Traveling Through Moments in Ireland
Ireland is a place that demands exploration. Its beauty goes beyond description and to see it – to really see it – you need to come equipped.
For one thing, you need time. At least a week, so you can really take in the scenery and visit some of its best attractions. But you must also make time to meet the people, experience its culinary side, and hear stories about the country’s rich history.
Of course, if you’re there that long, you may well find yourself in need of rain gear and necessary warm clothing to brave the ever-changing Irish temperatures. However, I hope you’re blessed with good Irish weather – it will enable you to take better photos and experience the country’s greenery and sea views in its finest hour.
Now that you have time and some appropriate weather gear, you need a good tour guide. Native tour guides make the experience unique, offering stories and anecdotes about a country that only insiders know, all while directing you to the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions in a coach that features both leg space and free Wifi. Insight Vacations has some great options.
Here are five moments in time you must capture while traveling through southern Ireland – as memories to store away in your mental vault. Take notes while you are there and many, many photos.
Moment #1: The Book of Kells at Trinity College
If you only have a short time in Dublin and want to experience its 1,000 year history, be sure to head to Trinity College to see some grand architecture and the famed library which contains the 9th century book of Kells. It’s the largest library in the world and is quite a spectacle with its row and rows of books of all sizes, from classics to children’s literature. Sculptures line the walkway, giving the room an academic yet historical feel. When you’re done, walk the cobbled walkways of the beautiful campus and stop to see the world’s oldest harp, dated back to 1300.
Moment #2: Killarney National Park
On your way south, be sure to stop in the village of Killarney in County Kerry and spend time in Killarney National Park. This park, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, demands exploration with its beautiful views and is best experienced by either walking or taking a horse and buggy ride, which are available from March until November. It was the first national park established in Ireland, created in 1932 when Muckross Estate was donated. Its has 25,000 glorious acres which include the Lakes of Killarney, hiking trails, woodlands, mountain peaks and many native animals. You can also visit Muckross Abbey, Ross Castle or pass by Torc Waterfall.
Moment #3: Rock of Cashel
St. Patrick’s Rock of Cashel is a stop that you’ll find between Kilkenny and Killarney. It’s one of the noblest groups of medieval monuments in Ireland and hosts medieval monasteries, tombstones, and a Georgian cathedral. The Rock of Cashel is a group of medieval buildings set on limestone that includes the 12th Century round tower, High Cross and Romanesque Chapel, 13th Century Gothic cathedral, 15th Century Castle and the restored Hall of the Vicars Choral. The experience is eerie and it’s impossible to not feel the years of history that took place on this important landmark.
Moment #4: Dingle Peninsula
Dingle is one of those places that once you’ve been, you will never forget. You’ll find it located on Ireland’s southwestern Atlantic coast near the Ring of Kerry, where you’ll be exposed to the most dynamic scenery, from rolling landscapes to Christian monuments to Iron Age fortifications to the Bay which is as blue as blue comes. Be prepared for walks on sandy beaches and cliffs, authentic Irish meals in pubs run by natives, strolls around village shops with cascading rivers, and conversations with Dingle locals.
Moment #5: Ashford Castle
Ashford Castle, located in Cong, was recently voted the best hotel in the world by Virtuoso, and after a stay, it’s easy to see why. Overlooking Lough Corrib (lake), on 350 acres of parkland, this luxury hotel occupies a 13th Century castle that has been thoroughly renovated. Its décor is lush and reminiscent of another time. Whilst there, you can catch falcons at the Falconry School, watch The Quiet Man in the newly built cinema (the film was shot in the area and is still widely celebrated in Cong), enjoy high tea in the beautiful Victorian-era drawing room, or get a treatment in the gorgeous spa. The grounds are equally divine and deserve a boat ride, stroll, bike ride, or some kind of method of exploration. And don’t miss dinner in the George V Dining Room. If they don’t’ have a Michelin star now, they soon will.
Of course, a country as old and rich as Ireland has many more highlights to offer than these mere 5 that I enjoyed on my stay. Stop by Findery to discover more amazing sites and experiences you should be sure not to miss.