The spectre of a renewed “hard Irish border” being raised daily in the run-up to Brexit is reason enough to take a road trip around Britain’s closest neighbour.
It is easy to become nostalgic about one’s youth. Many of my idyllic childhood holidays (weren’t our summers longer and sunnier?) were spent on day trips crossing two counties to reach the nearest stretch of beach in Lahinch. Seventy five miles away our Simca trundled through wind battered County Clare landscapes beloved of the Father Ted TV series. In fact the actual Craggy Island parochial house is located at Glenquin County Clare. On the way home my mother bought fresh lobsters “cheap as chips” from fishermen who had not yet discovered the fish markets of Dublin and Paris.
Kilkenny, only 90 minutes south of Dublin has been voted one of the friendliest cities in the world. It was also Ireland’s tidiest town in 2014. No wonder. Locals talked to us nonstop about nothing and everything and I never saw a stray ice cream wrapper or a crumpled greasy chip bag during my stay in this beautiful medieval masterpiece along the ‘Ancient East’ route.
The start or end of Ireland’s 2,500 km Wild Atlantic Way –a route tipped as one of the world’s great road trips – is in Kinsale, County Cork, depending on which way you are holding the map.
The Vikings definitely knew a thing or two about travel. They also had pretty good taste when it came to looking for a place to live when they found Dublin. Let’s face it, if you were going to settle somewhere many miles from home you’d want a few of your creature comforts wouldn’t you.
I’m sitting in The Red Lobster, a comfy little pub in the charming seaside village of Waterville about half way around the Ring of Kerry, and Pat’s pitching me her fish chowder. ‘You won’t find a better one anywhere’ she modestly announces.