The coast of southeast Ireland is rich with seashores, castles, and warm locals eager to share their homeland. By, Lisa Rogak
The emerald isle is a beautiful, haunting place with more history and friendly people per square mile than most other places in the world. Though each part of the country has its quirks and unique draws, when it comes to luxury coastal accommodations, activities, and food, the southeast coast from Dublin to Waterford is easily accessible and provides lots of opportunities.
Two things that define Ireland are the sea and castles. However, you canÂ’t go wrong if you start with one night in Dublin, as a stay in the city will help you wrap your head around the fact that some of the attractions youÂ’ll see, stay at, and dine in are almost a thousand years old, if not more.
After a night in Dublin, a leisurely drive of several days along the southeast coast from Dublin to Waterford serves as a great introduction for the first-time visitor as well as a welcome refresher for repeat visitors. Head south on the N11 coastal route through Wicklow and Arklow before landing in Wexford, home to a wildfowl reserve and the JFK Park & Arboretum, since Wexford is the ancestral home of the Kennedy family. From Wexford, youÂ’ll meander along sleepy two-lane highways to pass through colorfully named seaside towns that include Rosslare Harbour, Kilmore Quay, and Ballyhack.
All along the route, youÂ’ll drive through beautiful green bluffs and pass by the ruins of castles, churches, and homes covered with overgrown vines. Though the churches may be abandoned, the cemeteries, interestingly enough, are still used. More often than not, a herd of dairy cows can be found grazing in adjacent fields.
Of course, no visit to southeast Ireland is complete without a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal in the relatively bustling town of Waterford. You can watch up close as master craftsman create and perfect the glasses, vases, and decorative glassware coveted throughout the world. The highlight: in the quality-control section, youÂ’ll have a chance to don protective goggles and smash a Â“defectiveÂ” piece of crystal to smithereens.
Be it your first or 15thÂ time to Ireland, itÂ’s hard to deny the feeling that youÂ’ll be backÂ—sooner rather than later.
Where to Stay The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin serves as a proper starting point. theshelbourne.ie; 27 St. StephenÂ’s Green; 353-1-6634500. The Cliff House is a five-star luxury hotel that is built into a cliff. Sit outside on your private patio and feel the spray of the sea. thecliffhousehotel.com; Ardmore; 353-0-2487800.
Where to Eat Chef Derry Clark presides over LÂ’EcrivanÂ—French forÂ Â“the writerÂ”Â—the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Dublin. lecrivain.com; 109a Lower Baggot Street; 00-353-1-6611919. Admittedly, the Harbour Bar in the seaside town of Bray is at the other end of the spectrum, but it is no less illustrious. Called Â“Best Bar in the WorldÂ” by Lonely Planet, this is as authentic an Irish pub as youÂ’ll find in these parts. harbourbarbray.com; 1 Strand Road, Co. Wicklow; 1-353-1-286-2274.
What To Do The Dunbrody Famine Ship is a replica of the kinds of ships that transported thousands of Irish emigrants to America as a result of the 1849 potato famine. Be prepared for emotions to overcome you. dunbrody.com; New Ross, Co. Wexford; 353-051-425239. The Hook Head Lighthouse dates back to the 13th century and is the oldest operating. hookheritage.ie; Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford; 051-397054.