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Glenveagh National Park and Castle

Our first National Park visit during our 3 week Road trip! The natural beauty of this park is unparalleled!  Driving in, you feel like you’re the only person for miles around. It has a totally remote feeling.  The visitor’s Center is pretty small, but there is more to do at the Castle. We took the bus ride to the Castle and Gardens (There IS a hiking trail, but its quite a walk), where we joined a tour of the Castle.  Afterwards we had nice cups of Coffee and Cocoa and shared a piece of cake.  The Castle Gardens and Lakeside views are magnificent and we took a small hike around the immediate area surrounding the Castle.

Driving out, we went further West out through the Northern Passage.  Miles and miles of Peat Bogs, with Peat cut and curing, Sheep grazing on the mountain sides and numerous Waterfalls, cascading down the mountain in a rush to reach the bottom.

We stopped to eat in a small town, Falcarragh, in County Donegal.  We looked at menus posted outside, and settled on Gweedore Bar and Restaurant for our Supper.  I SERIOUSLY ate THE BEST Seafood Chowder I have EVER had, here at this Restaurant.  It was so fresh, lots of big chunks of fish and perfectly creamy!  The Fish and Chips were also SUPERB!

 

Sligo Area: Creevykill Court Tomb, Keshcorran Caves

This was on our stop, for the historical value. This place is thought to be 5000 years old! I mean, that is hard to even imagine!  Some historians act like our ancient ancestors were unintelligent beings, struggling to survive.  Remains like this, prove otherwise and gives further evidence to the mystery of our history.  From this location, you have clear views of the Atlantic Ocean to your West, and Mountains and Farms to your East.

Benbulbin is located between Creevykeel and Sligo.

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Benbulben, County Sligo, Ireland

Lunch consisted of our FIRST Irish McDonalds!! We were all pretty excited.  We DID wait a week before we caved in with “Home Food”.

The Keshcorran (Kesh, Keash) Caves are only about 20 minutes from Sligo, but NOBODY that we asked had any clue as to what we were talking about.  It didn’t pull up on the GPS, but we DID finally find it with a little extra driving and a few Road Signs.  See my Post on Keeping Ireland Magical while travelling with Kids. about this adventure!

 

Westport: Croagh Patrick

Westport was a good sized town. If it wasnt for our time constraints, we would’ve walked up and down the charming streets here. However, our goal was to see Croagh Patrick, the Holy Mountain of Ireland.  It was here that St. Patrick fasted and prayed for the souls of the Irish for 40 Days.  I would love one day to go back and hike up to the summit, to sit, reflect and pray in the “footsteps” of St Patrick.

We ate at “The Tavern”, just at the base of Croagh Patrick.  The owners were soooo friendly.  We had been driving for Hours this day, and the owner spent a lot of time with our eldest 2 girls, showing them the Lobsters in the tank and even letting them pet them!  For me, when someone spends time with my girls, I instantly like them (this happened A LOT in Ireland),  PLUS, the food was GREAT! I had an AMAZING Cottage Pie and Patrick stuck with the Fish and Chips. Great service, great company and new friends! St Patrick would’ve been proud!

 

Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey

Connemara was very similar to Glenveagh, with the dramatic landscapes and breathtaking beauty.  The difference here is that the mountains run down into little bays that go directly out to the sea.  Along the drive, you can see veins of Green Marble in the mountainsides, for which they are famous.  If you go to Ireland, you’ve GOT to get something with the Green Irish Connemara Marble in it!

We broke up our drive by stopping in at Kylemore Abbey. Well worth the drive to see this little haven in the midst of such beauty.  You need to designate 1/2 day to be able to really see the main stops. The gardens were magnificent!  There were lots of amenities here as well, with large gift shop, Cafe and also a Tea shop up at the gardens.

 

Aran Islands: Inishmore/ Inis Mor

The Atlantic can be quite unpredictable, but we were lucky to be able to take the Ferry out to Inishmore, the largest of the 3 Aran Islands, located near Galway in Galway Bay. I did get a LITTLE sea sick during the first part of the journey, but once we got away from the coast, the boat evened out some.  The first boat we were on stopped at all 3 Islands, but on the way back we had the “Fast” boat, which took only half the time.  We knew we wanted to do something “extra special” here and rented the “Pony and Trap” tour.  For all 5 of us it cost Euro80.00, and unfortunately we had to share with 2 other obnoxious Americans, which did take from our “Magical” experience with just our kids.  The tour guide was super nice and knowledgable, having lived on the Island his whole life.  We had a covered “Trap” with provided blankets for the chill.

Dun Aengnus was our main stop here. We hiked up to the old Fort, with me carrying the baby and Patrick carrying our 3 year old. Our 4 year old was such a trooper and hiked the whole time!  This place is super dangerous for children. There are NO barriers between the Cliffs and the Sea.  I kept the girls at a safe distance from the edge while Patrick took pictures for us to see of the Cliffs.  He really did get some amazing shots!  We had a little picnic at the sight, enjoying Juices and “Taytos” (Irish Brand Potato Chips).  After our hike back down, we indulged in some Irish Ice Cream! The ride back was nice, with views of Galway Bay, Seals bobbing in the waves and incredibly clear waters.

 

The Cliffs of Moher

This place doesn’t even need an introduction! It is the most popular spot in The Republic of Ireland for Tourists.  I LOVED how the Visitor’s Center was built INTO the landscape and was totally green!  It was a really nice visit, with plenty to keep the girls busy in the museum.  We only took the time to walk the shorter hike with the “Main” Cliff views.  We stayed on the marked trail and did NOT go off on the trail leading up the cliffs. Just prior to our arrival, someone had slipped and fell to their death.  Unbelievably, there were still people turned backwards to the sea, with their camera’s taking “The Perfect Selfie” on the slippery edge.  I mean, Helicopters and Rescue Boats are still searching for the body of someone, but that doesn’t deter people from getting in their picture! It really is super dangerous.  I guess with all dramatic beauty comes danger but unless you disregard the signs and roped off trail, you shouldn’t be in danger.

 

The Burren: Polnabrone Dolmen

See Keeping Ireland Magical while travelling with Kids., where I talk about The Burren.

 

Ring of Dingle: Dingle Dolphin Tour and Gallarus Oratory

The Ring of Dingle is Dingles match to The Ring of Kerry.  Both are extraordinary, but Dingle is not an option for Bus tours, due to the small roads.  This was perfect for us! We love going off of the beaten path and really trying to mix in with the locals.  This drive was so much fun, with plenty of photo opportunities!  I would personally take the Ring of Dingle OVER the Ring of Kerry ANY day…unless of course I had to be the one driving….

Dingle is such a neat little town! Lots of life here, with food shops, ice cream shops and a beautiful harbor area.  Fungi, is the area’s “Mascot”, who is sure to visit you on your Dolphin Tour, or your money back!  I can only think “This dolphin really likes his job” to put up with the hoards of people on boats circling him to get a look!  It was a really fun ride, and the excitement of seeing Fungi really took hold of the kids AND adults on the tour! Along with seeing the dolphin, there was lots of pristine coastline in Dingle Bay.

Gallarus Oratory isnt far out from Dingle, maybe 10 minutes?  We had enough time to drive here for a quick visit while waiting on the next Dolphin Tour!  The history is somewhat unknown for this place but it IS old! Completely dry stacked, it is still waterproof inside!  A very neat place with, again (surprise), amazing scenery!

 

Ring of Kerry: Killarney National Park. Muckross Abbey, house and Waterfall. 

We did this route because “Its a MUST” for visiting Ireland.  If I only had a handful of days and were on a Bus Tour, I agree, this IS a must. However, there is a lot of line waiting, traffic and hoards of people at EVERY stop along this Ring.   Its all very much WORTH it, but 2 weeks into our trip, we had gotten spoiled with NOT being on the “Tour Bus Routes”.

Killarney National Park was amazing.  Muckross Waterfall was only a short walk from the Roadway and well worth the hike.

One thing we loved about Ireland was the fresh produce, meat and milk products. The meat, cheese, butter and milk really does have a better flavor.  The answer is quite obvious, these cows are raised in fields of fresh green grass, which make up the majority of their diets.  Add that on top of their million dollar views for EVERY day of their lives, and its no wonder they produce such good milk! Happy cows make delicious dairy!

 

Well, thats it folks! Our adventure down the Wild Atlantic Way. What an adventure! What wonderful people, food and scenery! What memories to cherish!

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