We present the second half of our conversation with Peter and Kemberlee from All Ireland Travel (see show notes from Episode 12).
Vouchers for accommodation at B&Bs (and sometimes hotels) are often part of vacation packages for travel in Ireland, or they may be sometimes be purchased separately.
We have never used vouchers on any of our trips to Ireland. We neither condone nor condemn their use. You really have to decide for yourself if you think they would work well for your travel plans. How do you make that decision? Take a look at some of the following sites for more information.
On this site, Michele Erdvig (an Ireland Expert from IrelandYes.com) gives readers an interesting take on when she thinks B&B vouchers may or may not be a good value for travel in Ireland.
Read this article for a good look at the pros and cons of the vouchers.
Peter and Kemberlee’s favorite places to visit in Ireland:
Killarney National Park
The Gap of Dunloe
Here, we will make appropriate use of the wonderful descriptions Kemberlee and Peter have placed on their website of places of interest in Ireland.
Here is a general description of the Gap of Dunloe.
And the following description of the Gap comes from the Planet Ware website (www.planetware.com).
“The western part of the Killarney National Park extends from the Upper Lake to the southwest shore of the Lower Lake by way of Purple Mount (2,698ft/822m) and its northern foothills. This range of hills is separated from Macgillicuddy’s Reeks to the west by the rocky defile known as the Gap of Dunloe, best reached from the R562, which follows the north side of the Lower Lake. From the road to the Gap, which goes off on the left just after the golf courses, can be seen Dunloe Castle, set amid trees, and a group of ogham stones (National Monument).
It is customary to drive as far as Kate Kearney’s Cottage, but from there the climb to the pass (some 2.5mi/4km) is usually continued in a jaunting car, on a pony or on foot. There are five little lakes, fed by a rapid mountain stream. The highest of these is Serpent Lake, into which St Patrick is said to have consigned all the snakes he expelled form Ireland. The mighty rocks bearing the marks of glacial action which flank the gorge give an excellent echo. From the top of the pass (784ft/239m) there are superb views of hills, valleys and lakes in the varied shades of green, yellow and brown presented by the vegetation and the red sandstone rocks.”
This little gem is one visitorâs description of the walk through the Gap. It’s a very wonderful description of most of the walk. We say “most of the walk” because the family in the story didn’t walk all the way through the Gap to the Black Valley side. It’s a shame that many people don’t get all the way through, too, because we really thought that last mile and a half were probably the most beautiful and serene of the whole walk. (Unless you pay them extra, the jaunting cars don’t go further than the third lake in the gap, and there’s still a couple of miles of gorgeous valley to be experienced from there!)
A thorough description (with photos) of how many tourists make the trek through the Gap of Dunloe and back to Killarney Town each day:
The Black Valley
On our visit to Killarney National Park this year, we were determined to walk the Gap of Dunloe, and (thanks to confirmation from Peter and Kemberlee) we decided to start our walk at the Gap Head on the Black Valley end of the Gap. We did this because we had heard stories about how crowded it can get at the other end of the gap where most people begin their journey. We parked next to a little church in the Black Valley and made our way up the switchbacks in the road leading up into the gap. When we arrived at the other end of the gap, we had a lovely lunch at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and, as it had begun to rain in earnest, we decided to hire a jaunting car to take us up to the third lake (which is generally as far as they go before they turn around and head back). From there, we continued walking through the rest of the gap and back to our car in the Black Valley.
The road down into the Black Valley is not a drive for the faint of heart or the inexperienced driver, but the rewards are well worth it, if you can stomach the narrow, bumpy roads. At the bottom of the drive, you can either turn right toward Lord Brandon’s Cottage or left toward the Gap of Dunloe. The drive to Lord Brandon’s Cottage is really beautiful (and the road has been repaved beginning at the point where it enters Killarney National Park property) and worth a look! You could park your car at the small lot near the gates at Six Arch Bridge and walk the extra 2 or 3 km to the Gap of Dunloe, and we considered doing that, but decided against it. We were very glad that we didn’t have to walk the extra distance at the end of our day, as we were water-logged (despite the proper gear and apparel) and VERY tired from fighting against the wind the last couple of miles! On a fairly nice day, though, it might not have been too bad. We’ll never know.
Muckross House and Gardens
We have, admittedly, never visited Muckross House, but it looks to be a lovely period house that has been very well maintained and furnished. We would like to stop in during one of our future trips.
You might not recognize this name at first, but many of you may have seen photos of the fairly well-known oratory of St. Finbarr, which is located on an island in Gougane Barra Forest Park.
We were quite heartbroken that, due to the late hour of the day when we passed by, we were unable to make the detour to visit. The park also contains the source of the mighty River Lee (which eventually travels downhill to Cork City and out into Cork Harbour). We will be back to visit Gougane Barra!
Just about everyone who visits Ireland will spend some amount of time in Dublin City. There are many, many worthwhile things to see and do in the city, but you won’t need a car. For this reason, we generally suggest to our listeners that they visit Dublin either at the beginning of their stay or at the end of their stay (before they pick up a rental car or after they’ve dropped it off). It’s very easy to get to and from Dublin Airport to the city center, and driving in Dublin is, in some ways, more painful than driving in New York City!
An informative website to visit, as one might guess, is http://www.dublin.ie/, where you can plan out your itinerary. Be sure to make note of any festivals or special events that might affect where you can and cannot go.
Below are a couple of the bus companies that provide the hop-on/hop-off tours of the city, as was mentioned in the podcast.
http://www.irishcitytours.com/hop_citydublin.htm (Irish Sightseeing Tours – the red and yellow buses)
You can also book day tours by bus from Dublin City out to places like the Wicklow Mountains and Malahide and Brú na Bóinne.
The Antrim Coast
As we have mentioned in previous podcasts, we have not made it into Northern Ireland yet. We would like to make a special trip of 2-3 weeks, in order to give the region the attention it deserves.
The following site includes information about Glenarriff, a favorite area that Kemberlee mentions in the interview.
http://www.causewaycoastandglens.com/ (Causeway Coast and Glens)
The Beara Peninsula (and West County Cork)
If you would like general information about the peninsula, consult the following website: http://www.bearatourism.com/
The Beara Way is popular walking route located on the Beara Peninsula. The length of the complete walk is apparently difficult to estimate. Some information indicates the walk is 115 miles, while others maintain that is over 130 miles. In all fairness, there are several splinter routes that go off the main route, so the distance you would go would probably be determined by the number of those splinter routes you explore.
Even if you don’t get out of your car and walk at all (which would be a real shame, because you’ll miss a lot of really interesting sites), the Beara Peninsula offers beautiful landscapes and vistas along the main ring road, and you’ll not generally find the number of people and vehicles that you would find on, say, the Ring of Kerry right next door!
A good site for information about your trip to the Dingle Peninsula. http://www.dingle-peninsula.ie/
Dingle is also less crowded than the Ring of Kerry, generally, but there are many historical/archaeological sites of interest. As the Wikitravel website describes the area:
“The landscape is wild and beautiful from the eastern spine of the peninsula in the steep Slieve Mish (mountain of phantoms) to the western end where the land breaks into a scattering of uninhabited and dramatic islands and cliffs and beaches alternate around the coast. Dingle town (An Daingean) is small enough to walk and big enough to be lively.” http://wikitravel.org/en/Dingle_Peninsula
“Doolin is a small fishing village on the west coast of Ireland, often referred to as the capital of Irish traditional music.” - this is the description on the Doolin website:http://www.doolinireland.net/.
For further information on Doolin and its environs, refer to: http://www.doolin-tourism.com/
The Burren is basically a geological region of County Clare. http://www.burrenpage.com/
Wikipedia describes it this way: Its “rolling hills are composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side by side, due to the unusual environment. The blue flower of the Spring Gentian, an alpine plant, is used as a symbol for the area by the tourist board. Burren’s many limestone cliffs, particularly the sea-cliffs at Ailladie, are popular with rock-climbers. For potholers (spelunkers), there are a number of charted caves in the area.”
The Burren Centre in Kilfenora is a great place to start your visit to the Burren region. You can view an informative video about the Burren and walk through the exhibition area where you’ll get an understanding of how the Burren came to be and what life on the Burren has been like for animals, plants, and man.
This is one of our favorite pages about the Burren: http://www.burrenbeo.com/
Derry City, Northern Ireland
You may still hear Derry referred to as Londonderry, but most locals simply refer to the city as Derry. Derry has a long and, sometimes, unsettled history. But its turbulent history is always interesting.
Here is a brief history of Derry (up to the 1920s).
A Wikipedia article examines more of Derry’s history and geography.
Carrickfergus, County Antrim
Dobbins Castle (a.k.a. D’Aubins Castle or Dobbins Inn Hotel)
A little of the history of the hotel and its ghost(s) can be found at the All Ireland Travel website:
Glenariff, County Antrim
Glenariff, sometimes called the “Queen of the Glens,” is one the famous Glens of Antrim. It is the largest of the glens and was shaped, as were the others, by glaciers during the Ice Age. One of the most popular places to visit in this beautiful glen is the forest park:
We hope you enjoyed listening in on our afternoon conversation in Inchigeela. We’ll meet you again down the road!