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The era of Staycation: Exploring ‘our own backyard’ in Ireland

Healy Pass
Healy Pass, Co. Cork

Often you hear us say we have undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world, if only we had the weather; we still don’t have the weather but we have no choice.

COVID has forced upon us travel restrictions all over the world, while many of us are getting itchy feet and cabin fever this is the perfect opportunity to explore whats right at our finger tips.

A country steeped in so much history and beauty it is impossible not to be thankful for the country we live in.

With a mixture of city and country side Ireland really has something to offer everyone.

The perfect Isolated retreat – The Hazel, Doolin – originally a cow shed! Following an imaginative and elegant restoration it now houses two bedrooms sleeping 4 in two super king size beds, galley kitchen, and a large, double height sitting room. Those staying in the master bedroom will enjoy panoramic views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay coming in at £190pp for 3 Nights.

The perfect City – Dublin – we have never seen hotel prices so reasonable The Temple Bar Hotel coming in at £120pp for 3 Nights.

The good ole faithful road trip  – here are six ideas for your next road trip by Professional Travel Armagh / Dungannon.

1) Dublin – Wicklow Mountains Wicklow Mountains

Head south of Dublin and make for the village of Bray, then take the R117 to the village of Enniskerry, drinking in the views of the Great Sugar Loaf mountain looming large on the skyline.

Don’t miss the formal Italian gardens and Ireland’s highest waterfall at Powerscourt Estate, before continuing your journey to Glencree and the Military Road (R115), which climbs towards the panoramic Sally Gap.

Stark scree slopes are all around, and the remote monastic site of Glendalough, “the valley of the two lakes”, is one of the most memorable stops in the Wicklow Mountains. Return to Dublin via the picturesque village of Roundstone, 220m above sea level.

2)  Beara Peninsula and Healy Pass, Co Cork

From Glengarriff, your route takes in the service town of Castletownbere, beyond which is the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Meditation Centre, which has a café and blissful meditation garden that overlook the Atlantic.

At the very tip of this craggy outcrop into the Atlantic, you can ride the ancient cable car across to tiny Dursey Island. Continuing to the north of the peninsula, the start of the wild R575 has spectacular views of crashing waves on one side, and gorse-covered mountains on the other; remote Allihies has an interesting mining history and stunning loop walks.

Those who continue on the winding road to Kenmare miss out on the magnificent Healy Pass, a lonesome road of hairpin bends where the wind whistles through the rocks and unbelievable vistas unfold below.

3) Lough Derg, Co Clare & Co Galway

The shoreline of one of Ireland’s biggest lakes is dotted with sleepy countryside villages and towns. Start out at the south of Lough Derg, in historic Killaloe, and visit the Brian Boru Heritage Centre on the stone bridge that leads to twin town Ballina.

Take the R463 and R352, which hug the shoreline, to the scenic village of Mountshannon with its marina and pretty beach. If there’s time, take a boat trip out to the ancient monastic settlement of Holy Island, otherwise push on for laidback market town Portumna, with its castle, friary ruins and forest park.

The winding country road takes in various Tipperary towns and villages. Then, just after Portroe, The Lookout viewpoint offers a stunning panorama of the lake fanning out below. Return to Ballina, where you can take a cruise.

4) Ring of Skellig, Co Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is famous worldwide, but if you venture off the tourist trail, there are still little-known corners to discover. Veer off south from Cahersiveen to take a clockwise 40km loop to Waterville.

There are superb viewpoints, not least from the rugged Coomanaspic Pass, where you can see the windswept outcrops of the Skellig Islands, Skellig Michael and Small Skellig. Skellig Michael can be visited in the summer months, and was the location of recent filming for Star Wars.

5) Burren Coastal Road, Co Clare

The Burren Region in County Clare

Starting from the harbour village of Ballyvaughan, the road skirts Galway Bay and climbs to desolate Black Head; pull over at Murroughtoohy to take in dramatic karst limestone pavements and a huge expanse of sea and brooding sky.

Next stop is Fanore Beach and its sand dunes, and then Doolin, famous for traditional music and the ferry to the Aran Islands. South of Doolin are the towering Cliffs of Moher, well worth adding to the itinerary.

6) Sky Road, Co Galway

This short and exhilarating loop route clings to the hillside, with the ocean crashing below. The narrow road climbs up from bustling and colourful Clifden, taking in wild and rugged scenery before splitting into the Upper and Lower Sky Roads (take the upper, with views of offshore Inishturk, Turbot and High Island).

The pinnacle is after five or so kilometres, before the road turns back along the north coast of this narrow sliver of land.

We can arrange any of these trips for you as well.

For quotes you will get us on kerrys@professional-travel.co.uk or call us on 02837522002 for Armagh or 02887724111 for Dungannon

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