Prime 10 Irish Drives: The most effective scenic highway journeys in Eire

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Black Head, The Burren. Photograph: Chris Hill/Fáilte Eire

The Sky Street in Connemara. Phot: Christian McLeod/Fáilte eire

Downhill and Mussenden Temple, a former library modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Photograph: Tourism Northern Eire

Lough Tay, Co. Wicklow. Photograph: Fáilte Eire

Pól Ó Conghaile on the highway

Glencar Waterfall, Co. Leitrim

Sheep close to Portsalon Seashore, Co. Donegal. Photograph: Getty

Keem Bay, Achill Island: 5 blue-flag seashores can be a powerful tally anyplace, not to mention on a single island. However that’s Achill for you. Keem Bay is a Signature Discovery Level on the Wild Atlantic Means, and for good cause… its breathtaking magnificence impressed visiting artists like Paul Henry, Graham Greene and Nobel laureate Heinrich Böll, and continues to wow guests at present.

Bridge over the River Nore, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny, Eire

Trim Fort, Boyne Valley

Healy Go, Beara, Co. Cork. Photograph: Fáilte Eire

Pól Ó Conghaile

Prime 10 Irish Drives: The most effective scenic highway journeys in Eire

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Get behind the wheel for Pól Ó Conghaile’s decide of the most effective scenic highway journeys in Eire…

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Get behind the wheel for Pól Ó Conghaile’s decide of the most effective scenic highway journeys in Eire…

From murmuring motorways to bumpy boreens; from unplanned stops to salt spray on the windscreen, there’s simply one thing a few highway journey.

One thing that, regardless of the visitors and tractors and petrol costs and automobile rental up-sells, retains an incurable romance.

I’ve pushed everywhere in the world, from the Bavarian Alps to the USA’s Deep South, however I look ahead most to highway journeys Eire – and listed below are 10 of the most effective Irish drives. Make a plan, however depart it free. You by no means know what lies across the subsequent bend.

1. Poetry in Movement in Yeats Nation

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Glencar Waterfall, Co. Leitrim

Beginning in Manorhamilton, Co  Leitrim, take the N16 to the gushing Glencar Waterfall. You’re bang in the course of Yeats’ “waters and the wild” right here, and the literary landscapes proceed as you comply with the native highway alongside the shore of Glencar Lough, becoming a member of the N15 just under the prow of Ben Bulben. Head north right here to see the poet’s grave at Drumcliff (“Solid a chilly eye…”) and, if time permits, take a spin round Mullaghmore for Wuthering Heights-style views of Classiebawn Fort, earlier than detouring inland in the direction of the epic Gleniff Horseshoe and Benwiskin. It’s onerous to imagine such quite a lot of Nationwide Geographic-standard views exist inside just some dozen kilometres. From right here, the drive again to Sligo takes 35–40 minutes.

Time/distance: 76km (enable at the least a half day if taking all steered stops).

Pit cease: The Davis household’s Yeats Tavern (yeatstavernrestaurant.com) is an apparent cease close to the poet’s grave at Drumcliff.

for those who like that, do that: Galway’s Slieve Aughty mountains provide a surprisingly desolate drive, ending up in Girl Gregory’s Coole Park.

Extra:
Yeats Nation: 17 pictures of Sligo and Leitrim which can be pure poetry

2. Wind by the Wicklow Mountains

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Lough Tay, Co. Wicklow. Photograph: Fáilte Eire

Dubliners needn’t cross the nation for a scenic drive. The Sally Hole is simply 45 minutes from Dundrum City Centre, taking the Previous Army Street (R115) by Glencree. Inside moments, it appears, you’re floating by the Wicklow wilderness,  passing the supply of the River Liffey, amongst different pure wonders. From this level, you possibly can proceed south previous the Glenmacnass Waterfall to Glendalough, or head southeast on the R759 for views of Lough Tay (in a sure mild, it seems to be identical to a pint of Guinness).  The R755 will take you again by the Sugar Loaf to the N11 at Kilmacanogue.

Time/distance: 97km (by way of Glendalough). Enable a half or full day, relying on stops.

Pit cease: Nab a cuppa and cake at The Conservatory in Laragh (theconservatory.ie).

for those who like that, do that: The drive from Co Tipperary to Co Waterford by way of The Vee, rising to a jaw-dropping view of Lismore Fort, is a stunner. Time allowing, add the Comeragh Drive.

Extra: Secret Eire: Wicklow Mountains

three. Connemara’s Sky Street and Omey Island

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The Sky Street in Connemara. Phot: Christian McLeod/Fáilte eire

Irish drives don’t come sweeter than the Sky Street. This straightforward, 15km peninsula loop transports you onto the craggy folds of the Connemara coast very quickly — with views starting from Inishturk offshore to the Twelve Bens inland. It’s doable as a cycle, however driving lets you swing north whenever you re-emerge onto the N59,  earlier than turning left in the direction of Claddaghduff and continuing in the direction of the jewel within the Aughrus Peninsula’s crown: Omey Island (aughruspeninsula.com). Verify the tide instances earlier than setting out, as Omey is reached by driving throughout a sandy causeway… an much more essential observe for the return journey. When it’s important to ask whether or not an island is ‘open’ or ‘closed’,  you’ve really reached the ends of the earth. 

Time/distance: 40km. Enable at the least a half day if travelling to Omey.

Pit cease: Choose up a picnic stuffed with native goodies at The Connemara Hamper (connemarahamper.com) in Clifden.

For those who like that, do that: Circuit West Cork’s Sheep’s Head — the Wild Atlantic Means’s wildest peninsula.

four. Cruise alongside the Causeway Coast

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Downhill and Mussenden Temple, a former library modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Photograph: Tourism Northern Eire

Michael Palin as soon as dubbed the prepare trip from Derry to Coleraine as one of the vital stunning on earth, and the drive is correct up there too. In addition to the compulsory Big’s Causeway and dram of Bushmills (after your drive, after all), this  rockin’ piece of coastal actual property has  been born once more as Sport of Thrones nation, with places from the HBO sequence starting from Ballintoy Harbour to Portstewart Strand. Throw in Dunluce Fort, Mussenden Temple and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and you’ve got an itinerary that would sprawl over two or three days. At Ballycastle, proceed to Cushenden, or take the A44 south in the direction of Belfast.

Time/distance: 100km (Derry to Ballycastle). Enable a full day with stops.

Pit cease: Ballintoy’s Fullerton Arms (fullerton-arms.com) is house to one in all 10 Sport of Thrones doorways carved from fallen timber on the Darkish Hedges.

For those who like that, do that: Spot sea stacks, secret seashores and outdated mining husks on Waterford’s Copper Coast — a 40km spin from Tramore to Dungarvan.

5. Go far out on the Fanad Peninsula

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Sheep close to Portsalon Seashore, Co. Donegal. Photograph: Getty

Donegal throws up any variety of scenic drives, from Slieve League to Star Wars places on the Inishowen 100. The Fanad peninsula has somewhat little bit of every thing, nevertheless — and arguably the county’s greatest seaside at Portsalon. Taken as a loop from Letterkenny, drive north on the R246, stopping at Fanad Head earlier than returning south by way of the Knockalla Coast Street to Rathmullan. The views over Ballymastocker Bay are breathtaking right here —it’s the proper cease for a swim, too.

Time/distance: 96km (to/from Letterkenny). Enable a full day with stops.

Pit cease: Seize a pizza and Kinegar craft beer in The Faucet Room at Rathmullan Home (rathmullanhouse.com).

For those who like that, do that: Cork’s Mizen Head Drive is a 100km circuit of the southern peninsula, passing stunning Barleycove and ending up at a cliff-hugging former sign station.

Extra:
Prime 10: Wild Atlantic Means drives

6. Discover Achill’s authentic Wild Atlantic Means

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Keem Bay, Achill Island. Photograph: Fáilte Eire

You may do the Wild Atlantic Means’s full 2,500km, or you may decide stretches at your leisure — and few are as worthy as Achill Island and the desolate Currane Peninsula. Achill’s Atlantic Drive is a brief, 19km loop, however you possibly can veer on and off at will — detouring out to Keem Bay, as an illustration, or to the views from Minaun Heights. Begin from Westport to catch the total splendour of Clew Bay and the altering surroundings, or take to the Nice Western Greenway for those who desire two wheels.

Time/distance: 150km (to/from Westport). Enable at the least a day.

Pit cease: Cease for lunch, or swap automobile for bike at Mulranny Park Resort (mulrannyparkhotel.ie).

For those who like that, do that: Valentia Island and the Skellig Ring are a superb approach to get off the overwhelmed observe on the Ring of Kerry.

7. Tour kilkenny’s river valley route

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Bridge over the River Nore, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny, Eire

You don’t want a shoreline for a basic Irish drive. Setting out from Kilkenny, comply with the River Nore by Bennettsbridge, Thomastown and Inistioge, stopping at will for bites and browses earlier than crossing the latter’s stunning, 10-arched stone bridge and turning northeast in the direction of Graiguenamanagh. The River Barrow comes into view right here, and you may proceed on the R729 to the village of Borris, crossing briefly into Carlow earlier than taking the R702 again by Goresbridge and Gowran to Kilkenny. Household-friendly stops alongside the best way embody Woodstock Gardens (woodstock.ie) in Inistioge and the shocking Nationwide Reptile Zoo (nationalreptilezoo.ie) in Gowran.

Time/distance: 75km (to/from Kilkenny). Enable a full day with stops.

Pit-stop: Pop into Circle of Associates café in Inistioge — named for the 1995 film, primarily based on Maeve Binchy’s novel. Oh, and depart room for dessert.

For those who like that, do that: The 166km Gordon Bennett Route (gordonbennettroute.com) is called for the 1903 highway race that handed by Kildare, Laois and Carlow.

eight. Blow your coronary heart open within the Burren

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Black Head, The Burren. Photograph: Chris Hill/Fáilte Eire

“And a while make the time to drive out west / Into County Clare, alongside the Flaggy Shore…” So wrote Seamus Heaney in his mouthwatering Postscript. The poem was written in a burst of inspiration, Heaney later defined, as he drove alongside the south coast of Galway Bay — later characterising it as a type of “vacation postcard” to his driving companions. Ranging from Kinvara, head alongside the shoreline, cornering round Black Head earlier than passing nice molten swathes of the Burren’s karstic limestone and the seaside at Fanore (the Cliffs of Moher are an choice too). Moments on this drive may “catch the guts off guard and blow it open”, as Heaney so memorably put it.

Time/distance: 70km (Kinvara to Lahinch). Enable at the least a half day with stops.

Pit-stop: Seize a do-it-yourself ice-cream on the Flaggy Shore at Linalla (linallaicecream.ie), or lunch on the Wild Honey Inn (wildhoneyinn.com) in Lisdoonvarna.

For those who like that, do that: Proceed south by Kilkee onto Loop Head. From Carrigaholt, you possibly can ebook dolphin-spotting journeys on the Shannon Estuary. See loophead.ie.

9. Ring of Beara Street Journey

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Healy Go, Beara, Co. Cork. Photograph: Fáilte Eire

The Ring of Kerry is a world-class touring route, nevertheless it will get so thronged with tour buses at instances that you simply lose the basic nature of all of it. One peninsula to the south, Beara provides all the surprise with much less visitors — taking you from Kerry to Cork, from civilisation to a cable automobile dangling over the Atlantic (your transport to Dursey Island), and from melodious-sounding cities like Allihies and Eyeries to the nation’s greatest white fish port at Castletownbere. Give your self numerous time, make loads of stops, eat contemporary  fish, surprise on the corkscrew twists and turns, and detour by the Healy Go (R574). It’s a highway that ranks proper up with probably the most dramatic on earth.

Time/distance: 137km (skipping the Healy Go); enable at the least a day for this one.

Pit cease: Between Kenmare and Glengariff, preserve your eyes peeled for Benoit Lorge’s chocolate store (lorge.ie). He does chocolate-making programs, too.

For those who like that, do that: Donegal’s Slieve League peninsula provides comparable flashes of remoteness — with the Gaeltacht village of Glencolmcille at its finish.

10. Time journey within the Boyne Valley

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Trim Fort, Boyne Valley

Consider the Boyne Valley, and historical past springs to thoughts. 9 thousand years of the stuff, from Newgrange to the Hill of Tara and grisly Oliver Plunkett’s head (on show in Drogheda’s St Peter’s Church, if it takes your fancy). All of this and extra characteristic on the Boyne Valley Drive (boynevalleydrive.ie), a free, figure-of-eight route skirting 22 historic websites from Drogheda to Navan, Kells, Trim and different cities. However there’s extra to the area than what’s previous — because the Boyne Valley Meals Collection (boynevalleyfoodseries.ie) attests: it contains dozens of foodie occasions, from apple blossom walks to yard barbecues.

Time/distance: 225km (the total route, although you are able to do a lot shorter sections).

Pit cease: Slane Fort opens a brand new whiskey distillery, tour and café shortly — see slaneirishwhiskey.com for extra. 

For those who like that, do that: The close by Cooley Peninsula is one other humdinger on Eire’s Historical East.

NB: Distances and journey instances are meant as guides solely, and can rely upon routes, visitors and instances of yr.

On-line Editors

 

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