Backpacking in Ireland on the cheap

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 9-15, 1998
Planning a memorable trip to Australia
Exploring the “Land of Enchantment”
Backpacking in Ireland on the cheap
Rafting Tennessee’s Olympic-famous Ocoee River

Backpacking in Ireland on the cheap
Question: I want to backpack in Ireland. Hoping to do it for pretty cheap. I want to see the culture and hopefully stay away from too many big cities. I am looking for itineraries or just suggestions. I want a fairly relaxing trip, but would like to see the beautiful countryside. Any suggestions on where to look?

Michael Reeves
Los Angeles, California

Hike through lush green pastures
and visit historical ruins

Adventure Adviser: From Angela’s Ashes to Riverdance to Van Morrison to U2, Americans’ fascination with all things Irish is intensifying. Rightly so, it seems. National Geographic once dubbed Ireland as “probably the most beautiful place on earth.” And with its lush hillsides, vertigo-inducing cliffs, wildflower-lined streams, and history-laden countryside, Ireland is a natural choice for those seeking relaxation and solitude. One area that is gaining momentum, especially since the locals devised a 112-mile hiking trail, is the Dingle Peninsula on Ireland’s southwest side. The trail is a little cockeyed, considering that the trail makers had to take private property owners’ rights into consideration, but nonetheless it’s a wonderful way to see a slice of real Ireland. Start at the small town of Blennerville at Jim Costello’s Haven Bed and Breakfast (011-353-66-21217). Since Jim was a founder of the trail, he’ll be able to answer any questions you may have. Plus, his wife will spoil you with a breakfast so hearty that you’ll hobble out the door. Though the purpose of the hike is to enjoy the lush green pastures and high sea cliffs of the Dingle Peninsula, you’ll also enrich yourself with a mini historical lesson, since many of the ruins date back to the Bronze Age and are related to the rich Gaelic myths so endemic to Ireland. At the end of every day, you’ll probably find yourself slugging down a few meaty Guinnesses at one of the many villages. One definitely not to miss is Annascul’s South Pole Inn. The long-dead owner attempted a journey to the South Pole three times before snow blindness finally did him in and he opened up shop in Ireland. Most of the time you’ll be on the move, but if you want to take a relaxing day off, the perfect place to do it is Annascul. From here you can cast for trout at the mouth of the Owenascal River, rent a bike and ride the secondary roads up to Knockafeehan, another burg with Gaelic significance, or just hike the shores of Dingle Bay. To do the Dingle Peninsula on your own, you’ll need a map of the trail. It and other pertinent information can be obtained by calling the Killarney Tourist Office (011-353-64-31633). Quinlan Tours (800-217-7887) can custom design a a Dingle Peninsula or any other hiking tour. Another option is Hidden Ireland Tours (800-868-4750) which prides itself on using local guides only. They also arrange golfing, biking, fishing, shopping, and gardening tours.
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