This blog post was updated on October 10, 2018.
The roads in Ireland are seldom straight and wide.
You may find yourself on a number of roads that could be sidewalks in the United States.
While the roads might be narrow and bumpy, driving in Ireland presents countless opportunities to be amazed by soaring cliffs and the sheep that manage to not fall into the ocean while clinging to those cliffs.
Here are a few drives to try in Ireland that may have you praying no car comes in the other direction, but that are well worth the anxiety for the views.
The Wicklow Mountains—Within reach of Dublin, the Wickow Mountains might not seem like mighty mountains, but while driving through Sally Gap and Glendalough, you quickly won’t care. The rugged beauty of this area is still apparent, despite being so close to the big city. The monastic site of Glendalough provides the reward to all of that winding through the Wicklow Mountains.
Sheep’s Head Peninsula—Jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula sits in County Cork. On a map, you can see why it is called the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, for its shape looks just as you would imagine. On the road toward Bantry, the road climbs up to higher ground, as it grows narrower and narrower. As the Sheep’s Head Peninsula sits nearby the Beara Peninsula drive or the famous Ring of Kerry, few decide to tango with this sheep’s head, only adding to it appeal for isolated moments with you guessed it, sheep.
Achill Island—Achill Island connects with the mainland by a little bridge. On the other end, follow the Atlantic Drive. Again, the road never fails to narrow, bringing you right up close and personal with sea cliffs and beaches that look more like places in the Mediterranean. Keem Beach rests at the tip of the island, worth making the drive for just to see the protected cove and its fine white sand. You can also see chilling traces of the Famine nearby at the Slievemore Deserted Village, where countless abandoned and decaying homes paint a chilling picture.
Slieve League—Located in the little village of Teelin are what claim to be the highest sea cliffs in all of Europe. While the Cliffs of Moher get more than enough attention and visitors, a drive up to Slieve League might only warrant a few sightings with other travelers. A new parking lot at the top has made it possible to drive near the towering cliffs. Park your car and walk to the top while noting the rock formation below called “The Giant’s Writing Desk”. Slieve League has that “don’t look down” and “watch your step” ruggedness the Cliffs of Moher lacks.
The Causeway Coast—If you make it up this far, you have nearly come full circle. The Causeway Coast amply rewards you for doing so with the UNESCO approved Giant’s Causeway and the Glens of Atrium beyond it. After you see around 40,000 six-sided basalt columns at the Giant’s Causeway, you can drive on to the somewhat frightening Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, where a 20-meter long rope bridge sways in the wind as you cross it. The Glens of Atrium calm you down after crossing such a “how can this be legal” bridge with their lush greenery and poetic landforms.