Dingle Peninsula, Republic of Ireland

Nearing the end of the All Ireland Rocker trip with Busabout / Shamrocker Adventures. Today we explore the Dingle Peninsula, a stretch of land jutting out to the sea that like most of Ireland is breath taking and green. It should be noted that the ring road around the peninsula while 2-way is generally taken only in one direction by the locals and tourists in the know, that is because for most of the journey its a cliff-side road without a lot of room for modern traffic to allow for casual passing.

First stop on the ring road was a farmer’s estate where for a few euros you can pay to explore the Beehive huts (Clochán), the old farmhouse and pet baby sheep. Expecting a bit of a tourist trap I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually pretty straight forward process. Pay to enter and explore at one’s leisure. The baby sheep where in one section and as long as you were gentle you could pick up one for a photo.

They don’t mince words… exactly as advertised… also historic Beehive Huts

But for a bit of culture I did manage to drag myself away from the cute baby sheep and check out the Beehive Huts that are another staple of the area history.

Next stop on the Dingle Peninsula is Coumeenoole Beach, first we stopped for another photo opportunity then headed down to the beach itself.

Overlooking Coumeenoole Beach

Its quite a trek down to the beach from the parking lot, I opted to grab some more photos and a awesome time-lapse using my iPhone and the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 which makes up my micro travel kit for photographers.

Next we headed out to the point of the peninsula, it got very craggy out there and the wind did start to pick up but was not unmanageable, again weather seemed to be on our side (fun note, the north side of the island was getting pelted by heavy rain so weather is highly variable on the emerald isle – I just got really lucky and I’m sure that luck with eventually run out… cough spoiler cough cough). The Devils Horn as the region is known is quite something, and looking out to the ocean you can see some islands which were used in a recent Star Wars movie.

At the start and subsequent end of our trip around Dingle is the small town of Dingle. Known for its dolphin Fungie that lives out in the bay I had to take a look and see if I could spot the elusive critter.

They even have a statue by the marina honoring their unexpected town mascot
Dingle Harbour / Marina
FOUND HIM!
(J/K – Photoshop is my friend – But I fooled a bunch of people on the bus!)

We did stop for lunch in town, so several of us found a nice place called John Benny’s Pub to have some lunch at the recommendation of our tour guide Gemma. I had the fish of the day and chips, which came with peas as the veggies.

And that was it for the Dingle Penisula, a great day exploring a unique region of Ireland. Along the way we did drive by the famous “Rose Hotel” and stop in town for a rest break. I managed to find a rose bush and an old car to take pictures of… but otherwise short break.

Cliffs of Moher, Republic of Ireland

Today we left Galway and continued our southern heading journey towards the famous Cliffs of Moher. Along the way we stopped at Dunguaire Castle for a quick photo-op. The bus dropped us off at the car park, it was here we discovered there was a back door! (So I’m a bit of keener and sat near the front of the bus and this was the first time we used that entrance!)

The castle was built in 1520 and sits just outside of Galway, the castle is open for guided tours but this was a quick stop for us so beyond enjoying some photos and the breeze as you can see from the flag and my hair we continued on our journey.

Next Stop was the “Little” Cliffs of Moher

Our next stop, the cliffs of Moher!!!! Just kidding, before we got to the cliffs we had a short park on the side of the road at what our Guide Gemma dubbed “The Little Cliffs of Moher” where the rock face stood about 20ft above the ocean. We had a chance to wander around the site and look over the edge, we were the only tourists when we arrived but a couple of cars stopped and other tourists came down to see the site as well while we hung out enjoying the wonderful weather.

The “Little Cliffs of Moher”

The make-up of our Shamrocker Tour Group had changed from the northern portion of the All Ireland Rocker, with tour-mates on the Giant Rocker (Northern Tour) having left back to Dublin and the tour-mates on the Southern Rocker joining us. It was time to get another group photo!

Now the cliffs of Moher have their own micro climate due to the ocean air currents coming up against such a sudden tall land barrier, so despite our luck with the weather it was a coin toss what kind of weather we were going to encounter at the cliffs, we got lucky, more clear skies!

The Cliffs of Moher!
Additional Cliffs of Moher – There is a Significant Trek if one has the time to venture along the craggy cliffs
Recently they have started putting up barriers to keep tourists from the edges of the cliffs but if you walk far enough you can reach a point where the slate stones no longer separate you from the cliff.
You really need to visit the Cliffs of Moher yourself to truly appreciate how awe inspiring they really are!

One Last photo from the Cliffs of Moher as I head back to towards the bus so we can head to our next exciting location!

One Last Look at the Cliffs

Kinlay Hostel and Galway, Republic of Ireland

Finally after a long day of travel from Londonderry we arrive in Galway and get dropped off at our Hostel for the evening… a perfect fit for a day of almost zero exertions… you like stairs right? The reward was one of the nicer hostels on this trip, and as we were staying two nights a chance to do laundry!

Welcome to Hostel Living… sometimes it not pretty…

So after we got our luggage up to our rooms some of us took to the town to look for food and take in the sunset golden hour.

Spanish Arc

Shamrocker Adventures (and Busabout) offer several tours in Ireland, and there is a combination that is very specifically setup so that the main four Rocker tours (North, South, Western, and All Irish) all meet up in Galway and here we join into one large group for Galway and the Aran Isles portion of the trip. Now while the logistics of this feat is notable, it is also why all the tours have funky travel days. So if you were ever wondering why 7/3/3/3 day trips were offered, its because of that 10 day rotation (with downtime for staff before the next rotation).

One of the bars we visited during the night

However, and I hate to be critical of what was already quite an enjoyable trip, but the “ice breaker” event that Shamrocker has set-up for everyone is an optional pub crawl through Galway with a contest to steal potatoes from eachother… what sounded like a fun game quickly got ugly competitive as soon as alcohol was thrown into the mix, with each bus group vying to win it for their “team”. After having my potatoe stolen, and stealing back another and a pinpong ball (?) the thrid bar we went to had a band playing in the other section and I left the pub crawl and enjoyed the rest of my evening…

Local Irish Band Playing at the Third Bar
I found out there was more than three flavors of the Cider I liked back in Ballitoy

Legenderry City Walk – London/Derry Northern Ireland

It’s day 2 of the Shamrocker All Ireland Rocker bus tour and I (and everyone else) took the 5£ option for a walking tour around Londonderry/ Derry / Legenderry* with Martin McCrossan City Tours. This is the oldest walking tour company in Derry with our host being the daughter of Mr. McCrossan who is officially named “Mr. Derry” for his efforts promoting the city.

The tour kicked off at our hotel lobby as we were already well situated downtown. Our guide wore a bright yellow jumper (as you can clearly see) which made it easy to follower her along as the tour commenced.

Now like all walking tours, you do require a but of walking stamina for the 1.5 hours or so jaunt around the city. There are frequent culture talk breaks but as the city isn’t flat be prepared to walk up some stairs and hill sides. This is defiantly a “culture vulture” activity to learn in depth about the city’s divided history and present day realities.

It was clear our guide is very passionate about Lendenderry* (her coined phrase) and you can see that on her face as she discusses the various elements of “The Troubles” and the lessons learned since then.

Overall it was a great guided walk if you wanted to learn all about the Troubles and had questions the TV series “Derry Girls” didn’t fully answer for you. She was open and willing to answer tough questions various members of the group had and overall I’d rate this guided tour much more strongly than some others I have been on. Defiantly worth more than the 5£ so be sure to leave a tip.

Heading to the Emerald Isle (and England)

As a graduation gift to myself (who else is going to buy me cool travel presents) I decided that I should finally visit the Emerald Isle (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) as everyone else in my family as done so at least once… yay heritage!
For most of the Ireland Portion I’ll be on a Shamrocker Tour, afterwards I’m heading to Southern England to visit with my brother and some free-styling adventure travel.

A hint of what’s to come!

Given my down-sizing a few years ago in order to move to Toronto for school and a 1 bedroom apartment I had to divest of a few larger pieces of equipment and especially a large assortment of travel bags… So I did a bit of Pre-Trip Shopping 🙂

I also rarely (if ever) drink, for me its more a taste of the culture when I travel, although yes… for some reason I can’t seem to avoid checking out every brewery/winery/distillery I come across. Guinness is apparently the drink of Ireland so I managed to grab a can and give it a go… I’m told it tastes better in Ireland… one can only hope!

Guinness in a can – pre-trip dive into Irish Culture
Evening Flight out of Kingston Airport
Seat in the last row of the airplane #winning!
There are like 8 people on this plane…
Toronto… I was literally down there 3 days ago… (Irony)
Bombardier Dash 8-100 Airplane
Tiny Bombardier Dash 8-100 Airplane landed in Toronto

So of course this tiny little airplane was not going to fly me all the way to Ireland, but in Pearson International Airport fashion… its time for a walk-about in haste to board the next (and much larger) plane!

Long story short… I made it to Ireland, now to find some Guinness.

Spoiler: Guinness is not hard to find in Ireland