My Popular Faves in Ireland (and why not all popular sights are tourist traps)
Having lived overseas for years, when it was time to go to Ireland and England, I was skeptical about anything I could read about in Trip Advisor. The best things to see are off the beaten path, obviously! So, when my mother, an Irish woman whose parents immigrated from the USA before they had her, created an itinerary straight out of Ireland 101, I was thinking that the real Ireland would not be seen. However, I learned quickly that the magic of Ireland cannot be contained. I truly experienced the culture of Ireland- and I saw some of the most popular venues on the map! Here are a few things I would recommend for your time in Ireland.
1.) Blarney Castle + The Blarney Stone: I was so not looking forward to this. I mean, who wants to kiss the Blarney Stone? But, honestly, from the moment I walked through those gates to Blarney Castle and Gardens, I was in awe. It is beautifully maintained and, because of the time we went, there was not an overload of tourists walking around with cameras. Rather, there were a handful of people walking through with the same kind of awe painted on their faces. I enjoyed looking through the castle, but I wish I had known how many trails and sites there were to see within the grounds. It was amazing and I would recommend spending an entire day there exploring all the beauty of this place.
2.) The Cliffs of Moher: I mean, I figured this would be breathtaking. But, I really had no idea what to expect. It didn’t disappoint. This time, there were a ton of people everywhere- taking pictures, laughing, and, once again, walking around in awe of the sights. I have to say, the people did not take away from the amazing experience that was had. It was truly so breathtaking that it did not feel “tourist-trappy” in any way! Be prepared for it to get windy, though!
3.) Kenmare: This town! It is so beautiful! Everything about this town was incredibly magical, quaint and quintessential Ireland. The people were incredibly kind, the food ridiculously fresh and delicious, the tea and coffee was amazing. A little place to visit is the site called “The Kenmare Stone Circles” which is basically a smaller Stonehenge with its own history. I did not read too many reviews on this town, but it is worth the trip for sure!
4.) The Church in Dublin: A good friend of mine suggested I head over to a restaurant called “The Church” in Dublin for dinner when we were there. I was also afraid this site would be too covered in tourists. I did not get that vibe at all, though. It was super crowded, but it was also worth the wait. The Church is now a restaurant and bar, but for decades it was St. Mary’s Church. Some of the coolest things happened in this place: John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church delivered his first sermon there; Jonathan Swift (author of “Gulliver’s Travels”) attended church here; Author Guinness- the Guinness founder- was married in this church- and that’s just a few! There is a tour that runs there every day until 5 pm. Do that and then end your night with some delicious food and drink!
5.) The Book of Kels: There are really no words for this one. Just do it. To see so many beautiful and historic pieces is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
6.) Limerick: This sleepy little town often gets overlooked, but we loved it. St. John’s Castle was amazing, and the gloominess of Ireland was perfect for the day for exploring the difficult history of this beautiful nation, which St. John’s offers in a beautiful interactive museum. I also enjoyed my gin and tonics in a local pub. If you’re a gin girl, I would highly recommend trying their local stuff: Dingle gin. It’s amazing.
7.) Rock of Cashel: If you’re seeking a peaceful, historical sight to see then look no farther than this beautiful cathedral. So much to see and hear about- and the tour guides are wonderful! The history and the beautiful scenery are enough to inspire and touch any traveler!
8.) Plus, if you have any family roots there, be sure to look them up! People there are incredibly friendly. My mother, brother, husband, and I went to the house where my Grandfather Michael lived before he moved to the USA. We just drove up and knocked on the door. The people who live there now not only talked to us, but they knew my grandfather!