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The outsider’s guide to… Ireland

Featured image by Juergen Trautmann

Amongst the many perks of opting for a hire car is the freedom to travel according to your own schedule. And with St Patrick’s Day fast approaching, you may well be planning a jaunt over to Ireland to celebrate in style. But there’s more to the country than the Guinness Factory and Giant’s Causeway. Leave the crowds behind and check out our alternative guide to exploring the Emerald Isle.

Image by Juergen Trautmann
Image by Juergen Trautmann

 

Paddy’s Day craic in Cork

It’s easy to automatically associate St Patrick’s Day with Dublin, but instead of following the crowds to the capital, why not head further afield and experience the celebrations and everything else Ireland has to offer?

We all know the hallmarks of a good Paddy’s Day involve leprechauns, green face paint, plenty of craic and last but not least, some quality stout. But instead of sampling Guinness in Dublin, hire a car and head to Cork – the home of famous stouts such as Murphy’s and Beamish. Head along for three days of festivities, featuring a parade, live music, street entertainers and food markets.

And of course, there’s always time for a trip to one of the city’s traditional pubs for sip or two of the dark and heavy stuff. Check out The Franciscan Well for one of the city’s best beer gardens and award-winning home brews made in its microbrewery.

Image by Irish Jaunt
Image by Irish Jaunt

 

Dunmore East

If you’re flying into Dublin, but would prefer to escape the city in favour of a bit of relaxation by the seaside, then hire a car at Dublin Airport and head a little over 100 miles south to Dunmore East in County Waterford. This charming fishing village is surrounded by white cliff edges, cosy pubs and some of the country’s best seafood restaurants. Kick back with a pint and embrace the slow pace of village life, take to the sea for a spot of sailing, or head into the hills for a hike.

Once you’re feeling a bit peckish, stroll along the sandy beach to The Strand Inn Restaurant and tuck into some of Southern Ireland’s finest seafood. Book a table on the heated outdoor patio and relax to the sound of the gentle ocean waves.

Image by bea & txema
Image by bea & txema

 

Gougane Barra Forest Park

The scenic beauty of Ireland’s countryside is well documented, but few places capture its very essence as well as Gougane Barra Forest Park in West Cork. As well as being ideal hiking and cycling terrain, some of the park’s most spectacular beauty spots are also easily accessible by car, thanks to a small network of roads.

There are also a few interesting landmarks to be found, such as the remains of St Finbarr’s monastery, dating back to the 6th century. And if you’re armed with a camera there’s one spot you simply can’t afford to miss; St Finbarr’s Oratory, or ‘the church on the lake’ as it’s commonly known, is a small, quaint church complete with a stunning backdrop of green rolling hills and a picturesque lake. This gem is one of Southern Ireland’s most photographed buildings, as well as a popular wedding venue, and makes for an ideal picnic spot.

Image by David Joyce
Image by David Joyce

 

The Cliffhouse Hotel

If you’re in the mood for treating yourself and that special someone to a luxury retreat, then don’t limit yourself to the big cities. Instead, experience the outstanding natural beauty of the Irish coast with a stay at The Cliff House Hotel Ardmore. This luxurious five-star hotel sits majestically atop the cliff face and overlooks the village of Ardmore.

Enjoy a Michelin Star-quality meal at the in-house restaurant or take in the stunning sea views whilst being pampered in the state-of-the-art spa facilities. Ensure you arrive in style by booking a luxury car hire and enjoy a comfortable journey from nearby Cork or beyond.

Image by AA Ireland
Image by AA Ireland

 

The Magic Road

Ireland’s always been associated with mystical figures and the supernatural, from tales of the giant Finn McCool building the Giant’s Causeway to the iconic happy-go-lucky leprechauns.  Don’t believe in all that nonsense? Sounds like a trip to Jenkinstown in County Louth may be called for.

This particular piece of mysterious magic takes place on the incline of a small hill, and centers entirely around your car. Finding the spot can be a bit tricky, so directions from the nearby petrol station may be required. Once you reach the hill, bring your vehicle to a halt on the incline, slip your gear stick into neutral and await the magic which begins as  your car begins to reverse – up the hill!

This gravity-defying phenomenon has puzzled locals and visitors for years, with nobody truly able to explain how it occurs. Theories range from strong underground magnetic fields to a group of invisible leprechauns who help pull your vehicle. Try it out for yourself and you may just find yourself developing a theory of your own.

What’s your favourite hidden gem in Ireland?

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