walls on both sides and signs are confusing or nonexistent. Get the best insurance!
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Irish Language, Gaelic

I had a very hard time understanding anyone when I first got to Ireland. They were speaking English, but I was not understanding the accent. When I had to go to the Emergency Room, they called in an Indian doctor to “translate” for me, since I was not answering their questions right.
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Gorse

That smell? Like suntan lotion or a Pina Colada? That is gorse. When I opened the car windows, the fragrance was everywhere.
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My Food in Ireland

I had mixed experience with food in Ireland. Pubs were better than restaurants. At least for what I like to eat.

Most breakfasts were spectacular, when I was there to eat them.
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