The fact that I made it back from this trip in the timely manner which I did is a miracle with the current global pandemic causing extreme travel disruptions due to flight cancellations, border closures, and extensive screening processes in specified quarantine friendly airports. I am so grateful to be home so that this wave of craziness with COVID-19 can pass, but I truly had an amazing time in Ireland!
My boyfriend and I took a 5 day trip to Ireland from the states just a couple weeks ago for my birthday with the intentions of roadtripping in our teeny little red rental car. We started in Dublin, and made our way to see Newgrange and Knowth, Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle on the way to our bed and breakfast in Killarney, along the Ring of Kerry to see the Kerry Cliffs, and finally over a ferry and down the Wild Atlantic Way to see the Cliffs of Moher.
This guide will serve you if you plan on having an extremely eventful, highly maximized five days in the Republic of Ireland.
Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Dublin is a bustling city and the capital of the Republic of Ireland where you can find hundreds of pubs that pour ice cold local stouts on tap and boast enchanting live music nightly, including some traditional Irish music.
Beyond the pub life, it’s a great idea to take a midday picnic in St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely park in the heart of the city, not far from Trinity College. Vibrant flowers bloom, beautiful ancestor trees canopy overhead, and wildlife such as squirrels, birds, and swans take resident in this lush green landscape.
Trinity College is a gorgeous campus, and you should definitely consider visiting to see the historic buildings which some of the greatest minds have walked through in the past, including Oscar Wilde and Aleister Crowley.
Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, Republic of Ireland
Booking two nights in Dublin is what I had planned, and it worked perfectly as the first day we spent walking around seeing Dublin’s main sights, and the next day we headed an hour or so north of Dublin to see Ireland’s Ancient East in Boyne Valley.
Boyne Valley is home to three megalithic, neolithic structures which were used by Celtic pagans 5,000 years ago for ritual and other spiritual practices.
Newgrange and Knowth are two which we toured, and both have been excavated. Dowth is the third, but it has not been excavated therefore we did not tour that structure. Learn about the peaceful people of this time with the tour which starts at the visitor center.
Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
After waking up on the third day, we headed south in the general direction of our bed and breakfast in Killarney, which is an area I would highly recommend booking for the next three nights of the trip as we did. Along the way, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel and the Blarney Castle.
After driving three hours out of Dublin (we took no toll roads), we arrived at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary.
The Rock of Cashel is a Medieval Castle on top of a massive limestone rock which is covered in lush green grass. From the visitor center, you can book a tour of the castle and cathedral and learn about the rich history this castle has witnessed over the years. On top of this limestone hill you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
We headed over for lunch just a short walk from the castle at a place called Cafe Hans. I was blown away by their friendly service and the outstanding local lamb burger I ordered. So many touches on their menu which made it feel gourmet and thoughtful. Even the bread they served with butter was homemade and absolutely delicious.
Blarney Castle and Gardens, Co. Cork, Republic of Ireland
Now, it’s time to hop back in the car and on the road for another hour or so toward Co. Cork where the Blarney Castle Gardens is tucked away. At the reception, pay for the admission and enter in to explore the beautiful gardens that line the River Martin.
After taking your time enjoying the greenery, it’s time to climb up the castle to make your way to the very top where you can kiss the legendary Blarney Stone. (Our kissing the stone during the Coronavirus outbreak was extremely questionable, but in our defense it was just before everyone started taking it more seriously than any other outbreak such as the flu. We are certainly now social distancing! Yikes).
It’s time to head about two hours to Killarney for the evening and to check into the bed and breakfast or hotel of your choosing. Try to get there before the sun sets because some of the back roads are a little nerve-racking especially if your not used to driving on the left side of the road. Once that’s sorted though, definitely step into town to grab a bite at The Porterhouse and listen to the live music their likely to have. This place hands down had the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, accompanied by a Guinness on draft of course.
Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry, Republic of Ireland
After getting a good night’s rest, wake up early to head out on a long day drive down the scenic Ring of Kerry. This had to be the highlight of our trip, and we were blessed with blue skies for the most part. Definitely see the weather before taking this day drive, as a lot of the views will be muddled with fog, clouds and rain if it’s not a clear day.
Driving down the Ring of Kerry, you will have multiple opportunities to see sheep herds, adorable and colorful little villages, the rugged coastline of the Irish Sea, cliffs and more. The goal though, if there is one, is to see the Kerry Cliffs in Portmagee because they truly are outstandingly rugged and capture your wonder at first sight.
It takes about three hours to get to the Kerry Cliffs along the Ring of Kerry from Killarney, and about 2 hours to get back to Killarney from the Kerry Cliffs. Stop in Portmagee at the Bridge Bar to get a bite to eat before viewing the cliffs! I got the Seafood Linguini, brimming with fresh caught mussels, shrimp, and fish… and draft of Guinness of course.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Republic of Ireland
Another good, deep sleep past, wake up for the fifth day of your trip and after your Irish Breakfast (which is customary to be included for free at almost every place you can book in Ireland) head onto the road towards to Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare.
After taking a ferry ride and probably some very winding back roads you will arrive at the Cliffs of Moher, as we did, and embark on your walk to the viewpoints. There are several points which you can stand and view the cliffs, including a tower which boasts a beautiful 360 degree view.
There is also a trail you can hike and see more of the cliffs, which I recommend although the weather we had the day we went did not permit walking the trail. The wind and rain was quite intense and the visibility wasn’t ideal, but the cliffs are epic nonetheless. I’m certainly glad we braved the cold, wet, windy weather to see this sight.
After another night’s rest in Killarney, on the sixth morning head back to Dublin and hop on an afternoon flight home. If you book an earlier flight, I recommend booking the fifth night of your stay after the cliffs in Dublin since the drive from Killarney is almost four hours.
All in all, our trip was filled with emerald green landscapes and all the magic I could’ve dreamed of when I imagined my trip to the place of fairies and mystical Celtic lore. The people, as everyone says, made it that much more special.
Be sure to check out my vlog of the trip