The premise of this adventure was to visit a friends wedding, but as we hadn't had a holiday in a while we threw caution to the wind and planned a sprint around Ireland with the wedding being the culmination of the adventure. Who wants to fly and hire a car when you have a Porsche and a closet full of squishy luggage bags?
We started out early with a ferry to catch, I don't quite know why you have to get to the port so early but you do. In my mind it would be much more fun if the boat left bang on time and all you had to do was get your car on there before the ramp lifts. Who doesn't want that challenge? But alas here we are queuing up at a ferry port, there is nothing worse than doing this in a Porsche. You are the worst human to walk the earth, who dares to use a sportscar for a ferry crossing? Where are your crying children, where is the anxious dog, why aren't you as miserable as we are?
Eventually we were permitted to load the car onto the ferry and collect the keys to our cabin. Sounds fancy doesn't it? It's not, no balconies, man servants or free champagne here, just a slightly dark room with a couple of past their best beds, but as you don't have to share this with any other people it is the ultimate luxury.
3 and a bit hours later we land on Irish soil and are unleashed straight into Dublin traffic, us and a band of fellow Brits slowly trickle through Dublin's side roads before we hit the big roads and go our separate ways, from then on it's a game of spot the Brits where a sighting of a yellow number plate makes you think of home.
Our first leg of the journey will see us head west and reach our first night's stay on the coast. This 300+ KM schlep across Ireland will give us chance to get to know the country, learn about their road network and hopefully find something to eat. All 3 objectives were achieved in what was an impressive stint for adventurers who have been up since 5 am, especially as it hasn't stopped raining the entire time, this bodes well...
Arriving at our stay we are bleary eyed, in need of a stretch and have a thirst that only a cold pint can quench, but there is one final challenge. In this part of rural Ireland the houses are built into/on the hills, to say these hills are steep is an understatement, behind the wheel of the Cayman this driveway we need to traverse may as well be Everest. This car doesn't have a particularly low nose but the witness marks on the tarmac show I wont be the first to struggle here. After a few sharp intakes of breath and assessing the approach we conquer the summit with only some minor scraping of the plastic splitter. We need to get out yet but that is firmly a problem for another day, now its time for Pizza and Beer.
After a decent nights sleep we open the curtains to find we can actually see the sea from our stay, the view that was previously obscured by fog, mist and the sideways rain. That level of precipitation and inclement weather will make frequent appearances on this trip.
Clear skies mean only one thing, we must go and get our first taste of an Irish beach, I need to sit on sand and look at the sea while soaking up some sun and reading a book. Yesterday it was all about distance covered, today its pages read. A 45 minute stint in to Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and loathing in Las Vegas might not be your idea of relaxing but it works for me.
We are of course eventually rained off so decide to move around the coast and take in some scenery whilst dodging the intermittent showers. Good lord Ireland is lovely, we've only been here around 24 hours and we must come back some time, we've already seen all of topographies and landscapes that we could imagine.
The rest of our day is spent snaking around more of the coast and visiting a few tourist hot spots, but our mission changes drastically. The primary objective of this trip is a friends wedding, but that is out of the window as it seems that bootlegging Irish crisps is our new focus. My Fiance hasn't ever tried a Tayto, but after her first taste shes hooked. For those of you who don't know the brand Taytos you are living a sheltered life, these delicious bastards are more than just crisps, they are an experience that must be encountered, you will never be the same again, the Irish Ayahuasca. That first bag sparks a monster inside us and we simply must cram every orifice of the car with potato based crack.
Fueled up on crisps we head to our next stay via a pint of the black stuff and gathering some non potato based sustenance for dinner. Upon arrival at this AirBnB there is just a regular driveway, a sight which immediately eases us both, I don't fancy calculating angles of approach in a fried snack frenzy. Our host is an incredibly Irish and incredibly friendly chap who refuses to believe we have a weeks worth of luggage in a car shaped like a bar of soap, his surprise turns to shock as we extract numerous bags, clothes and crisps in an act that resembles the best Paul Daniels magic trick.
It turns out that the Irish love a Porsche, its not just our host but everyone is giving it looks, making nice comments and looking generally amazed that a car that isn't an SUV can explore rural roads. Fuel stations prove to be an alienating experience, to me its just an entry level Porsche but to the Irish its a spaceship. "What do you mean it doesn’t run on liquidized turtles? It’s takes the same fuel as my Dacia?!". This attitude is also apparent on the open road, at one point I thought Moses was onboard as the way traffic parts on a country road is truly an Exodus. You even get a thumbs up as you blow Seamus into the weeds, I could get used to this.
Our next day is a big one, we've done the width of Ireland and its now time to do the length. It's going to be a long day but we have snacks, a can do attitude and there should be some spectacular roads for the last couple of hours. Speaking of snacks, does anyone have a slightly tortuous relationship with a car picnic? It's a trip back to childhood and those days out to the seaside laced with the possibility of a Mike Lowrey inspired rant when a crisp wedges itself in a seat rail.
The journey proves to be slow and syrupy, molasses would trickle down an atlas faster than we covered miles. The weather was crap, there wasn't anything to look at and my left leg is out growing my right one. If i have to sit in any more stop/start traffic i'll be walking in circles for the remainder of this holiday. Just as we are ready to abandon the Cayman at the nearest webuyanycar we hit the Killarney national park and the sweet relief of the Ring of Kerry, mile after mile of snaking technical roads that climb up to the stunning Ladies View viewpoint.
That view made the awful journey palatable, finally we had something to look at that wasn't the brake lights of a tourist coach. If this was only half way up the mountain what the hell would the top be like? Well in typical Irish fashion it was very different, and by that I mean gale force winds and rain. Yes Molls Gap proved to be an anti climax as all we could see was the incoming weather.
But forget that, look at that road. Gone were the 2nd gear switchbacks and here was the flowing smooth undulating roads that I had read about. South of Molls Gap is heaven, you're high enough up to bother the angel Gabriel but I wasn't planning on driving like your local bishop. We had time to make up and tourists to clear from our path, an unvalved exhaust and a rock tunnel would sort out the latter, the former was all on me. By the time we reached our nights accommodation we had ticked off near 7 hours of driving.
Beer and food were needed pronto, and after a visit to The Dock Wall in Union Hall we had quenched our thirst and eaten some very good food. Ireland really is rather lovely. In part 2 you can look forward to tales of a Wedding, driving an old Military Road and fulfilling the dream of racing to the Ferry.