Wogan’s World

The mighty Shannon River flows through the heart of Limerick, my final destination on this trip. But today it appears to have a new tributary in the form of the M18 and N18 running south from Galway. The rain is the heaviest I’ve experienced yet, so I’m thankful for the relatively short drive today. In…

A hooker, a castle and a queue

Throughout my trip, there’s been a distinctive smell in the air. It’s unmistakably rural, and yet it permeates urban areas too. No, it’s not a Guinness fart (the original definition of silent but deadly), but the peat fire, a symbol of Irish energy for centuries. The peat itself was often transported along the coast by…

It’s Tom Cruise on accordion!

It’s home to one of the most famous beauty contests in the world, and is the basis for one of the best known traditional Irish songs. It was almost certainly the inspiration for the plot in Father Ted about the Lovely Girls Contest. Sadly, despite its romantic overtones, the town of Tralee looks decidedly down…

“I traded 12 packs of crisps for drugs”

It’s a heck of a drive, but Dingle is well worth it. Despite it’s remoteness, coaches line the car park by the harbour, and languages of all nations can be heard from the visitors. A crowd of teenagers pose for photographs next to the statue of the town’s most famous resident, Funghi the Dolphin. Yes,…

Way Out West

When I was growing up, ignorance of the Irish – and downright racism – were rife. There was a common question : “Are your family from the north or the south of Ireland?”. My mate’s dad had a great answer: “We’re from the west!” That usually fooled them. And it’s not what you say but…

A Southern powerhouse

As far as regional transport hubs go, you probably wouldn’t include the town of Cobh on your list. But just a few miles to the south of Cork, its harbour was extremely important. And on 11th April 1912 it paid host to a notorious visitor : The Titanic. On yet another gloomy day, battered by…

“Sit where you like, lads”

It’s stopped raining this evening, and given today’s weather that’s something to be celebrated. The River Lee runs through the centre of Cork City, a confident looking symbol of prosperity. Before the bustle of the city centre itself, there’s time for a quick Guinness in the Victorian Quarter. Although looking around it could well be…

The sunny south east* (T&Cs apply)

The south eastern corner of Ireland is said to be the country’s sunniest place. But everything is relative here, and relatively sunny can also mean relatively wet when there’s a southerly wind blowing in from the Bay of Biscay. It’s a nice enough drive out of Wexford towards Waterford. On the advice of Lorcan –…

Keep it In The Family

One thing I’ve ways tried to do when travelling is to get a real sense of a place. To go where the locals go, off the traditional tourist trail. That’s not always simple, because you have to trust a combination of instinct with a random story here, a half told tale there; never fully sure…

Trains, planes and automobiles

A simple enough task, you would think, is to travel from Nottingham to Dublin. But the first challenge is to get to Birmingham. By train, it takes two hours to get to London from home, a distance of 107 miles. Birmingham is 45 miles away – and the journey time is roughly the same. Or…