It wasn’t long ago when we’ve been to the evergreen island for the first time – the Emerald Isle. I had already read so many books and seen so many films in which Ireland plays a role and I’ve always been thrilled by the lush green which extends as far as the eye can see – only interrupted by a flock of sheep blocking the way and of small houses lined up next to each other, all painted in different bright colors. Any less I’ve been attired to the stories about magical legendary creatures like elves and goblins. We just had to go there!
A rather excessive description of our journey through Ireland follows. If you do not feel like reading so much or if you’re just interested in the photos, just skip the text. 😉 As a summary also watch our holiday video that can be found after the text.
At that time we traveled around this beautiful country with a rental car for twelve days – starting in Dublin where we visited the typical tourist attractions, such as the district and the pub named “Temple Bar”. But the Dublin countryside, County Wicklow, was much more interesting. The Lough Tay, also called Guiness Lake (see cover photo) due to its beer glass-like shape, the winding Wicklow Mountains, the Vartry Reservoir and the mystical Glendalough area that was once inhabited by monks for its solitude and peace, for the first time gave us this magical feeling that comes with experiencing Ireland’s breathtaking nature.
We also didn’t want to miss Northern Ireland’s main attractions, so we drove to the Carick-a-Rede rope bridge and to the Giant’s Causeway, a massive basaltic formation of volcanic origin on the north coast of Northern Ireland. The stones are about 60 million years old and according to an Irish legend, they were built by a giant called Fionn mac Cumhaill. It is said that one day Fionn was so badly offended by his Scottish adversary Benandonner that he decided to build that dam to defeat Benandonner in a duel. He tore huge rocks out of the cliffs of the coast and pushed them into the sea to build a safe route to Scotland. When he was done with the construction, he challenged Benandonner to fight. In order not to lose his reputation, he had no choice but to accept the challenge and so he made his way to Ireland. Fionn, tired and exhausted by the work on the causeway, was looking for a way to recover from meeting the Scottish giant. He disguised himself as a baby and waited with his wife for the arrival of Benandonner. When he appeared, Fionn’s wife assured him that he was not there. At the same time she invited him for tea and promised that Fionn would come back soon. When Benandonner saw the alleged baby as he waited, he faded from the idea that the size of the child meant that his father had gigantic proportions. Fear seized him and he ran across the causeway back to Scotland, destroying it behind him.
But I’m wandering from the subject. Another highlight in Northern Ireland is a famous location that should be known to all hot-blooded Game of Thrones fans out there: The Dark Hedges. Once we arrived there, however, we found that they look only half as rustic and scary as in the series. There was probably a lot of Photoshop & Co. at work … Also, you’re almost never undisturbed there – always other tourists in the picture.
So we continued on Co. Sligo, where we entered Yeats Country and stood in the shadow of Ben Bulben, the really impressive Irish “Table Mountain”. W. B. Yeats loved this land and above all this mountain, about which he even wrote a poem (“Under Ben Bulben”) and in whose shadow he lies buried in the cemetery of Drumcliff. The last verse of his poem states:
“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid,
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago; a church stands near,
By the road an ancient Cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase,
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!”
We continued towards Achill Island. On the way the landscape changed unexpectedly – instead of lush green, a hilly and rough moonscape in red and brown opened up to us. You usually never see this side of Ireland, but it is no less beautiful. When we arrived at the stormy west coast, where the wind washes the waves down to the streets, we were welcomed in a very cozy house by several cats and a dog. From our own fireplace room, we could watch the storm cuddled in blankets and cuddling with the cat Clare. There’s nothing better!
I immediately fell in love with the next city: Galway! What a lively but so homely city. A cozy pub nestles here to the next one, in every nook and corner someone plays music. We felt very comfortable here immediately. There’s a lot to see in the area as well – beaches, castles (or what’s left of it), the Cliffs of Moher and The Burren are also nearby. The last two sights are two of the most impressive natural phenomena we think Ireland has to offer. The looks of the cliffs after a long, misty downpour was unsurpassable – pure magic as the steaming, low-flying clouds formed around the cliffs, illuminated by the glistening light of the white sun. Everything looked as if the earth had just been reborn after it went down dramatically before. A rainbow was just the icing on the cake. And generally – the light here in Ireland is so special. Nowhere else have I seen such a thing and here you can see it almost every day. It’s hard to describe and hard to capture on a photo. You just have to go and see it for yourself!
A ride on the Ring of Kerry, probably the most famous part of Ireland, followed. A circular route or rather road that winds along the Atlantic coast through the most beautiful and varied nature. Unfortunately, we did not see much of it because on these two days it was raining cats and dogs, so that we could see nothing but the windshield wiper, fog and the German senior bus in front of us that simply didn’t let us overtake. At the end of the ride as we drove through Killarney National Park, however, the sight cleared and we could see beautiful lakes, dense green forests and a waterfall. In Killarney, it became even clearer that this is a tourist magnet. The city was full of tourists, restaurants, shops and hotels – all for tourists. Not meaning that it isn’t very nice there!
On our way back to Dublin we viewed some beautiful sights – including a mystical mountain lake called Bay Lough, the medieval city of Kilkenny and Hollywood (the village is really called so). In Dublin the architecturally striking Trinity College with its stunning library, whose visit I can clearly recommend (Harry Potter atmosphere!), is a must-see. Our road trip was over way too fast and both of us would’ve liked to stay there longer. But what was not, could still be …
Here is the video with the highlights of our journey:
And here are our favourite photos: