Everybody loves a road trip and those who have done one before know that it is not just about the destination, but all the things you see along the way. This has never been as true as the journey between Dublin and Kilkenny.
That is because you pass through some of Ireland’s most stunning landscapes along the way and have plenty of opportunities to stop off at interesting locations. The great thing about getting hold of a hire car and tackling this part of the world in this way means you have the flexibility to make the most of the places you come across.
Drives between the two destinations can be tackled in numerous different ways. Below we are going to look at two routes – one is more direct, but still interesting – and the other more circuitous. Whichever option you choose, one thing is certain, your road trip in Ireland will be one to remember.
The direct route
The most direct route between Dublin and Kilkenny involves an hour and a half of actual driving time. This can represent a good option, especially if you are on a short trip as it frees up more time to explore places along the way.
These include Castledermot, where you will find St James Church, complete with its High Crosses. These amazing monuments can be found at old monastic sites throughout Ireland and are intricately decorated with Celtic knots and other religious imagery.
The two main High Crosses in Castledermot are known as the North Cross and the South Cross. Adam and Eve can be seen in the centre of the former, with David holding a harp, the sacrifice of Isaac and Daniel in the lion’s den also depicted. Meanwhile, the South Cross includes imagery of the crucifixion and a raven taking bread to St Paul and St Anthony.
As you drive towards Carlow town be sure not to miss Browneshill Dolmen. This megalithic portal tomb is the largest of its kind in Europe and a fascinating place to visit, just off the R726 road.
As you continue south, you will also pass by Old Leighlin, where there is a stunning cathedral and holy well atop the hill. More than just a place to refill your water bottles, it is said that the spring cures anyone afflicted with eye troubles. Just be sure to bring a ribbon to add to the offerings hung on a tree nearby.
Extending the journey
How far you wish to go out of your way is entirely up to you, as you could extend the journey to make it last a few days if you have plenty of time at your disposal. Why not include County Wicklow in your itinerary as it is renowned for its beauty and capturing the essence of Ireland.
Enjoy a visit to the Powerscourt Estate, where you will find a beautiful country house and 19 hectares of landscaped gardens. If you prefer your nature a little more wild then head to the Wicklow National Park and simply take in the stunning vistas.
Alternatively why not include Portlaoise in your plans? From here you can explore the Slieve Bloom Mountains or visit the 12th century Round Tower at Timahoe. There is also an interesting castle at Dunamase that has stood on the hilltop for 800 years.