5 road trips with an Irish twist!

Westport, County Mayo

Looking for a road trip with a twist? The roads in Ireland have stories to tell…

There are road trips, and then there are Irish road trips! From curious phenomena and fairies of folklore, to wild landscapes that hold stories of Ireland’s tragic past, these roads trips are well worth the detour.

Cooley Peninsula, County Louth
Cooley Peninsula, County Louth

The Magic Roads

Ever heard of a road where your car rolls uphill? These are Ireland’s ‘magic roads’, where you simply stop the car, release the handbrake and roll against the pull of gravity! Don’t believe us? Check out actor Andrew McCarthy’s quest for the magic road in County Louth. Okay, the truth is, it’s just an optical illusion – the layout of the landscape makes it look like it is uphill – but we like to think there’s a little bit of magic involved, too!

Healy Pass, County Cork
Healy Pass, County Cork

The roads to nowhere

The Great Famine in the mid-19th century took its toll on the island’s people – and on its landscapes. Take a trip out to rural Ireland and you’ll find roads that lead... nowhere. In exchange for food, these roads were paved by Irish peasantry during the Famine. Built with no direction or ending in mind, these roads criss-cross and meander up hills until they suddenly cease. The Healy Pass ion the Beara Peninsula is one of the most famous of these roads.

Kilbroney Forest Park, County Down
Kilbroney Forest Park, County Down

The road built around fairies

Ireland’s mythical creatures are at the centre of many legends and cautionary tales, but they made world headlines in 1999 when the upgrade of a national road in County Clare was delayed nearly 10 years due to a fairy tree. Local folklorist Eddie Lenihan raised the objection to the road as the tree was a meeting point for the fairies of Munster. The road was eventually built around the tree, leaving their meeting spot safe. Take a drive along the M18 and keep an eye out for the fairy tree at Latoon outside Newmarket-on-Fergus in County Clare.

The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands

The road trip without a car

Just a short ferry ride from the Galway coastline are the windswept Aran Islands. Having preserved their traditional culture and heritage, the savage beauty of these wild landscapes is framed by dry stone walls. These roads are mostly car-free so visitors explore the islands by bike, on foot or even by horse and cart! This slower style of road trip is perfect for soaking up the views that have drawn artists, poets and dreamers through the ages.

The Causeway Coastal Route
The Causeway Coastal Route

The roads loved by Lonely Planet

No list of Irish roads would be complete without these iconic routes. Winding along Ireland's rugged coast, the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route both offer spectacular seascapes, buzzing towns, the freshest of food and legendary locations. Lonely Planet suggests a drive along either (or both!) will be “packed with scenic delights” – sure, what more could you want?

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