Three Villages in Ireland Worth Visiting: Adare, Clifden and Kinsale

by Meghan Yost

This past fall my husband and I went to Ireland for vacation (my first visit, my husband’s second).

Aer Lingus’ flight from Bradley International Airport to Dublin.

We made the trip across the pond to go to a friend’s wedding in England, so we figured, we might as well spend several days prior to the “big day” on the Emerald Isle (an easy decision thanks to Aer Lingus’ direct flights from Hartford, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport to Dublin).

While we enjoyed roaming around the country’s capital city (especially our extended visit to the Jameson Distillery), as well as another tourist destination, Galway, (our favorite spot being O’Connor’s Pub featured at the end of Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl‘ music video) we quickly realized we much preferred the small, quiet villages that are the heart and soul of Ireland.

We loved exploring the shops, talking with locals and seeing the sights (so many sheep!) So if you’re planning a trip to Ireland, here are a few villages I highly recommend visiting.


Thatched cottages in Adare, County Limerick, Ireland.

Located close to the city of Limerick, Adare is a quintessential small Irish village with thatched roof cottages and traditional Irish pubs.

Since we were already planning on driving from Galway towards the Cork region (with a midday stop at the breathtaking and somewhat terrifying Cliffs of Moher), we decided to stop for a night, and were so glad we did.

Adare is often referred to as one of Ireland’s prettiest towns, and from what we experienced, the nickname is apropos.


The historic Dunraven Arms hotel in Adare, County Limerick, Ireland.

We stayed in the heart Adare at the historic and family-run Dunraven Arms Hotel. Remarkably, Dunraven has hosted a number of members of the British royal family

Our room was beautiful and recently updated. We had a view of Main Street and could watch people wandering by, immersed in the charming Irish town. The hotel bar is a great place to grab a night cap and the breakfast there was one of the best we had in Ireland.


The village dates back to 1200AD and is small and walkable. Dunraven Arms is located across the street from a set of postcard-worthy thatched roof cottages, which serve as restaurants, shops and even private residences. They were originally built by Lord Dunraven for his staff to reside in. Three of the cottages unfortunately caught fire in 2015, but the ones that still stand give a glimpse into Adare’s rich past.

Walking along the Riverbank Walk in Adare, County Limerick, Ireland.

Adare Park is located just past the thatched cottages and is a nice place to walk around, take photos or relax on a bench as you watch locals pass by.

One of our favorite things in Adare was the Riverbank Walk, a scenic 1 mile-plus trek that takes you along the River Maigue and some of the village’s sites. We started the walk at the end closest to our hotel, passing by Saint Nicholas church and the historic Desmond Castle. The walk took about 30 minutes and ended on the other side of the village.

Of course, our visit to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a few plates of fish and chips. Pat Collins Bar had some of the best we tasted in Ireland.


The view outside Walsh’s Bakery in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland.

While it may not be worth spending a night there, Clifden is a nice place to stop if you’re heading from the city of Galway up to Kylemore Abbey or Connemara National Park.

Clifden is located on the west coast of Ireland along the coastal driving route known as the Wild Atlantic Way.

The coastal town is home to a number of small inns, shops, and pubs.


Lower Sky Road in Clifden, County Galway, Ireland.

We stopped to grab some breakfast in Clifden at Walsh’s Bakery and Coffee Shop, which serves up the usual coffee, pastries and small bites. If you sit in the back of the bakery, you’ll get to take in stunning views of Clifden Bay and the surrounding countryside.

While we didn’t spend too much time in the village itself, we did spend a lot of time sightseeing along The Sky Road, a 7 mile loop that starts and ends in the village of Clifden. Along the road you can see Clifden Castle, majestic horses, gorgeous vistas and lots and lots of sheep. There’s also a small, rocky beach on the north side of the loop that we stopped at to stretch our legs and snap some pictures.


Colorful buildings in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

Our last stop in Ireland (but by far our favorite) was Kinsale, a seaside village located just a short drive from Cork. We were there for less than 24 hours and in hindsight, wish we stayed longer.

If you are planning a trip to Ireland, Kinsale should be a must on your itinerary. We first learned about it from two Irish girls my husband and I met in Newport, R.I. They were spending the summer working in a Newport coffee shop via a work exchange program. When we told them we were planning a trip to their home country, one of the girls said we HAD to visit Kinsale.


The Perryville House in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

We stayed at the Perryville House, a pink period hotel originally constructed in 1810 and located across the street from the harbor. I would describe the place as somewhere between a hotel and a bed and breakfast (i.e. you can get a beautiful private room with a private bathroom but you must leave your room key in a basket by the door before you heads out … Don’t worry, the keys are picked up by hotel staff and the hotel’s front door is always locked).

Our stay at the Perryville House was incredible. I feel happy just thinking about it because the hotel was not only beautiful, but the people who worked there were so friendly and kind.

We were first greeted by Johnny, the son of the hotel’s owners. He checked us in and carried our bags up to our gorgeous room overlooking a courtyard. Johnny’s parents, Andrew and Laura Corcoran, purchased the Perryville House in 1997 and restored it to its former glory (Laura is an interior designer).


Cappuccinos and treats (non-vegan) at Jo’s Cafe in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

The hospitality at the hotel alone made the trip to Kinsale worth it, but when we went off to explore the picturesque town, it became even more apparent how special Kinsale really is.

The village is famous for it’s colorful buildings and fresh seafood. Not knowing much about it, Johnny and his colleagues were more than happy to give us recommendations on where to go. First stop was lunch at Fishy Fishy (everything is in walking distance to Perryville House), which was delicious.

That afternoon my husband and I sat and enjoyed delectable cappuccinos and dessert at Jo’s Cafe, and wandered around the town, taking in the colorful buildings.

Enjoying a glass of wine at The Black Pig in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland.

That evening we went to a local, authentic Irish pub called The Tap Tavern, which quickly became one of our favorite pubs in Ireland. The place is owned by Mary O’Neill, a spunky older Irish woman. During our visit she was sitting, warming herself by the fire and chatting with what seemed to be the regular crowd. Mary’s son Brian was tending the bar. We had such a great time talking to him as well as some other folks in the pub, and enjoying a cider (for me) and Guinness (for my hubs).

After drinks we headed up the road to The Black Pig, another must-visit culinary experience in Kinsale. From the cozy table for two tucked next to an eclectic bookshelf, to the varying and delicious tapas, this establishment was just our speed. It didn’t take but a couple bites of our delicious vegetarian antipasto for us to start googling local real estate.

We left extremely early the following morning to fly to England but even though we were missing what sounded like an amazing breakfast at the Perryville House, the night manager Michael made us a buttered scone and coffee to go. That was the icing on the cake during our short jaunt in Kinsale.


This is a good example of Ireland’s country roads. The lanes are extremely narrow with no shoulder and just a single dashed line dividing the road.

On a side note, my husband and I debated between taking the train and driving between towns. Ultimately, we settled on driving so we could stop and see the sights whenever we felt like it.

Hands down, driving was the best decision. Kudos to my hubby for being our pilot. If you’re not aware, the Irish drive on the opposite side of the road. And beware that their streets are also unlike anything I’ve ever seen — extremely narrow and winding — which makes for some white knuckle driving. Even their highway lanes are narrower than what we’re familiar with here in the United States.

If I can leave you with one parting tip, when the rental company asks if you want a Garmin or other navigation system, get it. And if you have the option of getting wi-fi in your car, even better.


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myrtee March 16, 2018 - 5:21 pm

Thank you, Havarti! 3

peepii March 22, 2018 - 4:55 am

Great reviews. I have very happy memories of the Shelbourne, but it has been extensively refurbished since I was last there. Time for a return visit. Feel the need to point out that Adare and Co Limerick are not in the UK. The UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Co Limerick is in the Republic of ireland, a separate country.

Meghan Yost March 25, 2018 - 12:05 am

Thanks for reading! My husband and I went to England for a wedding following our trip in Ireland. 🙂 With such a quick flight between Ireland and England, we thought it would be the perfect place to visit (and are so happy we did!)

Sunjay Bhogal May 13, 2018 - 8:50 am

On a long weekend here at Ireland, been staying at Cork during the last few days for my friends 60th birthday party. I am now on my last day here before I had back to London tomorrow. After reading your review I decide to visit Kinsale and my word I have to say this was the highlight of my southern Ireland long weekend.

Meghan Yost May 17, 2018 - 12:31 pm

I’m so happy to hear that Sunjay! Kinsale was definitely the highlight of my trip! I hope to go back very soon.

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