A road trip from Dublin to Dingle is one of the longest you can undertake in Ireland. At around 5 hours, it's a short jaunt by US standards, but still, it's great to have the excuse of a "long" drive to find opportunities to stretch our legs in interesting places. Here are five of our favorite pit stops that we discovered on the round trip between Dublin and Dingle.
Steep in Science and Nature at Birr Castle
Birr Castle features an atmospheric house and extensive gardens for a leg-stretching stroll. For a period (1845-1914), the castle was also home to the largest telescope in the world. We marveled at the massive series of ladders and contraptions required to point the telescope toward the sky for some Victorian stargazing.
A Quick Stop in Adare
Adare is a lovely town featuring beautiful thatched cottages, colorful pubs, and a small park for a quick stretch of the legs. It's actually an ideal pit stop on a road trip; there are some fun things to see but not so many things that you are tempted to linger there all day. We were excited to get to Dingle and stayed for maybe 20 minutes in Adare.
A Spin through Listowel
Listowel is another whistle-stop place that we checked out on the return from Dingle to Dublin. We spent about 20 minutes exploring the colorful square and walking in the footsteps of writers like Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane who called Listowel home and helped the town earn its reputation as the Literary Capital of Ireland.
Relive the Era of the Flying Boat in Foynes
We were absolutely fascinated by Foynes and actually drove out of our way a little bit to make a pit stop. Foynes is home to the Flying Boat Museum which is housed in the former airport (boatport?). In contrast to the float planes of today, flying boats were jet-sized behemoths that took off and landed on water and really jump started the era of intercontinental flight. The airport was situated here in Foynes because it is in the very west of Ireland and thus represents one of the shortest possible distances to North America. The exhibits on the history of aviation were intriguing and we enjoyed the chance to walk around one of the flying boats. The flying boat era really only lasted a short time (around the time of World War II) but it is a fascinating and romantic era for aviation.
Soak in the Sun at Belvedere House and Gardens in Mullingar
As the sun set on our return from Dublin to Dingle, we were faced with stunning clear blue skies (such a rarity in Ireland!) It was perfect weather for a stroll around Belvedere House and Gardens.
We stared up at the famous 'Jealous Wall' glowing in the golden hour sun. Catalyzed by a family saga that pitted brother against brother and involving accusations of adultery, the Jealous Wall was erected so that Robert Rochfort, the owner of Belvedere House wouldn't have to look at his brother George's house next door.
It is possible to amble for hours on the grounds and in doing so, you'll encounter a number of follies (structures mainly built for decoration). The follies look like they've been around for hundreds of years but in reality they were built in the 20th century and were just styled to look old. Fascinating.
There you have it...five ideal places to stretch your legs on a road trip between Dublin and Dingle. See below for a map outlining the various pit stops. For more on our trip to Dingle see: