Ireland – Nature at its Best

Part 2 – Ring of Kerry and up to Donegal

After a great start to our Ireland Trip (read it all here) we were about to explore the Ring of Kerry peninsula in the South West before heading up north.

Ring of Kerry

First stop of the day was the Staigue Stone Fort an ancient (okay almost all stone forts are ancient by definition) ring fort from about 400 AD. Quite an unique sight.

Staigue Stone Fort (and Kevin)

Afterwards it was already time for lunch in the town of Waterville where apparently Charlie Chaplin liked to spend his holidays.

Next stop was Ballinskelligs where the remains of and old tower and church besides a lonely beach created one of these picture perfect moments.

Ballinskelligs (nice, right?)

Once again we enjoyed the stunning landscape along the cost on our way to Portmagee and Cahergall Stone Fort. There a clever farmer set up camp and let people pet an adorable lamb – and asked for a few Euros afterwards (fair enough).

Hazel with Lamb

We rounded of our day with a visit to the Torc Waterfall and the nearby lake. What a beautiful day it was.

Up to Ballyvaughn

Today we needed to get some millage done and headed towards Lahinch via Limerick. Lahinch was in full preparation for the Irish Open which started a week later and was a good stop for some sandwiches.

We have been told that everything over 15 degree is considered summer in Ireland. This was probably the reason for the fair amount of surfers and swimmers at the beach.

17 Degree and Surfing/Swimming – Crazy Irish

As the weather was rather mediocre in the afternoon we bypassed the Cliffs of Moher (and about 10 tour buses) and headed straight for Ballyvaughn instead. The greater region is called the Burren which has unique stone formations and is home to a unique ecosystem.

We finished the day with a splendid loop walk around the town followed by some yummy muscles.

Westport

The next day we continued to enjoy the fantastic Irish coast on our way up Westport including a nice oyster stop at Roundstone and a leisurely walk in the Connemare National Park. We rounded of the evening with a visit to the local pub including some local music. Irish live music in a full pub with a pint of beer must be one of best things in life.

Yummy Oysters

Achill Island and Donegal

The next morning we drove to beautiful Achill Island which was connected to the mainland via a bridge. Achill is very laid back and has definitely more sheep than inhabitants and a lot of them roam freely on the streets (talking about the sheep).

First stop was a outlook which provided a superb 360 view of the island. Later on we continued to Keel beach from which I hiked up the nearby hills (Hazel preferred to take an afternoon nap) which rewarded me with even more great views.

Sheep with a View or is it a View with a Sheep

We profited from the fact that the sun only sets around 11 pm in summer and ended the day with a nice walk along the beach.

The next morning it was time to leave the island and to continue north with a first stop at Ballycroy national park (including a nice EU funded, slightly oversized visitor center).

Via Sligo we headed for Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery where we visited the 6000 year old stone graves (or a big pile of stone as Hazel called it).

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery (or a very old pile of rocks)

We spent the night in Donegal including another music session in the local pub – this one even came with some Irish dancers. However the biggest surprise was a bearded Swiss drummer who entertained the whole pub with a Swiss folk song.

Continue to that last part.

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