I’ll be honest. I didn’t really expect to love Ireland. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be beautiful, and that I would enjoy my experience here, but my heart has always been with England. I never really had much of a connection to Ireland like I did with the United Kingdom.
All of the literature I spent my life consuming, and the tv shows I have come to watch, don’t really touch on Ireland. My only connection to Ireland is that Jane Austen’s long lost love Tom Lefroy came from Limerick, Ireland. (Watch Becoming Jane!)
But after a couple days here I have come to love Ireland for its kind and curious people, its spectacular scenery and its history. Today we enjoyed the breathtaking natural beauty of this ancient land and thousands of years of human life in the form of long-lasting structures.
There are places in the world right now where its own people are destroying precious landmarks that have stood the test of time. Ireland is the embodiment of peace and it’s a peace that the Irish fought to have from the English up until the turn of the 20th century when they won their battle. As an outsider looking in I feel very honored that there are people who are dedicating their lives to preserve a history that should not be forgotten.
We’re Wicked Campers!
We left Dublin this morning to finally hire our Wicked campervan! This Australian-born business doesn’t have a stellar reputation but they were our choice because every other RV/Campervan company in Ireland was triple the cost! Also, their reputation is sullied only by their shocking slogans painted across their vans. When you book the van you can’t pick the design so we crossed our fingers that we would get something decent. Thankfully we did!
This baby has a mattress in the back, storage boxes, kitchen table and kitchen utensils all in the convenience of a refurbished van. So far we’re pretty happy with the size of this van on the tiny roads in Ireland. We’re spending our first night sleeping in it tonight so we’ll let you know its comfort levels.
Wicklow Mountains and Glendolough
The rolling hills, grazing sheep, and picturesque lakes were a perfect first stop on our road trip. We expected to see lots of tourists but instead we saw more school groups and locals enjoying the warm blue sky weather.
We took some breathtaking photos of the landscape but my favorite part about exploring this area was the monastic settlement that has been wonderfully preserved. Glendalough was the site where St. Kevin, who lived before 618 AD, founded a monastery. There’s a cathedral, the round tower, churches and a sprawling cemetery.
We tried to attach our GoPro to the car but the paint job wasn’t letting the suction cup stick very well. Eventually we did get it to work but after a quick jaunt through the Wicklow Mountains it flew off the front of the car. I ran back to get it and thankfully it was just scratched but no more GoPro for this trip at least.
P.S. I read in Rick Steve’s guide to Ireland that Wicklow is overrated. I have to disagree based solely on Glenslough’s natural and historical importance in this country.
Rock of Cashel
This was a spontaneous stop after we started the long drive to Blarney Castle. It’s directly off the highway that leads to Cork so we did a detour to catch this religious landmark.
The Rock of Cashel is where St. Patrick baptized King Aengus in A.D. 450. You can even see the original cross of St. Patrick but due to the weather it was brought indoors into an exhibit where it can be preserved for future generations.
My favorite part of this ruin was its spectacular views from both the road and the top of the hill where it is perched. From the road you can see the ruins of the Rock of Cashel loom over the small town; it is both impressive and imposing. From the site you can look out over the town, and the surrounding countryside. There’s another ruin down below in the distance.
We only spent about an hour at the Rock of Cashel so if you can spare some time it’s worth the visit. It wasn’t even on our original itinerary but its close proximity to Blarney meant we didn’t have to waste too much time on a detour.
Cork and Camping
When we finally made it to Blarney Castle it was 6.15pm. Ticket sales end at 6.30pm but the cashier told us we’d probably have to run to the castle just to do the Blarney Stone kiss – and that’s if there wasn’t a long line. The castle closed at 7pm during summer hours. So we decided to push Blarney to the next morning.
We had dinner in the city of Cork, which looks quite similar to Dublin, but a little more hipster and far less populated.
As if one misfortune was the trigger to unlocking endless misfortunes the campsite we had planned on staying at was completely booked. Surprisingly there are not many campsites around Blarney or in County Cork. We ended up finding a campsite 1 hour away nearby the small town of Timoleague.
Surrounded by green rolling hills, grazing sheep and a soft sunset it was hard not to be glad that we did miss out on the Blarney Castle Camping Ground for this quiet piece of south Ireland.