A Visual Guide to the Many Shades of Green in Ireland

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Many shades of green

How is it possible there are so many shades of green in Ireland? That was the first thought that struck me when I drove through the Irish countryside. It was early fall and rain was ever present. The relatively mild fall weather led me to conclude that grass and vegetation have abundant moisture to keep it healthy. I also wonder if the different names for shades of green were primarily invented in Ireland: kelly, emerald, hunter, forest, moss or shamrock green. What do you think?

When you are in Ireland, you must rent a car and get down to the business of learning to drive on the opposite side of the road. Once you have mastered this wee task, you can drive around to your heart’s content and find every shade of green that you possibly can. You will find them in all sorts of landscapes, gardens, mountains, fields and simple lawns. It is the shades of green that set aside this small country from others. We mainly toured the west country, starting in Ennis and then the Cliff of Moher (which covered in green moss), on the Wild Atlantic Way.

It was very windy and very wild but exhilarating! When you explore the southern coast of Ireland, you are experiencing the Wild Atlantic Way.  Considered the world’s longest coastal touring route, covering some 2,500 km (1,500 miles) it runs from Cork to Donegal.  There is a lot to take in and you will find may different shades and hues of green on the Emerald Isle!

The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare

Cliffs of Moher - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher_North of OBriens Tower @DownsiftingPRO

The Cliffs of Moher is Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with up to 1 million visitors each year.  On the day that we visited, it was overcast and very windy.  We were hesitant to walk the pass to the more remote areas of the Cliffs but they were still very impressive – and GREEN.

The visitor centre is large with a cafe, small theatre and an exhibit about the wildlife in the area.  Looking down from the top of O’Brien’s Tower (as they rise 214m/702 feet at their highest point over the Atlantic Ocean), the Cliffs were stunning to look at.  It was enchanting to see the moss-covered ledges that is home to thousands of seabirds including  puffins – only from April to July – guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and a pair of Peregrine Falcons.  

If you are lucky to see the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day pay the 2 euros to ascend to the top of O’Brien’s Tower – though you will get a very limited view because the walls are very high – the pictures will be spectacular.

Cliffs of Moher - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
O'Brien's Tower in the Cliffs of Moher - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO

The view from the top of O’Brien’s Tower built as a look out towatds the Cliffs of Moher. You can see the Wild Atlantic Way at its best from here.

The Beara Peninsula in County Kerry and County Cork

The next day, we made our way to the Beara Peninsula on our epic food tour which we approached from County Kerry and then climbed the steep hill to Healy Pass into County Cork. Once again the change in terrain was dramatic  with the County Cork side is more soft or subtle versus the harsher, rockier coast of County Kerry. All in all it was spectacular.  Seeing the Beara Peninsula when it was overcast and not basking in sun, as I saw the Ring of Kerry, I feel it is a much harsher countryside. 

There seemed to be field after field after field of dense peat moss and shrubs with few trees on the horizon.  Cut into bricks the peat moss was use as fuel for a fire.  I’m struck by the barren nature of the scenery and the steep hills. This does not dissuade sheep and goats from grazing.  Even the cattle managed the steep inclines.  Livestock is penned in by ancient stone walls which line the road and parcel up the countryside.  

Few farm houses are scattered about the landscape while the fishing villages are composed of a few buildings huddled together, all strung together by a narrow roadway.  Although you do encounter others on your travels, you are more likely to be on your own for miles and miles.  In the Beara that we visited a working dairy farm which produced delicious artisanal cheese, a brand new gin distillery and an award-winning chef that made the best chowder in all of Ireland.  All in a remote area of Ireland.

The Beara Peninsula in Ireland - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
Country side with homestead ruins near Sneem in the Beara Peninsula – @DownshiftingPRO
The Beara Peninsula in Ireland - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
Beara Peninsula Kenmare River with a view towards Sneem
Healy Pass in County Kerry- The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
The view from the top of Healy Pass looking toward County Kerry
Healy Pass in County Cork - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland - @DownshiftingPRO
Looking into County Cork from the top of Healy Pass

The view from the top of Healy Pass looking towards County Cork.  The road is a fair ways down and the road has plenty of bends & curves to challenge most drivers. You ascend the hill and on one side is County Kerry, County Cork is the other way down.

The Ring of Kerry in County Kerry

The best day in Ireland was on a tour of the Ring of Kerry. We had a fantastic sunny day and you could see far down the coast as far as the Skelligs. Our coach driver pointed out that it’s been a while since it was clear enough to see to the islands off the peninsula.  These two Skellig islands are very popular tourist attractions (because Star Wars filmed there in 2015  and 2017). It is where Luke Skywalker secluded himself. Ironically, Skellig Michael was the home to a monastery from the 6th to the 12th century. 

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because the 1,000 year old stairway still leads to dry-stone structures on the island.  If you are lucky enough to catch a boat tour, take it because one local told me she’s been trying for years!  The best way to see the Ring of Kerry is on a coach or private tour.  The roads are very narrow at times and driving can be harrowing if you are not accustom.  These drivers are pros! 

Visual Guide to the Many Shades of Green in Ireland TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO

When you travel around The Ring of Kerry, you will see another breathtaking vista of the Wild Atlantic Way.  You will also keep noticing the shades of green found in fields, boughs, hillsides and on farm land where sheep and cattle graze at their leisure.  As we finished off the ring of Kerry, we came to a stop at the Ladies’ View where you can take in the Lakes of Killarney and the Donhoe Gap.  Many of the hills or mountains are covered in brown shrubs and peat moss than green forests.

The Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO
Ring of Kerry looking towards Skellig Michael
The Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO
The Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO

As you drive through the country side there is no question you will love the many shades of green in Ireland. Whether kelly, chartreuse, neon or moss green, you will also find many that have a brown undertone. The peat moss that is also very prevalent here has a richer muted hue.

The Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO
You can see the stone walls dividing the fields throughout Ring of Kerry
Sneem in the Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO
Sneem in County Kerry

Sneem was a lovely picturesque town in the Ring of Kerry. Even the moss that was on the rocks in the river were a unique shade of green

The Ring of Kerry - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland #TBEXkillarney @DownshiftingPRO

Kilkea Castle in County Kildare

About an hour from Dublin you will find the very peaceful luscious greens of the Kilkea Castle and Golf Resort . A stunning 12th Century Castle, Kilkea is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited castles in Ireland. Kilkea Castle is rich in history dating back to 1180 and was once the medieval stronghold of the FitzGeralds, earls of Kildare. Here you will find many more shades of green in Ireland for there are golf greens, creeks and stunning gardens.

Kilkea Castle - The Parterre Gardens of Kilkea Castle - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland @DownshiftingPRO
The Championship Golf Course at Kilkea Castle, County Kildare

This golf course and luxury hotel is in Castledermot, in the rich and lush countryside of County Kildare. This is a luxurious castle can be rented by you and 22 of your closest friends for 6,000 euros/night. If that is a bit out of your budget, you can stay at the affordable self-catering lodges located adjacent to the club house. We stayed for one night an LOVED it.  The restaurant had a marvellous menu.  Choosing the self-catering option, is like you almost staying in a castle.

The Parterre Gardens of Kilkea Castle - The Parterre Gardens of Kilkea Castle
The Parterre Gardens of Kilkea Castle are idyllic for wedding photos
The Golf course of  Kilkea Castle - The Parterre Gardens of Kilkea Castle - The Many Shades of Green in Ireland @DownshiftingPRO

Killarney National Park including Killarney House & Garden in County Kerry

Killarney House and Garden’s is located in Killarney and has recently been renovated.  Originally built in 1726, Kenmare Manor was demolished by Sir Valentine Browne, 4th Earl of Kenmare, in 1872. In that same year Valentine and his wife Gertrude began construction of the new magnificent Killarney House. After a visiting Queen Victoria suggests the grounds to be a perfect location to build a stately home, the manor is built on higher grounds. It held with views of Lough Leane and the MacGillicuddy Reeks mountain Range. 

In 1879, Killarney House burned down just shortly after its completion and again in September. In 1916, the house was destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. Instead, Valentine Browne, 5th Earl of Kenmare renovated the original 18th Century Stables and Courtyard from what was the Kenmare Estate. Here is where their family resided, also naming it “Kenmare House”.  Using original plans of the estate, the National Parks & Wildlife Services have been working to restore the gardens. They hope to achieve the 18th, 19th and 20th century magnificence and bring the gardens into their present day glory.

Walking to the back of the property you will enter the Killarney National Park.  Killarney National Park with Lough Leane in the background and MacGillicuddy’s Reeks to the left.  Killarney National Park is 10,000 hectares of forest trails and the MacGillycuddy Reeks. They are the highest mountains in Ireland) is a back drop.  The Park includes the peaks of Mangerton, Torc, Shehy and the Purple Mountains  

There are three lakes wit in the park: Lough Leane, Muckross Lake and Upper Lake.  One of the best views of the lakes and the Gap of Dunloe is from the Ladies’ View.  Legend has it when Queen Victoria came to visit in 1861 and her ladies-in-waiting fell in love with the view from this vantage point.  In 1982, under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, the Park became a Biosphere Reserve.

Killarney National Park -  Many Shades of Green in Ireland @DownshiftingPRO
Killarney National Park

The Park is heavily wooded with Irish  Noble trees (Oak, Ash, Hazel, Holly, Scotch Pine Crab Apple and the Yew).  We all saw this beautiful clump of trees with the green moss on the trunks immediate stopped to take an ‘Instagram’ moment.  Within this national park you will find very vibrants shades of green from Ireland. I just love the neon green, don’t you?

Lough Lean - Many Shades of Green in Ireland @DownshiftingPRO
Lough Leane

Dotted with uninhabited islands, the largest of the three Lakes of Killarney is Lough Leane. You will find many castle ruins as boats run between Ross Castle and Innisfallen. Within the many shades of green in Ireland, you will also find an abundance of shades of grey. We had but a few truly sunny days but the sky was full of stormy clouds and mist.

The Wild Atlantic Way has amazing itineraries which can you can drive, hike or bike. You can spend years in this area and still never see everything.  I have to say, there are so many more pictures that I could have added to this post. I became obsessed with the many shades of green in Ireland.  From the very first drive that we took, I could not believe the shades, hues and densities of the colour in one country.  I must return in order to see some of these vistas when it is not overcast.

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Ciao for Now _ Margarita Ibbott DownshiftingPRO

Disclosure: We were guests of Failte Ireland (Killarney National Park, Beara Peninsula & Shannon Heritage).  We also took tours of the Ring of Kerry and Cliffs of Moher on our own.  We are grateful for TBEX and the organizers of each pre- and post- conference tours.  No other compensation was awarded.  All opinions are our own and truthful. These are the Many Shades of Green in Ireland

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

2 thoughts on “A Visual Guide to the Many Shades of Green in Ireland”

  1. I love ireland so much! The Cliffs of Moher’s were amazing! I highly recommend taking a boat out into the water and viewing them from the sea! So incredibly beautiful!

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