Ah yes. The grip of the steering wheel. A gust of country wind tousling your hair. Sheep staring at you from the roadside, munching grass in a slow, thoughtful way that says, ‘You sir, are so, so, so lucky’.
Our recent post on the most scenic drives in Ireland was one of our most popular ever. It seems that driving in Ireland really, really catches the imagination.
See, Ireland’s a compact little spot that packs quite a scenic punch. The vista can change, quite literally, as you turn the corner. Just watch how the Conor Pass explodes in front of your eyes as that cliff sinks out of view. How the glorious serrated Antrim coastline twists and teases until it reveals the Giant’s Causeway’s hulking hexagonals. Or how the Connemara Mountains seem to lie low until your car roars onto the scene and they spring to life in all their velvety, lush glory.
Our last offering had many eagle-eyed driving-in-Ireland enthusiasts claiming we missed many, many others. It was clear the list of drives could go on and on. So we asked what roads you think should be added to the second part of our list, and why.
From pottering past potteries on the Dingle peninsula, to cruising the leisurely lakes of County Down, this what you said:
Nicola Brady and her beloved The Loch Gill Loop
It’s not the longest drive in the world, but the road that winds around Loch Gill never fails to take my breath away. Coming out of in Leitrim and heading into Sligo town, you pass lush hills and mountains that could pass for Hawaii. is on the route and is ever-present in the distance. When the day is calm and still the lake forms a perfect mirror – pull in to one of the many look-out points to take it all in, as keeping your eye on the road will be near impossible on this beautiful trail.
The route – R288-R286 from Dromahair, Leitrim into Sligo town. R287 from Sligo town back to Dromahair.
Felicity Hayes-Mccoy on Slea Head Drive
The farther west you drive the closer you get to the heartland of Ireland’s Celtic heritage. So don’t miss the spectacular Slea Head Drive at the end of the Dingle peninsula, where Irish (Gaelic) is the everyday language of the locals. The narrow road snakes round Ireland’s westernmost cliffs, every turn revealing new views of the and glorious vistas of shimmering Atlantic breakers. Sheep graze among fluttering, soaring seabirds, in steep fields bounded by drystone walls that drop straight to the edge of the rearing cliffs. Round one hairpin bend the road disappears under a shallow stream that spills into the ocean, and you splash through it, tyres scrunching on pebbles. On our first trip we parked at the westernmost point and gazed out at the Great Blasket, which the locals just call ‘the island’. The air was so pure we could see the sand gleaming on the beach they call ‘the white strand’. No-one lives on the Blaskets now but, in the past, islanders used to gather on the white strand and dance long into the summer nights by moonlight. You can still hear their music and songs in the pubs back west of .
The route: The Slea Head Drive is a circular route around the peninsula, beginning and ending in Dingle. The route is clearly sign-posted. Give yourself half a day for a leisurely journey.
Jim Simpson on County Down Loop
Leave Bangor and head west along the coast to Donaghadee for some breakfast. The town has a lighthouse and a lovely two mile coastal walk, get out and stretch those legs. There’s a lovely coffee shop at with a secret walled garden to boot – try the superb homemade porridge. A great way to start the day after a short walk.
From Donaghadee, go south towards Portaferry. The road is virtually all along the coast with fantastic viewpoints, you even get views of the majestic Mourne Mountains! When I get to Portaferry, I take my time walking around the small town and have a quick dander into the . They actually allow us to hold the smaller sea bed creatures, like starfish. Last time I was there, holding one in the palm it decided to fire a small jet of water, totally soaking us!
From Portaferry, take the to Strangford towards . There you have to see and museum. But before that, we stop for tea at the in Strangford, the best seafood on the Down Coast – the Chowder is amazing!
Take the return journey to Bangor around the Strangford Lough via Killyleagh and Comber. You’ll arrive back in Bangor just in time for an evening stroll along the marina.
The route: Take the A2 from Bangor to Portaferry. The car ferry will take you across Strangford Lough, and then you’re on the A25 to Downpatrick. After that, it’s the A22 and A21 back to Bangor.
If you fancy a driving adventure in Ireland yourself, download our new Great Irish Road Trips Brochure.
Curious which drives made the first cut? Read part one of our Most Scenic Drives in Ireland post.