Ireland Road Trip Part 1 – From Dublin to Sligo

After spending 9 months trekking through South East Asia with all of my earthly possessions strapped to my back, I figured a change of scene would be nice. When my mother (an Irish citizen) suggested a three week road trip through Ireland to visit family, I bought my tickets and packed my bag… which was pretty easy since I no longer own much aside from my camera, computer, and two weeks worth of clothing.

The plan: Start in Dublin on the east coast of Ireland and visit family. From there we’ll spend a week driving up through Sligo on the way up to the rocky north: Glenveagh National Park, Sliabh Liag, and the Rosses. Week two will have us down through Donegal towards Galway and Ballyvaughan to see the Connemara countryside, the Cliffs of Moher, and and the rocky Burren. The third and final week should have us going through Tralee and Kenmare to see Dingle and the Ring of Kerry then ultimately through Cork and back up to Dublin. This should cover most of the west cost of Ireland and we’ll be stopping along any amazing loughs, cliffs, windy side roads, and pubs that strike our fancy. I estimate approximately 3,000 kilometers of driving and just as many photos.

First leg: From the Irish Sea to the Atlantic Ocean ~ 250 km

A Dublin
B Lusk
C Carrick-on-Shannon
D Lough Key
E Sligo

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The first (very jet lagged stop) was to the lush and beautiful St. Stephen’s Green. Immaculately trimmed gardens and tree covered walkways made for a wonderful welcome to Ireland.

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Right in the middle of the park is a statue of my girlfriend’s direct descendent James Clarence Mangan, who died of cholera in 1849. In Ireland he is described as the greatest poet of the nineteenth century. She had no idea I was going to find this statue.

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Nearby is the famous Christ Church Cathedral (formally The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity), built in 1030 AD by the Viking King at the time. Without a tripod and level I had a hell of a time getting straight lines in here.

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The lighting in here was just beautiful. I can’t believe this place is nearly 1,000 years old.

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A beautiful old organ sits unused on the side of the cathedral. I wasn’t lucky enough to hear it in action.

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Apparently Obama is a Guinness drinker. They absolutely love him in Ireland.

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Since this trip is about the west coast and visiting family, it was time to leave Dublin after a very short stay. Goodbye Dublin, I’ll see you again in three weeks!

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Off to Lusk to visit my family. Here you can see their farm allotment where they grow all of their own vegetables.

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After spending some time with my family it’s off to Ardgillan Castle & Demesne! I liked this sign better than I liked the castle. Never thought I’d see THAT sign combination…

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While everyone tours the castle and the immaculate walled gardens, I find myself out behind it all enjoying this old overrun green house.

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… and being terrified of this “Monkey Puzzle” tree (Araucaria Araucana). I’ve never touched such a spiky plant before. Each branch spirals off in a Fibonacci series of these evil little bastards.

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Too bad I no longer own a macro lens… I saw tons of butterflies and bees. This butterfly was on some sort of aromatic fuzzy mint plant that I was unfamiliar with.

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This bee was having a grand ‘ol time on these flowers.

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After the castle I make it over to the Skerries Mills just as it starts to rain. All of the photos I had seen of this place were wide showing the hill and surrounding area so I shot it tight. I’m pretty happy with the result, I think I’ll print this out and frame it.

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After three days with family near Dublin, it’s time to get a move on and head west to the Atlantic. En route is the adorable town Carrick-on-Shannon which had one of the first of many small churches I was to see on my trip. This statue was watching over the entrance.

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And my first celtic pattern. I didn’t see this anywhere in Dublin.

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I walked around town and found my way down to the exceptionally calm river where this duck was hopefully enjoying the gray skies as much as I was. No photoshopping here, the sky reflection was really that gray.

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It started to rain so we hit the road and made our way to our first lake… errr… lough – Lough Key. Apparently it was all the rage to build castles on lakes. Classy.

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These birds kept following me around. It was very Hitchcockian (is that a word? It is now.)

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Naturally they were hanging out on the tree next to this creepy abandoned chapel.

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The sun started to come back out so we hit the road up to Sligo. And what a beautiful road it was…

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We made it to the Atlantic ocean. I learned to drive on the left hand side of the road. I struggled with roundabouts. I met some cousins that I hadn’t seen in 17 years. Overall a wonderfully relaxing three day start to a three week road trip. Tomorrow we head further north to see cliffs, coasts, and countryside.