The next day we decided we’d head south, aiming for somewhere near the Ring Of Kerry. We sorted an Airbnb and hit the road, driving the stunning road out of Clifden. The best way to describe it is this – imagine 50 kilometres of two-lane road, swooping and swinging around lakes and mountains and threading through hedge-bordered forests. We made it back to Galway and switched the GPS onto ‘backroads’ mode, taking a drive through small towns and around ancient churches. Before long, we stumbled on a castle ruin, and amidst the tour buses and many rented motorhomes, pulled up to get a couple of great shots.
We struck south again, belting out some great tunes in the car that I’m sure the local wildlife really appreciated. Before long, we turned into the enormous car park for the Cliffs Of Moher. If you don’t know, these are the cliffs that featured as the Cliffs Of Insanity in The Princess Bride, and they certainly have a grim foreboding about them. There were a huge number of tourists here, many of them American or German, and quite a few them were (from my heights-afraid point of view) stunningly cavalier about standing close to the edge! We walked the cliff path, hopping over stiles and keeping an eye out for wildlife as we climbed the hill. The cliffs are spectacular, and had we the time, we’d have investigated the boat tours, which take you around the cliffs from sea level. It was striking, but I admit the sheer number of tourists (and the natural carelessness that sometimes comes with crowds that bug, all jostling for the cover photo) made it a bit challenging.
We struck south again, heading through the hometown of Sarah’s family, Milton Mawbray. It was only accessible to us via a winding road along the coast behind a very cautious coach-driver. We drove around it, but soon decided that heading to our Airbnb was a better option. We made our way to Beaufort, pitching up with our host, Mary, who soon helped us get settled enough to change and head down to the pub for dinner.
We started today with a plan. Head to Dingle and check out the incredible scenery, check out the Pass, then maybe do the Ring Of Kerry if we have time. We failed, however, to account for the weather. We drove out to Dingle, and had barely photographed the first surf beach (who surfs in Ireland?) when the weather came in like a houseguest who’s overstayed their welcome. By the time we reached Dingle, our visibility was down to about ten feet in front of the car – which made for a memorable drive, certainly, but not for scenic reasons! We did the loop around Dingle but decided to bail on hanging around or doing the pass, as the weather was getting increasingly hairy. Instead, we drove to a little town called Killorglin to walk around and grab some lunch in a nice little deli.
The rain was easing, although still popping up in fits and starts, so we decided to head to Muckross House and have a look around the grounds. It’s a very well-appointed place, although still very tourist-led, so we went for a walk in the grounds (and the rain) out to look at a waterfall and the sodden coastline. It was a nice walk spoiled, as it were, but the fairly dreary and incessant rain, so we got back in the car. As soon as we did, the weather cleared completely (typical!) so we drove back to Mary’s and left the car, walking the couple of miles to the pub, where we watched live hurling, which looks dreadfully dangerous and seriously competitive.
The final day was our sprint back to Dublin, and knowing we had Iceland to prep for, we set out early and took the motorway back to our cheap hotel. We did our laundry in the bath and sink, and hung it over heaters and wrung it out over the plug-holes to make sure everything was as clean and dry as it could be for the week in the van. We took a break for dinner, heading down to the hotel bar for dinner and to watch the UEFA Euro final, where Portugal had a surprise victory over the hosting French. We then sat and compared notes and looked at photos until we hit the hay, with the excitement of Iceland just around the corner.