My favorite place is the Twelve Arch Bridge in Ballydehob in West Cork. An old railway bridge, the image of the bridge is a truly picturesque. On a sunny day, overlooking the water, it’s the perfect place for a nice walk or a picnic. As a child, I spent summer days crab fishing off the pier and riding the peddle boats. During the annual summer festival, fireworks light up the sky above the bridge—a truly magical sight. If passing through Ballydehob, stop for a moment and walk across the bridge—you will be happy you did!
One of my most recent trips home brought me to the Clare Coastline and the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. It was a beautiful day (of course it never rains in Ireland!) and I was completely blown away by the whole experience. We parked the car and went into the Atlantic Edge Interpretative Centre first. The underground domed cave has 4 main themes that explore the different elements of the Cliffs – Ocean, Rock, Nature and Man. Cliodhna (15 years) really enjoyed this especially the interactive exhibits and displays. Then down to the Long Desk Restaurant café for a “cup of tea” before we set out for the Cliffs. The café has a fabulous panoramic view of the Cliffs.We walked along the Cliffs edge, they were frightening, fierce and magical all at the same time and should not be missed on a visit to the Shannon Region.
One place I have fondest memories of is the Slieve League cliffs, in Co. Donegal. They are said to be the highest marine cliffs in Europe with a three hundred metre drop straight down into the Atlantic. Parking in the first available area of which there are many, one can take the breathtaking winding road to the upper parking area, before taking One Man’s Path to the summit of Slieve League. You feel at one with nature as you walk, between the wild Atlantic waves and the weather worn hillsides, dotted with hidden lakes and blanketed in heather. Sheep are seen in abundance perched precariously on the cliff edge seemingly oblivious to the beauty that surrounds them. Extreme caution must be taken as you approach the summit as the path is carved into the very landscape itself by the footsteps of thousands of adventurous travellers before you down through the centuries. At the end of the walk you will be mesmerised by the view of these awesome cliffs.
On reflection my favourite place would have to be Fanore Beach in Co Clare. It is located in the northwest of the Burren on the road from Doolin to Ballyvaughan. I guess sometimes your favourite places are connected to the happiest memories you have and I would have to say that the summers I spent in Fanore growing up will stay with me for life. Hail, rain or shine it is hard not to be impressed with the unspoiled beauty and simplicity of Fanore. The gaelic for Fanore is ‘Fainne Oir’ which means ring of gold referring to the beautiful sandy beach.The small village has one local pub, a restaurant, post office, shop and coffee shop; there is no commercialisation just breathtaking views and scenery. It has been said that no-one wants to leave Clare after a visit to Fanore Beach!
From moving to Ireland from The Cotswolds in England I never thought I would find anything to compare to my experience in Ireland. When I first joined Select Hotels of Ireland I was given the opportunity to travel around the West Coast of Ireland from Cork to Donegal. My favorite moment of all was when we arrived at the Pontoon Bridge in Mayo. I was so overcome by the breathtaking view over the Twin Lakes of Lough Conn and Cullin from the restaurant that I felt in another world far way from the hustle and bustle of the city life of Cork. A most spectacular experience that I am sure will also be with me. I know the Silver Tassie Hotel is just set out of the town but you can not beat the hospitality and music which they proved for their guests. I did also on a private visit see the Kilkenny Rivercourt, with a very good location the friendly staff and comfortable rooms while over looking Kilkenny Castle and being slap bang in the centre of the town it was perfect for my 17 Year Old daughter to see and experience the hospitality of Ireland with the many boutiques and shops.