Ireland Vacations

Almost anyone who has been to Ireland on vacation will tell you that vacationing in the "Emerald Isle" is an unforgettable experience. There is something about the friendliness of the people, the haunting beauty of the Ireland, and the incredible history that makes you want to return again and again. I found myself in that situation in the summer of 2000, as finally, after several years of failed attempts to return to Ireland (I had gone there in 1994), five of us decided to go for a 10-day trip. We decided to go in May, 2001, which gave us more than enough time to plan a route.

One day, while looking at a map, I noticed a small town called Dunmore East on a strip of land jutting into the ocean south of Waterford. I was intrigued by this place and envisioned a weathered old hamlet that was quintessentially Irish. This, I hoped, would be one town in which we would definitely stay.

We almost never made it to Dunmore East, thanks to a bizarre series of events. On the way out of Dublin (where we had stayed the first night), one of our cars suffered a blowout, and soon our two cars were hopelessly separated. We returned to the B&B in Dublin, hoping our two friends would get in touch. The next morning we heard from them, and were once again on our way, but we had lost a day. We quickly passed through the Wicklow Mountains and, after what seemed like an eternity, we pulled into Waterford and continued along the winding road toward Dunmore East. After ten miles of driving through rolling farmland and windswept ridges, we finally saw houses and lights in the distance. We pulled into Dunmore East

just as the sun was setting behind us. Coming down the hill into town, we saw the ocean in front of us. This was indeed a spectacular location.

Our B&B was on the main street overlooking the harbor. It was foggy, and we could just make out the green cliffs that formed the harbor. Down the hill from the B&B was an inn and a pub on the water. Winding lanes, a church and old cemetery, a park, and thatched-roof houses all added a unique charm to the village.

Seaside villages can often have an eerie, surreal atmosphere to them at dusk, and Dunmore East was no exception. The combination of waning light and ever-increasing fog caused the town to take on a haunting look. Across the street from the B&B, there was a small park with a memorial overlooking the cliffs and the harbor. A single streetlight just added to the incredible scene. I must have taken a half roll of film at that spot, trying to get the perfect picture of a truly unique place.

While in the pub at the mouth of the harbor, we met friendly locals and European tourists. Like the owners of the B&B, they were surprised that Americans would know about Dunmore East. They said that the town tends to cater to Europeans, and that people from the U.S. are rarely found here. Ironically, one of the owners of the B&B was a New Jersey native who fell in love with the village.

Dunmore East is the type of place where you park your car upon arriving, and do not use it until you leave. It is a very walkable town, with everything being within a 1-square-mile radius. I spent the afternoon of our second day there doing just that, and discovered places in town that people in cars would clearly miss. For instance, there was a sprawling park with benches, paths down to the rocky coast, and grassy areas for lying in the sun. There was also a winding road that ended up at a small beach called (I believe), "Ladies View." It was a pristine place with views of the harbor, driftwood along the beach, and salt spray in the air. I continued my walk along a coastal road, and soon found myself walking into a business district. I had accidentally discovered "downtown" Dunmore East! Apparently, we were staying in the harbor part of town, which we had mistaken for the village itself. The center of town was very charming, with several old shops, a few pubs, and some more winding lanes.

On our second and final night in Dunmore East, we ended up eating at one of the pubs in the center of town. After dinner, we walked back to the B&B through the mist and fog, wishing that we could stay a few more nights. But alas, we had to move on, and though we found some terrific places in the next several days, nothing beat this little seaside village south of Waterford.

Marc is a writer who has helped create two major Web sites: Boston's Hidden Restaurants, a restaurant guide that features top little-known dining spots in Boston and New England, and Travel Guide of America, a US travel guide that focuses on interesting cities, towns, and villages that are vacation destinations. This entry is from a series of travel essays from Marc's personal Web site.

More Irish Facts and Resources: