epic road trip ireland
Text and Photos: Tony Steurer
Dublin - Athlone - Galway - Clifden - Connemara National Park - Limerick - Adare - Listowell - Dingle - Killarney National Park - - cork - Carrick on Suir 2200 km/1370 miles
October in Ireland, not the ideal time as rain falls frequently. On a positive note: less tourists. Upon arrival at Dublin airport and after picking up the rental, I drive west. On the circular in Dublin straight into a toll trap between exit 6 and 7, where you have to pay for a strip of only 2 kilometres, as I had to in order to take Exit 7. Better pay online within 24 hours!Driving through the Midlands (which is basically everything here except the coastal areas). Pleasant scenery without any special attractions or highlights. First stop in Athlone, about 7500 inhabitants. Colourful painted houses, shops, and pubs. But about every third shop appears to be empty; beyond the high street in the centre, the town is dead. Bridge across the Shannon River; lots of boats. A new shopping mall in the centre of town has attracted buying power; attached to it is a modern Sheraton with a big pool and chic, modestly priced rooms. Castle and a massive church. On to Galway, very modern with a looked-after appearance. Suburbs along the Atlantic with beaches and countless hotels. Otherwise a mire of low slung buildings, lots of B&Bs, like everywhere in the west of the island. People seem to like suburbanisation a lot. Everywhere I go, I see big, modern houses with mighty driveways in park-like settings. In the bigger towns, however, many buildings have a shabby appearance. In the evenings and at night, few windows are alighted, so I suppose a number of houses must stand empty, with people having already moved to more beautiful, newer homes.
Very big forts in Lismore and Cahir. The latter claimed to be impregnable until the English took it in a ten-day siege. Driving through the Vee, a darkish range of mountains up to 800 metres high. Completely different scenery here. In Carrick-on-Suir is Ormond Castle, Ireland’s only renaissance castle. Wealth found its expression through loads of crown glass. Turning east: More industrial estates, mostly food, textiles, pharmaceuticals. JFK’s great grandfather was born in New Ross. The Radio says that currently up to 1500 people emigrate from Ireland every day. A lot of For Sale signs. Many people are forced to sell because they can no longer service their mortgages.