A slow meander through the South West of Ireland…
The green hills, wild coastlines and warm welcomes of Ireland are best savored at a slow meander. Follow along as I take you with me on a recent tour of the Emerald Isle that will give you a taste of the real Ireland, while including some of the fun ‘must dos’, like kissing the Blarney stone! Then plan your own magical discovery tour.
As Americans, we’re always rushing around, multi-tasking, juggling to do lists. Vacations are means to be a time to slow down and relax and Ireland is one of the best places I’ve found to do just that.
One of the ways I gauge my travel experience is by the quality of the welcome that I receive in the country and in the places I visit and stay. Each of the places I describe in this tour welcomed me like a long-lost relative. Many Americans are just that, (of Irish descent, I mean), but I believe that this genuine hospitality is given to everyone.
Flying into Shannon
Flying into Shannon airport means that you arrive in the west of Ireland, to begin your journey. After a long international flight, I like to make my first stop a great destination that is not far from the airport, especially if you’re driving on the ‘other’ side of the road.
Just a few minutes from the Shannon airport yet in another world, your
First stop: Two nights at Dromoland Castle
What better way to get over your jet lag than to be surrounded by 410 acres of lush green scenery on the shores of Lough Dromoland. You can play golf, go to the spa or even try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, in addition to lots of other fun activities.
The grey stone walls of the castle and luxury bedrooms will make you feel like you woke up in a fairy tale.
After your two-day stay, you will be rested and ready to drive on the ‘other’ side of the road.
Second stop: Village of Kenmare, Two nights at Park Hotel Kenmare
The drive from Newmarket-On-Fergus to Kenmare will take you about an hour but plan to stop along the way.
Take your time and don’t rush. Rediscover (or discover) what it means to meander down the road. You’re not on a super highway here, so stop and explore a village or whatever beckons to you on your way.
The Park Kenmare Hotel was voted the Best Hotel in Ireland, 2012 by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure magazines. For the next two days, you’re about to discover why. Think warm welcome, think Spa SÁMAS, a 25mt Lap Pool, Cinema and daily lifestyle classes. You can also venture out to explore the bustling village of Kenmare or take a day trip to the ring of Kerry and take in the breathtaking coastal scenery.
The Victorian landmark Hotel dates from 1897 and is surrounded by the sparkling waters of Kenmare Bay and the majestic Cork and Kerry Mountains.
I felt like I was staying in a rich Aunt’s country manor and wanted to move in full time. The cute little lamb on my bed and I became so attached that I had to take him with me. See photo.
Time to meander on again, but by now you’re over your jet-lag and have slowed down enough to appreciate the subtle flavors of not only the delicious Irish food, but of all the varied shades of green in the landscape.
Take your time to enjoy your drive either winding along the coast or more directly inland to the vibrant city of Cork. For your
3rd stop: Dinner and overnight Hayfield Manor Hotel
Cork’s premier 5-star hotel, has all the amenities you would expect, yet it still retains the distinct charm of a Manor.
Downtown Cork, explore the English Market, lunch at The Farm Gate Café
Queen Elizabeth II visited the English Market during her state visit in May, 2011. The market dates back to the times of King James I in 1610, and has been officially trading since 1788.
Blarney Castle, kissing the Blarney stone. Here are my photos. It’s a bit scary but be sure to take on the challenge.
Short Drive to 4th stop: Ballymaloe House
Over forty members of the Allen family, spanning four generations, work together to create a warm welcome in this renowned Irish country house, hotel and restaurant owned and run by the family for over 40 years.
Situated on a 400 acre estate in rural East Cork, just twenty miles from Cork and close to the south coast, Ballymaloe House offers activities for the whole family. The rural landscape offers many choices in country walks or play golf or tennis, then relax by the pool. Some evenings, enjoy traditional music or concerts, or sign up for some cooking classes at the Ballymaloe House Cooking School.
Day trips: Waterford Crystal Factory
The Village of Kinsale
Cohb and the Titanic museum
For all information about Ireland