Blog 129 - Eire
By keef and annie hellinger, Jul 8 2018 05:06PM
Motorhome trip No34 : Saturday June 16th- Friday July 6th 2018, 21 days
NOTTS->Ireland (Eire) ->NOTTS 1995 miles
To see associated Slideshows please CLICK HERE
To see a Slideshow of our previous trip to Ireland in 2000 CLICK HERE
We had a fab time in Ireland especially the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) – Sli an Atlantaigh Fhiain (in Gallic) on the west coast from Kilrush, co Clare right up as far as Fanad Head Lighthouse on the Fanad peninsular co Donegal. It was especially great as the weather was amazing for the whole time. We used the ferry from South Wales – Fishguard to Rosslare co Wexford. We stayed on a Apple tree farm in the heart of co Tipperary which was 1st fab cider smells everywhere (did you know Bulmers is from Cahir?) and we experienced our 1st ever campsite eviction at Bennettsbridge. Haha the pitchfork battle with the farmer lined up with his tractor and golf buggy. In terms of cities/ towns/ sights we loved Galway (esp Shop street music & food & atmosphere) , Cahir, Bansha, Carrigaholt, Clifden, Renvyle, Athelone, Spanish Point, Mullaghmore, Ballyshannon, Lough Eske, Muckross Heads, Slieve League Cliffs, Magheraroarty, Aran Islands, Inishbofin island , Tory Isles, Lough Gill, Parkes Castle,Rosses Point, Ramelton, Carrick on Shannon & Adare… we liked less Tipperary, Limmerick, Sligo, Donegal, Bundoran (kiss me quick hats), Portlaois (prisons and speed humps) & Letterkenny. The Irish are so friendly and chatty. Achill island co Mayo & parts of Donegal are breath taking scenery. Had a fab time in the Dog & Duck Athelone on Lough Ree where I watched England Vs Columbia with some lovely friendly folk and 3 pints of fab Guinness. We actually left 3 days earlier than planned after a combo of too much kids holiday noise and missing the Wicklows. No worries we had seen lots and loved it. We will go back again in 2 years time to complete the lower section of the WAW by ferry Holyhead – Dublin (the trip back from Fishguard home thru Wales is a little too arduous at 6.5 hours) then thru Wicklow Mountains (which we missed due to SatNav malfunction… or was it user error ;) this time) then Cork to Kerry and up the WAW as far as Kilrush (Kil means rock!) then the fastest route up to Malin Head in Donegal then thru Causeway Coastal route in NI back to Dublin.
At 2500 kilometres the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest single coastal route in the world, certainly surpassing the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Oz which we have also done. If you want to read more about the WAW CLICK HERE
Notes (hopefully useful to other motorhomers)
1. Last week and a half of our hols was school hols in Eire , from the weds they get 3 months off in Eire but less half terms.
2. Many towns have heights barriers on car parks and charge parking fees , not exactly motorhome friendly
3. Many campsites charge extra for electrics and showers (ranging from 50c to Euro $1.50)
4. N roads (equivalent to our A roads) & M roads – great, R roads (our B) variable and very bumpy esp in Donegal, L roads (our C) very very variable… avoid if poss ;)
5. Most signage doesn’t say “how far” but brown tourist signs great and WAW history and signs wonderful
6. Get both green books for campsites and always carry small change (i.e euros) for showers
7. Electric splitter useful for outside cooking (we used both tappenyaki and double ring as so hot indoors)
8. Diesel fuel cheaper or about the same as UK, petrol more expensive
9. Best campsites – Doonbeg Strand Camping co Clare, Clifden Eco Beach campsite co Clare
10. Get the Office of Works help sheet if you are interested in cultural history.loads of very interesting places to visit on your travels
Actual route (see maps)
Leinster Day1 … Counties Wexford
Leinster Day19-20 … Counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford
Munster Day2-7… Counties Waterford, Tipperary, Limerick, Kerry, Kilkenny & Clare
Connaught Day 8-12 … Counties Galway, Mayo, Sligo
Connaught Day 18 … Counties Leitrim, Rosscommon
Ulster Day 13-16… County Donegal, Fermanagh (NI)
All mileages are approximate – as planned before travel. The reality is we did 1,995 miles from home and back with 2 3.5 hr ferry crossings
DAY1: Sat 16/6 :Visited wonderful friends Neil and Marice in Southerdown, Vale of Glamorgan for a lovely lunch and catch up. Stayed Caravan Club site St Davids south wales… SA626PR… 270 miles 4hrs 30 mins Booked Update: 2hrs 30 mins 174 miles to Neil’s CF32 0RW then to St Davids 2hrs 98 miles Total 4hrs 30 mins 272 miles,1/2hr drive to Ferry Fishguard – Rosslare
DAY2: Sun 17/6 Ferry leaves @ 13.10 (have to be there 1hr early) Stena 75464818 Booked Arrives Eire 16.25 mins Journey ferry 3hrs 15mins Then 24 mins 11 miles drive to 1st campsite Stay at Ferrybank caravan park Private site over the bridge and owned by Local swimming pool $31 52°20'41"N 6°27'10"W acsi inspected Wexford Great views
DAY3: Mon 18/6 Wexford co Wexford – Cahir co Tipperary 75 miles Looked at Wexford & Waterford 2hrs 15mins… side turning to Wellington bridge R733 which didn’t really work (a square loop back onto main road) outta Wexford into New Ross, a very interesting place on River Barrow ancestral home of JFK and old ship. Campsite is the ACSI Cahir one The Apple Farm N52 ACSI 1255. Lovely people lovely shop lovely smell lovely strawberries, apple juice and cider… try Con’s craft cider!
DAY4: Tues 19/6 Cahir co Tipperary – Rathkeale co Limmerick 50 miles 1hrs 30 mins… visited Swiss Cottage at Cahir, fab visit and Cahir is a great heritage town, really liked it. Tipperary & Limmerick town en route. Adare is rated as the best visit in Ireland and have to say it was fab if a little busy! Stayed at Adare Camping And Caravan Park, Drehedtarsna Adare Limerick LK (Rathkeale area)
DAY5: Wed 20/6 Adare campsite, Rathkeale co Tipperary -Tarbert Island co Kerry - Kilkee Co Clare 32 miles 50 mins… goes along Shannon river edge, caught Shannon Ferry to Killimer, Killrush… i.e Kerry to Clare approx $25 takes 20 mins then stayed at Strand Camping Killard Road, Doonbeg Doonbeg CE one of our fave campsites ever, very small owned by English couple, great showers pitches, facilities. Saw Ballycrinan shingle beach, Moyne , Carrigaholt (lunch by the waves), Kilkee (Victorian seaside town), Spanish Point (and the man who could gab for Ireland ;) ), went go to Loophead lighthouse R487, then returned up west coast of clare etc etc Gained extra day from original plan by missing out Green Acres campsite (yuck!) White strands beach nearby is deserted and possible one of the best blue flag beaches in Eire!
BASICALLY FROM NOW ON WE FOLLOWED THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY – Killrush to Fanad peninsular
DAY6: Thurs 21/6 Doonbeg Co Clare -Lahinch Beach-Doolin Total: 30 miles 50 mins… 1st bit of journey to Lahinch beach is 20miles 38 mins then coastal route R478 thru Luogh-Roadford-Doolin / Doolin Pier Met Mr & Mrs Welwyn Garden City and Pete & Jane from Cambridge whom we also remet at Clifden beach Eco site later , basically cos annies leg was playing up we abandoned walk into famous Paddy O’Connors bar in Doolin from Doolin Pier Stayed at Nagles Doolin Camping, NAGLES DOOLIN CAMPING GPS 53.0176827, -9.3945482. Visited Cliffs of Moher site on route, wonderful but hugely touristy
DAY7: Fri 22/6 2nd day at Doolin Pier campsite (very noisy in eve as weekend and we pitched next to kids playpark, note to self DON’T DO IT AGAIN ;) )but Boat cruise Bill O’Briens boats to Aran Island, Inis Mor (biggest but called in at Meain & Oirr isles as well) $30 pp Fab day out in the sun and did tourist bus around island… glad we got out of mr wee’s first bus ;) Great jumpers tops bought Stay at Nagles …
DAY8: Sat 23/6 Doolin - Galway Total: 48 miles 1hr 50 mins… 1st bit of journey to Burren was via Murrogh and Ballyvaughan… Stayed at Galway City Caravan & Camping Park, Ballyloughane Rd, Renmore, Ireland…visit lough (lake) atilia and river corrib Not the best campsite in fact the worst E$34 and most expensive, lunch at site by Galway bay in sun, fab then caught the 402 bus into Eyre square from opposite campsite and had a great time in Galway city, esp music pubs food etc in Shop street Our fave Eire City…. Had dinner with my Galway girl in a flash restaurant Swiss campers we met at Doolin also here and went in and back on our same bus, although verbal comms tricky we did a lot of hand shaking and back slapping ;)
DAY9: Sun 24/6 Galway-Cleggan beach Galway - Clifden Total: 59 miles 2hr 7 mins… via various lakes and the 12 pins mountains, Stayed at Clifden Eco Camping & Caravan park, Claddaghduff Road, Wild Atlantic Way, Clifden,Co. Galway,H71W024… Loved all of Connemara, River Owenglin. Chris at Eco site had it for 8 years, knew couple at Doonbeg Strand Camping. He kindly gave us slot 1 overlooking the beach, Keef swam in the Atlantic, v cold. Outside cooking on tappenyaki (fun) plus caught up with Pete & Jane from Doolin again
DAY10: Mon 25/6 went to see Omey island (didn’t drive across as tidal sand bar but you can park up at the start and walk) and then saw Cleggan ferry to Inishbofin Island (30 mins) £17.50 return pp 11.30 return 1… missed out as didn’t have time – it is the island of the white cow. Connamara National Park, v busy, not much space for motorhomes. Lonch by lough in Connamara mountains (such fab views). Letterfrack, Louisburgh, Renvyle (busy but lovely harbour) plus Cleggan to Westport Co. Mayo Total: 43 miles 1hr 27 mins Where we filled up on fuel. Then Westport –Keel West R319 over Achill isand (via bridges) Saw Killary fjord and one of the circular coastal routes on Achill , aasleagh falls, Mallaranny, Keel bay Croaghaun Total: 38 miles 1hr 13 mins then stayed at Keel Sandybank caravan and camping park, Achill island, co Mayo
DAY11: Tues 26/6 Keel West – Ballina, co Mayo . Went to see the fabulous Keem Bay, wild scenery, amazingly steep road but so so worth it. Also did the 2nd coastal loop road on Achill which was wonderful. Don Allum the 1st man to row the Atlantic both ways landed in Achill island. Johnny Kilbane boxer. Doohoma, Ciede Total: 65 miles 1hr 56 mins then stay at Belleek Caravan and camping park, Faranoo, Ballina Co Mayo. Great map of the Wild Atlantic Way here
DAY12: Weds 27/6 Official start of 3 months school hols…. Much more busy at sites from now on Ballina – Sligo, Co Sligo. Total: 37 miles 57 mins Continued on on the Wild Atlantic Way, saw Ballina Quay. Pronounced Bal-ina not like the ozzie Baleena ;) Many Kiwi and Oz names came from Eire, the Famine exodus presumably. Visted amongst others Innishcrone, Split rock, Aughris head, (great pub and bunnies) ,Killglass, Easkey R297… Lovely Mr Wippy in Strandhill town shop plus fresh fish from stall from man from Devon… nice on griddle with salad …. Yummy All near Sligo City, Stayed at Strandhill camping and caravan site.Strandhill rd Sligo, beautiful views of the sea but a very dangerous cliff edge and rips so sign said no swimming or paddling… did anyone take any notice ? rules seem to be made to break in Eire possibly along with driving road rules…. Debate???
DAY13: Thurs 28/6 Strandhill - Sligo, Co Sligo- Ballyshannon, co Donegal …. Bally means on a river in Gallic , taught in schools compulsory from juniors (xclent) Ulster Nr NI (UK) Ulster then back to Ballyshannon campsite, co Donegal Then to Ross Point (home of W B Yeats – William Butler, Bro John Butler (rich Irish family name) a painter (see his pic under Keel Bay pix) ) , Deadmans point, Drumcliffe Friary, Yeats graveside & St Columba, Spanish Armada view , Classiebawn castle at Mullaghmore (where lord louis mountbatten was killed) Total: 40 miles 1 hr 4 mins Road goes along the coast. Stayed at Lakeside caravan and camping, Beleek rd, ballyshannon, Co Donegal. Manged by Mungo who had a huge US pop outs van and offered to buy ours off us – No way Jose! Note very busy at weekends OK otherwise, nice Liverpool/Welsh couple next to us and our pal from Austria with doggie. It is an ACSI site No 1253 and as we had gained 2 days from original plan got 2 days at E$19 Acsi price.
DAY14: Fri 29/6 2nd day at Lakeside campsite Ballyshannon – supposedly Irelands oldest town (but we saw a few of those) but definitely the birth place of Rory Gallagher. Nice cooked brekkie on griddle outdoors in the sun, plus Irish white pudding – yummy. Supposedly live Irish music on site & restaurant – just Sat for music but I did watch a rather boring Belgium vs England 2nd 11 world cup match with no atmosphere but 1 pint of Orchard thieves. We are Sunday dinner when we came back there later for a second stay and very good it was too
DAY15: Sat 30/6 Ballyshannon, co Donegal along the WAW in co Donegal to Dungloe co Donegal, Rossnowlagh and beach, Donegal town itself, Castle and music festival in town square, not a great city / town, the fab Lough Eske at Arnold point, Fish town Killibeg allegedly Irelands major fishing port and like Grimsby you could smell it coming, but harbour very nice. Shopped here in Supa Value. Muckross Head, lunch at Creenveen, Slieve league cliffs, Glencomcille (folk museum not great tho’ too new)Stayed at family park in the green book at Dungloe after yet another Mr Whippy 99 Nice family who ran it, very friendly and chatty
DAY16: Sun 1/7 Dungloe - Ballyshannon, co Donegal our only bad day weather wise… low cloud sea mist and very very windy. We went via Kingcasslach, Cnoc Fola (the red sea), Gweedore, Magheraroarty & beach, Queen of aran fishing ferry (passengers only) to the Tory isles, Doe Castle view for lunch, an Irish Romeo & Juliet, Island Roy view (just) and the bridge across , Fanad head and lighthouse. Realising the weather was bad and we still had a 100 mile round trip on very minor roads to Malin Head (star wars fame) and end of WAW we turned back thru Ramelton (Lifford) on the river Lennon, Letterkenny (big town) N13 , N15 , Ramelton had lovely flowers, old castle, and fishing (pity it was drizzling), back thru Donegal & castle, Ballyshannon town and Rory Gallagher (its famous son) then to campsite again for nice Sunday dinner. I had Irish beef, Annie had turkey and gammon… Yummy
DAY17: Mon 2/7 Ballyshannon co Donegal, Ulster via Cartronbog & Drumshanbo to Battlebridge, co Leitrim on the edge of Lough Allen (this road slipped over the border briefly into NI unbeknown to us at Beleek co Fermanagh and we stopped to see Lough Melvin on the road to Garrison before going back into Eire. Back in Eire we saw the lovely Parkes castle on Lough Gill co Sligo (again - want to read about the spanish armada captain cuellar) and W B Yeats trail and had lunch on Gill Total: 42 miles 1 hr 16 mins Road goes along the edge of the lake. Tried staying at the Allen centre , Curraghill, Drumshanbo, co Leitrim but it is now a Luxury leisure park on the lake with chalets to buy, the campsite has long since gone so we found a new one in the green book at Battlebridge called Beirnes (not bad facilities, not great position tho)
DAY18: Tues 3/7 Battlebridge co Leitrim - Athlone, co Roscommon via Strokestown House(owned by the Mahons), Gardens and Irish National Famine Museum & Roscommon on the edge of Lough Ree . Had lunch of quiche and salad in the café plus the best lemon meringue pie we have ever had (apart from Annies he says quickly )Total: 53 miles 1 hr 46 mins Stayed at Athelone, Ballykeeran ACSI site No 1252 $19 in season. Visited Dog & Duck pub to watch football ENG vs Columbia with lovely Irish people. They shook my hand as I left and wished the team well ;) wonderful
DAY19: Wed 4/7 Athlone, co Roscommon-thru co Offaly - Portlaoise , co Laois (known as Queen’s county) to Bennettsbridge co Kilkenny via quick look at lough Ree, Athelone town, Tullamore, Killbeggan Distillery, Lilliput (don’t bother – its not Jonathan Swifts ancestral home, that’s Dublin)Total: 50 miles 1 hr 18 mins Tried Staying at Laois (pronounced Leash) camping and caravan, r445 portlaoise, clondouglas,mountrath rd 53°0'29"N 7°22'19"W Portlaosie co Laois, even tho we called in at a tourist office in Heritage town Abbeyleix (lady very helpful) where thye thought it was open then decided it wasn’t, we spent a long time trying to find driving almost as far as Montreath – Our satnav (or me) cocked up and took us towards Kilkenny city rather than the Wicklow mountains which is disappointing but as it would be a 200 mile round trip we decided to can it and do it on our next visit to Eire. So we stayed at Nore Valley Park, Bennettsbridge, a kid friendly site in the Green book, bad choice! This was the scene of our first ever campsite eviction… the battle of the Pitchforks… appalling campers
DAY20: Thurs 5/7 Bennettbridge, woke up decided as we would probably do 3 days of kids screaming at Enniscworthy site we would reorg our Ferry and come back today, giving us a little more time to prepare for grand daughter minding – Visted Nicholas Mosse pottery in Bennettsbridge which was fab, Annie got a nice blue jug (handpainted) We watched them working and there was some great history around the grain mill and waterwheel. We then stopped for lunch at Johnstown Castle Gardens outside Rosslare for lunch and a lovely stroll around the gardens and lake, very tranquil, peacocks and our last 99 Flake of the hols (at E$2 I can highly recommend) Alas the castle was under redevelopment so sadly closed. Then it was ferry from Rosslare 6.20pm, arrived Fishguard Sth Wales 9.40 pm… then 6.5 hours of fairly gruelling driving back thru South and North wales coming out at Welshpool – Shrewsbury borders before any “fast” roads
DAY21: Fri 6/7 Arrived back home as the sun was rising about 4.30 am after comfort break, coffee and pasty M54, 3 hours sleep but caught up the next day….. all in all a fab hol in the Wendy house and the best summer since 1976, can’t be bad