In only two days, Waterford County became one of my favorite places in Ireland.
Many travellers coming to Ireland haven’t heard of Waterford. Which is, in part, what makes it so great.
Vibrant street art, and tiny towns with ace coffee shops.
A greenway stretching miles and miles with soaring viaducts and fairy homes.
Ancient castles and ruins hidden in forests.
Tucked away beaches with damp seaside caves.
Morning walks in the mist, surrounded by rolling mountains and bleating sheep.
Known as the Deise, pronounced “Day-sha”, Waterford is named after the ancient Celtic tribe who settled in the area years ago. Dating back to the start of the 10th century, the city itself is Ireland’s oldest.
Although there’s much to see and do in, across Waterford, Ardmore is one of my favorite places. Known as a holiday village, Ardmore’s cliff walk with views of the craggy hillside and rolling waves is reason enough to visit.
Couple that with colorful, thatched homes, perfect round tower ruins, and classic seaside treats (fish and chips or a 99 anyone?), and it’s easy to understand why Ardmore rates nicely with locals.
And if you’re looking for a bit of luxury in Ardmore, don’t miss popping into The Cliffhouse Hotel. With stunning sea views from the terrace, pool and many of the rooms, it’s reputation for being the epitome of serenity is understandable.
A short drive from Ardmore town, you’ll find Goat Island, my favorite part of the area.
On the drive there, keep an eye out for McKenna Castle (formerly Ardoginna House). A beautiful hidden ruin in Waterford, it’s located on private farmland so be sure to ask for permission before exploring if you want to get closer to the castle.
Heading to Goat Island, you’ll drive or bike down a windy lane, where the destination is marked only by a single sign pointing ‘beach’.
Be mindful of turns on the road- it’s one of the narrowest I’ve driven on in Ireland. Twice driving down, I had to slow to let other cars pass. As with other narrow roads, don’t be nervous- you’ll find everyone is patient enough. Eventually, after a few minutes of driving, you’ll reach a small car park.
The beach may not be secret among locals anymore, but it’s ‘off the beaten path’ factor makes it a special venture.
After you park, walk down the sandy pathway that leads to the beach. If you’re visiting during high tide, the beach may be nothing more than a tiny cove.
Visit at the right time of day though (low tide), and you’ll be treated to a beach secluded by cliffs with caves and rock pools. With soft, golden sand and calm waters, it’s a ‘day at the beach’ dream.
The beach itself is secluded by cliffs, which makes it feel like a true hidden gem. My favorite part though, are the caves you’ll find beachside. Wandering inside them, and looking out at the ocean expanse, it’s easy to feel transported to the warm, salty beaches of Nusa Penida in Indonesia, or the Philippines.
Do take note, because of it’s seclusion, there aren’t amenities at Goat Island- don’t expect to find any shops or facilities at the beach. You’ll have to head back to Ardmore town to find food, drink and toilets.
I’d be remiss to say I loved Goat Island for its low key factor. The fact that it’s not well known or developed is exactly what makes it so special. At its heart, it’s a sandy cove where it’s easy to disconnect from the world and just enjoy a day at the beach.
Would you visit Ardmore and Goat Island?
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