Adventures on the Wild Atlantic Way - Samantha Lynch

September 12, 2019

Adventures on the Wild Atlantic Way - Samantha Lynch

It’s true what they say about the Emerald Isle…the vast green landscapes, the quaint towns, the rocky coasts, the narrow country roads, and of course the sheep! I had the opportunity to check off my number one bucket-list destination this past June- a trip my family and I will talk about for years to come.


            For as long as I can remember, Ireland has had this spellbinding hold on my heart. After countless hours on Pinterest and reading blogs (which I did for years)- I bit the bullet and booked a family vacation to the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is scenic travel route located on the Southwest Coast and is a must see if traveling to Ireland! I, at first, was a little intimidated when I starting creating an itinerary of all the must dos on the Ring- there were so many! But if by chance you find yourself in the gorgeous County Kerry here are some things you won’t want to miss!


When I found this Air BnB in Killarney, I knew we couldn’t stay anywhere else. How could we beat the walking distance from downtown- where we found great pubs and lovely shops?! When traveling to a new place, I find myself looking up places to eat first and created a whole list for our trip. Of all the choices, one of my favorite pubs in Killarney had to be Laurels. A small, dimly lit pub filled with chatter from the locals- can you picture it? Their deep-fried brie and seafood chowder were to die for. I also fell head-over-heels in love with Murphy’s Ice Cream Shop- frequenting {almost} every evening to get my “Dingle Sea Salt” on a waffle cone fix.


            For our first day of exploration on the Ring, I booked some sights in Killarney National Park such as: Muckross Traditional Farms, Ross Castle, Molls Gap, and Torc Waterfall. The Gap of Dunloe was one of my favorite sights; a hidden wonderland sandwiched between two mountains, scattered with sheep. The Gap is only accessible by horse and carriage, unless you live there. But out of all those jaw dropping sights, the Killarney Falconry was our absolute favorite activity, quite possibly of the entire trip. As we walked through the woods we learned about the history of Falconry and how falcons are still used for hunting in Ireland today-all while feeding “Tex” along the way. Our guide saved the best for last and brought out owls for us to love on (cue my Harry Potter fangirl freak-out!).


            On our second day we continued our trek along the “Wild Atlantic Way”. Our stops included the quaint town of Kenmare (where I dipped into the cutest bookstore to hide from the rain), Staigue Stone Fort, Sneem and Waterville. If you find yourself wanting to stop for lunch near Sneem- be sure to visit Kelly’s Bakery. The owner Pauline was the epitome of Irish hospitality; coming out to chat with us, wondering if we enjoyed everything, and telling us how she started baking at 3am that day.


            Our third day consisted of continuing to drive along the southern most portion of the Ring, which started the breathtaking drive along Ireland’s coast. We pulled off to view the Kerry Cliffs, which like most of Ireland’s coast, is an absolute dream. You can also view the Skellig Islands from this portion of the Ring and if you’re into sweets as much as I am, a visit to Skelligs Chocolate is a must! We toured the chocolate factory and sampled their delicious truffles and barks, the strawberry champagne truffle being my favorite. We continued on to Portmagee and Valentia Island before heading to Moorings Restaurant for lunch. We often found ourselves back in Killarney after a day exploring for a late dinner and Murphy’s Ice Cream run- yum!


            For day five we ventured off the Ring and up the coast to Dingle Penninsula. I had read so many great things about Dingle and knew we had to make this a day trip. Since Dingle is a peninsula, it too had a scenic ring to explore. We parked and walked around Dingle, finding yet again another Murphy’s Ice Cream, the Fish Box (a great seafood joint that takes out their own boats, you can’t get any fresher than that!), and the sweetest local cheese market, The Little Cheese Shop. We walked out with local cheeses and meats in hand, a delicious snack for later, and continued our drive around Dingle and Slea Head Drive. As we drove along the coast and came to Coumeenoole Beach- I was practically hanging out of the car signaling my husband to pull over. I did not come across this little slice of heaven during my trip planning, so stumbling upon it during our drive was absolutely surreal. A piece of the cliff cut away, leaving the most gorgeous beach my toes have ever touched.


            For our last two days, we traveled to two “must sees” when traveling to Ireland: The Blarney Castle and The Cliffs of Moher. The Blarney Castle was everything I read about and more. Walking through the castle was like stepping back in time- so much history! We embraced the 1.5 hour walkthrough to kiss the Blarney Stone- which is said to bring one “the gift of gab”.  And the Cliffs of Moher did not disappoint! Being one of the most photographed places in Ireland- they speak for themselves. The Cliffs were packed to the brim with travelers from all over the globe, awing over the breathtaking views. Just a short drive from the Cliffs was the tiny town of Doolin, where we found an ivy-covered cottage for our lunch stop, perfectly named The Ivy Cottage (the banoffee pie was to die for and yeah, I’d never heard of it either).


            As I unpacked my luggage back in the states, I couldn’t help but miss the vast green landscapes, the quaint towns, the rocky coasts, the narrow country roads, the abundance of sheep, and of course the “Dingle Sea Salt” ice cream on a waffle cone.

 

Samantha Lynch  (@_samanthalynch) 




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