Holiday in Ireland/Tour Ireland by car – (Part 1)

Holiday in Ireland/Tour Ireland by car – (Part 1)

Readers of the Blog will know I have been in Ireland a few times this year (2022). The first trip (that you can read about here) was in June when I took the Stena Line ferry from Holyhead to Dublin and travelled around some wonderful places on my BMW F800R motorbike.  In fact I enjoyed myself so much I returned to Ireland about six weeks later (in July) and had another wonderful motorcycling holiday.

On the second trip I did a pretty big loop of Ireland and finsihed off by motorcycling down the magnificent Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. I wrote about that trip in a four part post called Return to the Emerald Isle you can check that out at this link. Both of those links take you to posts on my

I ‘had’ to go back

Having enjoyed myself so much on my motorbike trips, my wife and I decided we would spend some time there. I had mentioned a short while back on this Blog that’s what we would be doing and that is exactly what we did in September.

It’s the September trip that is featured in this series of Blog posts. In some respects our trip was a trip of three parts, with stays in the Counties of Antrim, Donegal and Kerry. Without wanting to offer up too early a spoiler … we had a quite brilliant time.

Previous trips

We had been in Ireland together back in 2014 when we had visited and stayed in Dungarvan, Limerick and Galway. Prior to that I had been in Belfast on a couple of occasions some years back (in a work capacity). My only other time in Ireland was on a wonderful week long trip to Skerries from primary school. And to give you a clue how long ago that was, Manchester Airport was still known as Ringway and I can remember my Mum waving me off from the pier in the pictures below – how times change.

What about the accommodation, what did we see and what’s in this blog?

I’ll be mentioning more about the different locations and accommodation we stayed at, but I can tell you now we were really happy with each of the properties we rented and wouldn’t hesitate to return and stay at any of them again – but more of that later.

This Holiday and Travel in Ireland write up comprises a series of separate posts that make up the ‘set’. There are links and recommendations throughout to places we visited. Each post features one or more picture galleries. Clicking on any of the images will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through and should work on mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop..

Heading for Larne

After driving from our home in Manchester to the Port of Holyhead in Anglesey we took a Saturday morning 09:00am Stena Line crossing to Dublin.

From there we took a pretty direct route to our first stop in Larne in County Antrim in Northern Ireland where we stayed for three nights. After Larne we headed to County Donegal for a four night stay in Ringsend and then we finished off with a week in Kenmare in County Kerry.

It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that although we were just passing through Anglesey on the way to Ireland, Anglesey really is a terrific place to visit in its own right, whether for a day or for a longer holiday.

We were last there in August when we had a brilliant day (check this link for some words and pictures from that trip). We have taken short breaks and holidays in Anglesey a few times including a week in May 2021 when we had a superb time taking in some of the sights and coastal walks.

A few days in Larne

Larne was the location we had decided to base ourselves in for the first part of our stay. We had rented a property a couple of miles outside the town centre called McCareys Loanen Holiday Home. and it’s accommodation that can be booked through a variety of sites:, airbnb, trivago etc.

It’s a lovely three bedroom property, all on one level and one that has been refurbished and fitted out to a really high standard. There are lots of nice touches throughout, plenty of car parking space, a lovely garden and all topped off with simply exceptional views across the Antrim Coast from the living room and kitchen/dining room. In addition we had also been left a very decent ‘welcome pack’ by our lovely host Linda, who we met on arrival.

Accommodation picture gallery

If you are looking for accommodation in Larne and you want to check out the property we stayed at have a look at the picture gallery below. It’s certainly a place we would recommend and certainly a place we would stay in again if travelling in that area. Scroll on down to read more about our stay in Northern Ireland, including our visit to Titanic Belfast .

Clicking on any of the images will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through

Evening walk

After a decent and routine day of travel and after checking in at our  accommodation we headed out for a short drive along the coast road and down to Carfunnock County Park. We only visited the park on the first evening we were there, but it seemed pretty extensive and a very decent place to wander around with woodlands, walking trails and superb coastal views. If camping and caravanning is your thing then I know there are facilities there for caravans, motorhomes and tents, it’s certainly a great location, and you can find out more about the park and its facilities at this link.

Evening walk – picture gallery

Clicking on any of the images will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through. The pictures are from our walk along the coast and our visit to Carfunnock Country Park.

Titanic Belfast

For quite some time we had wanted to visit the Titanic experience/museum in Belfast. Staying in Larne provided an ideal opportunity, although we had to make a slight change of plan so as to accommodate it.

We had travelled to Ireland on a Saturday and originally had planned to travel to Belfast and the museum on the Monday. However the state funeral of the Queen meant that many places, including the Titanic museum were closed on that day, which in turn led to us bringing forward our visit to Sunday.

Belfast is really easy to get to from Larne.  It’s only around 23 miles away and a pretty direct route makes it less than a 30 minute drive. Parking was easy enough as well, although our route was sightly changed due to a half marathon being run on the day we visited.

Titanic Belfast

Although you can turn up without booking, pre booking online is recommended (and is what we did). Advance booking gives you a time slot to attend, entry is timed so as to keep numbers manageable. The cost for us was £21.50 each which we thought was pretty reasonable.

I think we were there for maybe the best part of three hours or so, whilst I don’t think there are any original artefacts from the actual ship we really enjoyed the way the story of the Titanic was weaved into the story of Belfast. The museum/visitor attraction is actually located in the place where the Titanic was designed, built and of course launched in 1911. In many ways visiting the Titanic Experience tells you about much more than ‘just’ a ship.

It really is about more than a ship

A real insight is provided into the way the shipyard developed, the range of skills and tradesmen that were employed on building the vessel and crafting the luxurious finish that graced some parts of the ship. A ticket to the exhibition also gives you access to the SS Nomadic which was actually a tender ship to the Titanic. Overall I think what the exhibition manages to do, is to give a sense of involvement and scale of the actual task of building such a vessel. I certainly think it’s worth a visit and I doubt you would leave disappointed.

After we had been round the exhibition and the SS Nomadic we bought lunch from a local shop and sat on the Quayside to eat it before heading back to the car just as the rain started and before driving up and down the Shankhill Road before returning to our accommodation for the night.

Titanic experience picture gallery

Clicking on any of the images will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through

Another fine day out

After breakfast on Monday we decided we would head for Browns Bay, Blackhead Lighthouse (via the coastal path) and then a little further on to Grey Point Fort.

Browns Bay was delightful, with easy car parking directly opposite the bay.  The sandy bay itself is fairly small and is on the northern tip of the Islandmagee peninsula (which is on the east coast of County Antrim). We really did enjoy our walk along the beach and rocks, although we had to take care due to the rocks being a little slippy … care was also needed to avoid the jellyfish left stranded by the retreating tide and that were in some of the small rock pools.

I’m sure at peak times this beach get busier than on the day we visited, but we were there early in the day, a little out of season and so for us it was pretty much perfect.

We made the short drive (about eight miles) from Browns Bay to the car park at Whitehead and then walked a couple of miles along the coastal path to the Blackhead Lighthouse.

Since returning home I’ve been left a little confused about the name. When we were there I thought it was known as the Whitehead Lighthouse, but it seems it’s actually called the Blackhead Lighthouse. It’s certainly the Blackhead path from the small town of Whitehead but any internet search using either name brings up the same place with some references to Whitehead and some to Blackhead.

The coastal path that runs from the car park to the lighthouse provides some wonderful views and is well worth the effort … be prepared for a a good few steps up to the top of the cliffs when you reach the end of the coastal path!


A decent pint of Guinness


After our exertions along the coastal path and after making our way back to Whitehead we found The Whitecliffe Inn and took some well deserved refreshments there before heading back to our accommodation in Larne via a brief stop in Carrickfergus for a walk and to grab a bite to eat. Aftre that we headed on to visit Grey Point Fort.

Grey Point Fort wasn’t much of a visit really for us, but that’s because we visited on a day that it wasn’t open (we ought to have checked first). From what I have read I understand that it’s actually one of the best preserved 20th century coastal forts in the British Isles. The Fort is a pre World War 1 gun battery and used to be used to defend Belfast Lough.

Beyond that I cant really make any informed comment on the Fort but any which way we had another super day out in County Antrim.

Monday picture gallery

Clicking on any of the images will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through

In Part Two …

After our time in Larne we headed to a delightful rural cottage in County Donegal, had a great time and visited some super places, including the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, Giants Causeway, Balintoy Harbour, the Free Derry Museum, Fanad Head Lighhouse and much more. Dont forget to follow the blog or check back soon.

Click here to go to Part Two


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