Sorry it took so long to get back to the report. This might be long one as I am going to wrap things up.
Sunday, 22 Sept.
We left Kinnity and headed to the Dingle peninsula which we were really looking forward to. The weather was still cooperating and was a pleasant 24C/75F. Could not have ordered more perfect weather. Blue sky and a few white fluffy clouds.
Our first stop was Adare. As we came into town I saw the sign for Adare Manor and had my husband pull into the gates because I wanted to take a picture of the front of the hotel as it is quite beautiful. The sign said we couldn't go in unless we were guests so we I hopped out of the car, snapped a few pictures and drove back out towards town.
Adare is a lovely town located on the N21. It's quite a clean town dotted with thatched roofed cottages. Very picturesque.
We parked in the back of the Heritage Center and went inside to have a look around. They have everything for the traveler. Cafe, souvenir shop, restrooms, tourist office, gift outlets,etc. We decided to take a tour of Desmond Castle as it looked interesting. Only 6 euro pp. The next tour met right outside the back door in 2 hours. Since we weren't in a hurry we took our map of the town they gave us at the desk and took a lovely stroll to the Adare Friary which is now known as St. Nicholas' Church of Ireland. There was Sunday service in progress and we didn't want to interrupt so we walked around the grounds and took some great pictures.
It was lunch time and thought it would be a good idea to eat before the tour. We walked back towards downtown and decided to stop in at The Good Room Cafe and Bistro. There are many nice places to eat in town several of which have been recommended on this forum. The Blue Door, The Arches, Restaurant 1826, The Dunraven Arms, etc. They all looked great, but we had to choose. We were trying to stay on a budget and the Good Room had extremely reasonable prices. It is directly across the street from the Dunraven Arms. You could eat outside on their patio or inside. The outside was full as it was a warm sunny day so had to go inside. Lucky we even got a seat as it was busy! Very warm and inviting atmosphere with original paintings on the wall and you could smell the bakes goods from the street. Very friendly staff and great service.
We each had the special of the day which was homemade quiche that came with a green salad and coleslaw for 8.95 euro and they give you a very generous portion. Delicious!! Many locals in there as well for just coffee with friends or lunch. Apparently lots of celebrities have eaten there like Aidan Quinn and golfer Rory McElory. Afterwards we had to try some of their home baked goods as we could smell them the entire time we were eating. We shared a slice of some triple chocolate decadent cake with a chocolate ganache. I am a chocoholic so this was a slice of heaven for me. We would definitely go back.
Had just enough time to walk back to the heritage center to catch the tour bus. There were about 12 of us and our guide was great. Really knew her stuff and very friendly. The castle is very close by- less than a kilometer and just past the friary we walked to earlier. the Bus driver parked inside the grounds of the castle and we all walked around with our guide and took many pictures. The entire tour lasted about an hour. I would highly recommend this tour, but it is only offered from June to September. We loved it. Restored 13th century Norman castle set on the river Maigue.
Back to the car to continue on our way to Dingle. From Adare to Dingle only took no more than an hour as we did stop a few times to take pictures. The whole area is one photo opp after another. Beautiful rolling green hills and pastures full of sheep and cows. We made it to the Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast with no problem. Decided on this place as it was recommended on the forum by many people and we will add our names to the list. Mary, Dennis and Lucky greeted us and a few others at the same time. It was a full house. They have a great place with great views of Dingle from their front porch. A big plus for us is that it is close enough to town to walk (less than 10 min.) which we did several times. The rooms are nicely appointed, roomy, nice size bathroom, comfy beds and of course a great breakfast that sticks with you.
It was getting close to dinner so we freshened up and headed downstairs when Mary stopped us and asked if we needed any restaurants suggestions. We told her we had a few places in mind and were thinking of going to An Canteen. Sorry, I can't remember who from this forum said they liked this place (Soonas? HarveyIreland?), but it was outstanding! Mary said she might see us there as a group of them were going for dinner there as well and that we picked a great place.
I'm sure there are many great places to eat in Dingle and this is one of them. Right off the main street down a narrow street called Dykegate. Not too big inside. We were lucky and got the last table available. The staff was friendly and the service was excellent. My husband started with a creamy curry carrot soup. Say that 5 times fast! I know, I know. This sounds weird, but boy was it good. He said it was the best soup he has had in a long time. For our mains he had lamb stew which again he said was excellent and the best so far. I had one of the specials. Fillet of beef with some sort of reduction sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed root veggies. It all melted in your mouth. Delicious!
Of course we were very full, but not too full for one of their delectable desserts. We shared a hot rhubarb crumble with a scoop of ice cream on the side, some sliced strawberries all topped with some powdered sugar. It was to die for. It was so beautifully presented that I had to take a picture of it. This place is not to be missed. Oh, I almost forgot. The chef came out and went to each table and asked everyone how their meal was. Very nice gesture.
From here we went looking for some music and ended up at An Droichead Beag (The Small Bridge). You can't miss it. The building is bright yellow. A great atmosphere with wonderful music being played by a man and lady. Had some Guinness and Bulmers. Love the Bulmers. Really enjoyed ourselves. Walked back to the B&B and called it a night as it had been a long day.
Monday 23 Sept.
Woke up to another picture perfect day. Gorgeous! Went down to the breakfast room and talked to all the other guests. Everyone was so chatty talking about where they were from, what they had planned for the day, telling jokes, etc. Mary was in there as well giving us helpful hints and ideas. Very fun morning.
Our plan was to take the Slea Head Drive and all if offers. First stop was the Supervalue market in town to pick up some sandwiches and picnic items then to put some diesel in the car. We followed the brown signs for the drive with cameras in hand and off we went. Most guide books talk about the drive and we did our own self guided tour stopping at all the spots mentioned in the book as well as here in the forum.
It's about 30m/47km to do the drive in a clockwise direction that doesn't take as long as the Ring of Kerry. If I remember correctly, the entire drive, with all the stops, took us about 4 hours. Since it was the end of September it was not crowded at all. Stopped at Ventry Bay, Stoneage Ring Fort, Dunbeg Fort (3 euro pp), Beehive huts (2 euro pp) Slea Head itself. Extraordinary panoramas with every twist and turn. It took our breath away. Beautiful vivid green hillsides dotted with sheep. I think this is the kind of day that pictures are taken for postcards. Not a cloud in sight. Spectacular views of the Blasket Islands and the "Sleeping Giant".
I think the highlight of this drive for us was our visit to Coomeenoole Beach. Some of "Ryan's Daughter" was filled here. By this time we are in short sleeves it was so warm. We parked our car in the parking lot for the beach and walked down the pathway to the sand. A few surfers were getting their boards ready, one man was putting on his wet suit to go in the water, another lady was going in without a wet suit. My husband and I sat on a rock, took of our shoes, rolled up our jeans and walked out to the water. To our surprise it was not near as cold as we thought it would be. Quite pleasant. We took a walk from one end of the beach to the other taking pictures along the way and asked another couple if they would take our picture. It's nice to have a few with both of us in a picture instead of the usual just me or just my husband. Fantastic picture. I am going to frame this one soon. We could have stayed here all day, but turned out to be over an hour. Just amazing. This was the spot we decided to have our picnic lunch.
We managed to tear ourselves from the beach and continued our drive. Next stop was the Louis Mulcahy Pottery studio. Lovely pieces of work, but expensive. I picked up a tea towel that I saw (15 euro) and is hanging in my kitchen at this moment. For that price I better really like it. Continued on to Gallarus Oratory. So much history in this area.
Finished the rest of the drive, parked at the B&B and walked into town to Murphy's Ice Cream. Lots of yummy flavors. The lady working in there let us sample anything we wanted and boy, did we sample. I ended up with Brown Bread and Chocolate and my husband had Brown Bread and raspberry sherbet. Quite delicious. We strolled down to the marina with ice cream in hand and took in the scenery and obviously more pictures. Stopped at some shops to get a few gifts. One of the shops we went to was Commodum which has lots of handknits, art, pictures, glass, jewelry, etc. It is a nice blend of traditional and contemporary Irish art. I bought 2 knit hats for my granddaughters that were made by the woman who worked in there. Back to the B&B to freshen up before dinner.
This night we decided on Doyles. Wonderful food. We both had the seafood risotto. Delish. From here we went to The Dingle Pub because we heard some great music coming from inside. It was packed, but again managed to find a table. One man was playing the guitar and the other the mandolin. They were great and sang lots of Irish songs. Wonderful voices. Another enjoyable evening.
Tuesday 24 Sept.
After another great breakfast we headed out for Kenmare with stop at Inch Beach and Killarney.
The Inch strand is beautiful. The only ones on the beach were a surfing class and a sail plane club waiting for just the right wind. We walked along this beach taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.
From here we stopped in Killarney for a quick lunch and a quick walk down main street. While we were walking around I spotted Murphy's Ice Cream shop. It was calling to me. My husband didn't want any, but I had a scoop of Kieren's cookies flavored ice cream. Really delicious. It was so good my husband helped me eat it. Hmmm...It thought he didn't want any. Pretty tasty stuff.
From Killarney to Kenmare is only about 30min. or so. Instead of going through KNP, we continued on N22 towards Cork then turned left on R569. Much faster in the long run. We were in Kenmare 2 years ago so we knew our way around pretty well.
We stayed at the Willow Lodge again as Gretta and Paul are just delightful and so helpful with information. Paul is a character and had us laughing most of the time. We were the only ones the one night we were there. Earlier in the month Michele Erdvig stayed at the Willow Lodge for 10 day. She is the author of several Ireland travel books, guide books and has a blog.
We walked 5 minutes into town for dinner and then to Foley's for some music. Another long day so we headed back to the B&B where Paul and Gretta poured us a nightcap and we stayed up way too late talking, but it was great fun.
Wed. 25 Sept.
Had breakfast and then headed out to Bunratty. Since we weren't in a big hurry Paul suggested we take the scenic route through KNP through the Black Valley. What a drive! It's maybe a 15 km drive through the back side and comes out a Kate Kearney's cottage. We didn't see another car the entire time, only a few jaunting carts. The road is not for the faint of heart. Very narrow and windy, but beautiful. My husband called it a glorified goat path. We live in the mountains here and are used to narrow windy roads so this was not bad at all. For some of you city slickers, I not sure I would attempt this. Probably why we were the only ones on it!
Picked up the Motorway and decided to stop at King John's Castle in Limerick. Only a hand full of people there as well. The new visitor center opened this summer with state of the art exhibits that explains everything. After the visitor center, then you go out to see the actual castle, walk around, climb towers, etc. Lots of fun. It's 8 euro pp for adults.
From here it's a short drive (20 min.) to Bunratty. We stayed at Bunratty Meadows like we did 2 years ago and loved it so much we booked here again. Dariana Sutton and her husband have a lovely place. Four rooms nicely decorated, wonderful breakfast with the best scones ever! They are her mother's recipe. Wonderful views of the Shannon estuary and fields of cows, 1 mile from Bunratty Castle and 10 minutes to Shannon airport. Of course she remembered us and was so glad to see us. She is young, in her 30's, and has a young son who is 5. Very nice family. We will be back to stay here again some day.
It was late so we went to the Creamery for dinner which is just across the street from Bunratty Castle. Nice family place with a nice bar and good food. We were tired so no listening to music tonight. Had to totally repack our suitcases and try to fit all the souvenirs in our carry on as we were headed out to London the next morning.
This trip went by way too fast. We will be back and next time concentrate on Northern Ireland and Donegal area. The people of Ireland are so friendly, gracious and funny. We had a wonderful time, great weather, delicious food and made many memories. Hope all you future travelers enjoy your visit as much as we did. Thank you, Ireland.