Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 6: Slea Head Drive Part 2

Let’s take you back to the West Coast of Ireland and finish off our day on the Dingle Peninsula

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After leaving our souls behind at Coumenoole Beach, we continued on the Slea Head Drive Рleaving the Sleeping Giant behind.

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The Sleeping Giant – pretty cool, eh?

Our next stop was Clogher Head (Not the same as ‘Clogherhead’ in County Louth!), where we had a nice view of the crashing waves, the beaches and the Three Sisters peaks in the background. Even though it had become stormy-looking, we didn’t mind it one bit! In fact, I thought it added to the atmosphere and the scenery.

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This would probably look completely different on a sunny and calm day! But I kinda like it stormy! ūüėČ

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Spotted some misty islands out there… Not sure which ones they are, though!

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After enjoying the scenery, the stormy clouds and the waves, we piled back onto the bus for our next stop.

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Next up was Inch Beach – a beautiful long stretch of sandy beach. If there were no clouds and it was bathed in bright sunshine, you would probably think this was somewhere tropical. But nope, this is Ireland and the Atlantic Ocean!

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The beautiful view that greeted us as we stepped off the bus…

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Just gorgeous – the sun even decided to make an appearance!

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As the sun set against the backdrop of clouds, it made for some pretty special photographs!

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And just like that… our adventures on the Slea Head Drive and the Dingle Peninsula were over. But we got some awesome photographs and memories with our travel mates out of it!

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Review: What a spectacular drive this was! ¬†The Dingle Peninsula and the Slea Head Drive are definitely worth a visit! The amazing scenery and the feeling of being immersed in nature on the Wild Atlantic Way¬†is just amazing! We would love to return and spend more time here – maybe do some camping and hiking in the area. Although I don’t know if I would be brave enough to take on these winding and narrow roads… ¬†To be honest, I would also probably get distracted by the gorgeous scenery and forget I was driving…

If driving is not an option, there are various guided tours that leave out of Dingle or Killarney Рso that could work. Some people will hire a bike and cycle the Slea Head Drive! That would be a pretty cool adventure and workout! 

The Slea Head Drive is definitely something we would recommend if you are headed to the west coast of Ireland!

Have you driven the Slea Head Drive? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below!

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After an amazing day of adventures and exploring, we headed into Killarney for the last night of our All Ireland Rocker tour. It was too bad we only had the one night in Killarney. There seemed to be a lot in the area to discover and explore – from the Killarney National Park, the Ring of Kerry, the mountains, the lakes to the historic castles/houses in the area. And of course, we can’t forget about the Traditional Irish music and the pubs!

We stayed at Neptune’s Hostel in Killarney. It was nice, clean and central to everywhere we needed to be in Killarney.

That night, with Gillian leading us, we all trooped over to a restaurant for a group dinner. Then as a group, we wandered over to The Grand, where there was to be live music and a DJ as well.

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Earlier that afternoon…. Gillian had a warning for us: the Checkered¬†Shirt Brigade. She told us of the men in Killarney and their tradition of wearing… you guessed it – checkered shirts, to the Grand. It seems they must know when the backpacking tours get into Killarney and tend to come out in full force on those nights! They seem to have deduced that the ratio of males to females on these tours is a bit off and wanted to “balance” it out ūüėõ (We thought – belatedly, how funny it would be if we also wore our checkered shirts and what their reactions would be! Maybe next time!)

That night at the Grand, we did see some members of the Checkered Shirt Brigade but they didn’t give us much trouble! ¬†There was a cover band that night and after they finished playing, we stepped into the adjacent room, which housed the nightclub. There was lots of dancing and grand craic to be had that night, which was perfect for our last night together!

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Wandering back to the hostel through the quiet streets of Killarney in the middle of the night, with our ears ringing from the music, made us sad that the next day was the last day of our All Ireland Rocker Tour ūüė¶

But! There were still adventures to be had on this last day – as we go in search of the “Gift of the Gab!”¬†Stay Tuned for Day 7!

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

 

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Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 6: We Left Our Souls in Ireland!

Sorry for the hiatus!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks for the both of us – trying to balance life and work. And special events – like my childhood friend’s wedding, which is in less than a week’s time!!! So there have been dress fittings, a bridal shower and lots of cookies being trialed, tossed, baked and iced! And I’ve started moonlighting at a second job, although some might call it my third job… Plus, there’s a ballet performance coming up – so there have been and will be many more ballet classes and rehearsals before this week is done! I feel like I’ve been running around like crazy these past 2 weeks!

AND THEN…

We are leaving on a jet plane in less than a week’s time – headed for Dublin and then onwards to beautiful Italy! We’ve barely had any time to plan this trip! So we gotta get on that pronto… Starting next Wednesday, check us out on Instagram for more of our Italian adventures.

But enough of that! Let’s take you back to the beautiful Emerald Isle!

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After a spot of lunch, a visit with Fungie and a wander around Dingle, we piled back onto our bus and embarked on our next adventure exploring the Dingle Peninsula on the world famous Slea Head Drive.

The circular Slea Head Drive, starts and ends at the town of Dingle. Heading out of Dingle, I stared out of the bus window and tried to memorize the amazing scenery passing by… beaches, cliffs, ocean and waves – each more beautiful than the last.

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And then came the hairpin turns… We were told that tour buses do the drive clockwise. I don’t imagine it would be much fun to have two tour buses facing each other and trying to edge past one another on these tight narrow roads – much less if they were on one of those hairpin turns! So it makes sense to have a set direction. However, this presents a conundrum for other drivers… Do you go clockwise and follow behind these tour buses? Or do you go counterclockwise and end up facing these tour buses head on – and possibly need to navigate your vehicle backwards on these narrow roads? Which adventure would you choose?!

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Besides the sharp turns and the cliffs, you’ll also want to watch out for… SHEEP! Or as they are called: Suicidal Sheep! Gillian, our tour guide, warned us about them. Look at how nonchalant they are – just perched there and munching on grass, without a care in the world. Don’t they know that one wrong step could send them tumbling off into the water?!

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Check out that cute little one in the left bottom corner – just photobombing!

We also spotted some beehive huts on our drive. A beehive hut is also known as cloch√°n. What a remarkable structure to be able to withstand the rain, wind and storms off the Atlantic.

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We also drove by some ruins – perhaps from the Great Famine, we were told.

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We got a chance to step off the bus for some fresh air and to admire the gorgeous view.

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So peaceful and quaint!

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And some lovely neighbours too!

Once we were back on the Slea Head Drive, we spotted the Sleeping Giant!

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Can you spot him?

The Sleeping Giant or the Dead Man (An Fear Marbh) is actually the island of Inishtooskert or¬†Inis Tuaisceart.¬†Inis Tuaisceart¬†means¬†“northern island” in Irish Gaelic.

This island forms part of the Blasket Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Since 1953, the Blasket Islands no longer had any human inhabitants, as it was deemed unsafe to live there. The Blasket Islands are home to lots of wildlife however, including seabirds, whales and dolphins. Even though no one lives on the Blasket Islands anymore, you can take a boat tour and spend a day visiting the Great Blasket Island. We think it would be a grand adventure!

Inis Tuaisceart really does look like a Sleeping Giant, doesn’t it?

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Then Dunmore Head came into view. Some people would argue that this is the westernmost point of Ireland and mainland Europe. What a breathtaking vista! As you may already have noted from our previous posts on Inis Mór, I have a thing for cliffs, the ocean, crashing waves and gorgeous scenery! So I was happy just admiring the scenery, committing it all to memory and snapping away on my camera.

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We made a stop at Coumeenoole Beach. Just one look at it gave me goosebumps Рwith its green jagged cliffs, the smooth sand and the crashing waves coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

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This next photograph is one of my favourites from Day 6 of our All Ireland Rocker tour. It is rugged beauty at its finest.

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The mesmerizing waves rolling in from the wild Atlantic Ocean – seemingly calm in the distance but gathering speed and force as they crash onto the rocks and onto the beach.

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Look at this gorgeous stretch of beach! Who would have thought Ireland would have beaches like this – certainly not me! (Same goes for Scotland!)

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Legend has it that if you dip your toes into this part of the Atlantic Ocean, the ocean claims a piece of your soul. You have 20 years to return and claim that part of your soul again. We don’t know whether we actually lost our souls here, but we know a piece of our hearts was left behind in this beautiful and wild part of the Emerald Isle.

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Leaving our souls and footprints on Coumeenoole Beach. This is another one of my favourite photographs from today!

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I was so glad we had plenty of time here – exploring the rocks, reflecting and staring out at the ocean and admiring the power of the waves! (See – it’s my fascination with waves and ocean and water showing through again!)

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I would never leave such a gorgeous place without a ballet photograph!

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The lighting at this time made for some dramatic photographs and we just couldn’t help taking a bunch of fun photographs!

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Gazing…

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And the gazing continues…

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I think it would be amazing to make the Slea Head Drive early in the morning and catch the sunrise right here – at Coumeenoole Beach. What an experience that would be! It’s on the list for our future road trip through Ireland! But for now, there was more exploring in store for us!

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Leaving Coumeenoole Beach and a piece of our souls… We’ll be back in 20 years!

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Stay tuned for the next part of the Slea Head Drive!

Ioana and Natalie
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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

 

 

Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker Day 6: From Ennis to Dingle

After a great night out in Ennis, complete with Irish dancing and trad music, we set off for Day 6 of our All Ireland Rocker tour. And it would be a good one! We were off to the Dingle Peninsula to check out the westernmost area of Ireland. Some would even argue this to be the most westerly point of Europe (excluding Iceland!).

We had a bit of a drive from Ennis to our destination. We were glad, since that gave us a chance to relax and check out the scenery that was passing by. On our way, we passed by Bunratty Castle Рa 15th century Tower House. It is now a famous tourist attraction, holding medieval castle banquets complete with a lord and lady, musicians, period costumes and entertainment!

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Bunratty Castle

We also caught a glimpse of some ruins from the highway. I wonder what this used to be and what its history is… I think a road trip through Ireland may be in order – so we can explore small towns, castle ruins and stay as long or as short as we like!

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We also made a stop to take in the gorgeous views of Tralee Bay.

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The green of Ireland still amazes me. We live in the Pacific Northwest, in a temperate rainforest. And we think we get a lot of rain – hence Raincouver… But our green is still nothing compared to the green of Ireland.

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We finally drove into Dingle just before lunchtime.

Dingle or¬†Dingle/Daingean U√≠ Ch√ļis, is a town on – you guessed it – the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Most visitors, like us, stop here before or after the Slea Head drive.

After getting off the bus, we were greeted by one of Dingle’s most famous residents – Fungie the Bottlenose Dolphin! It is said that Fungie has been living in the waters surrounding Dingle since 1983. He is apparently friendly with swimmers, surfers and divers. He is quite a celebrity in town – he even has his own Instagram account!

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Fungie!

We were given some time to stroll around Dingle and to stop for lunch, before the highlight of our day – the Slea Head Drive.

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Taking in colourful Dingle!

Wandering into a cute little stone archway, we came across Danno’s Restaurant and Bar. I settled for one of their specials – the Smoked Salmon P√Ęt√© dish, while Ioana got the clam chowder.

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We still had some time after our lunch, so we went for a wee wander around Dingle. Love the colourful buildings!

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And we couldn’t stop in Dingle without trying Murphy’s ice cream! Their ice creams are made with fresh and natural ingredients, right in Dingle. They even boast using “milk from the rare and indigenous breed of Kerry cow.” How could we not try it?

I got a scoop of Irish Whiskey and a scoop of Kerry Cream. Even though it wasn’t a sunny or warm day, the ice cream was just perfect – creamy, rich and flavourful! (We just discovered they have a branch in Dublin! Might need to stop by on our next trip!)

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After finishing our ice cream, we headed back to Fungie and the carpark – excited for our next adventure and highlight of the day. Next up is the Slea Head drive!

Stay tuned for some epic photographs of waves, cliffs, beaches and beautiful sunsets – basically all of my favourite things!

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Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!