Welcome to our post on our adventures in Ireland! We visited Ireland for 12 days; 2 days in Dublin and 10 days on the road seeing amazing sights and doing fun adventures (including running a marathon!). This post shares our adventures in Dublin, a review of the marathon, stories from our hikes around the country, our perspective on BnBs in Ireland and finishes with a few odds and ends. It was such a fun road trip and we hope our pictures give you some sense of the beauty we found along the way.
Dublin tourism and staying with friends
We had one full day of Dublin tourism. These were the top things on our list:
Book of Kells at trinity college– very cool to see, impressive writing and it was just wild to think about how much the bible meant to people in those times. It was a book written in 800 AD that I saw with my own eyes. The long hall with all of the neat old books was cool as well.
Next up was the Dublin castle. We didn’t feel like paying the entrance fee, so we browsed the free areas and headed on to Christ’s Church. We were prepared to pay the €6 entrance fee when we found out that the evensong was about to start and it was free to join. So, while we didn’t get a chance to see the whole inside of the church, we were treated to some lovely signing and a little peacefulness amidst the busy day of city walking.
Finally we headed towards St James Park and the Guinness Brewery for the tour. It was a really fun exhibit; I enjoyed the information about the ingredients (all locally sourced except the hops) and was amazed at the sheer size and volume of their whole operation. We learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, how to taste it, and of course got to drink our own in their spectacular circular bar overlooking the city.
After this long day of city touring, we were able to meet up with our friends who live in Dublin to stay for two nights. Conor and Claire are a couple that we met while they were on their honeymoon in Peru and we were all on a tour in Lake Titicaca together! We became friends in Peru and they graciously offered a place to stay if our travels took us to Dublin… which we did! They live in south Dublin in a nice complex that was perfect for us to stay in for a couple days. We enjoyed cooking a meal for them: we made them their first bean burgers with cheese! It was fun to catch up and just have some casual conversation with friends. We even stayed with them on our last night in Ireland before our flight out. They are expecting a new born in a few months and we wish them all the best! Thanks again, Conor and Claire!
Marathon and Adventures
This event was actually what put Ireland on the map for us. We were told about this scenic marathon from our Dublin friends while in Peru. We signed up a few months later knowing it would be a beautiful run that fit into our travel plans. We are so glad we did! I did the marathon while Will did the half marathon (his first ever!). The race started at 9am with partly cloudy skies and low wind. Thanks to our AirBnB host we had a great breakfast before heading to the race. Her banana & peanut butter power muffins fueled us through the race! The start gun went off and thousands of runners departed downtown Dingle. Will and I ran his half together. Although I charged ahead a few times, he caught up and we had a fun 13.1 miles together. He ended up beating his goal of 2 hours and finished in 1 hour and 53 minutes. With the sun coming through the clouds I completed the full marathon in 3 hours and 47 minutes. Words can’t describe how beautiful the course was so check out our pics (Will took his iPhone on the race). The whole course looped around the Dingle peninsula; it was full of green rolling hills, sea cliffs and endless Atlantic Ocean views. An unforgettable race!
Runs and Hikes and Adventures
In addition to the marathon, we of course filled our travels throughout Ireland with plenty of outdoor activities. We underestimated how beautiful Ireland was, and here were a few of our fun adventures. I don’t blame you if you just review the pictures 🙂
Training trail run in Howth (from Dublin) – For one of our last training runs we took the train to Howth which boarders the ocean north of Dublin. We jogged along the cliffs that bordered the ocean and provided beautiful views with blooming wildflowers. Well worth the trip!
Cliffs of Moher at sunset – We arrived in our rental car a bit late to do an extensive hike at the Cliffs of Moher which we were initially bummed about until we saw the sun setting. We were blessed to see the sunset hit the rocks after we explored the area a bit. It is an unbelievable sight. Again, see the pics for a beautiful visual.
Hike in the Burren – We decided to take a hike in the Burren since we heard the landscape is like no other. They weren’t kidding — amazing landscape! The rainfall breaksdown the rock to create crevasses and tiers in the mountains were created by underground caves that had collapsed under the weight of the rocks above. It was well worth the few hours of hiking across the unstable land to experience it.
Post-marathon hill walk to view of Dingle peninsula – The day after the marathon our bodies were stiff and our legs were pretty useless, nonetheless we found the energy (thanks to our very comfortable bed at our airbnb) to trek up a hill that overlooked the entire Dingle Peninsula. From the top, which took me twice as long to get to, we saw the entire race course we had ran, the beautiful blue ocean, cliffs and green hills.
Eastern most land of Europe – Peninsula near Dunquin – Also the day after the marathon we hiked out the cliffs for the Dunquin Peninsula which we ran past during the marathon. There we hit the most Eastern part of Europe to see the spectacular cliff ridge that led out to the bright blue Atlantic Ocean. The weather was a bright, sunny, warm day very rare for Ireland. We soaked up the sun and the views.
Torc Waterfall in the Killarney National Park – We did the Torc waterfall walk since our legs were still sensitive to severe ups and downs of a mountain hike. To get to the waterfall we walked through the stunning property of the Muckross House that is similar to an estate you would see in Downton Abby. I told Will I wouldn’t mind living there with the huge green lawn, fruit trees, lake front and large stone palace. The falls were very beautiful but a bit too touristy. We had a great walk before venturing to Kilarney.
Bromore cliff walk & Ballybunion cliff walk – The days after the marathon our feet were tired but we still did some walks to stretch them. The Bromore and Ballybunion cliffs were beautiful cliffs that looked over the ocean with beaches around them. We stopped off at these cliffs on our drive along the southwest coast of Ireland.
Hike in the Wicklow Mountains – Our last adventure in Ireland was an extensive hike in the Wicklow Mountain National Park. The hike bordered a river valley and went up along the mountainside and down along the river. The trail was really well established and maintained so it was easy to follow and our legs were recovered so we weren’t in pain during. A must do if you travel to Ireland. Wicklow is located just south of Dublin.
Kayaking in Kenmare – Since our legs were fairly useless after the race we decided to take a few kayaks out for the morning in Kenmare, which is south of Dingle. It was a beautiful small town with a lake that was surrounded by mountains. It reminded us of Priest Lake, Idaho a bit. We paddled around for a few hours and enjoyed, yet again, the crisp air and sunshine that is rare to find in Ireland.
Driving across the beautiful country
We drove a total of 1,463 Kms across the southern half of Ireland. Most of this driving was along the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. Here’s an overview of our route.
Will is writing this… I had to drive on the right, watch out for sheep and mountain goats, keep an eye out for the other cars while on the skinny roads, and of course be ready at a moments notice to pull over to the side of the road to snap a picture of the scenery (or pull over to let Jenny use the bathroom).
Irish Bed and Breakfasts
We stayed in array of Bed and Breakfasts in Ireland since they are so common. We usually didn’t pre-book a reservation, but instead, stopped in to see the B&B and discuss the price. We enjoyed seeing the array of places to stay in person before picking one. The rooms had private bathrooms and served a hot and cold breakfast each morning included in the cost. It was a treat to be asked what time we would like breakfast served. In the morning we would do our usual run around town, shower and go to breakfast. Breakfast usually consisted of breads, jams, fruit, yogurt, eggs cooked to order and meat. We slept really well since the houses were small the quiet, especially the ones that overlooked the ocean.
We ran into one small issue in Kinsale; the town we later found out rated the #1 must see small town in Ireland. The issue was a lack of vacancy! We ran all over town visiting B&Bs when finally one had a small attic room, but knowing my nitpickiness (it’s a comfort thing), we found a different house to stay in above a cute bakery at 9pm. Thankfully Will has the best patience and we hauled our stuff across town to our large room on the top floor right downtown. The average cost was 80 Euro per night at B&Bs and the Kinsale room was given to us for only 45 Euro (usually went for 100 because it had three bunk beds in the huge room). Since Will was so patient with me I okayed a very fancy dinner at the expensive French seafood restaurant in a town know for fresh caught seafood daily. If you go to Ireland, no matter what city/town, you should stay in a cozy B&B!
Also on our trip…
- Kilbeggan Distillery – Nothing says Irish like some good quality whiskey. Our first stop on our adventurous road trip around Ireland was at the oldest distillery in the country. It was well worth the stop. We did the self-guided tour and walked through the old distillery room by room learning about the process to create whiskey. One funny fact was when they dumped the spent grain wash into the river that “there were bad alcohols in the spent grain wash and this had an effect of knocking out the fish but not killing them” since the distillery was over a creek for water use. We pictured drunk fish swimming around and couldn’t stop laughing. We passed by a copper pot still that has been in use since the 1800s and is the oldest working one in the world. At the end of the tour Will sampled a few different whiskeys. Very delicious!
- Visited a 5000 year old tomb – Another quick stop on our way from Dublin to Galway was at a 5000 year tomb for a quick walk. It was a bit weathered but the giant stone stood strong. Goes to show how young the US is.
- Castle Visit day: our own tour of a few castles in Ireland
- Kinsale Fort– The one morning we had in Kinsale we ran to a fort ruins out on a peninsula that was built in the 1600s. We couldn’t go in the fort but the view from outside the huge stone building overlooked the cute central Kinsale. A good way to start the day of castle tours!
- Blarney Castle and kissing the Blarney Stone! We did it. We were touristy and went to the top of the large castle to kiss the famous stone. Although it is a hoax, we leaned backwards over the castle and wished for the gift of gab (eloquence). After the castle we walked the beyond beautiful grounds that were created by queen Victoria. Apparently there were 60 acres of gardens, arboretums and waterways. We only walked a few acres and were impressed.
- Kilkenny Castle – We toured the Kilkenny (the smallest town in Ireland) Castle rooms that was originally built in 1195 but was re-done in the 1990s to portray how the castle would have been in the 17th-century. It was beautifully done and reminded me of Winsor Castle in England. The grounds – garden and yard were huge and very well maintained.
- GAA Sports – In addition to football (soccer) and Rugby there are two very popular sports in Ireland. They are actually amateur sports and each of them are followed almost religiously around the country. The sports we watched while in Ireland were Hurling and Gaelic Give those videos a review if you want to learn more about the sports. We got to enjoy the finals of the GAA Football semi-final with our AirBnB hosts in Dingle – it was fun to learn more about the games from them, and since he was from Dublin, he was rooting for Dublin which made it fun. We also got a chance to watch the first half of the Hurling championship while in a bar on a stop in our roadtrip. It was great to take part in the local passions of the land.
Wow, we knew we did a lot while in Ireland, but now that we’ve written it all out we’re amazed that we fit it all in! We hope this post shows you how fun Ireland can be, it is truly one of the most beautiful places we’ve been on this trip.
Thanks for reading, and happy adventuring,
Jenny and Will