And now for a whirlwind trip to the greenest place on Earth! I LOVE IRELAND! Granted I do have a little Irish blood in me, but everyone should absolutely LOVE this place. This blog is all about a very quick trip of a few days. When you don’t have a lot of time, here are some highlights to hit.
When you get there, you will probably arrive in Dublin. So step one- have a seriously authentic Irish breakfast, sometimes called a “fry.” This is the best breakfast on the planet, bar none! I eat it every day I’m on the Emerald Isle. It varies a bit from place to place but overall it is just as pictured below. Sorry Vegans, you’re screwed.
While in Dublin there are a few things you MUST do.
* The Guinness Brewery Tour of course. http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/Index.aspx Which sadly was WAAAY better when I went there many years ago when they had an entire floor dedicated to their advertising, replete with 7 foot ostriches and big ass toucans, not to mention ads with Rutger Hauer touting the black gold.
* The Book of Kells. http://www.tcd.ie/Library/bookofkells/ At Trinity College you can view an amazing version of the Gospels illustrated by Celtic monks. Just beautiful. And the college is quite impressive as well.
* Temple Bar. If you know me, you know I have spent some time here. I wish I had more bar recommendations, but after a bit, they all tend to weave together in a mush of Jameson’s, Guinness, and Celtic debauchery. I can recommend a lovely restaurant called Gallagher’s Boxty House http://www.boxtyhouse.ie/. You can enjoy some authentic Irish grub you’ll seldom find outside of Ireland.
For the most part, simply wander around Dublin, criss-cross the Liffey River, and explore all the history and culture you can soak up. Then, hit the road!
Close to Dublin:
* Head out to Johnnie Fox’s http://www.jfp.ie/, the highest pub in Ireland. Just a fun place to be with tasty food and live music with a little history to boot. Their “Hooley Show” is well known and a great cultural song and dance experience.
*Wicklow/Glendalough http://www.glendalough.ie/. A quick day trip getaway that will astound you. This is one place I go see every time I visit. Glendalough is an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. The cemetery is anciently beautiful, and the lake at sunset is one of the most magical places I have ever seen. (Pics below)
I’m focusing mostly on Dublin here, but if you have an extra day or two? Here are my top picks.
If you can get there, I highly recommend a walk along the Cliffs of Moher (pictured at the front of this post).
You could drive along the Mountains of Mourne to the north and head up to Belfast.
See The Rock of Cashel http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/rockofcashel/ (Cashel, Co. Tipperary) for great pics of a ruined castle.
Kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle(Blarney, Co. Cork). I did it twice!
Pick up some Irish Moonshine (aka Potcheen) at Bunratty Castle http://www.bunrattycastlehotel.com/ (Bunratty, Co. Clare). But don’t open it in country!
See Kylemore Abbey http://www.kylemoreabbey.com/ (Connemara, Co. Galway), a beautiful photography moment across the lake.
Walk the Giant’s Causeway http://www.northantrim.com/giantscauseway.htm in Antrim to the north.
Drive to the top of Slieve League http://slieveleaguecliffs.ie/ (Co. Donegal), some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Be prepared, it is a remarkably sphincter puckering experience! Possibly very dangerous. Scariest drive I’ve ever made.
Don’t miss driving the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula (pic below) if you can. You may even see a rainbow or two. Maybe even a DOUBLE rainbow!
Finally, splurge for at least one night in an authentic Irish Castle. I can personally recommend Ashford Castle http://www.ashford.ie/ (Cong, Co. Mayo), where I did a fine bit of Falconry. This was also the backdrop of the classic John Wayne film, “The Quiet Man.”
I’m sure I have missed a few places, as there are stunning views at every turn! And it’s most exhilarating to drive a standard stick shift car on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, at night, in the rain, signs in Gaelic, on tiny roads with walls only inches away, at approximately 60 miles per hour. When you can do that, you really get the feeling of being truly Irish.