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Preamble
Few months after my last travel in september 2008, friends asked to follow me in Ireland this year. Then I planned this two weeks journey. It drove us from Malin Head to Mizen Head through the entire west irish lands.
For transport, plane cost 150€/pers. and the rented car (category C) 410€ for 14 days.
The weather was dull, cold and rainy during May but, as we noticed, the meteorology can play some tricks...

23/05 : late night arrival
Here is the day to our start, the evening, in fact, as we take off at 22h20 to go out from Dublin airport after midnight. We reach our hostel at the edge of Swords with a short walk.

24/05 : Dublin - Letterkenny
The road promises to be long as we go to Letterkenny. As we are near Monasterboice, we stop at a small cemetery with probably one of the most beautiful celtic cross in Ireland. We continue our journey which drive us to Carlingford. After a short pause near the castle, we go to Armagh. This city is noticeable wit its two cathedrals. We are in Ulster... Arrived at Letterkenny, we find a warmful B&B outside the town.
During the evening until the night, we visit Inishowen Peninsula and then we reach the northest point of the main island : Malin Head.

Monasterboice Carlingford Castle Gap of Mamore


25/05 : peat moss paradise or walkers hell
Clouds are low, we go for a demanding walk : Poisoned Glen. For the first time, the fog desoriented me "a bit".

Little bridge Errigal Mount

Poisoned Glen


26/05 : Letterkenny - Bundoran
We leave Letterkenny. Taking tourist and coastal roads, we finally arrive at Slieve League, 601m height. Then we stay at Bundoran for the night, a famous irish spot for surfers.

Slieve League


Cliff Dusk at Bundoran Turf'n Surf

Pristine sandy beach


27/05 : Bundoran - Castlebar
Let go to Castlebar, we follow the "Swiss Valley" and walk a short time to see Glencar Waterfall. The place has badly changed : a car park ate a large part of a tiny field with a very nice view on sheeps and the lake. We carry on our route which sometimes is much a trail than a road.

Glencar Waterfall Pontoon Drumcliff

Glencar


28/05 : Croagh Patrick - Achill Island
The day is promising with a early sun. We begin the climb of the famous Croagh Patrick (764m). This mountain is a catholic pilgrimage place for people who have a diseased relation. We try to climb it as fast as possible (so not so fast !). The summit usually shows a wonderful view on Clew Bay and its dozens islands.
After this effort, we go to Achill Island where we follow the "Atlantic Road" to Keem Strand. Near a cliff, we discover a very old winch : its ancient use is a mystery (the Island is linked with a bridge).

Clew Bay Along Atlantic drive


29/07 : Connemara
After crossing the north of Connemara with a short stop at Aasleagh Waterfall, we go to the heart of Maumturks. Here, we walk on a rocky mountain under the sun (24°C in the valley) with a strong and cold wind on the ridges. The walk ended, we have dinner at Clifden. Then we follow the Sky Road before coming back to Castlebar. I don't understand why this road is mentionned in tourist guides : some other routes offer the same kind of panorama.

Aasleagh Waterfall Near Kylemore Abbey Near Kylemore Abbey

Maumturks


30/05 : Castlebar - Ballyvaghan
We leave Connemara to stop few hours in Galway, a leg of the Volvo Oean Race (http://ge.m.volvooceanrace.org/ctk/vorgenetworklink.kmz). The city is invaded by thousands people during the week end (Bank holiday). We walk along the sea front and, as we don't find any place at table outside a pub, we go inside one with the appearence of an old galeon. Then we leave to the Burren. At the end of afternoon, we enjoy the country near Black head. The weather is sunny with 25°C...

Burnet Rose Mussels Limestone


31/05 Ballyvaghan - Killarney
We decide to walk through the plateau of Burren. This unique rock-forming is the result of previous glaciation. The limestone has been eroded by glacier in large cracked slabs. The Burren is well known for its flora which includes some alpine plants at the sea level !
We cross the Shannon River by ferryboat at Killimer and we reach killarney, a base camp for tourists who want to discover the Kerry. By the way, we did not go to the Cliffs of Moher (admission fee).

Dobhach Brainin


01/06 : the highest irish peak - Black Valley
The day promises is warm (24°C). We decide to do the Coomloughra horseshoe walk. It leads us on three of the highest irish summits : Carrauntoohil (1039m) Beenkeragh (1010m) and Caher (1001m). The view on Mac Gilly Cuddy's Reeks is beautiful. One of us prefered to stay quiet near a lake.
After this intensive effort with less than 6 hours. we go along small roads in the heart of Kerry, through Ballaghbeama Gap, the Black Valley et the Gap of Dunloe.

Carrauntoohil Black Valley

Mac Gilly Cuddy's Reeks


02/06 : Killarney - Bantry
We don't visit Dingle peninsula with the Brandon Mount (which will be the subject of a nice hill walk one day). We reach the Beara peninsula still under the sun (24°C) where Gleninchaquin Park is hidden (http://www.gleninchaquin.com) : a peaceful place where we meet the english artist Martyn Bell. The park is a good place for family walks.
Back on the road, we go to Healy Pass, a place of funeral tradition, and we stop at Bantry for the night. Finding a B&B took us a long time and finally, a charming woman falsely like "Misery" (nevertheless a bit obsessive), welcome us. Here a small tip, it seems (early in June) that most of cooking stops at 21h00 except in italian restaurants.

Ladies View Gleninchaquin Sheeps on green


03/06 : Bantry - Kinsale
We leave the mountains to the south capes. We discover Sheep's Head with a small walk which seems to be longer under a blazing sun. After a drink, we reach the next peninsula : Mizen Head. the entranc requires an admission fee ! We prefer to go to Kinsale where we find a warmful B&B. We end this day with some musics in a pub.

Yellow flower Small cliff Lighthouse


04/06 : Kinsale - Kilkenny
After a breakfast in company with a couple of american people, we go to Cork to buy few things. It was the european capital of culture during 2005. Our route brings us to Vee Gapwhere for the first time I could see other things than the fogon Knckmealdown summit (794m). Rhododendrons are the masters here.
Passing the gap, we go to Cashel. We visit the ruins of Hore Abbey. Then we continue to Kilkenny for a second night with music after a dinner taken at Kyteler's Inn (http://www.kytelersinn.com/), founded in 1324.

Rhododendrons Hore Abbey Cashel


05/06 : Kilkenny - Dublin
Glendalough cemetery exit
Small irish roads take time, sometimes lots of time. We arrive at the monastic site of Glendalough by the Wicklow Gap. We do a fast walk along a well marked trail. And I will let you guess, the sun is still shining but the temperature is only 13°C.
After this fast walk, we are again on the road for the last time and we reach Dublin through Sally Gap. Crossing the city to our B&B is like a scavenger hunt. In the evening, we go to Harolds Greyhound. Our luck vanished with the sun and we finish the evening at Elephant Castle, a good restaurant in Temple Bar.
 


06/06 : wet feet before the return
Under an heavy rain, we visit Dublin. We finally go to the National Gallery and admire some paintings (and also we dry a little).

Epilogue
This 14th stay had been the opportunity to show to my friends parts of the nicest irish landscapes and to come back to many places I like in Donegal. Once again, the weather had been sunny, Our journey represents a total of 3000km, most on small roads, 27 hours of hill walks and incalculable amusements.


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