Travel writer Colleen Setchell visited Ireland in April. Here she shares some tales and tips from her adventure.
My heart was heavy when I boarded my plane, not because I discovered that it had propellers and I’m not a good flier, but because I realised that 10 days was simply not enough to see Ireland.
I started my tour in , visiting the island in a clockwise loop. From Dublin I went south over the , then inland to , then onto Kerry for and . I then headed north past the to Galway for a few nights. Next, a day trip to the , a drive around the and a visit to . Then back to Dublin to fly home.
It’s hard to say which blew me away the most. Was it the barren loneliness of the Wicklow Mountains, the ruins of in Cashel or the itself?
Was I touched by the mountains, valleys and lakes of the Killarney National Park, the dramatic drive around the Dingle peninsula or the horse and carriage ride on the Aran island of Inismore? I loved them all, but the thing I’m raving about the most is the Cliffs of Moher.
The County Clare cliffs face the Atlantic Ocean, are 214m at their highest point and drop to, at times, an aqua blue sea. The vast ocean and its horizon spread out in front of you and, if you’re feeling energetic, you can walk along the cliffs for roughly 8km. Hundreds of bird species have made the cliffs their home and there is a constant chatter going on. You might even be lucky enough to see the comical if you visit at the right time of year (April/May is good because it’s the time they come to shore to nest).
The award-winning eco-friendly experience is wonderful and great for kids. A huge building houses a photo exhibition, movies, sounds, info boards, and a virtual reality movie. All together, they really bring the whole area to life.
I spent two and a half hours exploring and would love to go back, picnic in hand, and spend a whole day there. You can’t seem to take the whole view in with just one visit.
The locals of believe that their cliffs are better than the Cliffs of Moher. They are certainly more sheer as you peer over and it is a direct drop to the sea below – no ledges or anything. When I was there the weather was a little hazy but it was still beautiful to look out across the Atlantic. The ‘open’ feeling (there are no railings) is quite exhilarating.
The drive around the nearby Dingle peninsula was beautiful, with stunning viewpoints but not near as high as Moher! Winding roads hug the coastline while cozy little bays appear around each corner, just yearning to be explored.
Both Killarney and Connemara National Parks have mountains, lakes, scenic roads and countless photo opportunities – bring spare batteries I warn you! Church and abbey ruins dot the landscape too, some of which are free such as Cong Abbey and its forest.
The entire trip was done with a careful eye on expenditures, recording everything we spent money on. We mostly chose to buy all our own breakfasts; scones, muffins, bread, instant porridge and various fruits. We did this for lunches too. A pack of ham and some fresh Irish soda bread, followed by a drink and some fruit is much cheaper than eating in restaurants, and we saved a small fortune.
I missed out on this time, so I’m already planning my next trip!
Colleen Setchell is a writer, photographer and enthusiastic explorer who’s jumped off cliffs in South Africa, dived with sharks in Egypt, been lost in the spice market in Istanbul and eaten unpronounceable things in Gambia. She calls England home but is an explorer at heart, at her happiest when she’s living out of a suitcase and uncertain where she’ll end up next. Colleen writes about her travel adventures in her blog and freelances for various magazines and websites.
Read more about her trip to Ireland.