Travel Tips for Ireland

So you’re coming to the Gathering September 14, 15, and 16 in Clonakilty, County Cork! If it’s your first visit (or even if it isn’t), here are some tips to make the visit memorable as well as easy.

Packing Tips:

  • You’re almost certain to need an umbrella at some point. If it’s raining in Ireland (and it often does), that’s just a “soft day.”
  • Take a sweater or jacket for those cool nights or buy an Irish knit sweater when you get there.
  • Take some old underwear, socks, etc., and throw them away as you travel. Leaves more room for souvenirs!
  • A travel alarm and a small flashlight will be handy.
  • Your raincoat can double as a bathrobe.


  • Clonakilty is about three hours by car from Shannon.
  • Most of us who are not used to driving on the “other side” of the road tend to hug the edge of the road and often end up in a ditch. It’s better to stay closer to the white center line, even though you cringe when a truck passes going the other way.
  • If you can drive a standard shift, those cars are much cheaper to rent than one with an automatic shift.
  • Drive with your hands near the top of the steering wheel---raise one finger to thank an oncoming motorist for a courtesy. (Be careful which finger!)

About Clonakilty:

  • The local nickname for Clonakilty is “Clon.”
  • Among good places to eat in Clonakilty are O’Keefe’s (in the Emmett Hotel) and An Sugan.
  • Clonakilty is famous for its black pudding. Try it at least once.
  • The “Model Village” on the outskirts of Clonakilty is worth a visit.
  • The birthplace of Irish patriot Michael Collins is nearby, down a country road. Although little is left, it can be a very moving place to visit.

What to See in Cork:

  • Dunmanway is the ancestral home of the Crowleys. It seems every other shop is owned by a Crowley. The Heritage Centre there is small but worth a quick trip. It is open most afternoons, but check first.
  • Kinsale is the gourmet capital of Ireland. Nearby is Fort Charles, a star-shaped 300+-year-old fort. See
  • For a view of Ireland that is fast disappearing, the Ring of Beara is a must. Rugged beauty, no buses and little traffic. Plan on a full day, starting in Glengariff and ending in Kenmare. See of beara.html
  • On the drive to the Ring of Beara, see Castletownbere, the largest fishing village in Ireland. Have a pint in the snug at McCarthy’s Pub there. Drive through Eyeries, with its colorful houses.
  • A few miles outside Eyeries, see the largest Ogham stone in Europe, dating back to 2000 B.C. It’s on a small farm and a modest fee is charged.
  • A few hundred meters further on is the Hag of Beara. It is said that if a woman walks around it three times, she will return as a beautiful 21-year-old after each of her long and happy marriages!
  • A little further out the road are the ruins of the Church of Kilcatherine. Many Crowleys are buried there. Over the door is a gargoyle, reputed to be 1600+ years old and made from sand found in the Mediterranean Sea.

Miscellaneous Observations:

  • Irish Masses, even on Sunday, are usually much briefer than those in America and some other countries. Don’t be late, or you might miss it!

I am most grateful to my sister, Ellen Crowley, and my brother Tom Crowley, for providing the information for this article. I plan to follow their advice this fall. See you there!

The Crowley Clan Newsletter is
compiled by Marian Crowley Chamberlain