Southwest Ireland’s countryside is a world apart from the country’s urban landscapes. There are no shamrock or Guinness souvenirs forced on you. It is quiet and serene, dotted with the forgotten ruins of ancient buildings and a place of incredible natural beauty.
Here are some views you can’t miss:
Three hours west of Dublin in the town of Clifden, the Sky Road offers amazing aerial views.
Dingle, Ring of Kerry and Beara Peninsulas represent almost every type of Irish landscape. Dingle Peninsula is barren and mountainous. At the top of Conor Pass, a lookout offers spectacular views of Brandon Bay and the fishing town of Dingle itself. Past this is the 5km long, sandy Inch Beach.
Iveragh Peninsula, known as the Ring of Kerry, attracts tourists for its abundance of pine trees and wildlife. Visit the large waterfall in Killarney National Park.
Beara Peninsula is wild and isolated. Houses are scattered along the sides of mountains, reminiscent of the Italian Amalfi coast. Occasionally, a splash of colour emerges over a hill in the form of a country hamlet.
A game of hurling
County Cork is home to some of Ireland’s fiercest sporting competitions. Make sure you watch a hurling match. Marvel at the skill as the ball flies past the competitor’s heads; they catch it on a flat bat and throw it with precision at the goal. The men play for honour, not money, and the crowd roars with pride.
Southwest Ireland’s best pubs
One of the best ways to see Ireland is to follow a trail of watering holes. The small-town pubs in the southwest offer serious cultural immersion – from O’Dowd’s in Roundstone to Kelly’s in Cobh.
For good food, Busker Brownes in Galway and Jim Edwards in Kinsale are worth a stop.
A great young trio plays traditional Irish music at Brogan’s in Ennis most evenings. The White House in Kinsale is also good for a live gig of a more modern flavour.
To avoid tourists, wander into one of the more isolated pubs, such as the Blind Piper in Caherdaniel. The whole town converges on the pub in the evening and everyone knows each other. If you ignore the initial stares, grab a Guinness and strike up a conversation, a good night will ensue.
Essential information on visiting Ireland
WHEN TO GO: Between the driest months of April and June.
GETTING THERE: Ryanair (ryanair.com), Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com),and BA (britishairways.com) fly from London to Dublin. Aer Arann (aerarann.com) flies directly from London to Galway. Bus Eireann runs services from Dublin to the west coast.
GETTING AROUND: Explore the cities and small towns on foot, but you will need a car or to take a bus to travel between them. Hire a car at easycar.com/tntmagazine to receive a 5 per cent discount.
VISAS: Not necessary for a visit of up to three months.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.2 EUR.
GOING OUT: A beer costs between €3 and €5.
ACCOMMODATION: Dorm rooms start at €10 per person. A private room is between €40 and €60 per room and a stay in a B&B starts from €50.
GET MORE INFO AT: discoverireland.ie
Words: Sarah Parkes