Duncannon Fort, County Wexford, Ireland

Once we crossed the River Barrow on the ferry from Passage East, we stopped at Duncannon Beach to stretch our legs and take in the sites. The beach was so peaceful during our visit; however, knowing this site has been utilized by many to protect from invaders since earlier than the 12th century, I am sure it has seen its share of troubled waters.

A fort was built on this site by Normans in the 12th century, and there may have been an earlier earthen fort built by Gaelic Irish. The present fort was built in 1587–88 by Queen Elizabeth I to defend Waterford from possible invasion from the Spanish Armada.

Duncannon Fort is an impressive presentation of a bastioned fortress perched on the side of the stunning Hook Peninsula, County Wexford, part of Ireland’s Ancient East. This historic structure has gathered countless intriguing and awe-inspiring stories over its 450-year history and holds one of the best vantage points to take in the beautiful Waterford Estuary from.  Further information can be found at www.duncannonfort.ie

To see Dan’s images from this site, click HERE

Killarney National Park, County Kerry – Ireland

We awoke to our tenth day in Ireland and after spending two nights at the Hillcrest Farmhouse, we needed to move on. It was going to be a long day full of adventure, so we started our day with the most delicious Irish Breakfast.  We headed to the sheep pastures that were located within minutes of our B & B which are just inside the boundaries of Killarney National Park. I absolutely adored spending time with the sheep; all of their different personalities just made me smile. Killarney National Park is a truly magical place and is so full of beauty and wonder.

Killarney National Park (Irish: Páirc Náisiúnta Chill Airne), near the town of Killarney, County Kerry, was the first national park in Ireland, created when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932. The park has since been substantially expanded and encompasses over 25,425 acres of diverse ecology, including the Lakes of Killarney, oak and yew woodlands of international importance, and mountain peaks. It has the only red deer herd on mainland Ireland and is the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland. The park is of high ecological value because of the quality, diversity, and extensiveness of many of its habitats and the wide variety of species that they accommodate, some of which are rare. The park was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. ~ Wikipedia

On our way to Dingle

I know, I know… I promised a post on the Gap of Dunloe. We have not quite made it there yet, but I promise, it will be worth the wait! After we spent the morning driving around the Ring of the Reeks and the Ring of Kerry, we made our way to our goal for the day, the town of Dingle. A stop along the way at Derrynane Beach to stretch our legs was such a treat. The fresh sea breeze, the sand art we encountered signed by mother nature herself, and the calmness of the gentle waves just made the day even more special. Driving the Dingle Peninsula was absolutely stunning (much like the rest of Ireland) 😉

Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Blue Flag Beach is located in a proposed Natural Heritage Area site. It is also part of the Kenmare River SAC and the Iveragh Peninsula SPA. The area is rich in biodiversity and of significant national importance. – https://www.discoverireland.ie/kerry/derrynane-beach

The Town of Dingle

The town of Dingle was extremely colorful and full of cute little shops. A tourist destination for sure; it was even busy in April! We walked around town for the few hours we had left of the day’s drive and just took in the sights of this cheery town.

We made our way back to our B & B for the night, Hillcrest Farmhouse and yes, the Gap of Dunloe.

I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did!

The Ring of Kerry and Iveraph Peninsula, Ireland

I’ll start from the beginning and tell you the story of our travels on this day; I do have to apologize, the post I promised on the Gap of Dunloe will have to wait its turn. We started out every morning in Ireland with a traditional Irish breakfast which fueled us for the day ahead. Our goal was to visit the Dingle Peninsula and all areas in between.  Although the beauty of this place shined bright like a diamond, the rings I am about to comment on cannot be worn on your hand 😉

The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a 179-km-long circular tourist route in County Kerry, south-western Ireland. Clockwise from Killarney it follows the N71 to Kenmare, then the N70 around the Iveragh Peninsula to Killorglin – passing through Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh – before returning to Killarney via the N72. – read more (wikipedia)

Ring of the Reeks

There is another ring inside the Ring of Kerry.  Widely known for cycle tours, the Ring of the Reeks boasts some outstanding beauty.  There are more official maps the outline the cycle route; the map below is Dan’s own account of the path we traveled.

Our first part of the trip included many narrow dirt roads within the Ring of the Reeks. We always had to ask each other, “What is down this road” as we turned down that path. The day started (and ended) perfectly; we felt important as we were led by two sheep along this narrow hilly road. It was almost like they were showing this beautiful area off (I don’t blame them). They eventually moved off the road; we said our goodbye’s and moved on.

The Iveraph Peninsula

The Iveragh Peninsula (Uíbh Ráthach) is the largest peninsula in Co. Kerry situated south of Dingle Peninsula (Corca Dhuibhneand north of the Beara Peninsula (Béarra). It is flanked by both Dingle Bay (Bá an Daingin)and Kenmare (An Neidín) Bay and faces the Atlantic Ocean. The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks(Na Cruacha Dubha) in the centre of the Iveragh Peninsula include Carrauntoohill(Corrán Tuathail), at 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) the tallest peak in the country. ~ Ask About Ireland

The Iveraph Peninsula is a very popular destination.  The Ring of Kerry is one of the most beloved areas to visit in the Republic of Ireland.  The peninsula is also home to The Kerry Way.  The Kerry Way is a walkers’ version of the Ring of Kerry.  It is a 113-mile-long circular hiking train the begins and ends in Killarney.  It typically takes 9 days to complete.  Can you imagine the memories you would make on this hike? It makes me smile as I imagine myself completing this hike. Our travels on this day was to say the least awe-inspiring; we passed through Irish towns, valleys and hills, and even ran into a farmer tending to his flock of sheep with the help of his trusty four legged friends. It was quite interesting to watch the effort of these dogs and we welcomed this little break from driving. Fox are the main predators of the Sheep in Ireland and dogs/farmers will protect their livestock if needed; especially when there are so many little lambs. We did happen across a not so lucky fox which the farmer dispatched and hung it on the fence alongside this remote dirt road.

All this and we have not made it to Dingle yet? Yes! Ireland is full of beauty that filled our eyes and hearts with wonder. More sites to come as we traveled further onward down the Dingle Peninsula towards the adorable town of Dingle in County Kerry, Ireland.

Counting Sheep

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Our travels for this day included a ferry trip from Killimer to Tarbert, travels off the beaten path and just a few sheep. We made our way to our next Bed & Breakfast, Hillcrest Farmhouse. We stayed at Hillcrest Farmhouse B&B for two nights.  This B&B was a perfect place to spend two days and explore […]

Loop Head Peninsula. County Clare

We awoke to yet another beautiful morning and devoured the Irish breakfast served at Sea Crest Farmhouse. With a happy tummy, we started our day and headed south on N67. As we crossed the stone arched bridge into the village of Doonbeg, we decided to stretch our legs and explore the area. A dog and his master out for a morning stroll, the swans swimming in the river… It was quite tranquil.

Loop Head

Loop Head peninsula has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Shannon Estuary on the other, with barely a mile of land saving it from island status. In 2013, Loop Head was named the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland” by The Irish Times – Wikipedia

Traveling the Loop Head peninsula was breathtaking, and we stopped numerous times to take in the scenery and the fresh Irish air. Walking on the grass in this area was like walking on a cloud; another sign that Ireland is a little slice of heaven.

The geology of this area was impressive. Take notice in the images as to how the layers of land appear almost chaotic and slope in at different angles, sometimes jetting towards the sky.

Over a period of 7.5 million years (318.5 – 311 million years ago) a huge river system carried sand and clay out to sea where it was deposited in a succession of vast sheets to form a large submarine fan delta just off the coast of the continent. Due to pressure and heat caused by subsequent layers of sand and mud, the sediments turned into hard rock which was later pushed up above present-day sea level by many movements of the earth’s plates. For most of the following 300 million years, Ireland was above sea level and subjected to weathering which stripped away a lot of its rock mantle, including most of the coal deposits formed in the Carboniferous period. ~www.loophead.ie 

Bishop’s Island

This unique sea stack was separated from the mainland over the last thousand years. What makes this site unique is that there are the remains of a church, a clochaun (beehive hut) and the ruins of 3-4 other buildings on the piece of land. This monastic settlement is possible connected to St. Senan or his followers who founded a prominent monastery at Scattery on the opposite side of Loop Head in the 6th century. ~wildatlanticway.omeka.net

Kilkee Cliff Walk

Kilkee Cliff Walk is a 2.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kilkee, County Clare, Ireland that features beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips.  ~ www.alltrails.com

Bridges of Ross

The Bridges of Ross were a trio of spectacular natural sea arches – at least until two of them fell into the sea. Today, even though only one ‘bridge’ remains, the name persists in the plural. The Bridge of Ross lies on the western side of the natural harbor that is Ross Bay, looking north to the Atlantic Ocean, near the village of Kilbaha. It can’t be seen from the road, but it’s not difficult to find. Head due west (left) from the Bridges of Ross car park and walk for a few hundred meters along the footpath. (Be careful to keep close to the fence, as there have been recent landfalls over the water.) The area is regarded as one of the best sea-watching sites in Europe. In late summer and autumn, it becomes a birder’s paradise as thousands of rare seabirds pass close to shore on their southbound migration – www.loophead.ie

Thanks for joining Dan and I as we traveled this beautiful area of Ireland! I hope this finds you all well; sending peace and love to everyone.

Click HERE to see Dan’s blog post of this area. See you at our next stop.

 

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Vaughan’s Anchor Inn

I have to agree with Dan when he said, “The food at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn was divine. Prior to the main course, the chef brought out a sample of his parsnip puree; absolutely scrumptious. Vaughan’s Fish and Chips dinner consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter served with homemade tartar sauce, chips that were steamed, then fried in beef drippings and Pea Puree….Wow! One of the best fish and chips we had experienced on our trip.

After a wonderful meal, we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. The visitor center closed, and all the tour buses had left for the night so there were not many people around.  We did manage a lengthy hike before the sun set under the horizon; first to O’Brien’s Tower and then back South along Burren Way. The path was easy, and it was shaping up to be a beautiful evening. We made our way south on foot towards a site where we could take in the sunset with O’Brien’s’ Tower in the background.

We were serenaded by the wind as it hit the fence along the path much in a way that a lover would play music in the night under the window of his loved one.

At the end of the 16th to early 19th centuries, young nobles would embark on grand tours of Europe and Irish travel journals around the time of 1780 give many descriptions of the beauty of County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. Cornelius O’Brien (1782–1857), a descendant of the first High King of Ireland, made many improvements to the area which included the construction of a tower that was erected in 1835 (now referred to as O’Brien’s tower).  He believed that the development of tourism would benefit the local economy and to this day, he was right!

Situated in County Clare along the wild Atlantic Way, the Cliffs of Moher have majestically faced the Atlantic for over 350 million years and their beauty is incomparable. The cliffs reach 214m (702 feet) in height at their highest point; the sheer scale and their dramatic impact never ceases to amaze and will delight in equal measure. The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited tourist attraction; when you visit, you will understand why. – cliffsofmoher.ie

I would highly recommend a visit to Ireland’s top tourist attraction, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher Walk

Click here to see Dan’s images from that area.

Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

A little after the sun disappeared below the horizon, we packed up the car and headed to our stop for the night, Ballynahinch Castle.

Ballynahinch Castle is a former Irish country house and estate, built on the site of a former castle, which is now a luxury hotel set in a private estate in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It is one of Ireland’s finest luxury hotels and is located on a private 700 acre estate of woodland and rivers. The castle overlooks the hotel’s famous salmon fishery with a backdrop of the beautiful 12 Bens Mountain Range. We had a relaxing night and woke early enough to take in the sunrise and explore the grounds.

It is mentioned on the hotel’s website, “a visit to the Owenmore Restaurant is a treat for the senses”. I can attest, there was a tremendous buffet which left us completely satisfied for the day. If in the area, I would highly recommend a stay! Ballynahinch Castle.com 

We followed the coastline and stopped many times to stretch our legs. Of course, we ran into beautiful scenery and friendly critters. We even found some Leprechaun poo on the beach 😉 Ok, ok… The piles found in the sand were Lugworm casts.

Our next stop was to explore the Cliffs of Moher. We were close to the area and decided to stop to find a Bed & Breakfast for the night. The owners of Sea Crest Farmhouse were extremely friendly and had given us recommendations for visiting Cliffs of Moher plus mentioned a few good restaurants. We had a wonderful supper at Vaughan’s Anchor Inn. Their Fish and Chips consisted of Cod in a 9-year-old (starter) batter, chips steamed then fried in Beef Drippings with homemade tartar sauce and Pea Puree.  Wow!  I would agree with Dan when he said, “One of the best fish and chips I experienced on our trip”.

Click here to view Dan’s post on Ballynahinch Castle.

See you at our next adventure, Cliff of Moher.

 

A Sunset to Remember

The Irish Countryside

We made our way toward Clifden and the Sky Road for a sunset shoot; eventually ending up at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel for the evening.

I would have to agree with Dan’s statement, “Cong to Roundstone via Maam Cross is a beautiful drive through the Irish countryside.”  Maam Cross, meaning “the burned house”, is a crossroad in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. With several peat bogs around the area, we now have a sense of the smell burning peat gives off; it is quite unmistakable.” The images below are sites we saw along the road as we traveled towards our sunset location.

Roundstone

Today, Roundstone is a popular holiday resort renowned among artists and naturalists for the remarkable beauty of the surrounding mountains and seascapes.

In Roundstone you will find a busy harbour where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catch, featuring a mix of Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Mackerel, Cod plus a variety of other fish. The town itself boasts a good choice of Bars and Seafood Restaurants crammed full of locally caught seafood.  -http://www.roundstone-connemara.com

We stopped to stretch our legs and have dinner at O’Dawd’s of Roundstone. As we walked around the harbour, a couple out walking their dog had stopped to chat. They provided some history of the city and some information on the daily catch.  The pup certainly enjoyed chewing on a few crab legs!

We could not have asked for a more beautiful sunset to end this incredible day. We traveled a portion of the Sky Road as we headed west out of Clifden. Part way around the loop is a car park where we decided to stop and take in the sunset. We set up our cameras and enjoyed the views over Clifden Bay. As we watched the sun drop lower and lower on the horizon, we noticed some movement on the hill behind us. To our amazement, we watched a cow slowing walk to the edge and stand there seemingly watching the sunset with us; almost like it was a daily routine. Not long after the first cow appeared, another one joined. The two cows greeted each other and watched the sunset together. Their actions truly warmed my heart and brought imaginative stories to my mind of how these cows lovingly took the time to watch the beauty mother nature can provide. I think of that memory often.

The videos attached will provide you with additional insight into the area we were traveling in during this part of the trip… Enjoy!

Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life

Soundtrack of Embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of Life by Walking on Cars  (My favorite band)– check out their CD – Everything This Way

Soaring over the Wild Atlantic Way

To see Dan’s post from this portion of our trip click on the following links:
Roundstone
Clifden

I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. See you at our next stop!

Our Drive Continues – Cong, Ireland

Our sixth day in Ireland was a full one; this post is just the half of it.  We started off at Aughnanure Castle and drove part way around Lough Corrib to Ross Errilly Franciscan Friary.  We continued our loop around the lough to the North and arrived in Cong. The city is situated on an island formed by a number of streams that surround it on all sides and is known for its underground streams that connect Lough Corrib with Lough Mask to the North.

Cong Abbey

The ruins of the former Augustinian abbey mostly date to the 13th century and have been described as featuring some of the finest examples of early Gothic architecture and masonry in Ireland.

The Monk’s Fishing House is located on the former grounds of Cong Abbey. This ingenious structure was built sometime in the 16th century on a platform over the River Cong. A small arched opening allows the river to flow underneath the floor of the building and a trapdoor allowed the monks to drop a net to catch fish. A line was then connected to the kitchen in the monastery to alert of a fresh catch. The house also had a chimney and a fireplace to keep the monks nice and warm whilst fishing.

The day was still young; we made our way West toward the next destination, Roundstone and beyond. See you all there!

Click here to view Dan’s post from that day.