Day 14 ((Clare, Westmeath and a bit of Galway)) – An unforgettable drive, the oldest pub in Ireland and plenty more
It’s crazy to think that we’re only hitting the 2-week mark today.
My fingers are KNACKERED at this stage. If you’re still with me, let me know in the comments below!
Today, we’ll be finishing up in Clare and heading out to Athlone in Westmeath.
Ready to rock? Let’s get cracking!
1 – The Drive from Doolin to Kinvarra
// Doolin to Kinvarra – 1-hour drive (we’re going to allow for 2 – Leave Doolin at 09:00, arrive in Kinvarra for 11:00) //
The drive from Doolin to Kinvarra is magnificent.
The landscape changes by the minute, there’s a multitude of stop-off points, and it’s another fantastic example of why Ireland is such a wonderful place to road trip around.
This is another drive to play by eye, and to just let your nose lead the way (it’s a straight forward drive, so you’ll stumble upon the best bits.
2 – Athlone Castle
// Kinvarra to Athlone Castle – 1-hour drive (arrive for 12:00) //
Athlone Castle was built in the 12th for King John by Bishop John de Gray of Norwich, and was designed to defend the crossing point of the river at Athlone.
You’ll find it on the west side of Athlone Town, finely placed on the banks of the River Shannon.
The castle reopened in 2012 after extensive renovations. It now boasts a complete multi-sensory experience with family-friendly multimedia displays and interactive games.
In particular, the great Siege of Athlone which you can re-live via a 360º cinematic experience sounds cracking.
3 – The oldest bar in Ireland
// Athlone Castle to Sean’s Bar – 1-minute walk (arrive for 13:30) //
Sean’s Bar in Athlone is officially the oldest pub in Ireland.
It’s crazy to think that for over 1,000 years a pub smack bang in the middle of Ireland has been catering to the needs of weary travellers and locals alike.
The pub dates back to 900AD, a fact that was verified during an excavation in 1970 that exposed walls consisting of ancient wattle and daub, dating back to the 9th century.
While one of the original walls that was discovered during the excavation remains on show in Sean’s, the rest, along with coins that were also discovered at the time, now sit inside Dublin’s National History Museum.
Here – have an aul look inside
4 – Onwards to Galway for lunch
// Sean’s Bar to Galway City – 1 hour drive (arrive for 15:00) //
Head to Dela in Galway City for a bit of lunch.
On the plate above is their black pudding, sausage meat and smoked bacon burger which was UNREAL on the two days that I had it.
Get fed and chill for a bit.
We’re going to be leaving Galway City shortly.
When you finish up in Dela, head for a ramble and soak up the sights and sounds.
5 – Kylemore Abbey
// Galway City to Kylemore Abbey – 1 hour and 15-minute drive (arrive for 17:15)
The mountainous, ever-changing landscape that you’ll pass during your drive to Kylemore Abbey is out of this world, and one of my favourite stretches on this Ireland road trip.
Drop the windows, dial up the radio and just cruise and take it all in.
Look to arrive to Kylemore Abbey at least an hour before closing (we’re not entering the building on this trip, but you can if you like).
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara.
The whole place looks like something plucked straight from a fairytale.
6 – The Sky Road in Clifden
// Kylemore Abbey to the Sky Road – 25-minute drive (arrive for 18:30) //
If you’re visiting Ireland in the winter months, it’ll be too dark to visit the Sky Road at this hour, so just add it to your itinerary for the following morning.
The Sky Road is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Connemara region. It’s a circular route around 11km long that takes you out west from Clifden.
The scenery you’ll be treated to as you spin along the Sky Road has a knack of etching itself upon your mind.
There are few places in Ireland that can go toe-to-toe with the raw beauty and vast range of scenery that those who drive along the Sky Road experience.
Kick back and enjoy the view.
7 – Clifden for the evening
Your base for the night is the bustling little town of Clifden.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Where to stay in Clifden
OK, first things first – a bed for the night.
For this trip, I’m going to recommend Foyles Hotel as it’s extremely central, the reviews are fantastic and a bed for the night and a full Irish in the morning will set you back around €99.
Where to eat
For a bite to eat, nip into Guys Bar & Snug for fish and chips (or whatever you fancy, obviously).
It’s a short stroll from your hotel and the reviews speak for themselves.
Where to drink
If you fancy a pint and a bit of live music, we’re going to polish the day off in Lowry’s Bar.
Kick-back, listen to the music and soak up some chill time.