My Irish Bucket List

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Growing up I was very luckily to have parents who thought me to appreciate the country I grew up in and many of our holidays were spent exploring this amazing country. I have always had a love for Ireland but living away made my love grow stronger. I see Ireland with new eyes and have a huge passion to explore Eire.

 

So after years of wandering I have finally wrote Wandering Irish Cailin’s Irish Bucket List I have listed places by County including Things to do, Places to Eat & Stay, plus some great Adventure Ideas.

 
In terms of Accommodation I have listed Hotels, B&B’s & Airbnb’s:
  • Hotels are more expensive, but luxurious.
  • Airbnb’s usually need a good bit of booking ahead (but always worth it). Ireland some spectacular homes for rent. 
  • My favourite form of accommodation for spontaneous roadtrips around Ireland are of course B&B’s. They are for me are at the heart of Irish hospitality. A real Irish house, a warm host and some good home baking. For a more extensive list of B&B's throughout the country check out B&B Ireland.

 
 
 
 

For all the listed Food &  Accommodation recommendations I have been very selective to what I have added. I have either been there myself or family or close friends have.
 
Images. I have specifically picked images from some of my favourite photographers on instagram so make sure to follow them for loads more inspo for your Irish road trip. Simply click on the photos to be taken to their accounts.

 My Top Picks in Ireland

Other Counties listed include:

       Kerry

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Known as the Kingdom Kerry is one of Ireland busiest tourist spots and once you visit you will see why. The mountains, world famous heritage sites, cinematic scenery, breathtaking driving routes that stretch over 5 striking peninsulas. Kerry stole my heart along time ago. In my opinion if you only have a few days in Ireland get yourself down to Kerry as soon as you can here are my things to do and see in Kerry. 

 

Killarney

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Killarney has some of Irelands best tourist attractions, scenery and plenty of culture, food, music and is home to Ireland's, highest Mountain pictured above. Which for me make it one of Ireland's most scenic town's. It was in 2014 when I did a solo trip around Ireland that my connection to this gorgeous part of the country started and I have been on the hunt for a Kerry man since.

 

Things to do:
 
Places to Eat:

Dinner: 52 Tapas Bar, The Porter House, Murphy Browns.

Brunch/Lunch: Cafe du Parc, JM Reidy’s.

Coffee: The Black Sheep Cafe, Noelle’s Cafe.

Vegan: JM Reidy's.

Trad session & a Pint: O' Connor's Pub.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb’s:

Adventure:

The Ring of Kerry

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Explore stunning beaches, scenery and spectacular coastlines as you visit Kenmare, Killorglin, Waterville, Sneem, Caherdaniel, Ballinskelligs, Portmagee, Valentia Island, Caherciveen, Glenbeigh, Killorglin all doted along the Ring of Kerry. I remember the first time I drove the king of Kerry. I barely stopped to eat, around every corner is a new site to awe you.
 
Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar & Restaurant Killorglin. Jack’s coastguard restaurant Killorglin . Rumors Bistro Glenbeigh, The Mews Kenmare. The Smugglers Inn Waterville.  Fisherman's Bar & Restaurant Portmagee. 

Brunch/Lunch: Mick & Jimmys Kenmare. Avoca Molls Gap. The Strawberry Fields Pancake Cottage Kenmare.

Coffee: Maison Gourmet Kenmare.

Vegan: The Bookstop Cafe Kenmare Lime Tree Restaurant Kenmare.

Trad session & pint: Bunkers Bar Killorglin. Blue Bell Sneem.

 

 

 
Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Other:

Adventure:

Dingle

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Dingle for me is one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Way. In the shadow of Mt Brandon and ancient landscape of prehistoric ring forts, beehive huts, picturesque hamlets, abandoned villages and a great little town full of craic & great food. It's a place that whenever I go I never want to leave. Killarney was my favourite until I came to Dingle.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Fentons, The Global Village , Reel Dingle Fish .

Lunch: Paid O’ Se’s Pub ( Slea Head drive). Dingle Sushi

Brunch: My Boy Blue.

Vegan: The Phoenix Restaurant.

Coffee: Bean in Dingle & My Boy Blue.

Trad session & a pint: Have a pint at Dickmackspub and music at O' Sullivan's.

 
 
 
Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Adventure:

Other spots to check out in Kerry:

 

Cork

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Starting off the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the worlds most dramatic coastal routes on the south west of Ireland lies the county of Cork. County Cork offers dizzy clifftops and some of the best food in Ireland. I moved to Cork from Dublin in 2010 to start my Master's in UCC. I felt like I had come home. Vibrant city but less chaotic & smaller than Dublin. Within an hours drive your on the Wild Atlantic Way. Enough said. This is when the adventures of wandering irish cailin really came alive so Cork has a special place in my heart.

The Beara Peninsula

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This part of West Cork is just like Ireland was 20 or 30 years ago, totally tranquil and unspoiled. I remember standing in the small village of Allihies this summer. It was about 20 degrees, the blue atlantic ocean behind me, sand between my toes. As I walked up to the colourful village to meet my parents for a pint, I stopped in awe of the mountains peering over me and thought could I be anymore happier right now and also surely this is one of the nicest places on earth.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Ocean Wild & Berehaven Lodge Restaurant Castletownbere.

Brunch/ Lunch: Pedals and Boots Cafe Lauragh. Helen's bar Kilmackillogue. Josie's Lakeview House

Coffee: Dzogchen Beara Meditation Retreat

Vegan: Ocean Wild is vegan friendly.

Trad sessions & a pint: O’ Neills bar in Allihies. McCarthy's bar Castletownbere.

 
 
 
 
Places to Stay:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Adventures:

        Bantry 

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Bantry, famous for its bay, history, landscape, flora and fauna. What I love about Bantry the most is the flowers, the friendliness of the people and watching the sun set over the Bay. It is also a hub for walkers with easy access to the Sheep’s Head and Beara Way walking routes. Bantry is truely at the heart of West Cork.

 

Things to do:
Places to Eat:

Dinner: Brick Oven & The Snug.

Lunch: Organico & Box of Frogs.

Brunch: Jim's Coffee House Glengarrif.

Vegan: Organico Bantry & The Stuffed Olive.

Coffee: Bantry House, Revel Coffee Glengarrif & Heron gallery Sheepshead.

Trad session & a pint: Ma Murphys.

 

Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Other: Treehouse One. If I had a boyfriend I'd bring him here.

Adventures:

     Kinsale

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Kinsale is a very popular small fishing town located in West Cork. The harbour, the colourful buildings, the windy narrow streets,  the beautiful old architecture & array of boutiques all make this town one of the best on the Southern Coast. I would drive the 40 min journey to Kinsale most days before college. Serious dedication, visit and you will see why. Read my blog post about Kinsale here.

Things to do:
Places to Eat:

Dinner: Finns Table, Bastion, The Black Pig & Wine Bar.

Brunch/ Lunch: OHK Cafe, The Bullman. 

Coffee: The Poet's Corner, OHK Cafe. 

Vegan: Lemon Leaf.

Trad session & a pint: Dalton's Bar.

 

 

 

 Baltimore 

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The bustling fishing village of Baltimore sits on the southern tip of Ireland close to the enchanting Cape Clear, Sherkin and Heir Islands. Slightly off the main tourist trail it has retained its friendly atmosphere and appeal. Baltimore for me has the small village feel that I just love and is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: The Lookout MewsRolfe's County House.

Lunch/ Brunch: Glebe Gardens. 

Coffee: Glebe Gardens. 

Vegan: Budds, Ballydehob. Approx 20 mins west of Baltimore.

Trad session & a Pint: Caseys of Baltimore.

Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

 
Adventure:

Other places to check out in Cork:

 

Mayo

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Located on the north west of the country Mayo has everything from surf meccas, ancient sites and unspoilt wilderness. It was at my freinds birthday in 2011 in Lacken Co. Mayo that I knew living by the sea was my destiny. However it was a trip to Achill this year that I completely fell in love with Mayo. I realised I had travelled the world to see places like this. 

 
Things to do:
  • Visit the buzzing town of Westport.

  • Drive to Doo Lough; mind the sheep and take a paddle.

  • Go see the spectacular Dun Briste Sea Stack at Downpatrick Head.

  • Explore the walking trails at the Ceide Fields & enjoy views of the Atlantic.

  • Visit Lackan Strand.

  • Spend a few days in the wonderful Achill Island. It's great for cycling, hiking and water sports. Read my Achill Island bucket list here.

Places to Eat:

Dinner: The Blacktruffle Wesport. The Gallery Wine & Tapas Bar Westport. Pure Magic Achill.

Brunch/Lunch: The Creel Westport. Riverside Cafe, Newport. The Cottage Cafe Achill.

Vegan: The pantry & corkscrew Westport.

Coffee: The Greenway Cafe, Mulranny. Ginger & Wild Cafe Ballycroy National Park.

Trad session & a pint: Lynotts Pub Achill. Bessies Bar Kilcummin.

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Galway city is a truly special place and will be the cultural capital of Europe in 2020. Galway is well- known for its music, and pub culture was is is often referred to as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland” .There is so much more to Galway than just the city . Head out Connemara national park where for me there is an almost mystical feel. After two days at the famous Galway races one year I headed off on my lonesome to Connemara. It was rainy and misty and I remember being in awe of the views and thinking my days of drinking are out are numbered. This is where I am most happy.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: In the city; Kai, Ard Bia, Tartare Wine Bar, Kasbah Wine Bar, Loam, Cava. Dough Bros.

Moran oyster cottage, Kilcolgan. Mitchells, Clifden. Brownes, Tuam.

Brunch/Lunch: Dela. Temple Cafe. O'Dowds Seafood Bar Connemara.

Vegan: The Lighthouse Cafe. The Kitchen both in the city

Coffee: In the city; Coffee Werk, Cupan Tae & Badger & Dodo.

Greenway Cafe Connemara. Kylemore Abbey Connemara. Steam Cafe Clifden. 

Trad session & a pint: Tig Chóilí & The Crane Bar, Galway City. Lowry's Bar Connemara.

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Situated on Ireland's picturesque west coast with its wonderfully weather-beaten Cliff Coast, tranquil landscapes and traditional cultural festivals, Clare offers the perfect escape. In 2014 I did the 8km coastal walk at the Cliffs of Moher on a really sunny summers day. I was living in Australia at the time and was home on holiday and thought to myself I had to come home to Ireland to do one of the best coastal walks in the world.

Things to do:
 
Places to Eat:

Dinner: Wild Honey Inn Lisdoonvarna,Dromoland Castle, Gus O’ Connors Pub Doolin.VL Restaurant Lahinch.

Brunch/Lunch: Little Fox Ennistymon. Dodi’s cafe Lahinch.

Coffee:The Ivy Cottage Doolin. Hazel Mountain Chocolate Bellharbour.

Vegan:Joe's Cafe Lahinch. 

Trad session & a pint: Roadside Tavern Lisdoovarna. Gus O’Connors Doolin.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Adventure: 

      Wicklow 

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Only have a few days in Dublin, Wicklow is a short distance away with public transport and bus tours from Dublin available. It has to be my favourite thing about living in Dublin. Being so close to a hiking and outdoors paradise. I love how remote it feels. I almost feel like I'm on the West Coast of Ireland. Wicklow kind of has it all from vast woodlands, scenic mountains and dramatic coastline it is no wonder it is known as the The Garden of Ireland’. 

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: The Strawberry Tree. Wicklow Heather Restaurant. The fisherman Restuarant .

Brunch/Lunch: The Pingeon House. Firehouse Bakery & Cafe. 

Vegan: The Happy Pear.

Coffee: The Hazel House.  Avoca.   OHSO for a Matcha Latte.

Trad session & a pint: Johnny foxes Pub.

Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

Adventure:

Go hiking in one of the many trails along The Wicklow Way (Spinc trail or Tonelagee).

        Donegal

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Donegal for many years perhaps has been Ireland’s greatest undiscovered treasure .It's the county that has played second fiddle to the likes of Kerry, Galway and Cork.Then along came the National Geographic who put Donegal on the map by stating it was one of the coolest places on earth in 2016. I can see why. I remember family holidays here as a child but is only now that I really appreciate the uniqueness of this county. It's blue flag beaches, sea stacks and possibly Ireland's best accent. To me it's still a part of Ireland that feels undiscovered which in itself feels special.

 

Donegal is a large county so I have put the list of things to do in geographical order. Starting at the most northerly part of the county making the journey down along the Wild Atlantic Way to Donegal Town in the south. So it really is the perfect road trip itinerary.

North Donegal

(Innishowen-Downings-Fanad-Ards-Dunfannaghy).

 

Things to do:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Places to Eat:

Dinner: Cove Restaurant Dunfanaghy. The Rusty Oven Dunfanaghy. The Red Door Country House Inishowen. Belles kitchen Rathmullan. Nancy's Barn Ballyliffin.

Brunch/Lunch: Rose's Bar & Kitchen Creeslough. 

Vegan: The Greenman  Dunfanaghy. 

Coffee: 9ine Hostages Coffee Co. in Manorcunningham between Letterkenny & Derry.

Trad session & a pint: The Olde Glen Bar Glen Village.

Places to stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

West & South Donegal

(Gweedore-Dungloe-Ardara-Glencolumbkille-Sliabh Liag - Killybegs)

Things to do:
Places to Eat:

Dinner: The waterfront Hotel & Restaurant Dungloe. The House Gastro Pub Donegal Town. Smugglers Creek Rossnowlagh.

Brunch/Lunch: The Salty Fox Bundoran. The hardy baker Bundoran. Café Kitty Gweedore

Vegan: Blas Cafe Donegal Town.

Coffee: The Pod at the Largy Viewpoint. This a coffee van between Killybegs & Sliabh Liag.

Trad session & a pint: Leo's Tavern Killindarragh. The Reel Inn Donegal Town.

Places to Stay: 

Hotels:

Airbnb:

 

Adventures:

Dublin 

Kilkenny

Ireland’s capital. Full of cobbled street, tones of culture, history, good food, traditional music and of course pubs. Before heading down the country stop over in Dublin for a night or two to explore Ireland's intimate capital.I have a love/hate relationship with Dublin but I can't deny there is a huge amount of positives to living in this city.

 
Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Wilde.   The Larder Chapter One The Greenhouse The Vintage Kitchen. L, Mulligan Grocer.

Brunch/Lunch: Two Boys Brew, Urbanity, Brother Hubbard, The pepper pot.

Vegan: Cornucopia.

Coffee: Industry, The Fat Fox, Proper order Coffee, 3fe, Two Pups, Bang Bang. 

 

Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb:

 
Adventure:

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Kilkenny is known as the Medieval City and has recently been voted Ireland’s Food capital . It's my home town and I feel very grateful to have grown up here and I'm not the only person who loves it, Kilkenny is still one of the most popular destination cities in Ireland. From it's cobbled streets to award winning restaurants and famous pubs it's always full of a bustling energy.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Zuni, Campagne, Rinuccini’s, Rive Gauche, Lady Helen at Mt Juliet.

Brunch/Lunch: Cafe La Coco, Mocha Vintage Tea Room,  

Vegan: The Cutting Edge.

Coffee: Cake Face. Studio & Press Thomastown. Jen's Cafe Kells.

Trad session & a pint: Hole in the wall.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Places to Stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb’s:

 

Adventure:

    Waterford

 

 

 

 

Situated in the Sunny South East, Waterford doesn't quite get the recognition it deserves for being the generally great county it is, so it's time to change this. Great beaches & coastal walks, viking history, idyllic towns and villages, the wealth of lively festivals along with the stunning panoramas through the Comeragh Mountains make Waterford one of my favourite counties in Ireland's Ancient East. When I moved home to Ireland last year after 4 years in Australia I went down to Waterford with my family for my Birthday and I knew as long as I had my family and such awesome beaches I'd be happy.

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Tannery Dungarvan . Cliff house Hotel. Azzurro, Dunmore East.

Brunch/lunch: Grow HQ Waterford City.  Kiersey's Bar & Tearoom Kilmacthomas  (Along the  Waterford Greenway). 

Coffee: The Coastguard Cafe Tramore.

Trad session & a pint: O Neill's Bar Tramore.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Places to stay:

Hotels:

B&B:

Airbnb's:

 
Adventure:

          Sligo

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County Sligo easily boasts one of the most appealing stretches of coast on the Wild Atlantic Way. From its surfable waves to the rolling green hills and misty mountaintops of the affectionately dubbed ‘Yeats country’, this is a county that attracts a distinct breed of adventure-loving traveller. Which is me I can't wait to spend more weekends exploring this part of the country.

 

Things to do:

Places to Eat:

Dinner: Montmartre Sligo Town. Knox Coachlane. The DraftHouse Strandhill.

Brunch/Lunch: Shells Cafe Strandhill . Hargadons Sligo Town.

Vegan: Sweet Beat Cafe Sligo Town.

Coffee: The Lissadell Tea Rooms. WB'S Cafe House Sligo Town.

Trad session & a pint: Thomas Connolly Bar Sligo Town.

So there you have it, some of my favourite spots around the country. As you can see there is heaps of adventures, some of the best landscapes in the world and outstanding accommodation.
Hope you got loads of inspiration to get out and explore this beautiful country. If I have left any where out please feel free to contact me.
 
Elaine xoxo
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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