A Hundred Thousand Welcomes
An island nation filled to the brim with folklore, stunning landscapes, captivating history, and friendly souls – Ireland is the ideal place to rejuvenate your spirit. I am a world traveler, a wife, and a mom. When I invest into travel experiences with my family, I look for places where I can grow in my cultural education and partake in the unique essence that the destination has to offer. In March, I was able to travel to Ireland with my husband, the land of a hundred thousand welcomes, through a Fantasy Getaway organized by the Royale Travel Club. Our trip was nothing short of extraordinary, refreshing, and left us wanting to go back as soon as we left. With that said, below you’ll find a guide to the top 10 places we experienced and I know that you will want to experience as well while you are in Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher
Intricately placed in between the breathtaking landscape of the Buren and the Wild Atlantic Ocean stand the Cliffs of Moher. At points, 700 feet high and 8 miles long, the Cliffs of Moher provide a rugged beauty that will leave you speechless. With paved pathways and well maintained steps, the Cliffs of Moher are safe to traverse on for any traveler. The Cliffs of Moher often experience various forms of weather, so it is best to have a raincoat and wear shoes suitable for walking. It is recommended to visit the Cliffs before 11am and after 4pm as 11am-4pm are when the Cliffs experience the most visitors. When my husband and I visited, we were able to visit the Cliffs in the late afternoon. Our tour group and I experienced glorious sunshine and breathtaking winds. After touring the Cliffs, we went inside to the Visitor Center where we were able to learn more about the Cliffs from the park rangers and dine at the Cliff View Cafe. As its name gives away, the Cliff View Cafe provides a lovely view of the Cliffs while you dine on hearty and delicious traditional fare.
The Book of Kells and Trinity College
The Book of Kells is a medieval masterpiece in which the four gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are brought to their reader’s attention with vibrant colors and intricate illustrations. The Book of Kells is housed safely within the protection of Trinity College in Dublin. However, its history is painstaking for the dedicated monks who poured their lives and devotion into the project of creating and preserving the Book of Kells. Within Trinity College, there is a captivating tour in which you can learn the history of the Book of Kells and see the page that is currently on display. The museum staff displays a different page each day so that visitors can always see a new section of the work. As a part of the tour, you will also be able to view the Trinity College library, boasted as one of the world’s most beautiful libraries. In order to tour Trinity College, the library, and view the Book of Kells, visitors should allow for approximately 75 minutes. Tickets can be purchased online.
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive around the Iveragh Peninsula. As you drive, you will encounter craggy coastal landscapes and quaint seaside villages. While you may choose to simply drive along the Ring of Kerry and see the scenery, it may also be the case that one may want to stop along the way and see the various sites and attractions that the Ring of Kerry has to offer. With that said, a stop at Killarney National Park provides walking trails amidst waterfalls, mountains, forests, and lakes. Make sure to bring your camera, as Killarney National Park is teeming with flora and fauna. Sneem, a quaint village known for its fairies, is a lovely place for visitors to rest, eat, and explore. Killarney is a favorite among tourists and locals alike. One of the best ways to get around is by jaunting car or more commonly known as a horse drawn carriage. Skellig Islands, the site of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, is a place of natural beauty, historic interest, and a place of peace for those wanting to explore the Irish landscape. While you’re close, don’t miss Skellig’s Chocolate Factory, a friendly place to get a decadent treat! Skellig’s offers free tastings daily and has a playground to keep the littlest travelers engaged. Due to its remote location, it is only open from Easter-September.
Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone
It is said that whomever kisses the Blarney Stone will be gifted with the gift of “gab” or eloquence. The Blarney Stone is housed in one of the most well preserved castles that Ireland has to offer. Take the time to view the castle from as many angles as you can and take note of the intricacies of the architecture. Besides the Blarney Castle, take a moment to stroll through the Castle Gardens. The Castle Gardens boast 60 acres housing arboretums, gardens, avenues, and waterways.
Bunratty Castle, Medieval Banquet
Bunratty Castle is unique not only in its history, but also in that it offers a medieval banquet hosted by none other than the Earl of Thomond, of course! Join the Earl and his court for an evening of fine dining, wine, and honey mead.
EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum
The Irish Emigration Museum is easily the most engaging and interactive museum that I have ever been to. The way in which the museum curators bring the emigrant stories to life is stunning. For 90 minutes, as you are immersed in Irish history and struggle, you are embarking on the heartache, joy, and raw nature of the emigrant journey.
Adare, Thatched Cottages
Adare, located in County Limerick, Ireland is famous for its thatched cottages. The history of the thatched cottages in Adare is rich, dating back to around the 1700’s. The thatched material was chosen as a matter of practicality as it could be sourced locally and was relatively inexpensive comparatively to the other building materials of the time. The thatched roof consists of an innumerable amount of reeds artfully put together. Doing so creates a waterproof, long lasting structure. The cottages are a quaint, unique, and beautiful part of Ireland’s history that is sure to delight you.
Kilkenny, Medieval Town
Kilkenny is a medieval town known for the Kilkenny Castle, built in 1195. Kilkenny also boasts a rich religious history, having some monastery and cathedral structures dating back to the 13th century. While in Kilkenny, one ought to see the Kilkenny Castle, the Medieval Mile Museum, the cathedrals and monasteries that the town has to offer – each with their own unique charm and ornamentation, the Roth House and Gardens, the Shee Alms House, and Hurling Tours. Hurling is a Gaelic game that uses a ball, a siotar, and a stick, a hurley. Ireland has quite the camaraderie surrounding Hurling and seeing a game in person would be well worth your time!
Waterford, Waterford Crystal
The town of Waterford, most famously known for its Waterford Crystal. In order to fully experience Waterford Crystal, it is recommended to experience the House of Waterford Factory Tour. Other sites to see include the Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum, King of the Vikings Tour, Christ Church Cathedral, Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity.
Kerry Bog Village and Museum
The Kerry Bog Village and Museum provides a self-guided walking tour through a medieval Irish town as it would have existed during the time. After viewing the buildings, you can greet the Irish Wolf Dogs, and can tour the lobby of the Red Fox Inn and enjoy a beverage of your choice. The locals love Irish Coffee!