Driving Around Ireland
I'll be travelling to Ireland for the first time this summer, to mark my 30th birthday. My plan is to rent a car in Dublin and drive around the country. I have three weeks.
Is there anything that I should absolutely not miss?
I'm also very interested in visiting the main Gaeltacht areas. What's the best way of getting a chance to speak as Gaeilge with locals?
My personal preference for first time visitors starting on the East coast is Brú na Bóinne/Newgrange.
And then find your way to Mellifont Abbey.
OK, that would work for me. I was thinking of driving up to Béal Feirste first, and going counter-clockwise around the island.
The best gaeltacht area by far is the Aran Islands off Co. Galway. I prefer Inis Oirr (South Island) , Inis Meann is good too but VERY quiet . I don't care for Inis Mór , the big one , I find it commercialised .
First of all: You get to meet a lot of locals in the pubs, of course. You could also try to spend some nights at Airbnb hosts - some of them also indicate whether they are capable of speaking Irish (I already spent a night at an Irish speaking family up there in Donegal).
In addition to that, you should follow the Wild Atlantic Way. There are numerous beautiful places to be discovered. In my opinion, the most beautiful areas are: Connemara, Galway town, the Dingle peninsula, Killarney + national park, Donegal in general.
Oh, good. I am on the right track. I have planned to take the Wild Atlantic Way. And I've booked with Airbnb already... most are not Irish speaker, but I have at least 3.
Yes, sounds like a great plan so far! Trust me, you'll get to know some locals in no time - the Irish people are SO open-minded, friendly, helpful, chatty and funny! Especially when you're travelling all alone. I never felt at home in a foreign country so soon. But be careful: You might want to stay forever ;)
But always have in mind that there are very different accents of Gaeilge and I guess that can be some kind of confusing for a 'beginner' ;)
Glendaloch is beautiful in the summer and quite close to Dublin. though if you're willing to drive that far i'd say the Aran islands are your best bet in terms of gaeltacht regions.