The second half of our trip provided some of our favorite days in Ireland and plenty more adventures! It also led to some slight chaos on the road out in wild Ireland! But if everything were easy, it would make travel boring. Day 4 was our longest travel day, leaving Limerick to head up to Enniscrone/Sligo area. Of course a pit stop to the iconic Cliffs of Moher was on the list!
It was (not surprisingly) cold at the Cliffs of Moher in mid-October, with vast winds and a lack of sun to keep us warm. But that did not stop us from spending a few hours at the tourist attraction!
From the Cliffs of Moher, we had an additional 3 hour drive to our next hotel in Enniscrone. We left the cliffs late afternoon and braved the narrow, windy roads of rural Ireland, praying we wouldn’t get crushed by the oncoming tourism buses. Have I mentioned that I was so grateful that Sean took the wheel our entire week in Ireland?! We made a brief pit stop in Galway for some dinner before continuing our journey another few hours. It was our first time traveling in the dark and of course it started to rain! A few wrong turns and detours later, we finally made it to our hotel in the Sligo area.
After a long night and few days on the road, we were ready to have a slower and relaxing morning. After a morning walk on the beach behind our hotel, we had a seaweed bath treatment right at the hotel! We’re not usually spa people, but I have to say, it was well-needed after the night before!
Feeling zen and well-rested, we were ready to spend the afternoon in Sligo! We grabbed a delicious lunch at a hipster restaurant called Hooked (with an Irish coffee of course), which provides locally sourced artisan food.
After lunch, we were craving more time out in nature and away from the cities. Just outside of Sligo city offered some amazing nature opportunities. There was picturesque rock formation Benbulbin, which somehow did not make it in our travel guide! Good thing we strayed off the beaten path away from the tourist hotspots. The area offered some easy trails around the rock formation and stunning views of the region. The base of the mountain is also the resting place for Irish poet WB Yeates.
We did have about half an hour of slight panic as we got lost along the trails, trying to head back to the parking lot. We even went so far down the hill behind a smaller patch of woods, to the point where we lost sight of Benbulbin and feared we wouldn’t make it to the car until after sundown.
Luckily we weren’t lost for too long and were able to make it to our last nature stop before sundown: Glencar Waterfall. This place was the inspiration for WB Yeates’ 1889 poem “The Stolen Child”. We even ran into a local visiting the waterfall, who eerily chanted the poem to us by memory.
Day 6 was our last full day in Ireland and marked our 10 year anniversary together (and 4 years married)! Who knew 10 years ago when I, a 22 year old college student asked a cute boy out, would be with him as the love of my life a decade later exploring Ireland!
We arrived to the adorable small town of Athlone and grabbed a bite to eat before spending the rest of the afternoon at Sean’s Bar. Sean’s bar is the oldest known bar in Ireland, at 900 AD, and may even be the oldest pub in the world. The bar was so cozy during that rainy afternoon, it was easy to spend 3 hours there! The pub life in Ireland is not quite the same as a bar in the United States, where people tend to drink too much and get rowdy. In Ireland, it’s a place for locals to wind down after a long day or work week, catch up with others, and even spend time with their families (and bring their children). We couldn’t have thought of a better place to spend our 10 year anniversary at.
After a couple of drinks and chatting with the bartender and locals, we said our farewells and made our way to Dublin. Great Value Vacations sadly put us in the worst hotel of our trip our last night in Ireland, 20 minutes outside of the city center. But that didn’t stop us for taking a stroll down to the iconic streets of Dublin to grab dessert and see the already decorated Temple Bar.
Overall, we had an amazing week in Ireland and plan to visit the Emerald Isle again someday. We never made it to the archeological site, Newgrange, which I’m hoping to visit next time, as well as head to Northern Ireland to explore Belfast and The Giant’s Causeway. Maybe we’ll go back there for our 10 year marriage anniversary (6 years from now). 🙂
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