We couldn’t have picked a better day to start our 3 day Paddywagon tour to South West Ireland: the sky is blue and the sun is shining! We’re all prepared for a cold and wet trip, so this is a great way to start. Are we really in Ireland? Adding on bus driver Mike, a funny guy that seems to know every little fact about Ireland and a bus full of travel bloggers, and this could only become a great trip!
After visiting the Wicklow area as part of the TBEX Travel Bloggers Conference last month, I’m excited to see more of Ireland. Are you coming with me?
What we'll cover in this article
- Exploring South West Ireland: Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle & Cork
Exploring South West Ireland: Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle & Cork
South West Ireland Stop 1: Galway
Starting off in the Galway region (with the greenest grass I’ve ever seen in my life, I kid you not), we make a stop at Dunguaire Castle.
There is a legend that the lord of this castle was very generous and that when you stand at the front gate and ask a question, you will get an answer by the end of the day…
This 16th century tower house is apparently one of the most photographed castles in Ireland, so of course we couldn’t stay behind:
Donkey! (*Are We There Yet?!*)
Ever since the movie Shrek, there isn’t anyone that doesn’t like donkeys (right?), so when we saw a field full of them, we made Mike pull over to go and pet them. They were quite curious and soooo cute!
Donkeys are not native to Ireland and have been introduced first in the 16th century.
Most of them were brought from England to Ireland during the Peninsular War, from 1808 to 1814, when there was a demand for horses. They were then traded for horses and the donkeys have been part of the Irish landscape ever since.
Hellow there! I like apples!
Ireland’s Dark History
Now, the tour did have a serious part too, when Mike started talking about the Great Famine that terrorized Ireland between 1845 and 1852. There was mass starvation (mostly because of a potato disease spreading around, but also because of a policy failure), disease and emigration in those times.
Approx. 1 million people died and a million more left Ireland, so the entire population dropped by a staggering 20-25%!! Many of the houses were left empty and you can still see a lot of these ‘famine houses’ in the landscape today.
Just before our lunch in Doolin (a wooping clam chowder that I’m about to show you), we made a quick stop at the Burren, a 300 million year old lunar landscape where you can also find stone cottages and famine villages.
I can’t even describe how good this was. Ok, I’ll give it a try: It was REALLY, REALLY good. There.
More amazing views along the way:
The Dingle Peninsula
The Moher Of All Cliffs (Didn’t anyone make this joke before, really, no one?), ok, the Cliffs of Moher, is a must-see in Ireland. These cliffs rise a 120-240 meters above the Atlantic Ocean and are simply stunning to see, especially if you’re lucky like us and get there on a clear day.
On one of the cliffs, you can see the O’Brien’s Tower and the story goes that this tower was built to impress female visitors. I can tell your for personal experience that it works.
You liked that, huh?!
As we awake the next morning, after a quiet and relaxed night in Annascaul (I chose not to do any Irish folk dancing and enjoy some quality Skype time with home), we see the mist hanging in the streets.
Of course, we’re in Ireland and this was to be expected. A little spoiled after our perfect day yesterday, we’re all a bit grumpy getting on the bus. But after a while we give in:
Ireland in the mist and the rain might not be the best way to see a lot of the landscape (especially in the distance), but it does add a bit of mystery to the country and that’s kind of cool.
Visiting Inch Beach:
Hollywood and Beehive Huts
By the time we’re welcomed by the legendary Mary (who made breakfast for Tom Cruise when he was shooting a film on her doorstep), we don’t even care about the weather anymore.
Mary is the sweetest person you’ve ever seen, living in a house grandma’s are supposed to have: sweets in little jars on the table and frames filled with photos scattered all around.
Leaving her alone in her house on the top of the hill, surrounded by mist and her beehive huts (called a ‘Clochán’), breaks our hearts a little. Luckily the next tour bus filled with people giving Mary 2 Euro’s to enter her property is just around the corner, so she won’t be short of attention at all.
Living the Good Life in Dingle
When we arrive in Dingle (after the ‘Slea Head drive’, the most westerly drive in Europe) the little fisherman’s village is buzzing with excitement. A fair is going on and all the locals have brought out their homemade food and drinks to sell from their shops or market stalls.
While all the food we tasted was pretty good, the winner of course was the Ozzie Bloke selling Kangaroo Skewers from his garage:
Just when we thought we had the best already, we found there was a craft beer & cider fest going on in one of the pubs.
Me and Tanya (from PA Girl Goes Abroad) made a run for it, as she is a craft beer lover and ever since I discovered cider, I’m a bit of an addict too. All for journalistic purposes, of course
What a day
Killarney By Night
We spend the night in Killarney, a very romantic looking town. We had a bit of a hard time finding any food here, but after that issue was tackled, we were happy to go for a nap after a very busy day!
I loved to see that all the signs where also in Gaelic
Quick stop in Cork
While we only had little time in Cork, we did get to have an amazing lunch at Brackens Cafe (that even got me in the news!) and visited the English Markets. I would love to come back here and get a bit more feeling of the place.
The English Markets, definitely recommend to take some time here!
Brackens Cafe. aka Bread Heaven.
The sandwich that made me famous
I had an amazing time on my Southwest Ireland trip with my lovely blogger friends. The best thing was, that on our way back to Dublin, we even found a rainbow with a pot o’gold! Can you believe that? I know, right? It’s Ireland, anything is possible!
Fun For: Solo travellers or people enjoying to travel in a group with a guide. Perfect for backpackers.
Less Fun For: If you don’t want to feel rushed on your travels, you are probably better off renting a car and exploring the sights on your own!
Think About: It’s Ireland. Bring good shoes and waterproof clothing -as well as your sunglasses!
Company: Paddywagon Tours – website
Tour: 3 Day Tour Of Southern Ireland (Galway and Kerry) – website
Duration: 3 Days, 2 Nights
Start of Tour: Paddys Palace, Lower Gardiner Street (8AM) or Tourist Office, Suffolk Street (8:15AM)
End of Tour: Tourist Office
Costs: €199 Backpacker (dorm), €299 Economy (private room)
Included: All accommodation, entrance fees and breakfasts + tour guide and transport
Disclaimer: This tour was kindly offered to me by Paddywagon Tours and DayToursWorld. I would like to thank Zachary and Mike for their enthusiasm of showing us around this stunning part of Ireland. All photos, thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
Plan your Ireland Trip with these handy travel guides:
Don’t forget to pack these:
Don’t forget to read the posts of my fellow travel bloggers that were on this tour:
- Paddywagon Tour: Pros & Cons; My Review (Vibrant Ireland)
- An Ireland Tour Aboard The “Paddywagon” (PA Girl Goes Abroad)
- Touring the West Coast of Ireland With Paddywagon Tours (Wanderlust Marriage)
- Irland (Teil 1): Grüne Insel mit Burgen, Cliffs of Moher & Eseln (Travel on Toast)
- Paddywagon Tour, Ireland (Megan O Travels)
Let me know what your favourite experience in South West Ireland would be!
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This post is also available in: Dutch