Driving The McLaren Artura Across Ireland — The Green Lane

By Jeremy Taylor

8 months ago

Motoring editor Jeremy Taylor and sustainable fashion expert Jessica Saunders cross the Irish Sea on the new Oscar Wilde ferry – with the McLaren Artura, a hybrid supercar capable of more than 60mpg.

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Driving The McLaren Artura Across Ireland

JT – ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’

JS – Are you going a little Oscar Wilde on me?

I thought it was appropriate after our whirlwind tour of Ireland in the latest McLaren Artura, a plug-in supercar offering a massive 671bhp and 0-62mph in just three seconds. Not that there was any chance of exploiting that sort of performance on the Emerald Isle.

Well, first and foremost, Green Lane readers might want to know about the practicalities of touring in a low-slung sports car on Irish roads. The McLaren has a suspension lift system to raise the nose, making life on potholed roads and over speed bumps much easier.

I discovered the benefits of that as soon as we arrived at Pembroke Docks to catch the new Oscar Wilde ferry – the largest and fastest on the Irish Sea. Driving up the various ramps to get aboard was a doddle.

Oscar Wilde ferry

You didn’t scuff the front once, which is potentially very embarrassing when other passengers are watching.

And expensive on a £190,000 vehicle. The Oscar Wilde has only been sailing a few months in Irish Ferries livery. It’s huge inside, capable of carrying more than 2,000 passengers, with lots of family-friendly features, endless space to relax and a duty-free shop bigger than our local Tesco.

Yes, it’s genuinely a cut above. And although it tops out at 27 knots, slightly less than the McLaren’s 205mph, that’s seriously quick for a boat this size, making the crossing in roughly four hours.

And our first stop was just two hours up the coast from Rosslare, the Cliff at Lyons Hotel (cliffatlyons.ie) near Celbridge, on the outskirts of Dublin. It’s not an area known for tourism but when the aviation billionaire, the late Tony Ryan, bought this estate in County Kildare, he set about a massive restoration project.

It’s effectively an entire village inside a wall garden, right next to the Grand Canal. Arthur Guinness was born just around the corner and there’s a wonderful air of serenity about the place. And because the McLaren will run for a modest 19 miles on battery power only, you can glide up to the busy reception area in silent stealth mode.

Cliff at Lyons Accommodation - Estate and Lilypond Rooms

Cliff at Lyons, Estate and Lilypond Rooms

While I loved the nooks and crannies of the formal gardens, a sweet little chapel set in the middle of pond, and the extensive vegetable patch, most people come to The Cliff to eat. The two Michelin-star Aimsir was closed when we stayed, but The Mill restaurant is pretty epic.

Yes, we both loved the place. On a balmy summer’s evening, the glass doors overlooking a roaring water fall are left open, adding a dramatic backdrop. But it shouldn’t detract the from food, which is really the focal point of a visit to The Cliff. Highly recommended – as are waiting staff.

A gem of a find but equally off the beaten track is chocolate box Killee Cottage, roughly 80 miles south west, near Mitchelstown. A self-catering thatched cottage, this one-bedroom hideaway is set near the foot of the Galtee Mountains and run by the Irish Landmark Trust (irishlandmarktrust.com).

Yes, the ILT is a charity and best-known for maintaining lighthouse cottages around the Irish coast. When Killee was bequeathed to the Trust, they set about restoring the cottage to its original form, with all the modern luxuries you might expect. Like an indoor loo!

Killee Cottage

Killee Cottage

Amazing place – there’s no internet, though, so I cosied down with a good book in front of a wood burner and soaked up the atmosphere. You went for a wander around the garden, discovered a stream – then promptly fell asleep on the grass!

Again, not a tourist area as such, but the people of Mitchelstown were very welcoming. We walked up the mountains and even the neighbours and lady in the town library were helpful, with plenty of ideas of things to do.

It was difficult to leave Killee, but we had a schedule to keep. With everything packed in the rear-engined McLaren – there’s decent space under the bonnet and a rear parcel shelf – we pointed the Artura westward, a two-hour drive again to Killarney.

McLaren Artura

Now, I can’t say Killarney is a quiet backwater like our first two stops. It’s very much on the tourism map, think Bourton-on-the-Water busy. The town is a riot of brightly-painted bars, restaurants and endless shops selling every holiday memento you will never need.

Your idea of hell! Except then we discovered Cahernane House (cahernane.com), a little oasis of calm within walking distance of the town. Tucked away down a tree-lined driveway, this family run hotel couldn’t be more removed from the hustle and bustle of Killarney.

Yes, red squirrels, deer and the distant backdrop of Killarney National Park from the rear terrace. The hotel offers free bicycle hire, so we ditched the McLaren and followed a cycle path that runs all the way to the heart of the park.

Great fun, but you can’t really visit Killarney without trying a Jaunting Car, either – a traditional horse and cart ride which dates back more than 150 years. Slow, lazy and delightfully niche, a trip from the town centre takes the pace out of life.

Cahernane House Hotel Aerial towards Lake

Cahernane House Hotel

From Cahernane, we were only a stone’s throw from Muckross House, where Queen Victoria stayed in 1861 and helped put Killarney on the map. The surrounding Muckross House has several old farm buildings, set up with actors and banter for tourists. Wonderfully evocative, although the peat fires inside kick out a lot of smoke!

Well, Cahernane House has more relaxing fires to enjoy on a winter’s evening. Another property we need to revisit. We also enjoyed the most comfortable bed of any hotel in years. Although it may have had something to do with the excellent range of whiskeys available in the bar…

In the words of Oscar Wilde, ‘I can resist everything except temptation.’


The Oscar Wilde from Pembroke to Rosslare, from £185 each way for a (super)car and two passengers (irishferries.com).

For more information and help on a trip to Ireland, visit ireland.com