Sightseeing Near Dungarvan
Ireland - land of the leprechauns, misty romance, and hard drinking, but friendly working men. Aye, 'tis a grand wee place, where the likes of Darby O'Gill can chase his Little People and the Quiet Man can chase Finian's Rainbow....
Which gives the Irish Development Agency conniptions because they're touting Ireland as the second largest exporter of software to the world - ahead of England, Germany, India and Japan!
So, how do you find the real Ireland - the land of Celtic Cool yet timeless mists? Most tourists think they'll find it in the West of Ireland, which is indeed a lovely part of the country. They get off the plane in Dublin or the ferry in Rosslare and head west! West! WEST! (Of course, Nora here at Seaview Self Catering doesn't mind this too much since she's right in the perfect spot on the way west.)
Most folks in County Waterford, who know that they're living in the undiscovered gem of Ireland think it's just fine the tourists are going west. It drives the tourism folks wildeyed, but most locals are happy to avoid the traffic jams (yes, several mile tailbacks!) that engulf the tiny lanes of the West during the summer season.
Here in Waterford County, we just go to our miles and miles of unspoiled, mostly uncrowded beaches or climb the local glacially carved mountains and lakes without fear of seeing more than another person or four the whole day. When we have visitors we can run them out to castles and towers as ancient and spectacular as anywhere on the Island, but we have them mostly to ourselves.
The local musicians make a few bob, but generally play because they love the music - not the money of the overseas visitors. The restaurants can't make a living just by playing up to the tourists, so they do what they do best - whether its traditional Irish cooking, or Michelin guide recommended cooking, or just pub grub.
The chefs know they have to be good enough to entice the folks who live here to come back again and again - they can't get by fobbing high priced meals off on the passersby. Which is probably why West Waterford has more recommended restaurants (Bridgestone Guide to the 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland) than any area outside Dublin.
5 minutes drive from Seaview Self Catering lies the Ring Gaeltacht, a Gaelic speaking group of villages. Few outside of Ireland have heard of it, but within Ireland, Ring College is famous as the center of the most isolated, most easterly, most unique surviving dialect of the Irish language. The local fishing piers are still active and if you want to pick up dockside fresh fish, this is the plaice.
Five minutes drive in the other direction lies the thriving Irish town of Dungarvan. And 10 minutes drive in a fourth direction lies the national Tidy Town winner, Ardmore, with its ancient round tower, 10th century cathedral, thousand year old sculptures, miles of beach, and seaside cliff walk. On the way you can stop at a monument to that most famous of modern Chicagoans - Mayor Richard Daly - who inherited his political smarts from his Irish ancestors just down the road.
Then there's the nearby Heritage Town of Lismore with its spectacular castle. The gardens are open to the public, so is the ancient Cathedral with its 8th century sculptures and there are the lovely river walks - and delicious restaurants. Turn uphill and there's the famous Melleray Monastery and justly acclaimed Vee drive with its forests of blooming rhododendrons.
"It's not fair!" cry the Self Catering owners. "O yes it is," we lucky locals reply. "The fairest place in Ireland. And just the right number of visitors, thank you."