Way Out Far spent this Easter driving around the south west of Ireland. No strangers to a good road trip, we have often felt that it is only done with as little preparation as possible (which is the overhang from our Mongol Rally days), but this particular trip was celebrating our first year wedding anniversary, so it had to be organised a little in advance first. Vicki let’s you in on what makes a great Ireland road trip.
We have driven many an exciting vehicle on previous road trips, so picking up the The Panda on arrival at Cork Airport didn’t exactly fill Josh with excitement. He couldn’t hide his jealousy at the Audi parked next to us, but soon got into the spirit of the ‘bad vehicle’ choice that seems to follow us across the world. Why start with a fancy car now? The purpose of our trip wasn’t just celebration; we were also visiting the places where Josh lived and played as a child from 1990-1994 and in keeping with the fact that The Smith’s family car was a Citroen 2CV back in the 1990s, a Fiat Panda didn’t seem so bad. Ireland isn’t known for a luxury car culture either and so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see small hatchbacks winding down muddy country roads or with huge dents and scrapes in the side.
Ireland has an abundance of amazing scenery, where the hills roll on green for as far as the eye can see and cracked mountains rise up and down out of the horizon. You’re not far from the sea either, so you’re guaranteed dramatic scenery with fierce Atlantic Ocean waves to add to the picture. We made a point of heading over to the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry for a day’s drive (rather than the more popular Ring of Kerry to the south) and managed to see some breathtaking scenery. I was convinced we drove past Craggy Island but Josh assured me that it was actually fictional and so should stop looking.
On arrival, we headed straight to Cobh to have lunch there before heading into Cork. Cobh is small seaside town about 30 minutes drive from the airport that is also a very busy port. A hundred years ago the town was known as Queenstown, named after a Queen Victoria visit and was also known as the embarkation point for those heading to Australia and America. The town is perhaps most famous for being the last embarkation point for passengers travelling to America on the RMS Titantic on 11 April 1912. She was assisted by the PS America and PS Ireland, two ageing White Star Line tenders and you can see below where they would have left to connect passengers on the most famous journey of modern times.
All of these facts were discovered at The Titantic Experience, a quaint little attraction that issue visitors with their own tickets and takes them through what it would have been like to board the tenders that headed for the infamous ship. At the end, I was able to find out that my third class passenger survived, although Josh did not and joined the 1502 souls that did not survive nearly two miles below the Atlantic Ocean. It was very thoughtfully done with enough information to teach you something you didn’t already know, but at €9 each, it might seem a little high for those on a budget.
We also stopped at Molana Abbey, a childhood playground for Josh and his friends, where only the brave would try and climb to the top of this derilict tower. Founded in 501AD by Mael An Faidh (Mael the Prophet) who was one of seven sons to Cathal MacHugh, the King of Munster in the sixth century. Ruben of Dairinis recorded two hundred years of Church Law, the Collection Canonum Hibernensis before his death c. 725 AD. Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey in 1538. By 1587 the Abbey formed part of the landholding of Sir Walter Raleigh, who let a part of it to his enlightened advisor Thomas Hariot. Hariot lived there for several years developing his scientific theories on navigation, optics and mathematics.
We also visited the Magic Road near the Mahon Falls which is a little odd, but no road trip could be complete without something a little weird and this was it. It’s basically an optical illusion that makes you think the road is going uphill, but in fact, if you take the handbrake off, you actually roll down the hill. We took some video of this and I’ll post up soon with link.
You don’t have to pre- book your accommodation you know…
As you’ll agree, nothing makes a road trip like the feeling that it’s just you out on the road going somewhere and not returning somewhere. However, it’s not always that easy to just turn up to a hotel or guesthouse and expect them to have room, especially if you’ve been on the road all day and arrive late. I had done a little research before heading off and the advice I got was that I would be crazy to head to Ireland over the Easter weekend without pre booking first, so we did pre-book our first night, just to be on the safe side. We had accommodation booked in Cork City at Hotel Isaacs Court, a charming hotel that contains a little courtyard with a waterfall at least twenty foot high. It was really charming and highly recommended if you are staying in Cork. The other two places we stayed at over the weekend, were found online doing research on the road. It meant that we weren’t shackled with a certain route depending on where we were staying and could change where we stayed everyday.
In the end, we stayed in Cork, Tralee and Baltimore for a total of 6 days. We had no trouble with traffic, our car rental or finding anywhere to stay and everyone we met on the road were friendly and approachable. If you are heading to Cork over Easter yourself, note that no-where with a licence sells alcohol on Good Friday except perhaps the hotel you are staying in and only if it has a restaurant.
I can’t wait to get back to Ireland and explore more! If you’ve been or have any advice yourself as to what makes a great Ireland road trip, then please post in the comments below and thanks for reading this far!