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Road Trip: Ireland Part Two

Road Trip: Ireland Part Two

For a taste of the real Ireland, ditch Dublin and hit the trails of the south and west.

Day Two: Glin to Galway

MORNING: Join the surfers on the Shannon Breeze ferry across the estuary. When they turn off for County Clare’s rugged Lahinch beach, continue on the R478 to peer over the Cliffs of Moher, five miles of shale and sandstone cliffs that plunge to the moody Atlantic below. Stop in at the Burren Smokehouse (Ballyvaughan Road, Lisdoonvarna, +353-0-65-707-4432) for some local organic salmon or spiced apricot and orange chutney.

AFTERNOON: Don’t be tempted to head directly to Galway. The detour through the barren Burren is one of Ireland’s most memorable drives. Fields gradually give way to amazing stretches of limestone karst. It’s only an hour’s drive from this quiet wilderness to the boisterous heart of the west, Galway City, famed for its traditional music and lively bars. The vibrant college town’s calendar is confettied with festivals. Top off your day with dinner at atmospheric Ard Bia (Spanish Arch, Long Walk, Galway, +353-0-91-539-897), where a contemporary menu mixes Irish ingredients with French cooking techniques in a medieval rough-hewn stone building on the riverbank.

SLEEP: G Hotel (Wellpark Road, Galway, +353-0-91-865-200). A trio of frivolous lounges, 101 stunning guest rooms, and the sexiest spa in the land were all impeccably designed by gay milliner to the stars Philip Treacy.

Day Three: Galway to Dublin

MORNING: Stroll bustling Shop Street and adjacent twisting streets to the River Corrib before getting back on the road and heading east to Dublin. If you set out early enough, once in Dublin you?ll have time to sample the irresistible brownies at the gay-owned, eclectically decorated deli Gruel (67 Dame St., Dublin, +353-01-670-7119).

AFTERNOON: Walk the grand campus grounds of Trinity College (Dame St. and College St.), home to the eighth-century Book of Kells, and through the National Gallery of Ireland (Merrion Square West and Clare St.) to Merrion Street. Here you?ll find the strangely hued statue of Oscar Wilde astride a rock opposite the great wit?s childhood home, 1 Merrion Square. The elegant Georgian townhouse now houses the American College Dublin. Call ahead to book a tour of the Oscar Wilde House Museum (+353-1-676-8939). Dine at the Mermaid Caf? (69-70 Dame St., +353-1-670-8236), an iconoclastic seafood and game haven helmed by chef and artist duo Ben Gorman and Mark Harrell. Cap off the night at the gay-adored Front Lounge (33 Parliament St., +353-0-670-4112), a sharp, white room that runs the length of the city block; red velvet sofas and classical statuary are scattered throughout.

SLEEP: Number 31 (31 Leeson Close, Dublin, +353-1-676-5011). Once home to controversial modern architect Sam Stephenson, Number 31?s elegant four-story Georgian abode and two converted coach houses hide behind an ivy-clad wall. The living room in this boutique gem boasts a sunken conversation pit, mirror mosaic?tiled bar, and impressive contemporary art.

Part One | Part Two

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