I went on a trip to Ireland last October, and if I could sum up my time spent there in one word, it would be “Magical". The Irish culture is so colorful and the is so much vast history there. Especially listening to the thick Irish accents! The Irish people are so welcoming and kind and are always willingly to talk to you and engage in conversation. The days were long, and full of so many memories — I always hit my pillow so hard every night!
Day 1 : After a long night of being on an airplane for 12 hours, we arrived in Dublin in the morning, checked into our hotel, and went out to explore the rainy city. Dublin is definitely a town thats full of college students and lots of pubs. Because we had only one day in Dublin, we tried to see as much as we could. We first went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is highly overrated and I would not recommend it if you only have a day in Dublin. After we went to Trinity College, we started to get hungry, so we found the cutest little restaurant called the Boxty House, whose signature dish is called a Boxty (a potato pancake). Their stew and chili were both amazing too! After we ate, we made our way back to the hotel and stopped by the Temple Bar to see what was happening. We were super exhausted so we slowly walked to the hotel and went to bed at 6:30. Although we didn't get to stay up late at a pub that night, we were satisfied with what we saw.
Day 2: Our second day we drove to the Wicklow Mountains for a sheepdog demonstration! The weather was rainy, but we decided to put on our rain gear and just go for it. I mean, when would we ever get another opportunity to do this!? I loved all the sheep on the side of the road and even blocking the roads – hahah! When we made it to the small town of Glendalough, which made me in awe. There is nothing like the feeling of walking up a muddy road with green scenery surrounding you and sheep grazing in the distance. There was so much to learn from the sheepdog demonstration that I'm sure a lot of people did not know about. After the sheepdogs, we hiked to a little cemetery with St. Kevin's Monastery towering above it. It was very peaceful gazing up at the monastery surrounded by gorgeous church ruins. After a nice lunch and a small hike we drove to our final destination for the day, Kilkenny.
I really wasn't expecting a lot from Kilkenny, we were only staying a night, because it was close to where we needed to be the next day. We stayed at a hotel that is regularly enjoyed by locals for a weekend vacation. Kilkenny Castle overlooks the small town that is filled with cute shops and lots of marvelous food. After a cold walk around the town, we went back to the hotel and went to bed.
Day 3: We took a drive to the town Cashel, and we got SO LUCKY with the sunny weather! The first thing we wanted to see in Cashel was the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is an ancient royal site of the kings of Munster and first attained importance as a fortress. Its origins as a center of power go back to the 4th or 5th centuries. Two of the most famous people of Irish legend and history are associated with the Rock of Cashel. I loved walking around the ruins and seeing the old church that was once there. The views were spectacular and it was a literal fairytale. At about noon, we decided to head to Killarney National Park, which is seated by a gorgeous lake with exotic wildlife and lush landscape. We took a tour at the gorgeous Muckross House, which is where Queen Victoria stayed while visiting Ireland. They have an amazing history and incredible decor inside! After that we drove to the beginning of the Ring of Kerry, but because of how touristy it is we didn't go far and turned around after a while. That night was very exciting because we started our stay at Ballyseede Castle. I have a blogpost all about our stay, here.
Day 4: This was by far one of the best days we had in our trip. We drove to Dingle. Dingle is an old fisherman's town on the coast of western Ireland. We hadn't really seen much of the coast of the country, so the drive was interesting. The roads (which are very tiny) winded between cliffs and were hanging off the side of the hills. I will have another blogpost about Dingle posted very soon.
Day 5: Today we sadly departed from Ballyseede Castle and got on the road to the Cliffs of Moher. This was a pretty long and exhausting drive because we had to board a ferry to get across a lake. We stopped at a few gas stations here and there, but were mainly set on getting to the Cliffs. Finally we arrived and immediately the whole place was super crowded. Trying to avoid them the best as possible, we walked up to the Cliffs and were blown away with how tall and beautiful they were. However, if you go there, remember that it is very windy! The cliffs are always pretty windy, but we came on a day that storm was starting to roll in from the ocean. After soaking up the views and the wind, we got back on the road to find a pub to eat a late lunch at. We had never had Irish stew until this pub and it was so delicious. Ireland has some of the best comfort food! Soon we headed up to Cong, which is where we were staying for the next night at the one and only Ashford Castle! Ashford Castle has been on my bucket list forever, because of its serene 13th century setting and Ireland's School of Falconry nearby. After a good fabulous dinner, with Mushroom Risotto in the Castle, I was exhausted and fell asleep next to the fireplace by my bed.
Day 6: We had one final day before we headed to the airport to head home. The main thing to do that day was Falconry! Ireland's School of Falconry, which is the country's largest falconry school, is on the castle grounds. We walked over for our tour and met our personal birds for the morning. We had an amazing instructor and three gorgeous Harris Hawks to fly. Falconry is just beyond incredible and is such a work of art, and pretty easy to do! The hawks flew out of my arm, into the forest of the trail we were walking along. After about an hour of the tour we said goodbye to the lovely falconry grounds and walked the gardens of the castle. I was so blown away at the architecture and style of everything there and was very sad to leave. We ate a quick lunch at a pub in Cong and then went on a short hike down the river in town. Later that afternoon, we headed to Galway to explore a few cathedrals before driving to Dublin that night to leave in the morning.
Overall this trip was just incredible and as I said before... magical. I will never forget the amazing scenery and how iconic and unique the Irish culture is. I would totally recommend going to Ireland and putting it down on your bucket list. Be sure to watch my video on the trip and don't forget to comment, share this post, and subscribe to get notifications when I post something new! Thanks for reading! - James