The day I didn’t die hitchhiking in Ireland It was dark and stormy afternoon as we huddled on the side of a narrow country road tentatively extending our thumbs, hoping that it would be safer to ride with a stranger then to brave the unpredictable weather. After what seemed like hours a black van pulls sharply over to the side. A pit starts to form in my stomach wondering if this was a bad idea, as we climbed into the back of the van… Okay so my first hitchhiking experience didn’t go anything like that, the above experience and the actual experience are as different as night and day, literally. The scary story was at night and the real story happened during the day. On one of the most beautiful days we have experienced in Ireland. It was sunny and warm with a beautiful blue sky, and a gentle breeze. We were staying in Westport and wanted to go to Murrisk to see the Friary and the famine memorial ship. After talking to several locals, most of them suggested hitchhiking since it wasn’t very far and taxis and buses would cost too much. I was a little apprehensive about hitchhiking, mostly because of all the scary movies and books about hitchhikers being murdered or thereabouts. I knew Clayton had been hitchhiking in Ireland before, and with all the locals suggesting it, it seemed very common. So in the end the thrill seeker side of me won out and we decided to give it a shot. We started walking towards Murrisk with our thumbs out, and when we had walked about half way a car pulled over. My heart started thumping just a little faster as we leaned in the passenger window to talk to the driver, who happened to be a lovely middle aged lady. She told us she was headed to Murrisk so we climbed in. After exchanging names, she asked what we wanted to do in Murrisk, and then proceeded to give us advice on where we should go and the best way to get there, as well as give us some more ideas on what to do. She was so kind and friendly and I was just so glad that I didn’t end up as a skin suit on my first hitchhiking attempt. While I was doing a little research I found this website of hitchhiking tips with some very useful info, like which countries allow hitchiking, where its common, or easy to get a ride. Check it out if you have plans to do any hitching anytime soon. I think the biggest tip I could give to anyone is that if a car stops and you feel uncomfortable in anyway, don’t get in the car. All in all I had a great experience hitchhiking in Ireland, and it was nice to give our feet a rest. Would you ever hitchhike?
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229 Kms from Murrisk
Day 6 (Dublin): I arrived in Dublin via Aer Lingus from London Gatwick. The flight takes about an hour and you have to pay for everything on-board like water, light snacks etc., but otherwise the flight was okay. After landing I went through the immigration at Dublin airport and it was very smooth, no questions asked. Outside the airport, I waited at a near by church, which is a Paddywagon bus pick-up/drop-off point to/from their office. Their bus picked me up at 4:00 pm and dropped me off at my hotel, opposite their office, in Dublin.
242 Kms from Murrisk
On you day trip to Western Cork, the first stop is the historic port-town of Kinsale. In medieval times, the importance of Kinsale to Ireland's political strategy was such, that the neighboring hamlet of Cork, was described as being 'near to Kinsale' - a stark contrast to today's times, when it's exactly the other way round. Charles Fort - a 13th century star-shaped fort built to protect the port of Kinsale from French & Spanish invaders is the prime attraction. The guided tour by a member of the Office for Public Works is hugely informative & entertaining (the fabled Irish wit, yeah?). Much of Kinsale's decline as an important port is attributed to the sandbar in it's harbor. Cork was identified as a natural alternative and the rest, as they say, is history. Kinsale town is a charming little spec of culture and rural bounty. Schedule your trip to Kinsale on a Wednesday and be blessed by the weekly Farmer's Market, held on every Wednesday, right opposite the Tourist Office in town. There's great food, amazing juices, mouth-watering deserts and some absolutely amazing local life to be experienced in this market - do not miss for anything!
217 Kms from Murrisk
Day 9 (Blarney): We went from Kerry to Dublin back this morning via the Blarney Castle. We explored the castle for about a couple of hours, before returning to Dublin's fair city for our farewells and a quiet dinner at the Church bar in the night.Tips:1) Exchange some € and £ for trains/taxis at the local banks in your home country, but there are plenty of official/unofficial money exchange places all over London and Dublin, that offer a much better exchange rate.2) Get a London underground zone 1 and 2 all day pass (£8) every day that you travel within the city. It's the most economical way to explore the city and is valid even on the buses.3) In Dublin, try to book a tour which has airport drop-off/pick-up service. It'll save you €s for bus/taxi.What businesses did I use?Tour to bath and Stonehenge : The English BusTour of Southern Ireland : Paddywagon toursHotel in Dublin: The Townhouse of DublinAirlines : United (KC to London & Dublin to KC) & Aer Lingus (London to Dublin one-way flight)
192 Kms from Murrisk
The best part about Killarney National Park, outside of it's abundant natural beauty of course, is the existence of charming horse-drawn buggies! A mode of transport long extinct in most parts of the world, it can be experienced in abundance while exploring the National Park! Dominated primarily by its three lakes - Lough Leane, Muckross Lake & the Upper Lake, the National Park is more than 10000 hectares of pure relentless natural beauty. Reserve at least one whole day to explore at leisure!