Travel

6 Days in Ireland | Day 2

We woke fairly early on our second day. Our room faced a very popular (and loud) nesting area for Rooks, a large crow like bird that is found almost everywhere in Ireland. In the photo below you can see 7 nests to the right of the chimmney. 

Our first full Irish breakfast which also came with tea, coffee and endless toast.

Our first full Irish breakfast which also came with tea, coffee and endless toast.

Our first stop of the day was to be Donegal Castle, however we where completely sidetracked when we both spotted a huge mansion on a hill from the road.

Downhill House

Downhill House

Know as Downhill house, this we easily one of our favourite places. We realized later finding it was a complete accident as we had planned to go a completely different way. Downhill House was a mansion built in the late 18th century for Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry. Most of the building was destroyed by fire in 1851 before being rebuilt in the 1870s. It fell into disrepair after the Second World War.

 

In addition to the mansion ruins, there was a temple at the sea cliffs with an incredible view.

After our surprise stop we headed on to Donegal Castle, County Donegal in Ulster.

Our next stop was Silgo Abbey, founded in the 13th century by Maurice Fitzgerald.

We also visited Boyle Abbey, founded in 1142. 

Before heading towards the Cliffs of Moher we stopped at Roscommon Castle, a dramatic and imposing 13th Century Norman Castle. A massive, fortress like castle that looks as though it was about 6 stories high. The castle was captured and re-captured several times through-out history before be burned in 1690 and then left to decay. It now sits next to a park and children's playground and is free to visit.

Heading towards the Cliff of Moher (and our next B&B) we come across this impressive place. We could have easily stayed longer to take more photos but we didn't want to keep our B&B hosts waiting up for us. The sun was really started to set at this point and we still hadn't grabbed any dinner. We found through out our trip that many places stopped serving dinner after 8pm.

We arrived at our B&B just in time to see the sun setting at the cliffs.

6 Days in Ireland | Day 1

When we first talked about visiting Ireland we decided that the best way for us to experience Ireland would be by car. We liked the idea of being our own tour guides.  We hoped to find some hidden gems (castles, ruins etc.) as we adventured along some of Irelands incredibly small, winding roads.

Our first day started at 5am (Ireland time) or about midnight our time. And after a quick pass through customs we picked up our rental car to begin our journey towards Northern Ireland. We knew that driving on the left side of the road, on the right side of the car would take a bit of getting used to. However, nothing prepared us for the challenge of trying to get the car into reverse! As it turns out you have to push the shifter down and then over to reverse. A local who was kind enough to provide us advice on on the matter, other wise i'm not sure we would made it out of the lot. 

One of the first things we noticed as we started driving was how green everything was. Spring had not really hit Ontario yet, the trees were just starting to bud at home. Spring comes much earlier to Ireland then it does to Canada.

Our first stop was Carrickfergus Castle, a Norman Irish castle in Northern Ireland, situated in the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim, on the northern shore of Belfast Lough.

After a walk around Carrickfergus, we headed over to the Dark Hedges, a tricky place to find if you don't have GPS. Using your phone as your sole source for directions is not recommended as many places in Ireland have no cell reception. It is considered a good idea to get GPS with the rental of your car. However, that being said there were a few places that could only be found with the help of our phones, the Dark Hedges being one of those places.

If you are a Game of Thrones fan then you may be familiar with the Dark Hedges, the stunning tree tunnel that appeared in season 2 and was referred to as the King's Road. The beech trees that line this this road were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family in order to impress visitors on the approach to their home, Gracehill House. As the trees grew larger they created the amazing tree tunnel we see today. Over the years some of the trees have fallen, mostly due to storms, however new trees have been planted to replace those that have been lost.

From the Dark Hedges, we then made our way to the Giants Causeway, another incredibly popular destination in Northern Ireland. The walk from the Visitors centre is easy going down, however it is worth the 1 pound for the bus ride back up.

From the Giant's Causeway we headed over to Dunluce Castle, a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim, and is a quick 20 min drive from the Giant's Causeway.

Our first day in Ireland was fun but we were pretty worn out by dinner time. Staying up for such a long time finally caught up with us. We tried sleeping during our flight but found it nearly impossible. So after a nice dinner we grabbed a room at a Tavern near Bushmills and called it a night.