Kinvarra to Cushendun

We left the last blog UK & Ireland Trip – Part 1, on our way Kinvarra on the west coast of Ireland. This is our UK & Ireland Trip – Part 2, Kinvarra to Cushendun.

We’d just stopped for an excellent lunch in Roundstone and set off for our 3 night stay in a converted stable.

Not a picture of the stable we stayed in. Almost exactly like the Griswald’s “experiencing” the Grand Canyon we all stopped at Kylemore Abbey on the way to Roundstone for at least 3 minutes to take this picture from the car park and move on.


Kinvarra council reminding folks not to deliberately drive their cars into the harbour Presumably this is a real and present danger.
Beers in Keough’s excellent bar in Kinvarra. Probably the reason for the sign at the harbour.

The converted stable accommodation at Kinvarra was very comfortable and the host family were chatty and informative. We based ourselves here for 3 nights to explore this beautiful part of the country. One of the sights the hosts recommended was the Burren and I was here for the Cliffs of Moher.

Of all the times I’d been through this part of the world I’d never had time to visit Ireland’s second most popular attraction. The Guinness Factory in Dublin being the most popular.

The Burren

The host family recommended a visit to the Poulnabrone dolmen on the Burren which dates back to between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. Probably older than Mallinmore Court Tomb featured in the last blog.

We worked out a route that would allow us to visit the dolmen first and the cliffs later on the same day.

Warnings signs at the signpost in the car park for the dolmen.
According to Wikipedia this is the second largest dolmen in Ireland and there are in total 172 of them. The limestone rocks of the Burren around the dolmen. The Burren is a one of six national parks in Ireland. Archaeological evidence from caves on the Burren of butchered bones have been radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago, showing evidence of hunters during the Ice Age.

The Burren was at one time in history covered in trees but when the humans cut them down the wind and rain eroded the soil away leaving the limestone rocks exposed.

Ireland’s top rock photographer in action

Leaving the Poulnabrone dolmen we drove to the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliffs of Moher

As mentioned before, of all the years I have worked in and travelled around Ireland I’d never stopped or seen this famous Irish landmark. I’m afraid it was my fixation that we all visited here. As Kinvarra was so close I felt it was the best opportunity I’d have for a while to tick that box.

Spanning 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) along the west coast of Ireland, the cliffs stand at 702 feet (214 metres) above the Atlantic Ocean. While researching for this blog I discovered that many movies have featured these famous cliffs including, Ryan’s Daughter, the Princess Bride (Cliffs of Insanity) and Harry Potter. Might explain some of their popularity.

I thought there’d possibly be a car park and maybe a concession stand, maybe a narrow dirt path leading to a muddy lookout spot without a barrier and dangerously close to a sheer cliff face. What I didn’t expect was a massive and professional operation with a 2000 space car park for tourists with 4 entry gates and ticket booths and another enormous coach park across the road which was full to the brim with coaches from all over the country.

Beside the coach park was a row of tourist trap shops. The place was packed with tourists. It was by far the busiest place we’d seen on our trip so far.

Cliffs of Moher. This is the “standard” tourist photo of the cliffs and was taken right at the edge of the coach park. Google them and look at the thumbnail images, probaly 80% are this view.

Around top of the cliffs was a path which could take you to the small fort in the distance. We set off along the path for a walk, along with 10,000 other tourists.

L-R Sandee, Brian, Jenni and me. Obligatory selfie on the path at the Cliffs of Moher. Luckily we found a place where it looked like we were the only ones here.

The walk and scenery were most enjoyable. I’m glad we visited and experienced but not upset we were leaving.

Small factoid about the Cliffs of Moher, Jenni has spent her entire life wanting to visit Cornwall as she thought that’s where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Unbeknownst to all of us we had just visited the actual place.

Lunch at Lisdoonvarna

By this time of the day we were hangrey and stopped for a bite on the way back to Kinvarra in the excellently named spa town of Lisdoonvarna.

The Lisdoonvarna name comes from Lios Dúin Bhearna, meaning ‘fort of the gapped keep’

After ruling out all the tourist traps with their chicken and chips menus we walked to the top edge of the town and found the Irish Arms. We were not disappointed.

Lunch is served from 12 to 5pm. Listen and learn Athlone. That will make sense later.

The food was great and the bar and atmosphere were delightful. Well recommended for a stop if you are ever through this area.

We had an excellent lunch then returned to our stable for the night.

All too soon it was time to leave Kinvarra and drive to Dublin. We had scheduled 2 stops, Galway for some Aran sweater shopping and Athlone in the middle of Ireland, for lunch.


Galway was busy, not as busy as the Cliffs of Moher but still full of people. We had breakfast in a small cafe then went shopping at the Aran Sweater shop in the town centre. We got loads of excellent gear, some of which we shipped home and some we kept to wear. You’ll see me in my new duds later in this blog.

Look out girls, we have wooly jumpers.


Athlone Castle

Athlone is in the geographic centre of Ireland and it was here we stopped for lunch. Conversely to Galway the whole town looked closed.

Yet another closed venue in Athlone.
On the hunt for somewhere to eat.
We found the oldest pub in Ireland (also closed)

Eventually, after a bit of a hike and explore we found a lovely little restauant near the arts district which turned out to be a most enjoyable meal.

Look how excited we were to find somewhere open.

The Leftbank Bistro was featured in the Michelin Guide and justifiably so, the food was amazing. Loved the drinks menu also, if I wasn’t driving to Dublin after this I’d have tried a few different beverages they had on offer.

A Teeny Tiny from the Dead Centre Brewing company. Bloody delicious. That beautiful beer glass almost didn’t make it back to the owners.

Dublin was just a stopover, Cushendun was the destination but next stop it was.


All the time we spent in Dublin made me realise how incovenient it is to have a car while visiting. Next time I’ll let the train take the strain.

We arrived on the outskirts of the city right at rush hour. Took us over an hour to travel the last 5 kms. Our hotel supposedly did not have parking available, Sandee and Brian’s supposedly did. As it turned out both of these supposed facts were wrong. Sandee and Brian dropped us off at the Clarence Hotel and drove the short distance to theirs. We arranged to meet them at a pub in a converted church after we booked in and changed.

As it turned out the “short drive” took an hour, their hotel forgot they had any parking arrangements so Sandee and Brian had to go find one themselves. This took another hour. Without internet or mobile connectivity we couldn’t coordinate any arrivals times or venue changes. So without updates Jenni and I made our way to The Church which is a pub in a converted church imaginatively called “The Church”

Stained glass windows in The Church

It was busy and bunged and had no seats available for dinner and an already long waiting list and needed another 50% more staff. We waitied for eons for someone to take our drinks order before giving up and trying to get served at the bar. I waited far too long at the bar and was totally unsuccessful in getting served there either. Giving up ever getting a table for dinner or even getting a drink in the place we departed and left Brian and Sandee a message we were going to the next place on our list, the Temple Bar, in the hope of this being better. It wasn’t.

The Temple Bar was worse, just getting through the door was like those videos of people being shoved onto a train during rush hour in Japan. This picture was taken the next morning.

Leaving the Temple Bar after we failed to even get into the place we found another place called The Porter House which had food, seats and that did actually serve some drinks and left another message for Brian and Sandee.

The Porter House
World beer display in The Porter House where the honorable VB makes an appearance.

All too soon The Porter House started to fill up and get uncomfortably busy also. We eventually heard from Sandee and Brian and the hard time they had just getting checked in and parked and were wandering the streets of Dublin attempting to catch up with us in our various locations. Eventually we all gave up having a night out in Dublin together and both couples retired to their respective hotels.

We had a couple of drinks in the hotel bar and the went to the room and ordered room service Our hotel room had a a view over the Liffey and we watched the sunset and the Dublin Street lights come on while we ate dinner.

Sunset over the Liffey
The blue hour

Despite this experience we liked Dublin and vowed to return but do it differently next time.

The following morning we wandered around looking for a breakfast spot. We also found the Irish Rock and Roll Wall of Fame

Also a Mulligan pub.

we hurried back to our hotel after a quick breakfast as I had a software demo to do.

Once that was done Sandee and Brian picked us up at the hotel and we set off for our special destination of Cushendun.

I was going to include all the Cushendun shennanigans in this blogs but as it’s getting too long I’ll leave all that for the next one. Meanwhile, because I promised some lambsy pics in this one here you go.

Mint sauce.

Till next time

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