If you think Ireland destinations, you might think of Shannon and Galway, of walking the Cliffs of Moher, kissing the Blarney Stone, stepping on the Giant’s Causeway, or driving the Ring of Kerry. We did none of these on our family roadtrip.
I tried to sell my husband on the beauty of the Cliffs of Moher.
He asked, “How many people die there each year?”
“Well, there is soil erosion at the edges and the occasional gust of wind, so a few…plus suicides.” Later I found out these unprotected cliffs are one of the 12 deadliest tourist spots in the world. “We can be careful,” I said.
“With our four boys? No cliffs–anywhere.”
With that we headed to Ireland back roads. Using our fave holiday home rental search, we landed on the outskirts of Tullow. Never heard of it? Neither had we. It’s in the middle of no where. In Ireland, though, there’s always something to see and do with our sons.
The Rathwood nature park no longer features Falconry and Birds of Prey. I really wanted to hold an owl like the kid in the ad. The furry ponies were apparently grazing elsewhere, so we saw the deer and headed into the woods. A wide gravel path meandered to the goose pond. The place struck me as where-to-walk-your-stroller, but the boys enjoyed being out. If you’re a shopping looking for fine gifts of clothing and decor, the Rathwood Center is a great place. We zipped through hoping the boys wouldn’t break anything very expensive and hit the road.
The Rathgall Stone Fort was our find of the day. With outer walls from 800 B. C., the “Ring of Rath” is actually one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Ireland because of the bronze and later iron workshop excavated there. Discover Ireland says, “Rathgall was a huge workshop where spears, swords and shields were fashioned.” Clay molds, gold and glass beads, and the like were all found, although you’ll have to hit a museum to see the artifacts (some one of a kind for Ireland). Makes sense that beyond the thick stone inner walls, you walk out through three successively larger earthworks and stone rings protecting what was once a wealthy family or community.
Ireland also abounds with ruins, but unlike Wales, they are most likely to be of abbeys or monasteries. Seeing the clouds drifting behind open arches of once great windows in places of worship was both enchanting and a bit depressing to me. With better weather, you photographers of all skill levels would have a heyday. Pressing small feet and the always hungry tummies of our four sons kept me on the move.
We couldn’t find an Irish Bakery to compare to The Welsh Bakery at all, but we scored a 5 EUR skateboard, 3 EUR Manchester United sport shirt and more at the charity 2nd hand shop. These are great places (also around the UK) to find off the wall, sometimes literally, souvenirs from Irish crystal candy dishes to vintage outerwear. Make sure to stop in if you get the chance!
I stayed back with three of our sons who wanted an active day of swimming and playing at our accommodations while our eldest son got his desired daytrip to Dublin with dad. They did the touristy town tour, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and enjoyed Guinness in its hometown at the pub lunch.
Our days passed quickly, and next we headed to the coast to spend a day around Wexford before catching our return ferry to Wales. More on the coast next time. We did make one important discovery in and around Tullow.
Everywhere Ireland is close to Somewhere Ireland, and even No Where Ireland is a great place to go.