[Guest post by Megan Vick]
Going to Ireland? You’ll adore it. Sure, there are “preferred” times of the year to visit, but I quickly realized that no matter what time of year, Ireland will capture your heart. Check out these places and you may never want to leave the Emerald Isle.
It’s a no-brainer to visit Dublin. It’s the country’s capital, a really cool city, and the easiest city to fly into. The best part about Dublin is that you don’t need a car to get around. There is also a great train which takes you to some of the suburbs of the city. Hop a train and visit Greystones. It’s a neat little town with some great shops and amazing food. If you’re travelling with vegetarians or vegans, definitely visit The Happy Pear in Greystones.
Galway is on the west coast of Ireland and an up-and-coming city. Galway attracts a younger, hipper crowd and has a variety of multi-cultural restaurants. It’s also home to many great museums, castles, and theatrical and musical performances. Galway has tons of sports and entertainment to check out as well. You could easily spend a week in Galway and not see all it has to offer.
3. Cliffs of Moher
When most people picture Ireland, they don’t imagine large, looming cliffs on its western coast, but they do exist! The cliffs are located in the southwestern area of County Clare in the region known as The Burren. These jaw-dropping cliffs are home to Atlantic Puffins and the Cliffs have a great museum-built directly into the rock. Not to mention, movies like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride were filmed here. The best time to go is between sunrise and 8:00AM. Once the sun starts to heat up, a mist or fog has the potential to settle and block the stunning panoramic view.
[Giant’s Causeway ~ Photo by Locace]
4. The Giant’s Causeway
Without a doubt, The Giant’s Causeway is one of the neatest places I’ve ever been. While science tells us a volcanic eruption created a plateau which later cracked, legend tells us of Irish warrior, Finn MacCool (best name ever), who built a causeway to Scotland. When Finn was challenged by Scottish giant Benandonner, Finn and his wife deceived the giant by making Finn appear much larger than the giant. Benandonner was so afraid, he ran back to Scotland, tearing up the causeway in his wake. Whether you believe science or legend, it’s still a super cool place to see.
5. Blarney Castle
Of course, you’ve got to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone. A common misconception of the Blarney Stone is that it is just out in a field, unguarded and unclean. That is simply not the case. The Blarney Stone is at the tippy-top of the castle, embedded in the wall, constantly guarded by castle employees. In order to kiss it, you must lie on the roof of the castle and bend backward while hanging upside down to reach the stone. Once you kiss the stone, legend says you’ll be granted with the gift of eloquence and “the ability to deceive without offending.” In addition to the magical stone of eloquence, there are some beautiful gardens to view and buckets of history to absorb.
6. Bun Raite (Bun Ratty)
Bun Ratty is a working medieval style farm and castle. Not only is it steeped in history (you can see a real dungeon, among other cool rooms), but the farm houses all kinds of wonderful animals and village homes to tour. Bun Ratty also makes its own mead, and in the spring and summer months, has a medieval banquet. Visiting Bun Ratty is a great way to catch a glimpse of life in 19th century Ireland.
Adare is one of Ireland’s most beautiful villages. It’s nestled between Limerick and Killarney with a few pubs, a lovely park, some shops, and Adare Manor. Home to the Irish Open in 2007 and 2008, Adare Manor has a historical tour and beautiful grounds to tour. It also is home to the oldest living Cedar of Lebanon in the world, which was planted around 1645. Stop by Pat Collins Pub in Adare for a Guinness and the best apple pie in the world (I’m not kidding about this).
8. The Dingle Peninsula
Most people choose to tour the Ring of Kerry on their visit, but I was told by a local that the Dingle Peninsula was significantly prettier and had more Irish culture. Full of farmland, trees, and one-lane roads, the Dingle Peninsula is the best place to visit in all of Ireland. The drive can be a little precarious, so if you’ve got the cash, hire a driver who knows the way. On your way to the town of Dingle, go through Conor Pass, which is the highest mountain pass (and maybe the windiest) in Ireland. In Dingle, take your time and wind your way through the streets of one of Ireland’s remaining Gaelic-speaking villages. Don’t forget to stop by the statue of Fungi, the friendly bottlenose dolphin, near the harbor. On your way back from Dingle, make sure you stop by Slea Head, where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed, and you’ll find yourself on one of the most beautiful, non-tropical beaches in the world.
Megan Vick is a blogger, entrepreneur, tech-geek, fitness fiend, animal and environment lover, green goddess, and world traveler. By day, she is a creative content specialist for Fridge Filters and by night, she uses organic and vegan ingredients to make bath and body products for Shorganics.