Ireland

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Ireland, where the craic is mighty!

In Ireland, Craic means “good or fun times”.

Being from a small town in West Virginia, it’s often we hear that our ancestry came from Ireland, Scotland and England. After looking into 23 & Me, I found out that is mostly true for my family, especially my Irish ties! When I got to visit Ireland, I realize why people immigranted from Ireland to my home state of West Virginia and surrounding areas. Not only did Ireland remind me so much of the beautiful hills of West Virginia, but the people were ironically just as friendly and similar features as West Virginians.

“The sun does not always shine in West Virginia, but the people always do.” – John F. Kennedy

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For some reason, most of my life I have wanted to visit Ireland. Was it because us 90’s babies had the Disney movie Luck of the Irish? Maybe. But I mostly wanted to visit for the countryside and cliffs. In July 2016, I decided to start planning a trip to Ireland for my birthday that November. I must admit, it was pretty intimidating looking at multiple posts and researching how to travel the country.

One of the main reasons I chose to start traveling blogging, was to show people how easy it can be to travel. Research, research and more research. Looking for flights, hotels or accommodations, restaurants, car rentals, tour guides/buses…..the list goes on. I know it’s stressful, because I have been there!

My first trip to Ireland was actually through a travel company for people, ages 18-28ish, called EF College Break or recently changed to EF Ultimate Break. I know often times they can be more accommodating if you are over that age….or so I hear. I went on their website, which I will provide the link at the bottom of this post, selected the time I wanted to go and booked my trip! Wow, that simple. They did all the work for me! They allowed me to pick the airport I wanted to leave from, offered payment plans, gave additional excursions you could pay for and more. The fee for the trip included a round the clock tour guide, hotel accommodations, a couple meals and loooooads of fun!

So if you have a small group of friends or you want to travel alone, this is a good company to travel with. You will meet people from around the United States who will be in your group as you travel the world!

However, if you want the freedom to travel on your own or to make your own itinerary…I hope this post helps you.

 

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The first thing to do when planning your trip to Ireland, is WHEN DO YOU WANT TO GO? But first make sure you have a valid passport and vacation time to go before you book anything. Then once you decide when you want to visit, start looking for flights. I flew out of Columbus, Ohio and only had one layover in New York before arriving in Dublin. However, there are many major airports that fly directly to Dublin or have few layovers before arriving.

So now you’ve decided when you want to go, now what do you want to see? The next little bit of information will provide you with ideas on things to see, places to eat or stay or what cities you want to check out before driving home.

Dublin

Ahhhh, Dublin….the capital of Ireland. The cutest little city full of history, yummy food and well Guinness. lol

Grafton Street: Here you will find lots of shopping, a McDonalds, pubs and yummy food.

Guinness Brewery: You can take a tour of the brewery to sample the beer, see how it’s made and shop. Whether you like Guinness or beer at all, it is still pretty cool how generations later, Guinness is still made the same.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral: This is definitely a must see. This is an 800 year old church that still serves it’s purpose today. Enjoy the amazing architecture inside and the grounds of the church on the outside. The church is also in the shape of a cross, the tip of the cross points to the holy land.

Temple Bar: Enjoy live music or a couple drinks at a very cool, popular pub in Dublin.

Trinity College: A very old and famous university in Dublin. Also known for it’s library, which inspired parts of Hogwarts in Harry Potter.

Phoenix Park: One of my favorite parts about Dublin. Located in Phoenix Park is a building that looks like the White House in Washington, DC. Much like our White House, the president of Ireland lives in it, often allowing visitors to come in and enjoy tea. As you enjoy the park, you will see deer. Much bigger than our deer in the states, with huge antlers. The deer are, however, very friendly, and will get close to you if you are gentle enough. There is also a huge white cross in the park, this is where the Pope stood and gave a speech with millions of people in attendance.

As far as food goes; anywhere you go to eat….enjoy some fresh fish and chips and maybe some blood sausage for breakfast. It is exceptional.

County Kerry

Next our group traveled from Dublin to Killarney, with a pit stop in County Kerry. In my short time in County Kerry, I toured the Blarney Castle. I would also add this to my list of MUST SEES.

The Blarney Castle was built in the 1400’s and it holds some magic powers; but we’ll get to that. Ireland is covered with castle and castle ruins, however this is the most well known. Unfortunately, there are many steps and turns you must take to get to the top of the castle but reaching the top is the best part. Not only do you get amazing views of the countryside, but you get to kiss the Blarney Stone! Kissing the stone will ensure luck that you will never be lost for words again! They have gift shops and a restaurant available after you tour the castle and the gardens.

Killarney

Killarney, much like Dublin but less tourist, will give you definite Irish vibes. Lots of pubs and friendly people, even a pub dedicated to The Lord of the Rings! If you have a chance to take a horse ride or drive through Killarney National Park…take it! Thanksgiving 2016, I was able to take a chilly, foggy horse ride through the park, seeing the woods, lake and castle ruins. An experience I will always remember.

Other things to do or places to stay:

Holiday Inn in Killarney (close to the town and very nice/clean)

Muckross Rd, Woodlawn

Kerry, Ireland

Cinema Killarney (walking distance to the Holiday Inn and many restaurants)

In case you want to catch a movie, there is also a pizza place around the corner!

The Ring of Kerry

Ocean views, castle ruins, winding roads….the Ring of Kerry has it all. You can stop along to way to appreciate God’s wonder as you see the ocean and lakes, and beautiful hills. Definitely take a day to just look at the countryside of Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher

This was one of the main reasons I booked a trip to Ireland. The amazing cliff and ocean view of the Cliffs of Moher. Beware of the strong winds as you hike around the cliffs! Also my advice, it is best to visit in the afternoon. I visited early/mid morning and was unable to see great views, due to the fog and position of the sun. So wait for a sun in the middle of the sky and enjoy your time at the Cliffs.

Galway

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I didn’t get to spend much time in the city of Galway. I only visited one day and I chose to spend that day on an excursion to Aran Islands….and I am so glad that I did. To get to the Aran Islands, you have to take a small ferry boat ride across the ocean. The Aran Island is very small, with a population of only 1,300 people, who still speak Gaelic. I highly recommend visiting Dún Aonghasa and The Seven Churches while you are there.

Dún Aonghasa is a stone fort that has been around 2,000 years that overlooks the ocean from amazing cliffs.

The Seven Churches is ruins of two old churches and buildings from early Irish pilgrimage. There is a lot of tombstones that date back many years and even recent.

Belfast

Belfast is apart of Northern Ireland. I got to spend a full day exploring this cute city. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you can visit many locations, like the Dark Hedges. Also, the Titanic Museum is located in Belfast. Exactly where the building is standing, is where the iconic ship was built and launched on May 31, 1911 when it was headed to New York before hitting an iceberg. If you visited in the November and December months, the city of Belfast holds a huge Christmas Market in front of the city building. Vendors from around Europe come to celebrate and sell goods.

 

Now that you have several ideas of where and what to see, you need to book overnight accommodations, car rentals or tours before you go. Booking tickets in advance will not only ensure you get to go on that day, but may save you money. Make sure to book your ticket for the Guinness Brewery, Blarney Castle or ferry boat ride to Aran Islands before you arrive in Ireland.

IMG_7413.jpg“May the road rise up to meet you….” <3

Important things to remember

  • budget for gas, food and sovenirs
  • carry cash (some toilets request payment of a few cents before you can use)
  • tipping is important
  • pack weather appropriate clothing
  • purchase outlet converters for your electronics

 

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