Ireland 2014

Time off, and time away, is a good thing. We needed it, and we’d never been to Ireland, so why not? Given that we are prone to boredom we thought it’d be fun to rent a camper and drive around Ireland. Cool, huh?

This is our camper van:

As you can see, it’s more of a converted people carrier than a camper van. But it’s a van with a bed, so I guess it’s a camper van. We rented him from Spaceships campers, which was nice and easy and not too expensive. All the vans have space-y names like Milky Way and Optimus Prime, and ours was called Picard, which made us very happy. PATRICK STEWART.

I’ve been saying ‘us’ – that’s me and my boyfriend, Dan. Here he is:

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He’s brilliant because he pretty much organised everything and did all the driving since I don’t have a licence. It was a LOT of driving.

 

We flew to Dublin on Saturday morning, and caught a bus to Navan, which is north west of the city. Here we met up with Dave who we were renting Picard from. He had all these campers parked in his drive! So we got kitted out and headed off to our first stop: the Hill of Tara.

 

You enter the area by going the past the visitor centre, which is in a converted church. Next to it is a small graveyard and several tall trees, all of which have crows nesting in them. Huge crows that circle and squawk…

 

But then it opens up onto a huge open space that is the HILL. It’s made up of several burial mounds, which are best viewed from above but still pretty beautiful from ground level.

There was also a view into a tomb, that was cool, but it wasn’t creepy. There was ALSO a tree that people had tied mementos to. I don’t why, but it looked good.

 

 

Before we left we had the obligatory cup of tea and were about to get into the camper when we saw…

It was so small inside and crammed full of books, some of them so old it was weird to think about.

I ‘went Irish’ and bought the books in the last photo there.

I’d vaguely heard of Frank O’Connor but nothing about his work, and the other book was entirely new to me. I haven’t bought second hand books in a while and it felt good to give these well-read editions a new home. I also love the fact of discovering old books that you ‘missed’ when they were new. The publishing industry sometimes feels like it’s all about new books and nothing else, but we mustn’t forget older books. Sometimes they’re the best ever.

 

That same day we visited Trim Castle where they apparently filmed Braveheart (details may need to be investigated). It was beautiful.

 

Pretty impressive! I don’t have the best pics to be honest, but take my word for it, it was worth a visit. It’s also right in the middle of the town of Trim, so there’s a chippy across the road and kids play on the grass right beside it, which I quite liked.

 

Day two brought us to one of the best places Dan or me has ever been to: Galway. It was recommended to us umpteen times, and according to our Lonely Planet book it epitomised the ‘hedonism’ of Ireland. We got a bit lost finding our campsite, Salthill, but it was worth it for the view alone.

 

We were essentially parked on a small cliff and it was brilliant.

 

Now, to the pub. It was a Sunday, so we figured we’d have a quiet drink or two and then back to the camper for beer, reading and bed. But this is not just any Sunday night. This is a Sunday night in Galway.

The next day we were a bit tired.

 

But we explored Galway, and ate in a nice pub with a Gaelic name we could not pronounce, and had soup for dinner on a cliff with Picard. We spent a second night in Galway after Dan discovered the tattoo place he’d read about online and booked himself in for a four-hour tattoo on the Tuesday (I voted yes to this as it’s a bloody cool tattoo). So on Tuesday he sat in a tattoo parlour while Dmitry from Ukraine inked tarot cards on his inner upper arms (the Hanged Man and the Magician if you must know), while I pottered around the town. I sat down outside to read until it was too cold, and found lots of lovely things and amazing views.

 

After the wonders of Galway we were bound for the Ring Of Kerry. We did most of it in a day, and oh it was brilliant. It’s basically just driving around looking at cool stuff and dramatic scenery. The highlights were that time we found an old bit of castle and climbed all over it.

The National Trust would never have stood for all that climbing (it was a bit high).

 

And that time we impulsively stopped off at a beach and went paddling (it was Rossbeigh Beach)…

It was pretty darn cool.

 

Our other Ring of Kerry highlight that was also a bit impulsive and unplanned was our visit to the Skellig Cliffs. Signs along the way declared them to the be the best, most impressive cliffs in Kerry. We were a bit skeptical. But then we saw them… First we had to pay (!) and then walk up a hill, which had a nice view back inland. When we got to the top, it was breathtaking. SRSLY.

Pretty darn happy to be standing on an Irish cliff!

 

That night we stayed at Wave Crest campsite in Caherdaniel on the south side of the Ring of Kerry; and THIS was the view from the camper in the morning:

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Pretty good, huh?

 

That morning was our last full day in Ireland, and we visited Staigue Fort in the morning before driving all the way back up to Navan to return the camper, and then get the bus back to the airport. Staigue Fort was a bit of a ‘why not’ venture, something that we hadn’t planned on seeing but that looked alright.

It is essentially a big stone ring that was once a fort… well, look:

 

It is massive, was built with no cement of any kind, and predates Christianity in Ireland. Officially cool.

 

After that we hopped back into Picard and bombed it up the motorway to Navan. Then we sat on a bus, and then in an airport, and then we drove more and crashed at my mum’s. Farewell Ireland!

 

Ta ra!

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4 thoughts on “Ireland 2014”

  1. Gorgeous photos! Salthill is such a lovely spot. Did you get to drive out into Connemara at all? I don’t think I’ll ever find anywhere to beat the scenery in the West of Ireland.

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  2. Great trip, thanks for sharing! I’m from Trim, can officially confirm Mel Gibbson filmed part of Braveheart at Trim Castle, It was all very exciting at the time, the local pubs would have had some photos up, maybe Brogan’s if you went there? Real shame you never got to go to Newgrange, it is close to Navan, it is older than the pyramids and Stonehenge and demonstrates the earliest known examples of man’s use of planetary alignment with Architecture. On the summer and winter solstice the sun aligns with the roof light box, light travels down the stone corridor and lights the megalithic chamber which is thought to be a burial chamber. Rather special.

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    1. Hi Claire – glad to hear confirmation about Braveheart! At the end of our trip we did manage to visit Newgrange but were short on time so only went round the museum rather than taking the bus out to the site itself. It was still amazing though, such a fascinating place! Thanks for the comment.

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