I’ve just arrived back to Castle Black (my house) after a fun-filled week travelling the south and west coasts of my glorious little country (Ireland, for anyone wondering. Which is why it can take as little as a week to drive around the whole south and west coasts). Sometime in January, my friend Eve and I were contemplating exploring the country we’ve been raised and in embarrassingly have never fully seen, and when my friend Katie in Scotland announced that she and her housemates were thinking of roadtripping around Ireland this summer, we jumped on that bandwagon in full roadtrip regalia.
We set off last Thursday afternoon for Kinsale, following a hellishly hot couple of hours in Dublin traffic in my little black Micra, Celine. Though Katie and I grew up in Kinsale, the other girls hadn’t had the chance to explore the colourful winding streets and sample the famed cuisine (Kinsale is the gourmet capital of Ireland which is probably why 90% of it is made up of restaurants and cafes), and it’s always nice for me and Katie to return to the streets of our childhood anyway. We spent many a carefree summer there, house-hopping between friends, night swimming at the forts and piers and spending all the tips we made waiting in restaurants on drinks at the musical “Folkhouse” bar and then on super-food smoothies to regain our health the next day. Our days in Kinsale this week were much the same. To our delight, while sipping our second drink at the Folkhouse, a wave of old friends swept in and we all danced the night away feeling seventeen again.
Our Peak of Kinsale: Dancing until the early hours with long-lost childhood pals/sitting in the sun with smoothies and laughing through our headaches.
Our Pit of Kinsale: Katie’s brother neglecting to clean the house before our arrival. How many pairs of underpants to teenage boys own? And why don’t they keep them in their bedrooms?
The second destination was West Cork, which is where my dad lives on an island. His house (empty, since he was conveniently away for the weekend) provided the recuperation we needed after the heavy night of partying in Kinsale. If you’ve ever been to West Cork you’ll know of the simplicity of life there and the calm that engulfs you on arrival; a couple of days in the seasalt air with a cup of tea and a cat weaving around your legs can heal even the most weary soul. We even managed to squeeze in a little swim in Lough Hyne lake (well, Maddy and Alice managed a proper swim and Katie, Eve and I managed a splash and a lot of blaspheming before getting out and lying in the last o of the afternoon sun).
Our Peak of West Cork: A freshening swim followed by craft cider overlooking Baltimore Bay at sunset.
Our Pit of West Cork: Leaving, probably. We weren’t there for very long because we had a long drive through Kerry ahead in the morning.
The drive to Kerry, mind you, was one of total beauty. It’s amazing to notice the change in landscape as you trundle from place to place even in such a tiny country. Kerry is a place of rolling hills, deep valleys with winding roads lined with fields of curious sheep. It made me think of The Shire, only minus the hobbits. Dingle was a gem. It is famous for having a resident dolphin called Fungi who lives in the dock, but unfortunately we didn’t see him. We did, however, see a large gang of priests (what is the collective name for priests?) who turned out to actually be on a stag do and not servants of God after all. We realised this when Katie walked past them on her way to buy a drink. Each one said “God bless you” to her, which is obviously fine and not surprising for a priest. When the last one said, “God bless your arse” we realised something was awry. Then we panicked that they’d be in our hostel with us, and we were very relieved to return later to find no sight nor sound of them – not even a wee crucifix on a pillow.
Our Peak of Dingle: Walking into a traditional music performance in a tiny snug in the town center/not having our hostel room full of pretend priests.
Our Pit of Dingle: Below-par fish and chips which was recommended by the receptionist of the hostel, who we can only assume doesn’t have any taste buds.
Our final destination – having trundled in a leisurely way through Clare and seeing the Cliffs of Moher – was Galway, where we stayed for two nights. And thank God we did – I felt that I could have stayed there a week and probably even longer. Our days in Galway were filled with vintage shopping, incrrrredible pizza at Dough Bros, getting locked out of our room and being rescued by a big Slavic chap whose role at the hostel was questionable, drinking cider through straws and a whole load of other tomfoolery. There is a feeling in Galway of ‘Real Ireland’, which sometimes you don’t get in Dublin because it’s a little more corporate and touristy. You can’t move in Galway for beautiful cafes, woollen wear shops and craft beer. Oh, and the live music isn’t bad either.
Our Peak of Galway: Playing Heads up and drinking rose out of Nutella jars in our hostel before heading out for a night on the town/brunch at Dela/wandering through the Spanish quarter.
Our Pit of Galway: The chap using a jackhammer outside our bedroom window at 8 a.m. was less than considerate, considering the state of us after the night before/the water in the hostel tasted of mould for some reason.
Anyway – it’s already all over and back to reality. Fittingly, the sun has disappeared for the first time all week and it’s like nighttime in my bedroom because it’s so dark in here. I suppose that means it’s time to venture out into the world and perhaps go to the gym to start working off all the whippy icecreams from during the week.
Hope you enjoyed, loves, and see you next time,