Tag Archives: ireland

What does a one-week road trip around Ireland cost?

One week, a hire car, a GPS unit and two budget-conscious travellers…..in Ireland. There’s something wrong with this picture, and that lies with the fact that driving 1600kms around Ireland is not cheap. At all. But I’m not just trying to make myself feel better when I say that it was completely worth it. 


Let’s break it down:

  • Car hire for 7 days = A total of 130 through carhire3000.com. We ended up with a 2010 Fiat Punto from Thrifty which wasn’t at all bad and even had racing stripes!

  • Petrol = 136 (€68 each)

  • Bed and Breakfast Accommodation for 7 nights: Between 30 – €35 per person per night

  • Entry to attractions (castles, exhibits, etc) = 57.80 per person (for approximately 7 venues)

  • Food = 104

  • Art and gifts = 70

  • Road tolls and parking = €7 (€3.50 each)

That’s a grand total of €82.60 per day per person, twin share. Naturally, you could do it cheaper by sharing the transport costs with a larger group, by staying in hostels and not having a propensity for purchasing photography and art. However, when staying at B&B’s you don’t need to buy lunch everyday because most of the time the Irish breakfast will see you through until dinner.

We covered a fair distance in the 7 days but despite Ireland’s manageable size we ran out of time to make it to Northern Ireland, which will be on top of the list for our next trip to the green pastures of Eire. 

Car

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Irish swan family in the lake

This swan family made me melt, especially when Mum or Dad let several cygnets jump on board……aw!

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The Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s west coast

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I first visited the imposing Cliffs of Moher in December 2004 when the weather was tumultuous, the sun set early and there were few crowds. My second visit in late May 2010 included tumultuous weather too, but in order to avoid the crowds we went late in the evening at 10.30pm, which just so happens to be when the sun sets during this time of year. 

As we drove over from Galway in the rain and with heavy clouds looming above us, we contemplated more than once about turning back. But when we arrived to a small break in the clouds and the cliffs almost to ourselves, we were glad that we’d continued. The jagged lines of the cliffs against the stormy backdrop are a real sight to marvel at. In the past, some unfortunate people have marveled too closely and fallen over the side; others have jumped with the purpose of ending their lives. (Now there are barriers installed for security with plenty of warning signs).

The tower you can see in the photos is O’Brian’s Tower which at 214 metres marks the highest point of the cliffs. It was built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O’Brian (a descendent of Ireland’s High King Brian Boru) to impress female visitors. I’m sure he’d be pleased to know that it’s impressing visitors of both sexes almost 200 years later.

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A visit to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum – home of the Irish Coffee

I worked for an airline for three and a half years and I love the excitement of air travel so when we chanced upon the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in County Limerick, it was only natural that I wanted to check it out. 

Foynes is a small town on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary and was the centre of the aviation world from 1939 to 1945. The first commercial flight on a direct route from the USA to Europe landed here on the 9th of July, 1939 – it was the Pan Am Boeing 314 Flying Boat “Yankee Clipper” and in 2006 the museum opened a full-scale replica of this aircraft (you can even go into the cockpit!). After sitting in the cabin, I can’t say that I would have complained about leg room had I been a passenger back then. 

The rest of the museum contains information about the history and progress of aviation, a collection of vintage destination posters, a radio communications room and even some flight simulators! In my excitement I learnt new things and there were a few “did you know?” moments during our visit, for example:

  • Did you know that Irish Coffee was invented at Foynes by a head chef who decided that some passengers needed a bit of extra warmth?
  • Did you know that some people believed that flying boats were safer than land planes because they naively thought that they could land in the sea if there was an emergency?
  • Did you know that the trans-Atlantic Boeing B.314 Clipper used to serve 7-course meals in a 14-seat dining room?

If you’re ever in the area I would recommend a visit – but that’s coming from a plane fan so my advice may contain a dollop of bias 😉

Entry to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum is €9 for adults but they are not open all year so check here for details. You can watch an introductory video about the museum here.

Inside_cockpit

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A rare but welcome sight in Ireland

Clear_blue_sky

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When the Irish left for North America

After five days in London catching up with friends and enjoying Marks and Spencer salads in the park, I went to Dublin to meet up with Nick who had arrived there a few days before me. Nick’s aunt is very welcoming and we stayed for two nights at her home before departing on a week-long road trip of the island of Ireland.

On Tuesday we left Dublin and headed headed south, with our first overnight stay being at a B&B in Wexford. On Wednesday we toured from Wexford to Youghal, and made an interesting stop in New Ross on the way.

Moored at a pier in New Ross lies a replica of the Dunbrody – a ship that was in service from 1845 to 1851 to carry passengers from Ireland to the USA and Canada when the Great Famine struck the nation.

The ship was reproduced almost exactly as it would have been in those days, and it was shocking to see the conditions in which the passengers would have travelled for approximately 50 days across the Atlantic. First class could carry a maximum of 8 passengers in two cabins and 4 beds. Steerage could carry many more – on some trips, up to 12 people would sprawl across the small bunks, together with whatever possessions they may have had too. The steerage passengers had buckets as their toilets, did not have any fresh food or meat and had to cook their own meals in a half-hour time frame each day when they were allowed on the deck. When the weather was bad, there would be no access to the deck for days, which meant that their food could not be cooked and human waste could not be emptied overboard. It is nauseating to think about the smells that would have filled those spaces when the poor hygiene conditions, malnutrition and sea-sickness caused illness.

On some trips, up to 50% of the passengers could die and their bodies would be thrown overboard, never to be seen again by their desperate and grieving families. Those who survived faced a harsh reality when they arrived in New York, New Orleans, Boston or other common ports. Almost penniless, they were not received well – seen as poor and filthy people who would do anything to keep alive.

But with a bit of luck and that charismatic Irish spirit, many overcame this unwelcome reception and their descendants were able to prosper in the coming years. Perhaps the most well-known descendant of an Irish emigrant was the President John. F. Kennedy, who’s great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy made the crossing from Ireland to Boston in 1849 on the Washington Irving.

Even though the ship we stepped onto is a replica, I couldn’t help but feel an eerie, spooked feeling after being on board. The conditions that those people endured in order to make the long crossing would have been horrendous and their willingness to withstand them indicative of the dark times that they were escaping. Those who can trace their ancestry back to these strong-minded travellers must unquestionably feel an immense amount of pride – the courage and determination that these people had is truly something to admire.

You can search the Irish Emigration Database here and find information on the Dunbrody Experience here.

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