10 days in Ireland

The Long Hall at Trinity College
Kegs at the Brazen Head
Guinness at the Gravity Bar on St. Patrick's Day
Christ's Church
Flowers at Cornucopia
Flowers
Leftovers from St. Paddy's
Temple Bar

DUBLIN

Aside from our time spent in North Antrim, Dublin is my favorite place in Ireland – the city is full of character and the locals are cheeky and extremely entertaining. We spent four days roaming aimlessly through crowded streets, soaking up the city’s history and filling our bellies with delicious Irish food.

Eat
The Winding Stair – hands down, one of the best meals I’ve ever had. If you visit Dublin and miss this place, you’re a fool.
Cornucopia – hearty, vegetable loaded eats
Kitchen – Thom and I have made it a priority to have a special date night here each time we visit. The atmosphere is super cozy and the chef is willing to accommodate each and every diet.
Queen of Tarts
Brick Alley Café – cozy up to a table in the back and order a coconut hot chocolate

Drink
The Brazen Head – second oldest pub in the world. Established before the Magna Carta was issued!
Guinness Storehouse – I don’t care if you don’t like Guinness, this place is a must visit. Especially on St. Paddy’s.
M O’Briens
Baggot Street Mile – highly concentrated area of pubs. Thom, my dad, and brother visited a majority of the pubs the night before St. Paddy’s and.. had a damn good time.

Go
Grafton Street – we didn’t do much shopping, but the shops are filled with pretty things.
Dublin Castle
George St. Arcade – market filled with a lot of quirky stuff you don’t need.
Sleep
We stay at the Waterloo House any time we’re in Dublin. The breakfast is filling and the house is located a brisk 15 minute walk from the city centre. The rooms are nicely sized, king beds are comfy, and the house has a very cozy feel. I think it’s one of my favorite things about the city.

Dunseverick Castle
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Thom crossing Carrick-a-Rede
Basalt columns at Giant's Causeway
Dunluce Castle
Cedric at Dunluce Castle

NORTH ANTRIM

You need at least two nights up in the Bushmills/Ballycastle area if you want adequate time to see everything North Antrim has to offer. Aside from sightseeing, there isn’t much to do – but you’ll likely be so worn out that you won’t have it in you to rage at a pub all night.
Eat
Thyme & Co – surprisingly good (for Ireland) coffee

Drink
Sleep
Craig Cottage never lets us down. Rosemary, the head lady, is an absolute gem and goes above and beyond. During our first trip two years ago, Thom got washed over by a wave at Giant’s Causeway and she washed/dried all of his clothing. And prepared him tea and warm biscuits. She’s the kind of person you want taking care of you while you’re in the North.

Stuff at An Pucan
Coffee with poppa at Pura Vida
Fancy wrought iron fence
Scones at Griffin's Bakery Cafe
Latin Quarter, Galway
I spy a handome guy in the window
Floral arrangements on the street

GALWAY

Galway is a coastal city situated on the Western side of the Republic. There isn’t a lot to do as far as sightseeing is concerned, but it’s a great stopover before heading to the Aran Islands. Many of the pubs have live Irish music, and there are a handful of quaint restaurants scattered throughout the city centre.

Eat
Kai Café and Restaurant – sources local, organic produce daily
Pura Vida coffee house
Revive Café – best latte I had the entire trip
Drink
An Púcán – live music every night after 9

Go
Sleep
We stayed at a terrible place during our first visit two years ago, but this time we stayed at the Park House per recommendation of a friend. It was enjoyable, but I think I’ll put a bit more effort into searching for a B&B next time around.

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
View from the top
Beamish
Foodie
Alley in Limerick
Mickey Martin's

LIMERICK

I wouldn’t necessarily say Limerick is a must-see, but we stopped over due to the weather being not so great for visiting the Aran Islands. It was nice to have a day with nothing to do, so we wandered the streets and I spent too much money on candy and baking powder and pretty sprinkles.

Eat
The Grove – vegetarian eats; open until they run out of food
Jack Mondays Coffee House
Fitto Cafe – Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. At the corner of Roches/Anne Street.

Drink
Mickey Martin’s – local pub with a great atmosphere and old men who sit outside and blow you kisses as you leave.
Flannery’s Bar

Go
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
King John’s Castle to open summer 2013
Dunnes Grocery Store – I spent a good hour just staring at the pretty packaging and loading up on candies not available in America (crispy M&Ms, dark chocolate KitKat, real Haribo bears, etc).

Sleep
The George Boutique Hotel is a favorite. I’m not usually a hotel person but I love the central location of the place, as well as the chic style. There’s a restaurant in the lobby and they have outstanding service. Like, deliver balsamic vinaigrette to your door two minutes after calling reception and asking for it, good service.

Devenish Island
Kilronan Castle
Until next year, Ireland

HONORABLE MENTIONS

We didn’t make it to the Aran Islands this time because of the weather, but it’s an absolute must if you plan on visiting Ireland. We went during our first trip and fell in love. Be sure to grab a knit sweater from the Aran Sweater Market and hire bikes to see the Island. We stayed on Inishmore, but if you have four or five days free, hop around to see each of the Islands. Accommodations (on Inishmore) aren’t the greatest, but what do you expect on an island of only 400 people?
The Cliffs of Moher should also be on your list, but like the Aran Islands, we didn’t head that way due to weather. Doolin is a nearby village and you can take the ferry from there to the Aran Islands – but only if weather permits.

If you’re looking to stay in a castle, I highly recommend Kilronan Castle (pictured above). It’s a great place to stop when breaking up the part of your trip from Northern Ireland back to the Republic. Enjoy breakfast and dinner in the restaurant (although dinner costs a pretty penny), and go for a morning run around the grounds – you won’t be disappointed.

We did the Ring of Kerry and the Southern part of the Republic our first go around and weren’t impressed – which likely has something to do with the fact that we were visiting in March, before anything had bloomed. We weren’t fans of Cork so I don’t recommend going there for anything besides kissing (or licking, if you’re Thom) the Blarney Stone.

Random tips:
– Hire a car to get around the country. Tour busses are for sissies.
– Tipping in crispy M&Ms is acceptable when you have no Euros.
– Not tipping at all is also acceptable.
– You will not find soy milk (soya) at a coffee shop in Bushmills.
– Speaking of coffee, Irish coffee is not good. Think of briny truck stop coffee, but worse.
– You’ll be hard pressed to find a B&B/hotel for less than $100 a night.
– You’re looking for the toilet, not the restroom.
– Fuck is word you’ll hear often. Embrace it.
– Meat and potato restaurants are more than willing to accommodate special diets.

More photos can be found here.

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