So this is it, the first contribution I would like to publish here on my travel blog: My first round trip through Ireland. Why I started this travel blog in the first place, you can read more about it elsewhere. This is supposed to be my first trip to the “Green Island”. And that’s where the first questions come up. Is the island really as green as you can see in the Kerrygold advertising? Are there really other types of beer in Ireland other than Guinness? Are I really going to meet sheep everywhere? If not, I’ve made arrangements.
With these questions in my luggage I start my Ireland tour after a train ride to Frankfurt Airport. After approx. The Aer Lingus plane lands on time at Dublin Airport for two hours. The clock still quickly changed over and then begins the search: The search for the suitcases, the search for the car rental company and the search for the gear shift…. oh yes. There was something: Left-hand traffic in Ireland. The gearshift’s right here on my left. Yep, there she is. The suspense is rising as I slowly slide the car into the public transport…. it’s amazingly good.
Left-hand traffic in Ireland – an exciting challenge
For a while there is this strange feeling when I get overtaken on the M4/M6 highway towards Athlone from the right. But the longer I drive, the more relaxed I get and can now also take the first impressions of the Irish landscape.
Tip for left-hand traffic in Ireland: It’s best to start on major country roads and motorways first time you drive on the left-hand side of the road. The small roads through villages can be better saved for later. They have their own unique challenges.
After two hours we arrive in Athlone at our first stopover on the Ireland round trip by car. Hmmm… somehow I thought we’d arrive later. But good. The hotel is booked and so we have some time left. Athlone is located on the shannon, but has no special sightseeings of its own and is therefore more suitable as a stopover or overnight stop. The first destination the next morning is the monastery complex of Clonmacnoise.
The Clonmacnoise monastery complex is extensive and many buildings are still standing as ruins. The extensive information centre gives a good insight into the way of life of the clergymen in the period since the foundation in the 6th century. If you want to get to know the early monastic culture of Ireland, you should stop by here. But also all other travelers to Ireland should take the great impressions of this place with them. In the adjoining café I make myself comfortable after visiting the complex. We continue to Westport and the holiday home for the next few days.
The holiday home Palmyra Bertra Beach Holiday Apartment west of Westport is located on a quiet street on the spectacular Bertra Beach peninsula below Mount Croagh Patrick. This is an ideal place to explore the west coast of Ireland with further tours.
The weather is typically Irish, but it still drives me to the beach a few steps away. Behind the dunes, there is a magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean and the offshore islands, while the wind blows through your hair.
Good weather the next day means: Climbing Croagh Patrick. It is one of the sightseeing attractions of my Ireland tour, which I do not want to miss here in the west of Ireland. However, one should really be fairly fit here, especially as the last few metres of the track are steeply uphill on a stony path. After all, at 764 metres it is one of the highest mountains in Ireland.
The ascent has taken place at a normal pace with me. It took 2 hours. The reward for these efforts is a fantastic view over the landscape of Western Ireland.
At the summit I take some time to rest and have a snack. That’s how I’m strengthened and daring to descend, which of course goes a little faster. At the foot of the mountain there is a small pub where I celebrate myself with a pint of Guinness. I’m looking forward to the sore muscles the next morning.
Tips for climbing Croagh Patrick:
- You sweat on the ascent – but a fresh breeze blows upstairs. Therefore always take something warm to put on.
- Wear sturdy shoes. There are still normal hiking trails downstairs. However, the higher you climb, the more rocks and debris line the path. You can only be rescued up there by helicopter.
- A cane can be helpful for supporting especially in the higher positions.
- There was no café or similar on the top of my ascent (2010). Take drinks and food with you on the mountain.
- In case of bad weather it is advisable to postpone the ascent to another day, as the stones become slippery when it rains. Moreover, the view from the dense rain clouds is not visible.
First round trip on my Ireland Round trip in the west of the island
The first Ireland tour with the rental car went from the cottage in a westerly direction on the R335 from Louisburgh via Cregganbaun to Delphi with a stopover at the Delphi Lodge, where I bought a delicious salmon for dinner. The route is displayed on the navigation device with approx. 30 minutes. But on the roads I can rarely drive the maximum speed, because there are one or two flocks of sheep there…
In addition, there are beautiful landscapes at every corner. As I’m in Ireland for the first time, sometimes it’s only a few hundred meters further on until I stop again, because before me a completely different breathtaking landscape has opened up again. The very fast weather changes also change the landscape. Between the following two pictures there are only 1000 meters.
From Delphi on the N59 via Leenane, past Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park, then via Letterfrack to Clifden.
From Clifden I turn onto the R341 direction Ballyconneely to Roundstone. A beautiful coastal tour along the Atlantic Ocean, which you should not miss. Shortly after Roundstone, the R342 will take you to the Cashel House Hotel for a short stopover.
From there it goes via Maam Cross and Leenan via R344 and N59 to Westport and finally to the holiday home. Whew. Flattened. Tired and full of impressions from the first tour of my Ireland tour. The landscape on this tour is really beautiful and very varied. In addition, there are numerous sights on this route.
However, I would definitely drive the tour next time in two stages. I got up early, though. But the pure driving time alone was 3.5 hours. Unfortunately, there was no time to visit the Kylemore Abbey and spend some time in Connemara National Park. You can also avoid driving back at maximum speed in the dark.
More impressions about the Ireland tour in the west of the country can be found in my second article about Ashford Castle, Galway, Achill Island, Sligo, Birr and Dublin. And there you can also read about the preparations I made if I hadn’t been able to take a single picture of a sheep in Ireland.