Experience Ireland Independence — explore Ireland freely at your own pace by car from your own Home At First vacation cottage or apartment. Choose from vacation weeks at any of 5 Irish regions: Central, Southwestern, Northwestern, Northern, and Dublin city.
The above photo pictures mountainous County Mayo across the Killary River estuary from northern County Galway along the scenic back roads of the Connemara Loop, reachable as a day excursion from Home At First‘s cottages in Central Ireland and Northwestern Ireland.
IRELAND — CONTRIBUTIONS, CONTRADICTIONS, & CONVERSATIONS —
Ireland Independence: Independent Travel Using Quality Vacation Cottages & Apartments
Ireland Independence: Discover Ireland on your terms — your pace, your interests, your budget.
Is Ireland green as emeralds? White as potatoes? Golden at the rainbow’s end? Orange in the northeast? Can Ireland be home both to the wee people and the Giants’ Causeway? How can Ireland be 1/6 part of Brexit Britain and 5/6 part of the European Union? Is it still possible to find the old Ireland of thatched cottage farmsteads in hidden corners of this island of hi-tech industry?
Gaelic traditions, British domination, and American relations all continue to work their considerable influence on Ireland Independence. Social life here revolves at least as much around the congregation at the pub as around the mob at the church. Irish sport is best known for racehorses and hurling, but visitors will remember its excellent fishing, fine walking, and world-class golf.
Ireland Independence enables your discovery of the contradictions and variety that make up the unique Irish temperament seen everywhere in Irish culture. Wonderfully, this special character is best enjoyed by Home At First‘s Ireland Independence travel program, where exploration is free and easy, and the landscape is as varied and grand as its people.
Home At First’s IRELAND INDEPENDENCE Travel Program in a Nutshell:
HOW IT WORKS—
Home At First’s Ireland Independence: Independent Travel with Quality Vacation Lodgings.
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First — Request a Free Trip Proposal
• Contact Home At First. Tell us about your dream of independent exploration of Ireland. We will tell you about getting to Ireland, where we have lodgings (four very different rural Ireland regions plus central Dublin city), and how best to get around (via rental car, via public transport, and by walking).
— Tell us how many people will be with you, and their ages.
— Tell us when you would like to travel, and for how long.
— Tell us if you would like to combine a visit to Ireland with a visit to another Irish region or with a visit to London, England, Scotland, Wales, or to any other Home At First destination in Continental Europe (Paris , Italy, Switzerland), Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden), or even to Iceland.
— Ask for a Free Trip Proposal with Cost Estimate.
A SAMPLER of IRELAND INDEPENDENCE ACTIVITIES & DESTINATIONS
THE FOLLOWING SCENES ARE WITHIN TOURING RANGE FROM ONE OR MORE OF HOME AT FIRST’S IRELAND LODGINGS
Second — We Design Your Dream Trip for You
• We prepare a proposed itinerary & cost estimate with all the lodgings & transportation you need to experience Ireland Independence using a quality vacation cottage or apartment. We send our individualized itinerary proposal to you via email and/or postal mail.
• You review our proposal; accept it, reject it, or revise it until we have it just right for you. It is, after all, your dream trip, to be done the way you wish.
• Once accepted, we request an initial payment by check along with your signed acceptance.
• We begin putting your plans in place, securing your LODGINGS, FLIGHT RESERVATIONS & TICKETS, RENTAL CAR VOUCHERS or DUBLIN TRANSPASSES, and any FERRY TICKETS, if needed. Most Home At First Ireland Independence guests arrive from North America by air at Dublin or Shannon Airports; others come from elsewhere in the British Isles, Europe, Scandinavia, or from Iceland by flying, and a few arrive by ferry.
• Payment in full is due 90 days prior to departure, or when you are ready to lock in your included airfares, whichever comes first.
Third — Departure Day Finally Arrives
• All travel documents for your trip — including our exclusive “Ireland Activity Guide” — will be sent to you by 30 days prior to your trip departure date.
• You follow our directions for your transfer from your arrival point to your Ireland lodging, where you will be met at a pre-set time by your lodging’s host, who will show you the accommodation, explain its workings, see to your comfort, and let you get some rest.
• Have a nap. Get some groceries for your kitchen. Make supper or go out for a meal. The fun begins now as you begin to experience Ireland Independence from your centrally-located cottage or apartment.
IRELAND INDEPENDENCE SCENES & SURPRISES
Our ‘Ireland Independence’ Lodgings
Minimum lodging time is 7 nights for rural destinations. Dublin apartments have a 3-night minimum.
Pictured above is a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom Home At First remote-estate lodging in southern County Kerry on the Ring of Beara an 8-minute drive from Kenmare town. Its panoramic view of Kenmare Bay, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountain range) and the Killarney National Park are as impressive as the house & property are spacious, private, and relaxing.
Home At First’s Ireland Independence cottages, townhouse apartments, and city apartments range in size — from studios to 4-bedrooms — sleeping anywhere from 1 person to 8 persons. Lodgings vary in location from urban to rural towns and villages to country estate settings. All of our Ireland lodgings meet high standards for cleanliness and are comfortable, interesting, safe, well-equipped, convenient bases for exploring their locale or region. Rural lodgings come with hosts on-site or close-by, who meet you when you arrive and are available throughout your stay. City apartments have concierge desks staffed much of the day every day of the week. Most rural lodgings have usable outdoor space — balconies, patios, or terraces — ideal for snacking, light meals, or relaxing during fine weather.
Care & Cleanliness: The apartments have been thoroughly cleaned prior to your arrival, but are not maid-serviced during your stay. Nearly all rural lodgings and some city apartments are equipped with laundry machines. Accommodations are non-smoking and do not permit pets. Basic starter kitchen and bathroom supplies are provided.
Well-Equipped: As with lodgings at any Home At First destination, our “Ireland Independence” cottages, townhouses, and apartments have, as a minimum, bedrooms, private bathrooms, living and dining areas/rooms, and well-equipped kitchens. Some multiple-bedroom accommodations come with multiple bathrooms, often en suite with the bedrooms. Some few studio apartments or smaller cottages have open-plan living-dining-sleeping space and/or kitchenettes without ovens. Bed and bath linens and a hair-dryer are provided. Flat-screen cable TVs and free internet WiFi are almost universal.
Sample Ireland Independence Lodgings & Locations
Shown and described below is a selection of lodgings at the three most popular Home At First Ireland Independence lodging locations. They are shown here as representative examples of different sizes and capacities of lodgings we provide our guests. While the full range of our available Ireland Independence lodgings and locations to choose from is extensive, the standard of quality and service is the same regardless of apartment or location.
NOTE — FOR BEST VIEWING: each of the following apartment descriptions begins with a slide show.
These slide shows do not advance automatically. You can move from slide to slide (forward or reverse) by clicking on the direction arrows below each slide.
To see any slide in large format on a PC, “right click” on the selected slide and click on the “Open image in new tab” (Chrome) or “View Background Image” (Firefox).
NORTHERN CO. TIPPERARY
north riding cottages
Near upper Lough Derg close to the borders with Counties Galway & Offaly.
THE LODGINGS & THEIR SETTING: Located about 1.6 miles southeast of the village of Terryglass in northern County Tipperary, Home At First‘s Northern Riding Cottages are set on an active farm in the heartland of Ireland. The far estate setting is quiet, open and rural, just 4 minutes by car (or about 10 minutes by bike or 30 minutes walking) from the village. The estate has four one-story cottages: two converted from farm buildings and two purpose-built. All four cottages feature traditional rural Irish decor: simple and comfortable, but with modern conveniences in the kitchen and living room.
North Riding Cottages are four 1- and 2-bedroom, 1-story Irish cottages. From the outside they are undeniably traditional, rural Irish cottages. Two of them are converted stone farm buildings, repurposed to give visitors an authentic rural Irish accommodation on a working Irish farm. Two others are purpose-built, faithful recreations of prim, whitewashed cottages, the type that once could be found across Ireland’s heartland. Inside, the cottages are furnished simply, but with comfortable beds and living rooms, and modern appliances in their kitchens. All four have private parking, outdoor seating, and marvelous peace and quiet — except when a farm tractor is at work in the adjacent fields. Two of the four cottages have 2 bedrooms. Of these, one (Ashwood Cottage) has just one bathroom and serves families with children or 2 singles traveling together, while the other (White Cottage) has two bathrooms and is ideal for 2 couples, families, or foursomes. The small Rose Cottage is perfect for a couple, and is our top recommendation for single travelers. The fourth cottage (Mare Cottage) is expandable from a 1-bedroom, 1-bath, 2-person cottage, to a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 2-kitchen, 3-4 person lodging when its connecting annex (Foal Cottage) is added to comprise the roomy-with-privacy Mare & Foal Cottage combination.
TERRYGLASS: Prim, tiny, and tidy are Terryglass’s hallmarks. Rooted in Irish antiquity, Terryglass was put on the map by Saint Columba of Terryglass, who founded a monastery at Terryglass in 548AD. A portion of the medieval abbey’s wall can still be seen, as can two holy wells — one is said to cure migraines; the other miraculously improves eyesight.
While some visitors seek out Terryglass’s religious sites, nearly all stop at the village’s side-by-side watering holes: Paddy’s Bar (or Pub) and the Derg Inn. Good food and drink — and weekly live music — are found in these two neighbors in the village center. The village is less than ½-mile inland from the large boat quay at Terryglass Harbour on Lough Derg — Central Ireland’s large, recreational lake.
Terryglass is 12-minutes drive from the 2 nearest towns for groceries and services. One of these — Portumna in County Galway — is at the northern end of Lough Derg across the River Shannon. The other — Borrisokane in County Tipperary — is a market town for the agricultural heartland of the northern part of Tipperary County called the North Riding. Though hilly — even “mountainous” for inland Ireland — in a few places, the North Riding is mostly agricultural, dotted with prosperous farms, especially dairy farms. About as far from the seacoast as is possible in Ireland, the North Riding is also about as far from mass tourism as is possible in Ireland. If you want to experience the real Ireland, the North Riding of County Tipperary is an ideal spot.
ACTIVITIES & TOURING: There is much to do in the North Riding: horseback riding, walking & hiking, kayaking, cycling, pleasure cruising on Lough Derg, and golf lead the list. As a touring base, the North Riding — close to the geographic center of the Republic — offers nearly unmatched day-trip coverage of Ireland. Here’s a partial list of driveable destinations:
• Around Lough Derg: 2-8 hrs. circular
• Dublin: 2 hrs. east-northeast
• Dublin Airport: 2 hrs., 4 min. east-northeast
• Irish Nat’l. Stud & Gardens: 83 min. east
• Glendalough, Wicklow Mts NP: 131 min. E
• Kilkenny town & Castle: 100 min. southeast
• Waterford: 2 hrs., 7 min. southeast
• Rock of Cashel: 74 min. south
• Cahir Castle: 84 min. south
• Cork: 2 hrs, 1 min. south
• Kinsale: 2 hrs., 28 min. south
• Limerick: 52 min. southwest
• Adare village & golf: 57 min. southwest
• Killarney National Park: 2 hrs., 22 min. SW
• Dingle, Kerry: 2 hrs., 47 min., SW
• Ballybunion Golf Links: 116 min. SW
• Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: 58 min. SW
• Shannon Airport: 70 min. southwest
• Ennis, Co. Clare: 76 min. west
• Lahinch Golf Links: 105 min. west
• Burren National Park: 80 min. west
• Cliffs of Moher: 115 min. west
• Galway city: 71 min. west
• Cong village (The Quiet Man set): 100 min. NW
• Connemara Loop: 2 hrs., 30 min. northwest
• Westport, Co. Mayo: 2 hrs., 6 min. NW
• Sligo town: 2 hrs. 22 min. north-northwest
• Clonmacnoise monastic site: 51 min. north
Regardless of whether you stay close to home or choose to day-trip far and wide, Terryglass is a friendly, happy, and welcoming Irish village to return to, to dine in, to stroll around, and to base your Ireland Independence adventures.
EASTERN COUNTY CLARE
By the River Shannon at its southern exit from Lough Derg, 35 minutes from Limerick city.
THE LODGINGS & THEIR SETTING: Located about 5/8 mile northwest of the town center, Home At First‘s Killaloe Townhouses are by a bend in the River Shannon midway between the river’s southern exit from Lough Derg and the lively town of Killaloe. The townhouse estate setting is quiet, open and rural, just 2-3 minutes by car (or about 15 minutes walking) from the town center. The estate has access to the river.
Killaloe Townhouses offer 2- and 3-bedroom, 2-story townhouse apartments. The modern lodgings are comfortably furnished, well-equipped, and offer balcony views, outdoor patio or garden seating, and plenty of parking. All townhouse bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms — most outfitted with showers, some with tub/showers. Most bedrooms are equipped with double beds, but there is usually one twin bedroom in each townhouse. Kitchens are complete with range, oven, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, and clothes washer. A spacious, open-plan living/dining area has plenty of seating and lounging for 6 or more.
KILLALOE: Colorful, lively, historic Killaloe town is home to 1,500 residents. It is located on the west bank of the River Shannon just south of its exit from Central Ireland’s large recreational lake, Lough Derg. A long, narrow, multi-arched bridge connects Killaloe with its twin-town, Ballina, County Tipperary, on the Shannon’s east bank. The Killaloe-Ballina bridge is the first crossing of the Shannon for more than 30 miles south of Portumna, County Galway. The river crossing draws traffic between Counties Clare and Tipperary: the east and west of Central Ireland. It also draws travelers on the scenic route around Lough Derg, or heading south by back roads to Limerick, Ireland’s 3rd largest city (pop. about 95,000), just 15 miles south of Killaloe.
Killaloe & Ballina draw lots of river traffic, too. The twin towns share large harbor facilities that have made them a key tie-up along the Shannon for pleasure craft navigating the 200+ miles of waterways divide Ireland into east and west between Limerick and the village of Lowra 132 miles to the north in County Cavan, just 10 miles from the Northern Ireland border.
Killaloe and Ballina, not surprisingly, have a large number of restaurants, bars, shops, and services to serve guests who converge on the twin towns. Many are concentrated close to the riverside, with the old, multi-arch bridge the center of the action, and as a result often jammed with traffic.
Killaloe’s popularity has returned after an absence of 1,000 years. It was a millennium ago when the local O’Brien clan chief, Brian Boru, united Ireland in defense against invading Vikings, becoming Ireland’s first High King in the year 1002, and anointing his hometown, Killaloe, as Ireland’s de facto capital. Brian’s home fort was built at Kincora just north of Killaloe on the riverside by the location of Home At First‘s Killaloe Townhouses. While only a few post holes and 11th century coins have been found at the Kincora site, Killaloe still has an important relic of Brian Boru’s time: the St. Lua’s Oratory, built sometime between 1000-1150 AD originally on an islet in the Shannon but relocated to St. Flannan’s Catholic Church by the town square at the top of Killaloe. This small stone building beside a churchyard of Celtic crosses is of national importance. Of great local importance is Killaloe’s annual Feile Brian Boru, the July five-day town family festival celebrating Killaloe’s favorite son, which draws the year’s biggest crowds to the pretty County Clare village along the Shannon.
ACTIVITIES & TOURING: Killaloe and vicinity offer much to do: horseback riding, walking & hiking, kayaking, cycling, pleasure cruising on Lough Derg, and golf lead the list. Many guests choose Killaloe for their holiday because of its central location. As a touring base, Killaloe offers nearly unmatched day-trip coverage of Ireland. Here’s a partial list of driveable destinations:
• Around Lough Derg: 2-8 hrs. circular
• Dublin: 2 hrs. northeast
• Dublin Airport: 2 hrs. northeast
• Irish Nat’l. Stud & Gardens: 80 min. NE
• Glendalough, Wicklow Mts NP: 125 min. E
• Kilkenny town & Castle: 100 min. east
• Rock of Cashel: 65 min. southeast
• Cahir Castle: 66 min. southeast
• Waterford: 2 hrs., 9 min. southeast
• Limerick: 30 min. south
• Cork: 100 min. south
• Kinsale: 2 hrs., 4 min. south
• Adare village & golf: 35 min. southwest
• Killarney National Park: 2 hrs. SW
• Dingle, Kerry: 2 hrs., 20min., SW
• Ballybunion Golf Links: 90 min. SW
• Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: 35 min. SW
• Shannon Airport: 45 min. west
• Ennis, Co. Clare: 45 min. west
• Lahinch Golf Links: 80 min. west
• Burren National Park: 66 min. northwest
• Cliffs of Moher: 90 min. northwest
• Galway city: 90 min. northwest
• Cong village (The Quiet Man set): 114 min. NW
• Connemara Loop: 2 hrs., 47 min. northwest
• Westport, Co. Mayo: 2 hrs., 20 min. NW
• Sligo town: 2 hrs. 39 min. north
• Clonmacnoise monastic site: 80 min. north
Regardless of whether you stay close to home or choose to day-trip far and wide, Killaloe is a friendly, happy, and welcoming Irish town to return to, to dine in, to stroll around, and to base your Ireland Independence adventures.
SOUTHERN CO. KERRY
KENMARE COUNTRY COTTAGES
Rural cottages a few minutes drive from Kenmare, lively touring center of southern Kerry.
THE LODGINGS & THEIR SETTING: Located on hillsides above both the north and the south shores of Kenmare Bay and west and southwest of Kenmare town in southern County Kerry, Home At First‘s Kenmare Country Cottages may seem remote. They are, however, no more than 6-minutes drive from Kenmare, the principal town of scenic southwestern Ireland where the country’s highest mountains meet the sea at the Rings of Kerry and Beara. There are three independent cottages in the collection. While each is unique, all have similar furniture in a style that is at once modern and traditional with heavy wood and overstuffed upholstery: substantial and comfortable. Expect all the modern conveniences in the kitchen and living room. Importantly for isolated-site lodgings, all three cottages have laundry rooms with washer/dryers. All three cottages have enclosed, landscaped yards with furnished patios that can be used for al fresco dining and/or barbecuing. Details of each of the three cottages follow:
• Kenmare Heights Cottage is in a rural setting less than ½ mile from bustling Kenmare. The cottage is along a minor road on the heights above the north shore of Kenmare Bay, looking south over the bay and across to the rugged Caha Mountains of the Beara Peninsula.
Kenmare Heights Cottages is a 2-story, 2-bedroom, 2½-bath, whitewashed house ideal for small families (up to 5 persons) or two couples. On the ground floor, the spacious, open-plan living room and dining area features leather-accented sofas, a color TV, stereo, with a solid fuel stove in the fireplace, and a dining table suite. The kitchen also has a dining table and chairs, and is well-equipped with a fridge, electric range, and microwave. The kitchen opens onto a spacious, patio. Also just off the kitchen are a powder room (WC) and laundry room with washer/dryer.
The two bedrooms and bathrooms occupy the second floor. The master bedroom has a double bed & a single bed, plus a bathroom with Jacuzzi tub & shower. A second bedroom has a double bed plus bathroom with shower. Rooms have electric storage heaters. Private, off-street parking is adjacent to the cottage.
• Kerry View Cottage is a 2-story, 5-bedroom, 5-bath, rural house ideal for families or groups of up to 11 persons. Three bedrooms have private baths en suite. The master bedroom’s bath features a whirlpool tub and a shower. Two bedrooms share a large bath. The master bedroom and two other bedrooms have double beds. Twin beds equip a fourth bedroom. The fifth bedroom has a double bed and a single bed. Four bedrooms are on the upper floor. The master bedroom has a furnished balcony & a grand view.
The ground floor has one bedroom in addition to the well-equipped kitchen with dining nook, an elegant entrance hall with wood burning stove, and formal dining room with multiple tables and French doors to a furnished patio. The expansive living room has plush, upholstered chairs, sofa and love seat, enclosed fireplace, and large color TV, and opens onto the patio and gardens with sweeping views. A laundry room with a full-sized washer & dryer opens off the kitchen. Rooms have efficient electric storage heaters. Private parking for several cars is immediately in front of the cottage.
Kerry View Cottage is private and gated among manicured lawns and gardens in an idyllic rural setting just two miles from the colorful regional center of Kenmare. Four of its five bedrooms, the living room, and the entrance hall feature views north across Kenmare Bay to Ireland’s highest mountains, Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, topping the Ring of Kerry.
• Kenmare Bay Cottage is is a 2-story, 4-bedroom, 4-bath cottage ideal for families or groups of up to 9 persons. Each bedroom has its own private bath. Two bedrooms — including the master — have double beds. Two bedrooms have twin beds. Three bedrooms are on the upper floor; one bedroom is on the ground floor. Also on the ground floor are the well-equipped kitchen, large living room/dining room with fireplace and large color TV, and a sunny conservatory that opens onto a outdoor terrace with a barbecue grill. There is a utility room with a washer & dryer.
All bedrooms, the living room, and the conservatory have views north across Kenmare Bay to Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountains. Rooms have efficient electric storage heaters. Private parking for several cars is immediately in front of the cottage.
Kenmare Bay Cottage is set in an idyllic rural setting just two miles from the colorful regional center of Kenmare in southernmost County Kerry in Ireland’s southwestern corner. The upland perch of the cottage is private and gated on an acre of manicured lawns and gardens.
KENMARE, founded in 1670, is not old by Irish standards. Even so, its surrounding region has prehistoric monuments, and considerable Celtic & Viking history. The town occupies a scenic and strategic setting at mouth of the Roughty River where it empties into Kenmare Bay. The bay — an arm of the Atlantic Ocean — is wedged like a fjord between the mountainous Beara and Iveragh peninsulas. Kenmare (population of about 2,000) is a colorful, neat town with many shops, restaurants (latest count: 30+), and pubs. Kenmare’s Wednesday market fills its busy central square, where the town’s tourist information office is also located.
TOURING: Kenmare’s setting between two extraordinary peninsulas is ideal as a touring base for exploration of southwestern Ireland: western County Cork and southern County Kerry. Two major peninsular touring routes, the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, converge at Kenmare. Within day-trip distance of Kenmare are the large towns of Killarney, Bantry, and the city of Cork, plus many authentic Irish villages as well as lively market towns with pubs featuring traditional Irish music. Reachable attractions include Killarney National Park, the Rings of Beara, Kerry, and Dingle, the Caha Mountains and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks (Ireland’s highest mountains), Ross Castle, and world-famed Blarney Castle. Airports: Cork 2 hrs E; Shannon 3½ hrs NE; Dublin 6 hrs NE.
ACTIVITIES: In addition to touring, guests enjoy water sports (fishing, boating, swimming) along the coast, golf at nearby courses (Kenmare G.C. & Ring of Kerry G.C) or at world class courses a little further afield: Waterville, Killarney, even Tralee, Ballybunion, and Old Head of Kinsale. Close to Kenmare there’s walking, hiking, and climbing in the Caha Mountains and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, pony trekking, visiting craft shops, and joining in the traditional Irish music nights at local pubs.
Whether you stay close to home or day-trip far & wide, Kenmare is a friendly, happy, welcoming town to return to, to dine in, to stroll around, and to base your Ireland Independence adventures.