Driving from Galway - take the N67, at Ballyvaughan, turn right and take the coast road right via Fanore. Just after Balyvaughan about 200 metres out the coast road, there is my favourite cafe in the region (The Tea and Garden Rooms (An Fear Gorta) . This is a must stop - fabulous lunches and sweet things in a beautiful room (or in the even more beautiful garden) with great service from Jane O Donoghue and the crew.
Try to time your drive so that you pass Fanore Beach at low tide. Tide times can be checked on (www.irishtimes.com/weather/tides
). (Use Galway or Kilrush times as estimates for tide time at Fanore). In the summer there's a nice place to stop in Fanore Village called Vasco ; and there's decent fish and chips at O'Donoghue's in Fanore.
If you're passing by Ballyvaughan in the evening (and you have a designated driver ) be sure to stop at O'Lochlainn's for a whiskey. Farmers Markets:
Two of the best farmers markets in the region are at Kinvara (Fridays 10-2 ) and Ballyvaughan (Saturdays 10-2). Bear this in mind if travelling to or from on these dates. There are great breads, pastries, vegetables, cheeses all from from local artisan producers - and the atmosphere at both is great. The Burren Perfumery:
A little oasis in the heart of The Burren. A destination in itself with great - though not cheap products; in a beautiful setting and with its own cafe in the summer.
Traditional Music in the Roadside Tavern
Across the road from our hostel nightly music in the summer ; weekends all year - there's rarely a dull night in the Roadside Tavern . Peter and Billy are great characters and great friends to us, Many visitors are welcomed to join in the trad. music sessions; the beer in Peter's microbrewery is great (especially Burren Red); and there are regular interesting things going on with visiting artists - keep an eye on our postings for constant updates or check (www,roadsidetavern.ie
). The Roadside is the sister property of The Burren Smokehouse
- and both are run by husband and wife team Peter and Birgitta. I think the Smokehouse salmon is the best in Ireland (and that's saying something). My recommendation: 'Organic Salmon in Honey, Lemon and Pepper' Food and Drink:
We're spoiled for choice in this part of Lisdoonvarna. Kieran's Kitchen in the Roadside Tavern is great - as is the Wild Honey Inn just down the road - or Sheedy's just up the town. If you fancy a nice fry-up in the morning you can't go wrong at the Royal Spa....all within a couple of hundred metres of the hostel. Day trips:
Educational: Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell Stone Fort; Doolin and Ailwee Caves
The Burren: Mullaghmore, The Burren Perfumery.
The Cliffs of Moher and the coast.
Drive on the N67 to Ennistymon - there are some nice cafes here ; Ooh La La (if French crepes are your thing ?) ; Byrnes Town house is beautifully situated overlooking the cascades and does excellent lunches; wind back towards the Cliffs . After the Cliffs there's nowhere better to stop than at Vaughan's in Liscannor for excellent seafood; Egan's is a nice bar if it's later (and you have a designated driver !) Driving on South to Kerry/Cork:
Best to avoid Limerick; take the coast road down to Killimer (just past Kilrush). This is about 45 minutes drive from the hostel - but allow an hour for comfort. The ferry crosses from here and brings you to Tarbert in North Kerry. This is the way to go (save yourself 85 miles - with beautiful scenery) The Ferry travels every half hour all day in summer and takes about 20 minutes (details on www.shannonferries.com