The sun radiates from a clear blue sky. We are on a huge sandy beach, where it is perfectly acceptable to drive a car or to launch a glider. Young families are strolling, some playing with kites and the waves roar towards the shore, where surfers anxiously await the next big one.
For a moment the Land Rover is just a small dot as Joe drives almost the full length of the beach. I breathe in the sea air. Embrace the feeling of freedom…
The Land Rover is almost 2.5 meters high and we have seen several places that have height restrictions here in Ireland. This means we often have difficulty parking. Due to ‘travelers’, several locations have set up barriers for vehicles higher than 2 meters. This means that we cannot get access to certain areas. Sometimes it’s just picnic places or beaches, then we have no choice but to move on, as the Land Rover is too tall.
The dark dot is bigger now. Joe is heading back in my direction again. I squint at the mountains beyond. Lovely!
We were prepared for bad weather – any weather really. That’s Ireland for you. When we started in the north, the weather was more changeable, as were the roads. We learned that we should consider having an extra set of softer springs for more bumpy roads. The vehicle was shaking and things in the back were bouncing back and forth! The springs we currently have are actually quite stiff. I burst into laughter when I heard the cutlery drawer in the back of the car being totally rearranged.
A few hours later the roads had improved a little as we headed on towards Doolin. This is the so called ‘cradle of Irish folk music’. The first time we visited, it was a sleepy windy little place, with a few houses here and there, and pubs, of course. Now every other house seems to be a B & B and some new buildings have been added. A hotel, café, restaurant, bar… A new project has started, to upgrade the harbor.
The charm of the place is still here, but we are happy to have experienced what it was like here before it was well and truly stamped on the tourist map.
We found a great place to park the vehicle and went into Gus O’Connor’s Pub. Filled our glasses with typical Irish beverages, while listening to one familiar song after another.
We awoke to beautiful sunshine and blue sky. The sea was calm. Doolin was still sleepy when we started the Land Rover and drove south. We passed the Cliffs of Moher – no need to go there now – and continued south along the N67.
Afternoon and evening was to be spent with Joe’s family in Limerick. It was family memories, tea with milk and sugar and more than enough cakes and sandwiches. Lively and very nice!
We woke up the next day without a single drop of rain having fallen on the car. We continued southwest, towards Dingle, stopping in the little town which is famous for the dolphin Fungie who resides in the bay. As we didn’t venture into the water, we never saw him. Instead we strolled around the streets, enjoyed a big ice cream, felt the heat from the sun and shopped supplies for the next few days.
From Dingle we headed eastward again to the R561, which must be Ireland’s version of ‘Highway One’ in the USA or ‘Great Ocean Road’ in Australia. Gorgeous! It is from this road that we accessed the huge beach we are on now,’ Inch Beach’.
I jump back into the vehicle, with the camera full of pictures of a Land Rover on a huge beach with a backdrop of mountains.
A few hours later we are driving the Ring of Kerry (N70). We look over to the other side of the ‘bay’ where we drove on the giant beach. The sky is still blue, with the scenery beautiful and exciting, so we stop for the night at Lough Currane further west.
I’ve never really studied maps of Ireland and Joe says that he could not remember this part of the country being as mountainous as it is. In this area you find Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil (1038m).
Due to the clouds we see no peaks, but we enjoy the roads that wind up in between them. When we make a stop at Molls Gap, we have a peak around the souvenir shop here. Meanwhile, an American guy we saw ride up the hills on his bicycle, looks around our vehicle. When he enters the souvenir shop the guys have a little Land Rover talk. He knows Land Rovers and is curious about the work Joe has done. While they talk, I checkout some souvenirs with quotes from Oscar Wilde. I decide to purchase a couple of them.
In the afternoon we turn our noses east. We have booked ferry tickets back to England for the next day, so we have to get closer to Rosslare where the ferry leaves from. We make a stop in Cobh, which was the last stop of the Titanic before its journey to New York. Back then it was called Queenstown. There is a museum here, but we are too late to visit it. We got our dose in Belfast anyway.
Our last day in Ireland. We drive through New Ross, where the Kennedy family originated. JFK visited the city in June 1963, and there are banners everywhere to mark the city’s link to the former U.S. president.
A few years back we drove through Moneygall, another small town where an American President has his roots. This time, Barack Obama.
The last Guinness. Unsurprisingly we are in a pub. It is not “the last pub in Ireland”, but it may well be the second last. Had it not been for the barriers in the parking lot of the neighboring pub, we would have been there. Instead, we sit here in Culletons Bar.
They have Wi-Fi here and the food is good. Dinner and Guinness go down well just before we leave Ireland. A few kilometers away we will park in line to get on the ferry to Fishguard in Wales. This will be a late night, so it feels good to just take it easy for a while. Rain? No. We are still lucky, although the Land Rover could really do with a good wash!