Going to Ireland feels like going home. There’s a sense of calm excitement that comes over you once you arrive whether it’s your first time or your fifty-first time. And if you’re not careful, you may lose part of your heart and soul once you step on Irish soil. So be prepared!
Getting There By Air
The main arrival points into Ireland by air are the five (5) international airports:
- Dublin Airport which is North of Dublin City on the east coast
- Cork Airport is South of Cork City on the south coast
- Shannon Airport is located North of Limerick City on the west coast
- Knock Airport (Ireland West Airport Knock) is in County Mayo in the North West
- Belfast Airport can be located west of Belfast City in the North East.
Making the most of your visit to Ireland depends on you and your preferences:
- Group tours are popular – groups on buses of like-minded tourists with common interests; you don’t have to worry about where you’re staying, where you’re going, and who’s driving – you just have to get on the bus on time!
- Then there are smaller, more private tours – more individualized – they typically range from 1-6 comfortably and the tour itself can be customized to your desires; where you want to go, what you want to see and if you’re lucky enough to get one of the top guides in the country, they’ll have you staying at the quaintest, best BNBs in the country!
- And then there are the brave – going it on your own, renting a car, using GPS, and the internet ~or~ spending time with the locals to get the best advice on where to stay, where to eat, where to go.
Whether you want to be the epitome of a tourist and go to the Guinness Storehouse (https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en) in Dublin or the House of Waterford Crystal in Waterford (https://www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com/) or journey to one of the many authentic castles such as the Blarney Castle (https://www.blarneycastle.ie/), there’s something for everyone.
There are a great deal more choices of what to see than how to get around to see them! Take your time when planning when you plan your holiday. Carefully choose which tour company to use or tour package you want to purchase or even how you draw out your map of “must see” places.
If you don’t get it the first trip, then you’ll just have to make a second trip to the island – or a third – or a fourth…
Using the second option above in Getting Around, and taking a private tour, here are our suggestions for circling within the amazing country that is Ireland:
Arriving in Dublin, plan on spending a couple of days going to local points of interest:
- Guinness Storehouse – the famous tour includes learning how to draw the perfect pint to a full-sized sample at the top gazing out over magnificent Dublin
- Patrick’s Cathedral – must be experienced (https://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/)
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art – arranged around a magnificent courtyard with exhibits throughout the year (http://www.imma.ie/en/index.htm)
- Kilmainham Gaol – from petty crimes by ordinary people to rebels of the Irish Republican movement (http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie/)
- Dublin Castle – did you know that it was once a Viking castle? (http://www.dublincastle.ie/)
- Temple Bar – no explanation needed, just be thirsty for a good pint and some trad music! (https://www.thetemplebarpub.com/)
When you’re able to tear yourself away from Dublin, take a southward journey to Glendalough, Co. Wicklow – meaning ‘the valley of two lakes’ (http://www.glendalough.ie/). The views are only equaled by the rich history.
After Glendalough, continue southwest to Co. Kilkenny and Kilkenny Castle – built over eight centuries ago, it has a variety of architectural styles today (http://www.kilkennycastle.ie/).
For the true patriot of Ireland and its history, you must go to New Ross, Co. Wexford to take in The Dunbrody Famine Ship. Take the tour; listen to the skilled storyteller emphasize the trials and injustices these determined immigrants endured (https://www.dunbrody.com/).
Going north and slightly west up the cost of Ireland, head to Co. Clare and the most famous Cliffs of Moher. Stunning and vast, the cliffs will take your breath away – plan on taking extra time to take it all in (https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/).
Not far up the road and up the coast is Co. Galway and the beautiful city of Galway which hosts the Galway International Arts Festival. In 2018 being held from June 16-29, it’s a variety of music, plays, and artists (https://www.giaf.ie/).
Unless you were just born, you have undoubtedly heard of the movie “The Quiet Man”. Though set in the fictitious village of Inisfree, the movie was filmed in Co. Mayo and Co. Galway; primarily in and around the actual village of Cong, Co. Mayo where the fan club holds an annual meeting at Ashford Castle, now a 5-star hotel, outside of Cong (https://www.ashfordcastle.com/).
Heading east, the next stop is at Newgrange located in Boyne Valley, Co. Meath (http://newgrange.com/). Noted as an Ancient Temple, Newgrange was constructed approximately 5,200 years ago or at 3,200 B.C. and is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. The complex monuments are simply amazing.
Closing out this circle and arriving back in Dublin, as time allows, just a couple more things to see and do:
- Old Jameson Distillery (https://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/en/)
- The Book of Kells Exhibition (http://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/)
- Ha’Penny Bridge (http://www.bridgesofdublin.ie/bridges/hapenny-bridge)
- …and MORE!
Take it ALL in
Whatever you choose, however you travel – take time to just enjoy the views.
Gaze on the rocky, sheep-covered hillsides.
Dream in the Wicklow Mountains.
Get your feet wet on the Copper Coast.
Breathe in the clear, sweet air everywhere.
And take in the amazing green landscapes of Connemara.
The variety of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Ireland will excite you, fascinate you, and absolutely compel you to return. Come home to Ireland.
We barely touched on some of the most obvious and completely forgot some others! What about:
- The PUBS!
- The FOOD!
- The Trad(itional) Music!
- The lovely wool & lace!
- …and MORE!
Well, there’s always the next blog!