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There’s no place like home: County Waterford, Ireland.

There’s no place like home right? The last few weeks have been pretty busy preparing for a long-overdue summer trip home. Aside from catching up with friends and a million errands, I’m most looking forward to spending time with the family of course and driving around the Déise in Co Waterford, revisiting some favourite sites.

Copper Coast Drive

Start with this scenic driving route; named for the led, silver and copper mining industries in the area in the 18th and 19th centuries; the coast road from the seaside town of Tramore to West Waterford is longer but infinitely prettier, passing by little villages like Stradbally, the Gaulstown Dolmen and ruined castle of Dunhill, built by the Norman De Poer in the 13th century. You can even stop off and enjoy the Greenway, a dedicated cycling and walking path following the old railway line.

The Comeraghs

Looking across the bay from my house the Commeragh mountains reach up behind Dungarvan and have some of the nicest walking in Munster and as you can see from all the photographs I just can’t get enough. From the short hike up to Cruachan, or the easy path to the Mahon Falls, to the longer Coumshingaun Loop Walk, there are stunning views all around. And don’t neglect the Magic Road, where your car mysteriously travels uphill when in neutral, thanks to mischievous fairies nearby.

Dungarvan

King Johns Castle under some sun.

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By now you should be tired, hungry and thirsty! Dúngarbhán or “Dungarvan my hometown” as the song goes is a pretty coastal town centered around one of the biggest market squares in the country. A stroll along the quays brings back plenty of childhood memories, particularly along by King John’s Castle dating back to the 12th century. The remains of a woolly mammoth were found here in the late 19th century, how they ended up there I have no idea. Though the tannery and the almighty stink that went with it has been replaced by the award-winning Tannery restaurant, expensive but oh-so-worth-it; ideally followed by a few quiet pints in The Local.

An Rinn

Last, and most definitely not least, “the peninsula by the bay”, Rinn Ó gCuanach. From half a dozen sandy beaches to steep cliffs, the green fields and sometimes stormy seas, the Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking area of my home An Rinn is very special. And, the irony of coming back from Iceland, to Heilbhic, the Norse-named “cold bay”, is not at all lost on me! Stop at Criostal na Rinne to see my dad Eamonn hand-cut artisan crystal and finally relax in a seaweed bath at Sólás na Mara.

As there’s precious little public transport in rural Ireland your best bet is to hire a car. Don’t forget you must have insurance to drive in Ireland. Check out Chill Insurance to see what deals are on offer.

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