Tales Of Ireland


A misty early morning sky beckons at the beginning of a new adventure. From behind the clouds, the rising sun casts hazy light onto the rock-strewn, mossy hillside. In the distance, ocean waves crash on a craggy coastline that’s been worn by time, and the wind gently whistles through shadowy woodland and mountainous terrain. From behind an imposing cliff face, a sky-blue VW van emerges and toots its horn.

This is a journey like no other, and a tale that only Ireland could tell.

Two fantastic ferry trips, two VW camper vans, four Instagrammers and two different routes with a shared meeting point: our Instagrammers first voyaged across the Irish Sea, two sailing out from Wales, the other two from Scotland, before embarking on their adventure. They clambered over the atmospheric Giant’s Causeway, roamed beneath the twisted tunnel of the Dark Hedges, and gazed out at the towering Dún Briste. They tackled winding roads, met friendly donkeys and roadside sheep (not to mention two other Instagram pals who went along for the ride, Robbie Dark and Christian McLeod), and accidentally stumbled upon arresting, magnificent views more than once.

This is the real Ireland, in all its wild, majestic glory.

Follow the tale on Instagram: #TalesofIreland

Heading North: Dramatic Ruins, Rising Before Dawn And An Avenue of Trees
Heading North


This tale begins in Scotland, in the small village of Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway. Our Instagrammers took the Cairnryan to Belfast route on Stena Superfast VII. With a journey time of just over two hours, there was plenty to explore onboard (including a spa, restaurant and chilled living room area), and the sweeping ocean vistas were breath-taking, both outwards and en route home to Scotland – as Ruairidh explained, “Highly recommend heading across on the ferry. Try and coincide the timing with sunset, pretty great views heading across the channel.” And these “pretty great views” were just a taster of things yet to come – as the boys were about to discover…


Ruairidh and James took the Causeway Coastal Route, driving all the way from Belfast to Downpatrick Head, County Mayo. Here are some of the journey’s highlights, as told by James:

“Whilst driving from Ballintoy, County Antrim to the Giant’s Causeway, we caught sight of some dramatic ruins at the edge of the North Atlantic, and we stopped to explore. It turned out to be the gate lodge for the destroyed Dunseverick Castle.

“After speaking with some people during sunset at the Giant’s Causeway, we decided the best time to see the Dark Hedges, near Ballymoney in County Antrim was early in the morning. We rose before dawn and drove across to arrive just as the sun was hitting the tops of the trees. The avenue of trees is absolutely mind-blowing, and the atmosphere of the place is constantly changing. The morning mist glides across the fields, through the trees and then burns off. In the space of 30 minutes it went from a bleak, spooky place to a beautiful array of colours and shadows. I would recommend getting there well before dawn and just watching the light unfold its mystery for an hour.

“Another good place to explore is Mullaghmore head, County Sligo. We had driven down there in search of a view of Benbulbin. The clouds rolling off the mountain foiled that plan, but it turned out to be a blessing.

“We met up with Conor and Allan in Killala, County Mayo. As we explored the working harbour looking for photographs to take, Allan noticed a fishing boat that matched the colours of our VW camper vans. With a bit of shouting and shuffling of vans, he art-directed the campers into a composition that seemed right!

“Later that day, as the sun was going down, we drove along to Downpatrick Head. The sheer sense of exposure was incredible. You can feel the full force of the North Atlantic battering against the cliffs and hear the roar of the ocean waves through the giant blowhole. The sea stack, Dún Briste, and its exposed geology gives a sense of scale to it all. It’s a place to sit and ponder.”


Heading South: Friendly donkeys, moody skies and a magical island
Heading South


This tale begins in Holyhead, Wales. Our Instagrammers took the Holyhead to Dublin route on the Stena Adventurer, a ferry that caters to a wide variety of passengers, from families heading on holiday, to people travelling for work and those making their way home to visit relatives. Boarding the ferry with a vehicle is quick and simple, making it easy to relax, explore and enjoy the crossing, which lasts just over three hours.


Allan and Conor made their way from Dublin to meet Ruairidh and James at Downpatrick Head. Here’s their story, as told by Allan:

“Conor and I disembarked in the VW van at Dublin at around 5pm and immediately set off at good speed across the country to the beautiful town of Galway, where we spent the night. At sunrise we got up and took a scenic drive to Connemara National Park.

“We stopped multiple times to capture photos of low-lying fog sitting on beautiful still lakes, the VW van whizzing along winding roads, and two extremely friendly donkeys. We then took an accidental turn off the Wild Atlantic Way and stumbled across the majestic Kylemore Abbey, near Connemara, County Galway – this is the great thing about Ireland, you never know what’s around the corner!

“Next stop was the desolate, windy (yet calm) Achill Island. This place has something rather magical about it, even though the winds were high and the sky moody (we were treated to a 30-second, incredible sunset).

“The Sunday morning had a slower, yet still enjoyable start, where we headed along the coast and up to Downpatrick Head. The rock formation here was so impressive that hours passed before we left and headed to Killala for lunch.

“After we explored the harbour we went to the hotel for the night, as it was an early start to make the ferry home the next day.”


The VW Vans


A gleaming, pillar-box red VW van was the perfect companion for Ruairidh and James’s journey on the northern crossing. Brucie was born in 1973, and needed some work before he was ready for hire back in 2012. After some serious TLC, he was restored, re-glorified and ready to take to the roads once more.


It was a striking blue VW van that took Conor and Allan through Ireland in style on the southern crossing. Also born back in 1973, Emily is a pale blue and white Classic Bay Window VW Campervan. She arrived from Germany and has a two-litre engine with a rare automatic transmission.

The VW Vans