Ireland as a solo adventure
It is the third time in Dublin but the first one that I will be on discovery tour by myself on this island. It has been a while since I visited Ireland. A friend of mine used to live in Dublin for a couple of years, and I visited her a few times. Ever since I wanted to discover the rest of this country.
Which great coincidence (or maybe you could call it destiny?) that she comes back to this place for her very own hen party. The perfect chance to combine meeting up with her and a couple of friends from school, celebrating, and to fulfill my desire to explore the island. So said, so done! I booked the flight, rented a car, and the adventure could begin: From Dublin to Galway on the first day.
Do you have no clue where to start your vacation planning? Read my article How To Prepare A Road Trip and you will get some answers!
*Some of the links contained in this post are affiliate links. That means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase from the affiliate. I only recommend products and services that I know or trust to be of high quality, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.
Resources & Recommendations
- FREEBIE – Download your free and printable copy of the travel guide to “Ireland´s Best Attractions.”
- Skyscanner *– Find the best prices on flights
- Booking.com* – Find the best prices on accommodations
- How to get from the Airport to the City Center
Arrival in Dublin
Adventure is the correct word. Arrived at Dublin* airport around 10 p.m., got the car and tried to find my room for the night. I rented one at a student accommodation at the DCU in Dublin. It was not very comfortable but the half-way from the airport and the city center and good enough to spend the night there as it would have been for sleeping only.
You might know that Ireland is one of the countries with left-hand side traffic? I drove on the other side once before, but this was a couple of years ago and on another island with almost no traffic at all. But this time, late in the evening, in a big city and not knowing where to go. Aaaarrrrrgggg! The first day, first adventure, the first almost catastrophe. I have just driven in the wrong direction of a one-way street. But shhh! Do not tell anyone!
The Next Day: From Dublin to Galway
Next day, next try! And a better one! I took off to Galway. I did my research, checked what can be visited and prepared my bucket list as I did not want to sit all day and drive without visiting anything. For me, a day without seeing anything new is a lost day. So here it is my itinerary for the day and the trip from Dublin to Galway:
The direct and maybe fastest way from Dublin to Galway is the M6/M4. The only thing you need to do is follow this route. But, as mentioned before, I did not want to start my vacation with driving only. I am here to discover, see, visit, experience new things. Therefore, I chose a couple of places I would like to see. I left the M6 and followed the routes off of the highways to Tullamore*. Located, more or less, 13 km south from the M6 it is a pretty and small town. If you like a little break from driving (at this time you will be barely an hour on the road), you could stop here and have a walk through the town.
My personal favorite and probably the most popular attraction is the Tullamore D.E.W. distillery. I would have loved to do a tour of the distillery and having a Whiskey tasting afterward as I am a huge Whiskey fan. So this would have been an excellent opportunity to get a glimpse of the taste of one of the most popular Whiskeys in the world.
Unfortunately, I had to drive because my journey from Dublin to Galway is not yet over, and I did not want to risk anything on this first day. Being on the other side of the street than I used to, made me freaking out a bit. Hence, I just had a look from the outside. As it was difficult to find a parking lot anyway, I was not too disappointed that I could not attend the tour. But there is another whiskey tasting tour on my list for later on my trip.
The next stop I have planned for this day was Clonmacnoise. The easiest way to go there is to go back to the M6 in the direction to Galway and follow the signs. You also can stay off of the highway but make sure that you programmed your GPS beforehand or at least check if it can find this location. I did not do this, and when I left Tullamore, my GPS was not able to find Clonmacnoise (who knows why?). Without any internet, I could not ask Google either. So, I got lost (a little bit). But no worries, I already prepared it to find my way from Dublin to Galway, so I was not that lost 😉
Lucky me, an Irish gentleman appeared from out of nowhere. He explained where I have to go to find my way again and could continue my trip. Well, so I followed the signs as he told me and arrived at Clonmacnoise eventually.
Clonmacnoise is “An Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe.” (Heritage Ireland)
The original high crosses and a selection of grave slabs are on display in the visitor center together with some explanations of the reason and importance of this location in the past. A step back into history. The best impression of historical and ancient Ireland and its culture. A unique atmosphere so that I got awestruck. I almost could feel how life was in these former times.
Not far from Clonmacnoise is Shannonbridge. Named after the bridge across the river Shannon, which connects County Offaly and County Roscommon. You cannot miss it, as it is the next town on the route when you head to Galway. A pleasant little village with a historic bridge and one pub which was completely booked out for lunch. No chance to get a table even for a single person it was not possible to find the smallest space. Too bad, the food looked delicious, and I was already starving.
From here you could have a walk alongside the river Shannon, do some angling or you cross the river by the ferry. Unfortunately, my schedule made me go forward as I wanted to be in Galway before the rain would start or the sun sets.
Thus, the last part of the day began. I continued my journey from Dublin to Galway, and I arrived in the afternoon. I checked into my room in a very charming and beautiful house which I found at Airbnb. Afterward, I had plenty of time to discover the close surroundings. As I booked three nights, there was enough time to explore Galway and its city center and have one more day trip to Connemara and the coastal areas.
By the way, I recommend using an Airbnb at least once on your travels. It is an entirely different experience than staying in hotels only. If you like to try it and you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up using my referral link*, which will give you €30 off your first stay! And who doesn’t like getting discounts?!
But first, I had a delicious dinner at The Ardilaun Hotel*. A pretty good idea as it was just a five-minute walk and not a minute too long I learned a bit later this evening. Although, I was fortunate with the weather the whole day, I was so happy that I went to the Ardilaun. The rain started straight after I entered the restaurant. Good that I went to dinner in time. Not so good that it still was raining when I called it a night and wanted to go home.
It was a relaxed ending of a day that was full of adventures. The way from Dublin to Galway brought a bunch of new experiences (historical facts and ancient ruins of Clonmacnoise). And in the end, I got myself a delicious dinner in Galway. Happy and with no further wishes I went to bed not able to do anything else than sleeping, looking forward to the next morning when my journey continued.
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Have you been to Ireland yet? What was/ is your favorite place? Looking forward to learning more about your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment and do not forget to sign up my newsletter, so you never miss anything out.