My husband rode the bike over to Ireland a week before our wedding and I drove our car crammed with wedding things a few days later. Two days after our wedding we gave my sister-in-law the car to take to her house and off we set from Dublin destined for the West Coast of Ireland. Both of us are from Dublin and had holidayed in Galway and Mayo with our families as kids but had only briefly visited Mayo as a couple some years before. We had plotted out our route to ensure we took in as much of the West Coast of Ireland as we could in the 5 days we would be on the bike before returning to the UK.
First stop was going to be my father’s second house in Tuam, Galway via Achill Island in County Mayo. My husband had spent many a summer holiday near Achill Island with his family as a young boy and he brought me there on a day trip a few years before the wedding for the first time. So we knew our tour of the West Coast of Ireland had to start there.
Achill Island lies just off the coast of Mayo and is connected to the mainland via the Michael Davitt Bridge. A rugged island with mountains and peat bogs, the main reason we visited was to see Keem Bay, the beautiful sandy beach enclosed in a beautiful bay and the westernmost accessible part of the island.
Achill Island also forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a tourism trail that stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal all the way to Kinsale in County Cork. We had ridden part of the Wild Atlantic Way on the bike in previous years from Mallaranny to Achill Island before and it was worth it but unfortunately, we didn’t have time on this visit as we had to get to Tuam before nightfall.
We had planned to stay in Tuam for two nights before heading for Killarney via the Cliffs of Moher so that we could visit Galway City and Salthill but my sister-in-law surprised us with an overnight stay and Medieval Banquet in Bunratty Castle so we only had one night in Tuam before starting our journey south.
As we headed south we detoured off the main road from Galway to Bunratty to visit the Cliffs of Moher and what a sight they were. Neither of us had ever visited the Cliffs of Moher before and we were both glad we made the trip. Although the weather was a bit cloudy I still got a few pictures of them as memories.
The Cliffs of Moher are located in County Clare and also form part of the Wild Atlantic Way. They rise 120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head and reach a maximum height of 214 meters near O’Brien’s Tower, 8 kilometres north. They are one of the top tourist attractions in Ireland and it is easy to see why.
There is a visitors centre and walkway along the top of the Cliffs and stunning views out to the Atlantic Ocean. We will definitely be returning once our son is a bit older to appreciate them.
Two hours after arriving we were back on the road heading for Bunratty and an unexpected overnight stay in the Bunratty Castle Hotel. The hotel is situated across the road from the Castle and is a really nice hotel. There is a spa, a restaurant and lovely grounds. We didn’t eat in the restaurant as my sister-in-law treated us to the Medieval Banquet where, as we were the honeymooners, we acted as Lord and Lady of the Manor during the banquet.
It was an amazing experience and one I would highly recommend if you ever visit and stay at Bunratty. We sat in the Banquet hall of Bunratty Castle, were served a medieval style 4-course dinner, drank mead and enjoyed medieval music and songs. It was a delightful surprise for our honeymoon.
From Bunratty, our honeymoon took us south to Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. Ever since he passed his bike licence my husband has wanted to ride a bike around the Ring of Kerry. Another area of Ireland that was to be a first for us, the Ring of Kerry is an 110-mile circular route in County Kerry and is one of the most picturesque places in Ireland I’ve ever been.
We arrived at our hotel in Killarney, the Gleneagles Hotel, not to be mistaken with the golf one, and headed for the pool. It was a welcome break for sore bums I can tell you. At the time the hotel was looking a bit jaded but the pool was lovely and the food in the restaurant was tasty.
After a good night’s sleep, we set off after breakfast to take on the Ring of Kerry. We rode clockwise from Killarney to Dingle, taking in towns like Cahersiveen and Killorglin. During our day 1 ride, we stopped at the famous Ladies View which has stunning views across the Killarney Lakes. I had my husband driven mad asking him to stop here and there for photographs.
From Ladies View, we continued clockwise until we hit the coast and we’re met with some incredible scenery. Once again the light wasn’t brilliant for photographs on the coast but this didn’t stop me taking some. My only criticism of the Ring of Kerry is that the roads are very unforgiving as a passenger on a bike. The potholes were many and unavoidable.
Although Dingle is not part of the Ring of Kerry it is a town I have always wanted to visit so we decided to have lunch there before heading back to Killarney. It is a beautiful little fishing village that is a tourist destination in County Kerry and has a famous bottlenose dolphin called Fungie in its bay. It’s extremely picturesque and was definitely worth the detour. Plus, there’s nothing nicer than fish and chips by the sea.
Day 2 of our Ring of Kerry adventure saw us pass through the centre of the area which the Ring of Kerry surrounds so that we could ride through the Gap of Dunloe. This is a narrow mountain pass between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Purple Mountain. It stretches for 6.8 miles and passes no less than 5 lakes, which are connected by the River Lee.
It is very narrow and winding so is difficult for larger vehicles. The most popular way of visiting it is via horse and cart but it was no problem for a motorbike. Again my breath was taken away by how stunning the scenery was. And to think it had been within arm’s reach for most of my life and this was the first time I was seeing it.
Once we’d passed through we headed back to Killarney via Muckross Lake, for yet more pictures, before changing and walking into town for a well-deserved drink and some food.
Killarney is a great town with plenty of pubs and cafes for food and drink. We even managed a small bit of shopping on our last afternoon. It’s a great town to use as a base for exploring the Ring of Kerry and places like Dingle too and will definitely be somewhere we return to on another holiday to tour Ireland.
pin for later
Our last stop on our honeymoon tour of Ireland was my sister-in-law's house for a day’s rest before driving the car home via the ferry. We had an absolutely brilliant time during our bike tour of Ireland despite the sore bums from all the potholes and we got to see so many places we’d never visited before. We can’t wait to take our son back to let him discover hidden gems of Ireland when he’s older.
If you are ever considering visiting Ireland I urge you to forgo Dublin, my home town, and head West. You really will not be disappointed if you visit any of these places!