Our third day in Ireland was one big scenic road trip, with Killarney as the final destination. We woke up early once again to grab breakfast from Doonbeg Lodge before we headed out. I started with a glass o’ freshly squeezed orange juice…
…and ended with drop scone pancakes served with a fried egg and bacon. Yum!
The journey began with a ferry ride across the River Shannon.
Once we docked on the other side, we hopped back in the van and made our way toward the Dingle peninsula. Along the way, we stopped for some gorgeous views of the Irish countryside, complete with – you guessed it – more happy cows!
We arrived in the heart of Dingle mid-morning. The clouds looked a bit iffy, so Mike suggested we venture out to Slea Head Drive while the sun was still shining.
We hoped to see some of the many stone beehive huts that we knew peppered the hills. It was yet another moment where we were glad to have someone with us who was familiar with the area: Mike drove us straight past a site full of tourist buses and parked us in front of a residential property instead where, for a couple of euros, we were able to walk among herds of sheep and check out a collection of Fahan stone structures.
I was impressed by how cool it was inside. These would come in handy in Arizona!
Although dating the huts can be difficult because they were used as early as 3100 B.C. and as late as the 1950s, there’s a good chance that these go at least all the way back to when the Normans came during the 12th century.
We continued on Slea Head Drive, enjoying the gorgeous cliffs and turquoise water. Although it was a bit too cloudy to see all the way to the Blasket Islands, the sights were still breathtaking and the mist was refreshing.
Toward the end of the drive, Mike stopped us in front of this stone and said it was a historical relic dating back hundreds of years. We all stared at it in awe until he started laughing and said, “Just kidding. It’s a prop from the movie Ryan’s Daughter.” He picked a gullible audience, haha!
Back in Dingle proper, we were delighted to find the sun shining again – and it was hot, hot, hot. We decided to eat lunch al fresco at The Boat Yard Restaurant & Bar.
I wanted a local brew so I ordered a pint of Tom Crean’s Irish Lager to try. It was delicious!
The group shared a couple of starters, including these calamari rings that were lightly breaded and served with a sweet chili mayonnaise. Definitely some of the best calamari I’ve ever tasted.
The locally oak smoked salmon salad was also a hit, served with capers and homemade brown bread.
For my main dish, I chose the crab toastie special. Toasties are open-faced sandwiches most often served with ham, tomato and cheese. This one substituted with crab, of course, and the result was fantastic. One of my favorite meals of the trip!
After lunch we walked around the town for a while, passing a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs. I was in love with the colors on all of the buildings. Mike told us that there is no particular pattern – owners are able to choose whether or not they paint their exteriors like this, but it’s certainly encouraged to add to the cheerful atmosphere.
Eventually we made it to Murphy’s Ice Cream, a completely local shop that boasts the slogan, “ice cream that knows where it’s coming from.” They use fresh from the farm milk, local cream, free-range eggs and organic sugar. In other words, hand me a spoon immediately, please.
It was very hard to decide on flavors, but I ultimately decided to try real strawberry (sú talún) and Dingle sea salt (salann, shown on top below). Even the salt is made from Dingle seawater.
We could definitely taste the quality and proceeded to gobble our cups down quickly!
Once we had finished, we took a brief walk around the pier before piling back into the van.
We were in the final stretch toward Killarney at this point, and eventually the shoreline could be seen to our right with more beautiful views of the water. That’s when Mike surprised us (again) by turning off the main road and coming to a stop…at a beach entrance!
We later learned that Inch Beach is a popular place for surfing and water sports. If you had asked me before the trip whether I thought there was even a remote possibility of getting sand in my shoes, I probably would have laughed. We truly lucked out with the weather and wasted no time rolling up our jeans and running into the Atlantic Ocean. It felt just as awesome across the pond!
The picture above is a bit grainy because someone (not naming names) isn’t quite as big of a fan of the water. 😉 The boys, on the other hand, decided to channel their inner surfer dudes.
Bobby and I had to snap a quick pic together, as well – if only we’d brought our beach attire!
A short time later, we arrived at the Killarney Park Hotel and checked in.
Each of our rooms were unique, from classic to contemporary. Ours had a more modern feel.
There was also a balcony with views of the greenery behind the hotel.
We dropped off our bags and headed out almost immediately to explore Main and High Streets.
We all shared a bottle of wine – two thumbs up for Vina Siegel Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
I went with the special for the second time that day – a beef stroganoff boxty. I’m so glad I did because it was incredible! The boxty acted like a crepe that kept the beef and sauce inside. I would love to recreate this at home.
After dinner, we made our way over to the Killarney Grand for our first taste of Irish nightlife and live music. It was a recommendation from Mike since Killarney is where he lives, and we knew from experience that he wouldn’t steer us wrong!
While waiting for the music to start, we ordered a round of drinks. Instead of going for a Guinness, I decided to keep with the local/regional theme of the day and ordered a Murphy’s Irish Stout, or “Murph’s,” which is brewed in Cork. It was very similar in look and taste.
The Killarney Grand has performers seven nights a week, and we could tell immediately that it was a popular spot. I even overheard the bartender talking with a couple of customers about the fact that Michael Fassbender had been in recently. Turns out his family is from Killarney and even used to run a restaurant up the street called West End House. Who knew?
Our musicians for the evening were super talented. By the time we left it was standing room only!
I captured several songs on video and the below clip gives you a good taste. Awesome, right?
Reliving these memories really makes me want to go back to Ireland immediately. I hope you’ve enjoyed the recaps thus far! Can’t believe July 4 is coming up so quickly.
Do you have any plans to celebrate?
I’ve got a special visitor coming to town, so it promises to be a fun long weekend!