Ireland O’Ireland – You ARE Forty Shades of Gorgeous Green!
It was five years ago to the month in getting back to Ireland. In August of 2010 we had the wonderful experience of photographing Steve and Mary’s wedding in Ireland. Ever since then it has been our goal to get back to see more of this gorgeous isle! After a three hour flight delay leaving Chicago we arrived in Dublin ready to start our adventure. We had finally made it back to O’Ireland! We rented a car and headed west out of Dublin on the M4, destination… Ballyvaughan. The first three nights we stayed in a familiar place the Drumcreehy Country House B&B just outside Ballyvaughan. We discovered this little jewel on our last trip and we just love staying here. Bernadette is a great hostess and very knowledgable about all the local sights! The Drumcreehy House is also a perfect location to serve as a hub for seeing all things in the Burren. Having arrived late afternoon our plan was to go see the Cliffs of Moher, since we missed seeing those the last time we were there due to poor weather. Bernatte had a great little tip for visiting the Cliffs. August is a peak month for tourists in Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher draw more visitors each year than any other location in Ireland. She recommended that we wait until after 6:00 pm to go there. She said that by 6:00 pm all the tour busses will be gone and there will be lots less people there. Sure enough, on our way there we must have passed 12-15 tour busses heading in the opposite direction. By the time we got there all the buses were gone! Traveling to the Cliffs of Moher we took the N67 from Ballyvaughn through the Burren, up the corkscrew mountain, through Lisdoonvarna, and the R478. A really lovely drive through the Burren.
After three wonderful days of sight seeing and hiking in the Burren it was time to move on to see new things. So we headed north and further west. We went through Galway and ended up near the little town of Ballyconneely not far from Connemara National Park. We stayed the next two nights in the Connemara Sands Hotel near the beach. A white sand beach in Ireland, no less! I din’t know they existed in Ireland! Connemara National Park was gorgeous!
At this point we were roughly half way through our trip and so much more to see. We got back onto the N59 heading further north with a destination of Creevagh Heights B&B in county Mayo. To get there we went around the East end of the Killary Harbor, the only fjord in all Ireland. Then continued on the N59 through Westpost to the N5 to Castlebar to the N58 and N26 though Balina then finally on the R314 out to Creevaugh Heights B&B. This place is way out in the boonies. But gorgeous boonies! By the time we got there it was almost dark with drizzle and blowing wind. The weather was just nasty but Carol and Harry could not have been more inviting and hospitable. Truly a sight for sore eyes on this night! Homemade scones, jam and hot tea. The next morning the weather had cleared which was just what we were hoping for. The whole reason why we came to this area was to see Downpatrick Head. We got up early in hopes of a good sunrise for photos and we got what we hoped for, a beautiful sunrise on the coast. What an amazing sight! The only draw back, we had sustained winds in the 25-30 knot range which made it treacherous to get near the edge of the cliffs. We had been warned about this so we kept our distance. From here it was back to Creevaugh Heights B&B for a hot breakfast. Then we packed up and went on our way to tour more of Country Mayo. We now wished that we had planned to stay longer the Creevaugh Heights B&B was wonderful.
Our next point of destination, Country Sligo and the Benbulben Farm House B&B. The third and final B&B of this trip. This was another stellar B&B and Marita was a tremendous host. The Benbulben Farm House is set at the very foot of Benbulben mountain. Gorgeous views at any time of the day. We stayed here two nights and had several day time excursions to the surrounding area. The first evening after arriving we took a short drive to the Mullaghmore Castle or Classiebawn Castle. We had a fantastic sunset which yielded amazing photos of the castle set against Benbulben mountain. The next morning we took a walk on the Benbulben loop walk and got up close photos of Benbulben. There were many other things that we saw and places where we had great meals but these were the highlights. The next day we headed back to Dublin for our flight back to O’Hare. All in all, a great trip and we hope to be able to go again. If you have never been we would encourage to to give it a try!
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To get to the Cliffs of Moher we took the drive up the corkscrew hill and through the middle of the Burren.
Our first evening in Ireland we went to the Cliffs of Moher after checking in at the Drumcreehy Country Hose. We had some gorgeous light during the sunset along with some really beautiful clouds.
Below is a close-up of the point above.
On our last day in the Burren we took a little side trip thorough the town of Quinn and on to the Craggaunowen Castle and Living History museum.
It’s a carpet of moss. Don’t sit down too long or it will grow on you.
After the visiting the Craggaunowen Castle and forest we went back to Quinn and did a little walking tour of our own. We stopped and had lunch at the Abby Tavern. Across the street from the Pub, where we were having our lunch, sits The Quinn Abbey. Next door to the Abbey is a Catholic church and on this day (Wednesday, apparently it’s not unusual in Ireland to have mid-week weddings) a wedding was just finishing up. As we were leaving the Pub we watched as the wedding photographer took his clients next door to this old abandoned Abby to do some photos. Being the wedding photographer that I am, I couldn’t resist grabbing a couple photos. What an interesting location, Ireland is just full of these! Irish wedding photographers don’t know how good they have it! For example look at that crazy mad sky that day!
Next stop Ballyconneely, Country Galway, Ireland.
After checking into our hotel in Ballyconneely that evening we headed up to the small town of Clifden to make our way onto the scenic Sky drive. What an amazing view of ocean below! This was one of our favorite excursions of the trip, Sky Road.
This was one of our first slights on the morning that we approached Connemara National Park. The morning fog was just burning off.
We next took the R336 through the pass from Maam Cross to Leenaun. The terrain here is so different to the Burren that we had just left. Next destination, Kylemore Abbey.
After visiting the Kylemore Abbey it was on to Connemara National Park.
From the Connemara Park we headed South through a 2nd pass on the R344. The local sheep often graze free and can be found walking across the road. This guy was dong this stately pose and Susan just had to get his portrait.
Inagh Lough Lodge, we came back here later in the day for dinner.
This is what we were treated to after dinner as we were leaving Inagh Lough Lodge.
The last morning walk down to the beach near Ballyconneely. This light was different this morning with a big ole thunderhead forming out over the Atlantic. Then it was back onto the N59 heading north to Creevaugh Heights B&B, our second of three wonderful B&B on this trip.
The N59 took us along the east end of the Killary Harbor the only fjord in all of Ireland.
Isn’t this a gorgeous coastline!?
Makes you want to live a sheep’s life, heh?
Yes, that is Susan up there on the bluff.
I would have liked to have gotten closer to the edge so that you could see all the way to the base but the grass was very wet from the rain the night before plus the winds were blowing at about 25-30 knots making it hard to walk at times.
My wife, the fearless one. Anything for a photo!
From Downpatrick Head it was back to the Creevaugh Heights B&B for our breakfast before heading on for the day. It was a successful morning photo shoot.
After checking into the Benbulben Farm House B&B we took a little evening drive not far from the B&B to the Mullaghmore Castle. We got amazing light during this sunset! That is
Benbulben mountain in the background.
The last place that we visited before heading back to Dublin. Parke Castle, Country Leitrim.