Here at Gef, we’re keen to promote all things accessible from our wee island in the Irish sea, and whilst we’re not blessed with international connections the world around, we do however have some pretty epic adventures up for grabs, a mere stones throw away.
Hands up who’s been to Ireland? Keep your hand up if you’ve ventured further than a night out in Dublin? Didn’t think so…neither had we, until we booked our ferry and headed off to explore the best of the other adjacent Isle.
We took the ferry direct from Douglas, straight to the heart of Dublin with our car; spending our first evening in the capital, stocking up on supplies for the road trip ahead. The next morning, we woke up early and drove straight to Kenmare on the south-western tip of Ireland, about a five hour journey from Dublin.
We checked into our AirBnB just before 11am, a cute lodge just outside of Kenmare itself with the most spectacular of views; the perfect base for our five day trip. We settled down with a cuppa, pulled out our guide-books and the big broadsheet-esque road maps my Dad packed – anything google maps can do, he can do better!
The Ring of Kerry is a circular stretch of 120 miles or so; which you could drive in a single day if you wanted to, but we decided to spend five days stopping off at various points around the loop.
Kenmare is a stunningly unique destination; with bright candy coloured buildings that are home to pubs, bars and cute boutique shops. After a tour of the town we headed out to Moll’s Gap, a twenty-odd minute trip out of town; enjoying coffee, cake and the views at ‘Avoca’ cafe, before heading back to the town of Kenmare for dinner. We ate at ‘Tom Crean’s Fish & Wine’ restaurant, a wonderful showcase of local fayre; I enjoyed mussels from the nearby Kilmacallouge, cooked in coriander and coconut milk, with a portion of chips to dip in! You can take the girl out of Douglas and all that…
Killarnery National Park
We woke up early-ish on day two and set out for Killarney National Park. Our first stop on the road was Torc waterfall. There are three signposted walks from the waterfall in varying difficulties – we opted for the medium – all of which take around 45 minutes to an hour to complete. We hit the road and made a stop at Muckross House, a tudor style ‘stately home’ that offers stunning views over the national park. We ate at ‘The Smoke House’ in Killarney, enjoying the Country-renowned ‘Kerry lamb burger’, cooked like all their dishes in their charcoal powered Josper oven.
Gap of Dunloe
On day three, we took a slight detour from the beaten track and drove through Glenbeigh; a picturesque little village that basks in natural glory, thanks to the vast sands of Rossbeigh Strand. We didn’t, but there were groups of people out surfing and SUP boarding – it really was quite special.
From here, we headed out to ‘Kate Kearney’s Cottage’, the gateway to the Gap of Dunloe, where we ate lunch. When our stomachs had settled we embarked upon a 7 mile trek through the gap, which took us around two and half hours. The views were absolutely breathtaking! I couldn’t recommend it more.
Our fourth day, the part we were pretty damn excited about – consister of a journey to a galaxy far far away! We headed out to Portmagee, where you’ll be hard pressed not to notice that something Star Wars related went down here.
We’d been advised to pre-book the boat trip out to visit Skellig’s Rock – they sell out months in advance! This is the location Luke Skywalker calls home in the latest instalments of the Star Wars franchise. The boat trip took around 50 minutes and we spent two and a half hours on the rocks themselves. Aside from the Star Wars nerdery, the rocks genuinely do feel rather magical and you can see why they warrant world UNESCO site status.
We spent the entirety of our final day outside the Ring of Kerry, in Gleninchaquin Park. You could honestly mistake this place for New Zealand; waterfalls, mountain paths with carved steps, rock passages, glens and lakes – it has it all. We took a picnic of local bits we bought the night before and enjoyed them in the sun, my personal highlight.
Due to its relatively small size, Ireland is pretty easy to navigate. Combine that with it’s unbelievable scenery and it becomes apparent that Ireland is the perfect destination for a truly remarkable and totally unforgettable family road trip.
- Travel the circuit anti-clockwise as to avoid all the annoying coach trips!
- Make an epic playlist with some dramatic numbers thrown in to match the scenery
- Dad said the best pint of Guinness he’s ever had was at Kate Kearney’s Cottage
- Sailings to Ireland traditionally start around Easter and run until mid to late September