Day 8: Scenic drives, Downpatrick Head, Beach and Ballycroy National Park

Saturday, March 19

Saturday was our last full day in Ireland (well, for now). The weather was sunny, with blue skies- but SUPER windy!

In the morning, the kids soaked up time with their little cousins in the hot tub:

What a beautiful morning!!

Eventually we all got ready, and by mid-morning we headed out for a day trip.

Scenic Drive

I’ll just call this part a “scenic drive”, because I honestly have no idea where we were. And you know what? I don’t really care! I didn’t have to plan the route, or anything else, so I just sat back and enjoyed the views. 🙂 (Which is rare for me on trips. This whole week was actually quite nice in that regard. My sister obviously did all the organizing and planning of everything, so for once, I got a break! 😉 She planned the most wonderful week for us. I’m so grateful to her for that!)

*Not that I actually mind organizing our trips, normally- I’m a little bit of a “control freak” sometimes, so it usually works out for the best that I’m in charge, when it’s just my family traveling. In fact, I rather enjoy travel planning. *

Following my sister’s van

The drive was beautiful and very secluded. We rarely passed another car.

Along water for some parts

We stopped at a lookout point for some pictures. I like this one of my brother-in-law “throwing” Ethan over the edge. 🙂

A nice pic of Ivan and the boys:

Ah, apparently this was called “Wild Nephin Wilderness”.

We kept driving….

through some little Irish towns
pretty countryside

Downpatrick Head

Eventually we made it to our destination: Downpatrick Head

Right from the parking area, there were views of the ocean and this glorious looking beach. It was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL.

The way the sun was shining on everything….it was just stunning. The water was this crazy turquoise color, as if it were the Caribbean! That was unexpected, to me. I loved this spot.

(It was unfortunately super, super windy, which detracted a little bit from the experience- but only a very little bit! Still really enjoyed this spot. We literally had to hold the hands of the little ones so they didn’t blow away, though!)

I love this picture!

Such a pretty spot- had to pose! This is my “wind blown” look. 😉

We got some cute pics of everyone looking out at the water.

Me, Asher and my Dad!
Asher doing….I don’t know what. Something dumb, probably trying to see if he can manage to fall and/or hurt himself. (I don’t think it was as steep as it looks here!! I would have stopped him. 😉 )

From here, we walked out along a big grassy area overlooking the water, out to the other side. This is a historical spot, but I honestly don’t know all of the details about it. According to a sign, though, there was an altar where St. Patrick used to pray here, as well as early ecclesiastical sites, a fort, and a WWII “look out post”. There are also many Irish folk tales that are based on this site.

There was this cool statue of St. Patrick:

And this “sea-pillar”, which is known as The Broken Fort. It used to have a land bridge connecting it to the mainland. Various folk tales explain how the pillar became separated.

Pretty cliffs. With the high winds, we couldn’t get too close!

Picnic Lunch

We had hoped to find a place to have a nice picnic lunch, but the wind was CRAZY! So, we continued on our route and planned to stop whenever we found a place.

After a while, we ended up just pulling off at a little lookout area looking out to the ocean. This sounded good in theory, but the wind was bad here, too. It was such a bummer, because it was a very beautiful spot.

We just spread a blanket out behind the cars and kind of shielded ourselves from the wind a bit in between the two vehicles. I actually took my food in the front seat of the car! Haha. Stuff was blowing everywhere. Oh well. It got the job done and we were refueled for the afternoon.

Back on the road to the next destination


After driving a while longer, we stopped at this amazing beach. I don’t know the name of it, unfortunately!! It seemed to be a kind of “secret” beach, because we only saw a couple of other people the whole time. It was soooooo pretty!!

It was a big, long stretch of sand, nestled in between some hills on either side. Just an idyllic scene, really. I loved this.

Seemed the tide was out- Ethan walking way out to the water’s edge.

My crazy little nieces changed into their wetsuits in the car and went SWIMMING with my brother-in-law!! Brrrrrrrr. NO thank you. It looked so pretty, but that water was cold. They had fun splashing about for a (very) few minutes, though, before drying off. 🙂

Everyone else just hung out on the rocks and enjoyed the views. This was so nice!

I went around and photographed everyone… 🙂 This was a moment in time I definitely wanted to capture and remember.


The boys took off their shoes and threw a football around for a long time.

I took this nice picture with my Dad:


And- my favorite!!! One of the original 4! Just my nuclear family- me, my sister, my mom and my dad.


This was such a great spot. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, but with the sunshine and the sand, it felt really comfortable. But, as it does, time kept ticking on, so eventually we had to go.

Ballycroy National Park

We swung by Ballycroy National Park on our way back toward home. Actually, we had dinner reservations coming up, so we were a little tight on time, unfortunately. The national park had a nice little visitor center that we did check out for a bit.

Reading some exhibits about the “whaling history” in this area.

There were some walking trails outside that would have been fun to check out, but, we really didn’t have time- and it was still really windy. Next time!!

A farewell dinner!!

We had planned a sort of special dinner out at a place called Nevin’s, since it was our last night at my sister’s house! The restaurant set up a big table for us in their back room. Everything was still decorated from St. Patrick’s Day, so it was very festive in there.

They were so sad it was our last night there!!

I really wanted some sort of traditional Irish dish- so I got this:

I think it’s called Shephard’s Pie? That is a LOT of mashed potatoes (with meat underneath). It was really good! And I did a darn good job finishing off most of it.

Ivan got a big pot of mussels!

Nice one of my mom and dad:

The front part of the restaurant/ pub:

It was such a nice meal and a great way to cap off the end of our time there. On the one hand, the time felt like it flew by! But on the other hand, we did so many different things that it also kind of felt like we had been there a really long time. Either way, this was just an amazing week. I literally couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Back at the house, we just hung out the rest of the evening, started packing up, etc. I stayed up late after everyone went to bed just talking with my sister in the kitchen, just the two of us. This was special to me, because we just SO rarely get time to sit and talk anymore. I mean, we live an ocean apart!

The next day we had to say goodbye and head to Dublin on the train. I felt sad, but very grateful for the memories we made. This is a trip I know everyone will always remember- especially the boys. I think they are at ages that this will be something that really stands out from their childhood years. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Day 8: Scenic drives, Downpatrick Head, Beach and Ballycroy National Park”

  1. I love the photos – especially the beach photos. Your nieces are HARD CORE if they swam in cold water on a windy day. Burr! And their dad is hard core, too! Wow. I am a wimp about cold water.

    I’m glad you got some solo time with your sister. That can be hard to come by on a trip with family, especially w/ her kids being younger. I got to see my sister 2 weekends in June and we had a chance to catch up on a long walk w/ the babies, and on a car drive with the babies. Otherwise the rest of the time was so chaotic w/ us keeping up with our toddlers!


  2. What a great family trip. I love that you can do a big trip like this together. I know there are many people who would be horrified to spend THAT much time with their families LOL I however am currently anticipating the arrival of my parents and sister + family and can’t wait to spend the next 3.5 weeks with them. 🙂
    That is a great picture of your parents (and all of you)!


  3. I have loved reading your trip recaps! I also am so happy that you and your extended family can travel together for longer periods of time – it makes for some of the BEST memories, doesn’t it? So glad you got to spend one-on-one time with your sister, too – that time with our siblings does seem to slip away over time.


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