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The east coast of Ireland and its endless beaches

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The east coast of Ireland
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The east coast of Ireland!

From Drogheda – our “base of operations” to Newgrange and its surroundings – we decided to visit the coast in the direction of Ulster (Northern Ireland). I suppose that most people who travel from Dublin to, for example, the Giant’s Causeway, travel on the M1 motorway as it is a fast road. Well, if you are not in such a hurry, I recommend that you get off the fast track and skirt the coast because it will surprise you. Let’s go for a walk on the east coast of Ireland!

The route that follows the east coast of Ireland

Our target destination was Carlingford, but stopping wherever the occasion arose and always with the sea in sight. It didn’t take long for us to stop, as once we got onto the R166 and headed out to Clogherhead, we started freaking out This narrow road runs parallel to the beach.  Barely separated by a “guardrail” and a small slope of sand and vegetation. On the other side, cereal fields waving in the wind and the odd country house or church on the horizon …

The beaches on the east coast of Ireland are long. At low tide, very wide (in August, in the morning). And since we had no idea what this coast would look like (we were thinking of the west coast cliffs that we had left a few days ago), the truth is that we opened our mouths in an oooohhh! 

We could not help but walk through the sand watching the threatening clouds, but at the same time dramatic and poetic. The sand was full of mounds of churretes. Probably originated by the crabs that must have been building their habitats in the subsoil. We didn’t see any.

On good days these beaches are probably full of people who flock from Dublin. Probably with their motorhomes, because there is a campsite or two around here, but this was a working day and the weather wasn’t really good, so they were deserted. A real luxury !!!

Another cool detail was that the floor creaked under our feet. Such is the number of shells here. A sensation that I did not remember having repeated almost since I was a child, when there were many shells on the beaches of Spain.

After a while walking around there, contemplating the rainbow on the horizon of the fields, and when it started to rain, we decided to move on towards our destination. The Cooley Peninsula, where we waited for Carlingford.

Carlingford, off Northern Ireland, the end of the Irish East Coast route

Carlingford is situated on the shore of the lake of the same name. Directly ahead rise the Morne Mountains, Northern Ireland. If you don’t have a car but want to go, you can always book a tour here .

Carlingford surprised us because although the guide said that it is a very beautiful town, it had happened to us on other occasions that later it was not so much. But yeah, it’s really cool.
There are basically three streets, but they are full of whitewashed streets and ruins.

The east coast of Ireland

It seems that at the end of the eighties the town was quite abandoned and depressed. Its inhabitants met and decided that the chestnuts had to be removed from the fire or die slowly. They did the first. Today it has several restaurants and pubs, accommodation, and summer festivals (on summer weekends there is a soiree that attracts those who are willing to leave the M1).

Carlingford attractions

As soon as you arrive, along the coast, you will see the Castillo del Rey Juan rising up on a rock, watching over the lake. It was built in the s. XI and XII and only a horse with its rider could pass through its entrance. It is so named because King John spent a couple of days here, on his way to battle.

In the village we find a tower house , I think it is the castle of Taafe.  In an adjacent street, another similar building that apparently was the mint, although it seems that no coin was ever minted here. It still has Celtic-inspired carvings around the windows.

A little further, when you think there is nothing to see, going up a bit to the right we find the ruins of a Dominican monastery from 1305.   I loved that place, perhaps because of how peaceful and quiet it was. Of course, with its cemetery.

In a different vein: Carlingford’s specialty is oysters and… we can’t resist!

Yes, we decided to give ourselves a tribute and after snooping through several of the menus and prices of the open places (some were closed), we opted for PJ’s Oyster Bar.   Although it looked like a gloomy pub, it turned out that it had a covered terrace at the back Very nice, with large tables to share.

We opted for a different way of eating the oysters: cooked. And they are really good!

We also ate some squid and crab legs, the latter really good too. And now, because the bill went up a lot (as always in Ireland). In other words, for these three servings (to be shared between two), a couple of pints and coffees: € 31. We do not leave a single leaf of lettuce …

The waiter, by the way, was learning Spanish so he practiced a little with us, ha ha.

The finishing touch: the Cooley Mountains

While there, a good rain fell and we lengthened the after-dinner a little more than usual, but when we came out the sun was shining a little and we decided to go up to the Cooley Mountains to start the return to Drogheda.

This route is really beautiful. At least if you find them covered in a pink wildflower that contrasts wonderfully well with the fresh green from the rain.

In short, a not inconsiderable excursion , both to do it from Dublin (which is very close to Drogheda, although you would have to get up a little earlier), and on the way to Northern Ireland.

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