A trip to the Emerald Isle (Pt 4)
The last highlights of Cork County My second favorite after Killarney: Fota Wildlife park It was amazing seeing the animals so well taken care of, living in their natural habitat and socializing amongst themselves. I am not a big fan of zoos or anything that holds wildlife in confinement, as I believe animals should always be as free as they were born.
However, even I had to stare in awe at the huge expanse of land, the care given to them, and the attention towards ensuring their safety.
I got to be less than a foot away from kangaroos, a peacock and so much more! Also, the park has these wonderful fact sheets that really give you information on the animal and even their endangerment. It was as much an entertaining trip, as an educational one.
Fota House and gardens We were happy to have gone by to see the Arboretum, the house and gardens! Situated off to the side of the wildlife park, you can find here multiple specimens of trees some old, some new, and a wonderfully large garden. The house itself has tours and a small cafeteria to rest your tired feet :)
County Tipperary A must-see: Mitchelstown Caves and Michelstown Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, and you can easily why these are among Europe's most visited showcase caves! The last pictures are of the epic view you can see once out of the caves.
County Clare (again) At this point, we were going back up towards the north to Galway, and ended up passing through The Burren and a small harbor town called Ballyvaughan.
Right near the Burren and Aillwee cave, this beautiful picturesque town also holds the Burren College of Art on the outskirts, at Newtown Castle.
We did not get to go, unfortunately, but stopped by for some food in town.
The Burren - Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey A must to experience! The ruins you see in the first picture mark the turn on the road where you go towards the Burren. We missed this the first time around (on our first day) and ended up on the other side of The Burren, where the hiking trails are more woodsy.
Here, we got to experience the true Burren, with all its archeological treasures and beautiful sights!
Yes, those last pictures are real owls from their Birds of Prey centre.
The Birds of Prey show was...stunning! Various staff demonstrated the many talents of certain birds. We saw a falcon, a horned owl, and some eagles. Nothing compares to a falcon flying less than a centimetre above your head, at super high speeds! It's quite apparent each of the presenters had a long standing connection with their birds.
Aillwee Cave, only a short drive or walk up from the birds centre, was enormous and just as spectacular as the Mitchelstown caves, and our tour guide, as usual, amazing!
Some highlights of County Galway Dunguaire Castle and Kinvarra town A 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvara. The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht.
Galway city If you're there, visiting the Galway Cathedral and the university is a must!
Aughnanure Castle Within walking distance of our Corrib View b&b, this was a little hidden gem!
Ross castle (a different one than the Killarney one) More like a manor on the edge of a lake, with gorgeous gardens....
Another beautiful gem was Glenlo Abbey, which has been turned into a hotel. Beautiful place and scenery!
And last but not least, some more pictures from our drives around Galway county:
Our last day was bittersweet, but the morning when we left from the b&b to head back to the Shannon Airport, I truly felt like I was leaving a part of me behind. Below are some more pictures of those last few precious moments.
In short, our vacation in Ireland was everything we hoped for and more. It is not a country that has the epic nightlife of Spain or France, nor the large wineries of Italy. But it has so much more... Ireland offers you peace and the chance to reconnect, to talk to people, to take it easy and breathe. I would recommend it to anyone who needs a break from the daily stress we all are buried under.
We are looking forward to our next trip there, this time planning to spend an entire day at both Killarney and The Burren 😁 Hope you enjoyed the pictures, feel free to share on your social media!