Note: Hi, hello, sorry, it’s been a while. I’ve been blogging 2-3x per week for work and writing some of my own personal projects, and it hasn’t left a lot of time for updating this. Apologies, I’m trying to work it into the schedule going forward.
Over the St. Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend, Steve and I took a trip up to Donegal, which may be the only county in Ireland that can rival Kerry for beauty. From the rugged cliffs of Sliabh Liag to the lovely bike trail that runs along the lake in Glenveagh National Park, it’s a stunning and off-the-beaten-track part of Ireland that is well worth a visit.
Hiking Mount Errigal was one of our main goals in visiting Donegal, and we were lucky to have absolutely fantastic weather throughout the whole weekend. The highest point in the country, Errigal stands at 751 metres (although the trailhead starts fairly high up so your actual ascent is only about two-thirds of that) and has great prominence, making it a short but impressive hike to undertake.
When you look at a list of the top things to do in Ireland, Waterford doesn’t often get a mention. It appears nowhere on this list, nowhere on this one, and even on a list of hidden gems rates only a single mention. And while it’s true that if I were recommending essential spots to someone coming to Ireland for only a few days Waterford probably wouldn’t make the list, after visiting a couple of weeks ago I would say that if you have a bit more time to explore, it’s definitely worth a visit.
One year ago this week, I arrived in Ireland, landing at Dublin airport at 4.15am and blearily informing the immigration officer that I was intending to stay. Steve collected me from the airport and then it was across the country to Kerry. Two weeks later, out of self-quarantine and spouse visa in hand, I started applying for jobs and exploring my new home.
A year and several lockdowns later, this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since the last time I lived in Ireland 6+ years ago. East coast US, west coast US, Canada, across the States in a van, east coast US again, New Zealand, Australia, travelling around Southeast Asia, east coast US once more… and then finally over here. It’s still too early to say “for good,” but I was approved for a three-year residency card renewal the other day, so, we’ll see.
The past year has obviously been weird, but despite the stress of a global pandemic, moving internationally again, looking for work in a small town that mostly runs on tourism, and so on, it’s been mostly good. I’ve gone for a lot of hikes, read a lot of books, written less than I would’ve liked but still a good bit, and even managed a few adventures when lockdown rules allowed.
On the horizon? A vaccine (finally—by the end of this month, if not sooner), a trip home to the States for a month in August/September, and hopefully things going back to normal in the not-so-distance future. Looking forward to see what the years to come will bring.
After one of the longest lockdowns in Europe, Ireland is finally opening up. Next week, hotels and bnbs reopen, followed by outdoor dining the following week, with indoor dining, pubs, etc. likely returning in July. Museums and cultural sites are beginning to reopen, and for domestic tourists at least, there’s a lot to look forward this summer.
Obviously, not being able to travel and enjoy tourism is minor compared to the other things that have happened during this pandemic (I feel like this is so obvious I shouldn’t even have to mention it, but just to be clear that I’m not trying to place it on a similar level), but as someone who has spent the preceding years (and even the first half of 2020) travelling as much as possible, it has definitely felt weird to have not even left the county since September of last year.
Luckily I’ve gotten to do plenty of fun things around Kerry like trying another route up Carrauntoohil and hiking Crohane mountain, but I’ll be looking forward to doing more as restrictions loosen. For now even the tiniest trips offer a nice chance to get out and explore.
This past weekend, we took advantage of a sunny day and took a small drive just across the border into Cork to see the Beara peninsula.
The way the weather was this weekend, you’d be forgiven for thinking the southwest of Ireland was situated somewhere closer to Spain. Devastatingly, the dry, hot conditions have left a wildfire burning in Killarney National Park for the past three days and nights, but overall the warm weather has done wonders for everyone’s mental health and outdoor to-do lists. Now that the 5km travel restriction has finally been lifted and we’re free to roam around our county, a good-weather weekend was just what was needed to really take advantage of it.
While many folks in the area headed to the costa del Kerry to enjoy the sun in Ballybunion or Banna beach, Steve and I took to the mountains yet again for my third trip up Carrauntoohil.
Our original plan for the day was a looped hike near Sneem that I’d read about online, but when we saw the clear, cloudless skies, we couldn’t resist Ireland’s tallest mountain. Even on good days, the mountains are often covered in fog and mist, so you have to jump on your opportunities for views across the county when you get them.
With more vaccines arriving and covid cases going down (by the numbers they’re plateauing, but an increased number of tests and tracking of asymptomatic spread means that the positivity rate continues to drop encouragingly), we are once more starting to feel more optimistic about summer here in Ireland.
Next week, the 5km travel limit will finally be lifted and we will be allowed to travel around our own county. Luckily for me, I live Kerry, in one of the best counties in Ireland when it comes to beautiful nature and outdoor activities. Although there are many favourite spots in Kerry I’m looking forward to visiting again once the restrictions (and the weather) allow—Carrauntoohil, the Dingle peninsula, and the Old Kenmare road, to name a few—there are so many amazing places in Kerry I have yet to see that I’m really excited to explore. Here are a few of them: