How to Fall In Love with an Ireland Road Trip

Ireland travel blog 7

Did you know that St. Patrick was not born in Ireland? Or that blue is the color most associated with him, not green?

Like a lot of holidays there have been stories, myths, and twisted facts that have changed the way we celebrate them. Regardless of this, no matter who you are, you probably associate St. Patrick’s Day with Ireland (at least in your head).

Ireland Road Trip Stops
How to Drive Ireland and 10 can’t miss spots.

For that reason and in honor of St. Patrick’s Day this month, I’m sharing my top 10 Ireland road trip stops.  It’s been almost 8 years since my personal Ireland road trip. That means, I had to dust-off the scrapbook (because yes, I scrapbook) and remember the good times.  

We did an Ireland trip for our first anniversary and it was lovely. There was amazing weather (this is not normal), the people are so nice, and the landscape is beautiful.

I was excited to go back and look at all the photos from our trip. However, before we get to that, let’s talk about St. Patrick’s Day and the actual facts behind it. Don’t worry, you can still wear green.

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Make Your Own St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

I don’t know about you, but I love any excuse to craft. So while this post might be about Ireland travel, I never miss a chance to inspire you to use printables for any holiday. Download the St. Patricks Day gnomes on the Journey Junkies page or sign up here if you’re not a member.

And in the interest of wearing green, head to spreadshirt for my favorite St. Patrick’s day t-shirts.

[convertkit form=2078337]

What is St. Patrick’s Day?

I’ll be honest, I knew very little about St. Patrick’s and his day. Plus, when we were in Ireland, I learned that we as Americans, celebrate it more than the Irish. That being said, I decided it was time to learn, and what I learned was very interesting.

st. patrick's day myths vs. facts

10 Things to Know about St. Patrick

As with a lot of holidays there are myths, stories, and celebrations that are right, sort of right, and completely wrong. I’m a big fan of educating myself and others about the holidays I celebrate or promote. So here’s what you need to know

  1. St. Patrick was not born in Ireland. He was born in Britain. (source)
  2. He was kidnapped and enslaved at the age of 16 and kept for over 6 years. During this time, he turned to his religion to help him cope and became a devout Christian. (source)
  3. After escaping, he started his religious training which took over 15 years.(source)
  4. St.Patrick did not introduce Christianity to Ireland. It was already there. However, he was tasked with ministering to the Christians already living in Ireland and with converting others, after he finished his study. (source)
  5. St. Patrick chose to incorporate traditional Irish rituals into his Christianity teachings, i.e. the Celtic Cross. (source)
  6. St. Patrick’s day was more of a Holy day involving a religious feast in Ireland and the traditions we see in the USA were started here. (source) For Instance:
    1. Green has not always been associated with St. Patrick. In fact, blue was the color associated with the patron saint.( source)
    2. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in what is now the USA. (source)
    3. Corned beef and cabbage was an American innovation. (source)
    4. The Irish are now adopting St. Patrick’s Day traditions from Irish America. However, some traditions they still find dumb. For instance “St. Patrick never drank green beer.” (source)

Now that you know a little more about St. Patrick’s Day, let’s talk about the amazingly beautiful country of Ireland. Regardless of whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s day or even care about it, Ireland is an amazing country to visit.

We did the southern part of the country, but I’d love to go back and see the northern part as well. Here’s 10 spots you should had to your bucket list.

Ireland Road Trip

Driving in Ireland

The roads in Ireland are some of the most difficult I’ve driven.  I don’t say that casually either, I learned to drive on the side of a mountain. I’ve gone off-roading, driven on roads where “only tours should go” and driven in 3rd world countries.

Every time someone tells me it’s tricky driving somewhere, I tend to roll my eyes, but this was the first time they were right. I don’t say this to tell you not to do it, you definitely should, just be aware, that’s all. Here’s the route we took below from Google Maps.

10 Spots to Add to Your Bucket List

1. Jameson Distillery & Guinness Factory

There are mixed reviews out there about Dublin. To be fair, it’s definitely not my favorite European city but it’s worth a visit. Personally, I think a weekend will do it, but you could spend more.

I’ve been twice and I thought it was at least worth taking my husband to since he didn’t go with me the first time.

Pour the perfect pint of Guiness in Dublin
Visit both the Jameson Whiskey Distillery and the Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland

If you do make it to Dublin, visit both the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Factory. They are both worth a visit and can both be done in a day along with other spots in Dublin.

You can learn to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Factory and taste whiskey from all over the world at the Distillery.

2. Trad on the Prom, Galway

However, having said everything above about Dublin, don’t just do Dublin. I did this on my first trip to Ireland and was disappointed.

After my second trip to Ireland I saw so much more and realized how gorgeous it is. Plus, I tend to like the country-side better than cities anyway.

Our first stop on our road trip was in Galway. I can’t say much about this little town because our flight actually got delayed and we missed our full day here. Nonetheless, we did arrive in time to see the show Trad on the Prom.

If you listen to nothing else here, listen to this. Trad on the Prom is fantastic.  It’s a traditional Irish music and dance show and it is well worth attending.

In fact, I was so exhausted from our delayed flight that I thought I might just be ready for the show to end so I could go to bed. I was wrong, from the minute the show started, I was hooked. It’s brilliant.

3. Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher
View the dramatic Cliffs of Moher landscape to feel really tiny

The next stop on our Ireland road trip was the Cliffs of Moher. We drove to the Cliffs from Galway and spent the day there. Then we traveled to Gap of Dunloe where we spent the night.

This is about a 4.5 to 5 hour drive when it’s all said and done. We were starting the Ring of Kerry the next day and wanted plenty of time.  It worked well for us, but we are early risers and don’t mind a bit of driving.

The Cliffs are amazing and did not disappoint. I wish we could have also done the boat ride but didn’t have the time or money for it.  

However, I don’t recommend doing just the boat ride. My parents actually did this, but were a bit disappointed. I was happy we walked along the top of cliffs if we could only do one or the other.

Ring of Kerry

These next 4 stops are all on the Ring of Kerry which is a whole trip in itself. This area is some of the best of Ireland’s wild side with mountains ocean views and dramatic landscapes. You owe it to yourself to do this drive, not just take a tour.

4. Ballycarbery Castle, Cahersiveen

Our first stop along the Ring of Kerry was Cahersiveen. Here we also saw the Ballycarbery Castle. You have no shortage of castles in Ireland but this one is lovely with the greenery on it.

Ballycarbery Castle
Visit the Irish Castle, Ballycarbery with it’s unique greenery

5. Valentia Island

Next up is Valentia Island. This where you’ll really get those dramatic ocean landscapes. From here you can also get to Skelligs Island.  However, you’ll need to check the boat times. We didn’t do this as the boat only leaves once or twice a day and it didn’t fit our schedule.

valentia island in ireland
Don’t miss Valentia Island in Ireland on the Ring of Kerry

6. Fogher Cliffs, Valentia Island

Also on Valentia Island is the Fogher Cliffs which you should definitely make a stop at when you arrive on the island. You’ll also be able to view the Skelligs Island if you don’t make it over there.

Fogher Cliffs in Ireland
Visit the Fogher Cliffs on Valentia Island while driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland

7. Caherdaniel and Staigue Fort

After we did Valentia Island, we stayed in Caherdaniel and it was a lovely seaside town. there’s a lovely beach and our room had a view of the ocean.
From here we also did Staigue Fort which was one of the more interesting things we toured. It’s a circular fort and definitely worth checking out.

Visit Caherdaniel and Staigue Fort in Ireland
Stay in Caherdaniel and visit the circular Staigue Fort in Ireland

8. Blarney Castle

That wraps up the Ring of Kerry portion of our trip. We also made a stop at the Killarney National park which is lovely but not in my top ten.  The next item in the top ten is the Blarney Castle.  

Legend says if you kiss the stone here you will be blessed with eloquence and persuasiveness. We did it, but it’s a bit gross (I’ve heard some people pee on it so there’s that). However, the castle itself is definitely lovely.

Blarney is also close to the city of Cork. While not in my top ten, we did do a little kayak trip through the city that I would recommend as well if you’ve got the time. The cork gaol (jail) is also worth a trip.

Blarney Castle
Kiss the Blarney stone (or don’t) at the Blarney Castle in Ireland

9. Cahir Castle

After Blarney, we headed towards the Rock of Cashel, but made a stop at another castle (because why not?). Cahir Castle is also a lovely stop. We also took a tour of a Swiss Cottage that was beautiful as well.

Cahir Castle in Ireland
Make a stop and spend an hour or so at the Cahir Castle on your way to Rock of Cashel

10. Rock of Cashel

Number 10 on the list should be number 1 if I were ranking these in order of their awesome-ness. However, I did this in the order we drove it so it’ll have to be 10. Do not miss out on the Rock of Cashel.

If you’ve done any research on Ireland, you’ve probably heard of it.  It’s a spectacular castle with stunning views. The tour is also very good (or so my husband said, I get distracted taking the photos).

rock of cashel
An absolute must-see in Ireland is Rock of Cahel. Take the tour for a in-depth experience

The Easiest Way to Plan Your Ireland Road Trip

That’s my top ten Ireland road trip stops. If this made you ready to plan your own trip then be sure to download the map above. I really think if you can get your route done, then that’s the easiest way to plan the trip. Just right click and save.

Looking to Make some St. Patrick’s Day Crafts?

Download the cute gnomes for every season to make your own t-shirts, decorations, and more.

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