January 2007: On the most part during this era of my travels, I was focused on visiting the developing world where there typically was more adventure but the lure of Ireland and all of its charm both in its land, lore and people was too much for me to resist any longer and I decided to fly there on a cheap ticket for a long weekend trip with my friend Jason, rent a car and explore the southern part of Ireland, staying in haunted castles, getting off the highways on to the little country lanes and having a Guinness in a village pub with local fisherman. This was what I set out to do and found in Ireland. My four-day itinerary is below:

Day 1
Arrive Dublin@11:05am
Drive to Kilkenny. Driving time-1 hour 35 minutes, 84 miles
Check in at castle after 5pm.
Visit Dunmore Cave, which hosts stalactites, and stalagmites and was the location of a massacre of Irish villagers by barbaric viking hordes in the Middle Ages. 
Eat traditional Irish dinner in medieval dining hall in Castle.
Visit Kilkenny pubs.
Stay overnight in Foulksrath castle and commune with the smelly ghost.

Day 2
Drive to Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone in Cork. Driving distance-91 miles and 1 hour and 52 minutes.
Drive to Dingle peninsula on the Atlantic coast. Driving time-3 hours, distance-97 miles
Spend the night in Lovetts gues house in Dingle, a small Irish fishing village on the Atlantic Ocean.
Visit local pubs

Day 3
Visit Dingle peninsula’s west side in the Gaeltacht area. This area has the greatest concentration of ancient saites in Ireland along the roadside which hugs the mountainous coastline. Drive along HY 559 Slea Head Drive.
Visit the prehistoric Dunberg Fort, with an underground passage, perched on a cliff top. This is located 7km south of Ventry.
Visit the village of Dunquin.
Drive to Dublin. Driving time-5 hours, distance-214 miles 
Accommodation: Ashfield House Hostel. 

Day 4
Sleep in and eat breakfast. Explore downtown Dublin. 
Depart Dublin@1:30pm via Air Lingus

 

 

 

My route in Ireland

Staying in a Haunted Castle

To begin the trip, I decided to combine two of my passions old castles and haunted places,which brought me to Foulksrath castle, a 14th century castlein the countryside outside of Kilkenny, which the townspeaople decided to make into anhostel after it was abandoned and in ruin for decades. Jason and I had the castle to ourselves and not even the caretaker stayed there making the experience all that much more creepy considering how old the castle was and that it was legendary for being haunted by multiple ghosts. One ghost is of a guard who fell asleep on duty and was thrown from the ramparts to his death, while another is of a young girl forbidden from seeing her lover and pusnished by her father to isolation in one of the rooms of the castle where she eventually died from starvation. Another ghost is frequented by the smells of flowers. Jason and I throughly explored the castle including the creepy stone staircase going up to a dnegon like room and the ramparts. Although we didnt see any ghosts, the experience was definitely creepy. 

 

 

Foulksrath castle

Foulksrath castle dining room

Foulksrath castle creept stone staircase

Kilkenny 

We enjoyed Kilkenny a nice charming Irish mid-sized town with some pleasant pubs. We also visited a wild cave open to anyone with no ticket counter or guard. The cave was on the outside of town where in the Middle Ages a group of Irish sought refuge from marauding Vikings but were discovered and massacred by them. Like many places in Ireland in January, we had the cave to ourselves, and the experience was much creepier.

 

Kilkenny

Countrsyide when trying to find the Viking cave

Blarney Castle

We had no choice but to visit the medieval Blarney castle, one of Irelands most iconic tourist attractions. It was on our path, and it is amazing. Lucky for us again, few to no tourists and we had it to ourselves. We climbed to the top to be lowered carefully by an Irishman over a gaping hole from the castle rampart to kiss the blarney stone, where legend says one can acquire the gift of gab which the Irish are famous for. But another legend says that at the end of the day when the tourists leave, the Irishmen piss on the blarney stone. There probably is some truth to both legends and I can say that the stone was a little bit moist when I kissed it.

Blarney castle

Blarney castle

Me kissing the Blarney stone with the help of an elderly irishman who works there with the job to hold toursts over the gap in the floor while kissing the stone so they do not fall. 

Dingle

One thing I loved about Ireland is the names of its towns like Kilkenny, Limerick, and Dingle. Dingle is a quaint fishing village at the gateway of the Dingle peninsula, a wild peninsula of rolling green hills, old crumbling stone farmhouses amid majestic sea cliffs. Jason and I stayed a night in Dingle and visit the pubs at night to get a taste for the nightlife in small town Ireland.

 

Dingle marina

Dingle

Dingle

Irish Pub Experience

Its hard to imagine visiting Ireland without experiencing it a local pub and meeting the locals. While in Dingle there was only one pub open, and it was jam packed with locals. They gathered to celebrate and raise money for the surviving members of a family of Dingle fisherman, – three generations-grandpa, father and son-who were lost at sea. The celebration was with live Irish music, dancing and drinking. It was an amazing experience, despite the sad reality of why everyone was together.  The best part about it, it was wholly Irish and Jason and I were warmly welcomed into the celebration.

Irish Pub

Group of locals singing and playing irish music to raise money for surviving members of fihsermen lost at sea.

Group of locals singing and playing irish music to raise money for surviving members of fihsermen lost at sea.

Jason and Stevie, an elderlyIrish man from Dingle with an Irish accent so thick that we could barely understand him. He asked for a postcard from America and when we asked for his address, he said just put my name and Dingle and the post man will find me. 

Driving the Dingle Peninsula

We were blessed to have sunny and warm weather in January, something unheard of for Ireland. Driving the small, lonely roads of Dingle was a highlight for me. The road was spectacular, sometimes clinging to sea cliffs, passing rocky farms with stone farmhouses that have been with the same families for centuries. I often had to pause for passing herds of sheep. The road signs were in English and in Gaelic the old Irish language.

 

Dingle pensinsula roads

Dingle Peninsula sea cliff

Dingle Peninsula sea cliff

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula Farm house

Dingle Peninsula Farm house

Ancient Celtic stone structure on the Dingle peninsula that may have been used for religious ceremonies

Jason and I did lot of driving in a few days, passing countless castles, many abandoned, small graveyards with Celtic crosses and tombstones dating back hundreds of years, all places with a depth of history that was beyond comprehension. Much of the history unfortunately goes hand in hand with tragedy and suffering.

We spent our last night in Dublin, which is too big for my liking and far more international and less Irish feeling than the countryside, but I still enjoyed Dublin.

9 + 2 =

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