I was cunning in my decision to explore the British Isles in 2016 because I knew I could get exactly what I wanted out of that terminology: the Republic of Ireland. I had visited Dublin, the Irish capital, for a 24-hour period in 2007, back when I was a frivolous student. My trip essentially consisted of trying Guinness and wondering what all the fuss was about, and sitting with my friend Caireen in St Stephen’s Green, collapsing with laughter over our hilarious Irish accents: “Tirty tree and a turd”. Still chuckling.
Ten years later, the Irish accent still brings me much joy and summer 2016 was my chance to enjoy it on multiple occasions.
After much deliberation, Viv, a friend from Japan days, and I put together an itinerary for a less-than-a-week road trip round the Irish mainland. Click on the links below to read more about our experiences in each of our stops.
A post-work flight gave us the weekend in Dublin, where Viv lived the Guinness dream; we basked in the availability of live music, including my favourite musical of all time, Once; and I was able to catch up with my school friend, and international jetsetter, Nico, and her Chilean husband Joseph.
We then picked up our hire car and set off west for Galway, where our Sunday night arrival allowed us to take in the vibrant atmosphere in town at the end of the annual horse races. A day trip then took us out to the Aran Islands where we enjoyed cycling, despite being caught in the rain, before continuing south the following day via the very impressive Cliffs of Moher.
The renowned twee town of Killarney was our next stop, providing us with a base to drive the Ring of Kerry, before driving east to our final stop, Cork, where we were able to catch up with a fellow teacher-in-Japan, now local musician, Neil, and gain the gift of eloquence through our venture attempt to kiss the Blarney stone.
People say Ireland is expensive. Personally, I didn’t find it any more expensive than London but the nature of the holiday – multiple destinations in one trip – meant that the costs added up quickly. Flights are cheap as chips, but when you add on accommodation, car hire, three meals every day, tourist attraction costs – you soon have no money left. This might be why I haven’t been on any more catmacwalks500isles trips since August!
Looking back though, I’m quite chuffed with how much ground we covered on our six-day tour. It was a very fun trip, particularly the road trip element and the fact we were able to visit so many different places. However, I would almost want to do sections of it all over again in more favourable weather conditions to better appreciate the sights and views we visited. Ireland is renowned for its beautiful scenery, after all. For example, our trip to the Aran Islands was an adventure but imagine we’d been there on a blue-skied, warm and sunny day? I’d have been ignoring my poor fitness levels and been calling out for more cycling, not less! Or even on our trip around the Ring of Kerry; I’d have loved to have been able to stop and sunbathe on the grass, with a pretty countryside view, because in warm and sunny weather, joys are as simple and easy to come by as that.
Now that I think about it, maybe that was all part of Ireland’s cunning plan to ensure I go back?