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The most authentic St. Patrick's Day experience?


By Krissy Vann
Presenter, Beat the Traffic
@KrissyVann_BTT
Monday, March 17, 2014, 7:44 AM

It's St. Patrick's Day, and many of us have already been celebrating. From Canada’s longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade in Montreal, QC, to The Irish Miracle parade in Chicago, IL, festivities seem to pop up at every turn. For a truly authentic St. Patrick’s Day experience there may be no better place to travel to than Ireland itself.


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The St Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin has become a celebration staple with so much entertainment that it has expanded from a one day affair to an up to five day bash. Once the celebrations have slowed down you’ll want to explore the sites of Ireland that make it known as the Emerald Isle and one of the best ways to take in the sights is by car. This leaves you in the driver’s seat when it comes to what to see and how long to see it. Today we’ll take you from the Dublin airport to one of Ireland’s most popular scenic drives The Ring of Kerry. It is a breathtaking mix of stunning scenery intermingled with charming villages.

Once you get behind the wheel you have to remember that you aren't traveling in North America. You’ll have to drive on the left side of the road. Since you’ll be traveling in the Republic of Ireland, speed limits will be posted in kilometers and road signs will be posted in both English and Gaelic. The roads on the Ring of Kerry have been continuously improving through the years with many of them widened to avoid obstructions when sharing the road with coach buses and larger vehicles. The Ring of Kerry is a 179 km horseshoe, which could easily be driven around in a couple of hours. Avid traveler Suzanne Leonard advises that you should give yourself more time to explore. Leonard says, “If you're planning a road trip in Ireland give yourself plenty of time for stops along the way. Although it's a relatively small country the landscapes are incredibly varied so you'll often find you want to stop to get a better look at a view, take pictures, stretch your legs, or all of the above.”

The Route:

From the Dublin International Airport it’s about a 3 and a half hour drive to get to Killarney, which is the start and end point of the Ring of Kerry.

-As you journey on the N71 through Killarney National Park you’ll take in the views of vast forest and stunning lakes. It’s worth taking a stop at the scenic point Ladies View to capture some great landscape shots.
-From there it’s onwards to Molls Gap where you can enjoy great views of the Macgillycuddys Reeks Mountains on your way to Kenmare. As you continue the drive you’ll pass by picturesque sandy beaches and coastal views.
-You’ll be en route to Waterville, which was a popular holiday destination for Charlie Chaplin. This charming village is surrounded by water on either side with Ballinskelligs Bay to the west and Lough Currane to the east.
-From there it’s off to your next stop in Cahersiveen where you can relax on Rossbeigh beach or visit the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle.
-Your journey will continue through Killorglin, which is home to the annual Puck Festival and attracts around 100,000 visitors every August. After Killorglin you’ll be traveling right back to where the journey began in Killarney.

If you do have more time to explore in County Kerry Leonard says there are many sights to check out off the typical tourist path. “Of all the beautiful landscapes we explored it was the Dingle Peninsula that really took my breath away. During our (April) trip it rained every day at some point - be prepared for that! - but we got some good doses of sunshine here which lit up the stunning coastline. We stayed at a farmhouse B & B on the cliffs at Slea Head overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the Blasket Islands, mesmerizing in the changing light. Magical, a little piece of Irish paradise.”

When to Travel:

All the seasons for traveling to Ireland offer their own advantages.

Summer is by far the most popular travel time as temperatures are quite warm and pleasant. The days are also long with roughly 18 hours of daylight, which gives you a great deal of time to enjoy the sights. The main disadvantage of summer travel in Ireland is that you’ll be joined by many fellow tourists so expect crowds at all the main sights and attractions.

If you’re traveling in spring you can expect cooler temperatures around 8 to 12 degrees and you’ll be able to take in all the fresh spring blossoms. In fall temperatures are slightly warmer and the turning of the autumn leaves can be quite spectacular. These shoulder seasons can be a little quieter in regards to the number of tourists.

You’ll want to pack a warm sweater if you’re traveling to Ireland in the winter months. Temperatures usually manage to keep above the freezing mark, but the air will certainly feel quite crisp.

No matter what time of year you plan to visit you’ll want to pack weather friendly clothing. Layering is a great option for temperature changes throughout the day even in the summer. A rain jacket and umbrella are also important to keep close at hand. Sunscreen is a key item to pack as even though you may not feel the scorching temperatures beating down on you the sun is still quite strong. When planning your trip to Ireland be sure to check the forecast ahead of time at the Weather Network so you know what to expect.

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