After leaving Dublin, we were off to the quintessential Irish countryside, which included ruins of a medieval castle, 360 degrees of green, and rain.
Rock of Dunamase is a small hill in the plains of County Laois, that has the ruins of a castle from the year 800. The views from the top are really pretty as the plains are green and the sky is misty, giving it an ethereal feeling. Although it’s mostly a ruin, the castle still has some of the walls and windows standing, so we can engage our imagination and think of all the fairy tales that could’ve taken place there – but it was most likely the site of many invasions too…
Our next stop was at the little town of Adare in County Limerick. It is a super neat village that has won the title of “Ireland’s Tidiest Town” in the past. There is a main street with craft stores and thatched roof houses as well as a nice park nearby. While walking along the river trying to get to another medieval castle, I was able to visit three different monasteries: Augustinian Priory (1316), Franciscan Abbey (1464), and Trinitarian Abbey (1230). Each one was very cute and well taken care of, but I was never able to get to Desmond Castle as halfway there I learned you can only go in with a guided tour.
Making our way to the Dingle Peninsula, we spend the night in Annascaul. Our bus driver said there was absolutely nothing in this town of less than 300 people so we better just stay in our hostel and the pub next door and drink. That’s what most people did: bad bar food and more Guinness. But there was still light out at 9 pm, so I went on a jog – I soon found out Annascaul was much more interesting than anticipated. There are TONS of walking trails since the Dingle Peninsula is famous for its coastline hikes. There are several pubs and restaurants, so one didn’t have to eat bad pub food. And Annascaul is the birthplace of Tom Crean, the South-Pole explorer! There is even a rock from Antarctica on display and a pub called The South Pole Inn that used to be managed by Crean himself. Having just visited Antarctica earlier in the year, I felt Annascaul deserved more credit. Oh, and the sheep – there were sheep everywhere!