Don’t get sad, rain means life
The first thing you will notice when in Ireland, is that at least once every two days it rains, for what I whole-hearted recommend to bring or buy a proper waterproof jacket as a simple umbrella will not be suitable due to the wind.
It is also said that you can have all four seasons in one day here, and it’s true, up to the point that you can be enjoying a sunbath in a rare day of sunshine at the beach and after going for a swim, discover that it’s hailing so badly that you have to run to cover yourself, tower on hand, for that reason, the waterproof jacket is an everyday item even if it looks like the brightest day in years.
Above I mentioned “a rare day of sunshine” and it’s not exagerated at all, as this year, for instance, we had only one week of true summer in which you could see people arround in short sleeves! So don’t worry if you forgot the swimsuit at home, you are probably not going to need it.
But getting to the point, it wouldn’t be such a lifely and green island if it wasn’t for the rain. And you can enjoy it at the very first step outside of the city. A good example is Wicklow mountains, and possibly the most well known is Glendalough valley, in which you can enjoy one of the nine trekking paths to get in touch with the nature.
Getting there is easy and it’s well communicated with the centre of Dublin so eventhough you don’t have a private transport, it’s still possible to arrive by public transport, here you can find a list of the possibilities to get there.
It’s recommended to wear trekking boots aswell as rainproof equipment, and walking sticks would help aswell. Remember to bring food and water with you, and to take back the litter! Wicklow is a natural park and has to be preserved.
There in Wicklow you will find plenty of lakes, waterfalls and vegetation, lots and lots of vegetation, but not only green life, as you will surely encounter some of the many families of goats and wild horses that live there, just get safe and don’t get any close to them. For this purpose you have other options like the deers in Phoenix Park or ducks and gooses in St Stephen’s Green Park, but I will come back later to speak about those places.
If we talk about vegetation, water and natural parks we have to talk also about the west of the country, where my favourite places actually are. I’m refering to Ring of Kerry, Connemara and Cliffs of Moher, three of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. for those places I would recommend to rent a car and start your trip from Galway, which is another beautiful city in the province of Connacht, very caracteristic, full of life due to the quantity of students that lives there and attend either university (NUI) or one of the multiple language schools across the city, actually this city deserves another article that I will write afterwards.
Connemara and Cliffs of Moher
So, your trip might start with Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher, as are the closest places to the city, furthermore, for those places is worthy to pay a tour trip. Don’t forget to bring with your your student card! Ireland is a place for students and you can find deals everywhere, including ,of course, the tours. Those tours are around 25€ for adults and 20€ for students and they will drive through other points of interest like the well-known “The Burren” national park, caracteristic for the very rocky landscape that comes as a huge contrast to the vegetation that you will encounter later but not for that it means that is not worth visit. There you will catch view of few stone portal tombs (like the Britain and France dolmens) and take amazing pictures. It is also worth to pay attention to the tour guide while he relates some tales involving Leprechauns and why some circular tree formations are not removed due to the fear that those bad-luck wearers infuse on the zone peasants.
Another stop will surely be Kilfenora, where the Irish High Crosses are, those, together with the Book of Kells (actually at the Trinity College library), one of the biggest contribution to the Western European art. Also driving through the village of Doolin which is a charming small village beside the sea and finally arriving to the Cliffs of Moher.
Once you are there, safety comes first, DON’T cross the fences even if it looks secure, as the strong wind that blows from the Ocean can easily take you by surprise. Apart from that, enjoy the views! a 200 meters high and 8km long cliffs where the waves clash every once and then. Spectacular views, sea salt in your skin, seaguls flying over the sea and pictures that will make your friends regret to not have accepted your invitation to come along to Ireland. The meet point is more or less at half way of the full path so you have to choose right or left depending on the time allowed for the visit (if you can make it with your own transport, it just doesn’t matter), my personal recommendation is to take the right path up to the tower view point, and return back to take the left path up to the second hill, with that you should have the best of the cliffs on your camera already!
If you liked this landscape then you should upgrade your tourn with a visit to Aran Island, which features plenty of green views with sheeps and some cliffs aswell, and this time, for this place is mandatory to rent a bike and visit it at your peace! (rent is available on arrival to the Island and discounts provided for groups)
Ring of Kerry
If Connemara was located in the North of Galway, Ring of Kerry is in the South, a bit further in distance but worthy aswell, the tours are similar in price and duration, but unlike the previous tour, this is more focused on mountain, beach and small villages
Maybe the most notorious and beautiful stop of all the tour will be through the national park of Killarney, take one of the well indicated paths and enjoy the relaxing views, no stress!
Don’t forget to visit Dingle in your tour and try to spot the old dolphin in the harbour that became the symbol of the town.
Safe journey and enjoy the trip!