Many people think that they know Ireland having visited the Guinness Storehouse, kissed the Blarney Stone and spent time wandering around Dublin Castle. Others have a vague romanticised view of lush green countryside and local musicians playing in pubs, but it is well worth the effort to discover the real country and all it has to offer.
Start a road trip from Dublin and head out to find the hidden gems of the Emerald Isle – the sorts of places that leave a lasting memory and a sense of tranquillity. Read on for our suggestions of the unspoilt places you might wish to aim for.
Bettystown and Laytown
Despite only being a 25-mile drive from Dublin, it is surprising how few tourists make the journey to these two small villages full of Irish charm. It is a popular getaway spot for Dubliners, but they don’t seem to have let on to the tourists who flock to their city.
Here you can enjoy pretty beaches and small town Ireland at its best as well as a round of golf on the championship course.
The Ring of Kerry may be a tourist trap, but why not enjoy views of the area away from the crowds? Historic associations with the Troubles have led much of the Cooley Peninsular being cut off in the past. Now it is passable, but has the added benefit of being relatively untouched.
From the peaks of the Cooley Mountains you will be spoilt with views each way you look. To the south you can gaze out across Carlingford Lough – the glacial fjord that separates northern and southern Ireland and represents a stunning sight.
The Cavan Lakes
This is the place if you really want to enjoy the wonders of natural Ireland and take part in peaceful pastimes such as angling with a stunning backdrop. With 365 lakes to choose from there is not just one for every day of the year, but a chance to escape all other visitors – not that there are many.
Jump in your car and drive the 65 miles from Dublin to the north-west and you will feel like you are a whole world away. Returning to the hustle and bustle of the city will be a wrench once you have been to the Craven Lakes.
The biggest fishing town in the whole of Ireland is visited by relatively few foreigners as it is located on the country’s southern coast. Make your way down to this area and be sure to explore it as fully as your timeframe will allow.
This is when your hire car will come into its own as you travel between the fishing villages along the coast. Set off early each morning to see the boats come in with the daily catch, offering a picturesque vista that has remained unchanged for years.
Be sure to pop into one of the local establishments to sample the fresh seafood caught that day, all washed down with a pint of Irish stout.
If you want to find a hidden remnant of authentic Irish culture but don’t have the time to slip away from Dublin then there is one place that you can go: Grogans. This pub on William Street has resisted the modernisation that has swept away many traditional establishments in the city and serves locals in the same way that it has for decades, eschewing the trappings that entice the majority of tourists.
Just 2 minutes from Grafton Street and St Stephens Green, Grogans is situated in the heart of the shopping district in Dublin. Opposite its front doors lie the impressive Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and from its back door you are a few steps away from the Victorian Georges Street Market arcade.
- Monday – Thursday-10.30am – 11.30pm
- Friday – Saturday-10.30am – 12.30am
- Sunday- 12.30pm – 11.00pm
- Closed 25-26 Dec & Good Friday.
Things to do in Ireland - Review