Daredevils, Dolphins and devilishly good ice cream

We are whale-watching in a catamaran off the coast of Baltimore and have seen fin and minke whales – but schools of beautiful dolphins have rather stolen the limelight with their spectacular displays of synchronised swimming.

Ireland’s south-west coast is one of the best places in Western Europe to spot these expert swimmers and they put on an impressive show, swimming in close parallel with the catamaran.

It’s the third day of our touring holiday of Ireland and we have reached Cork and Kerry. Before we head further up the west coast and further north, we drive around the rugged West Cork coastline, taking in the natural wonders of the Beara peninsula, and out to the signal station at Mizen Head.

Coast with the most: The colourful waterfront of Portstewart, a small seaside resort in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Coast with the most: The colourful waterfront of Portstewart, a small seaside resort in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

We pass pretty villages, coves and empty sandy beaches. We are never far from a perfect picnic spot or a place heaven-made for a bucket and spade.

In Kerry, we satisfy our sweet-tooth cravings at the Skelligs Chocolate Factory in Ballinskelligs.

We watch chocolates being made and sample a variety of the tasty treats. Later, at Murphy’s in Dingle’s main street, we sample quirky varieties of ice cream, such as fresh mint and Guinness flavours. 

Once into Clare, we park up to watch dramatic Atlantic waves crash against the Cliffs of Moher, which rise 702ft at their highest point.

Balletic: Off the coast of Baltimore there are regular whale-watching tours, where schools of dolphins tend to steal the limelight with their spectacular displays of synchronised swimming

Balletic: Off the coast of Baltimore there are regular whale-watching tours, where schools of dolphins tend to steal the limelight with their spectacular displays of synchronised swimming

Out at sea we can see the Aran Islands nestling in Galway Bay. There’s lots to do and visit nearby, including a nostalgic journey aboard an original steam locomotive along an old narrow-gauge line. 

We follow the sounds of train whistles to the West Clare Railway at Moyasta Junction on the coast road between Kilrush and Kilkee.

We stay at The Three Towers near Loughrea, in Galway, an eco-friendly family resort with a cafe, guest house and cabins. On its doorstep there is a horse-riding centre, guided walks and 2,000 acres of the resort’s Enchanted Forest to explore in search of fairies, gnomes and trolls.

From Galway, we cut across to Northern Ireland. In Belfast, we are keen to see the much-lauded Titanic museum. Over six floors, interactive exhibits tell the ship’s story as well as Belfast’s industrial history.

The famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy

A youngster enjoys a giant ice cream sundae. Portstewart has an ice cream parlour that has been open since 1911

Food for thought: The famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy (left) and a youngster enjoying a giant ice cream sundae (right). Portstewart has an ice cream parlour that has been open since 1911

From Belfast, we head north-east to the seaside town of Carrickfergus and its Norman castle.

Then it’s further north to the majestic Antrim coast where there is a stunning new view every few minutes. We stop near Ballintoy and feel like daredevils as we tackle the 60ft-long rope bridge that crosses a 100ft-deep chasm and links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrick-a-Rede.

Our final ports of call are Portrush and Portstewart. There are more superb Blue Flag sandy beaches here. Naturally we head straight to Portstewart’s promenade for giant ice cream sundaes at Morelli’s. The parlour has been open since 1911, the same year as RMS Titanic set sail.

The day ends the same as every other day on our Emerald Isle touring holiday – by eating delicious ice cream while looking out to sea.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Irish Ferries (irishferries.com, 08717 300 400) offers crossings from Holyhead to Dublin and Pembroke to Rosslare.

Stena Line (stenaline.co.uk/ferries-to-ireland) offers crossings from both Liverpool and Cairnryan to Belfast, from Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare.


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