We have a friend of a friend (my brother-in-law, Tom) who is going to celebrate their 15th anniversary by going to Europe! More specifically, they are going to England, Ireland, and Italy. Tom shared our London post with her, but I wanted to share our love of Ireland too. Just in case it helps with exploring and having a ton of fun.
We joined two of El’s cousins Kristen and Alanah. They were coming from the US and had purchased a vacation package that included a car rental; they agreed to tote us along if we packed lightly. I was incredibly grateful (being 7 months pregnant at the time). Having a car wasn’t essential for going from city to city as there is a national rail system (aka trains). But to see the Cliffs of Moher, which I highly recommend, you need to either have a car or use a sightseeing company/bus to drive you there.
Useful tip: Ireland, like the UK, drives on the left side of the road; the rest of the Europe for the most part drives on the right side of the road. Much like Europe, but differing from the UK, Ireland uses the metric system. Therefore, you’ll see speed limits in kilometers per hour (km/h) in Ireland and miles per hour (mph) in England. And the signage for speed limits are a black number on a white circle surrounded by a red circle. Signs will indicate km/h, but not mph; so if it is just a number, then it is in mph.
Our first stop in Ireland was Limerick. We checked into our hotel, then took a walk over to the beautiful St Mary’s Cathedral. After the ladies at the front desk of the church chatted with us about being Americans – they loved Irish Americans! We did a self-guided tour of the cathedral. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at an old book store and the Milk Market. At the Milk Market, we loved Bon-Appétit Crêperie, the Anne Lloyd’s Market Griddle, Tea4you, and Harper’s Coffee House. We also walked through the open market area just looking at all of the amazing craftsmanship.
Wandering around Limerick allowed us to do an impromptu tour of King John’s Castle, which is a 13th-century castle on the River Shannon that offers a huge history lesson. It was October when we visited, so there was also a beer festival happening at the castle. We probably would have stayed for the beer festival, but I was 6 months pregnant and tired by this point in the day.
Our second day in Ireland was spent at the Cliffs of Moher. It has an amazing walking/hiking path, which you could walk forever. For me, the cliffs were definitely the highlight of our time in Ireland. I could go on about the scenery and the trails, but pictures are better for this.
The third day was Halloween; we spent it in Dublin. We checked out the Guinness Storehouse. Here, you can learn a little history of the famous beer and how to properly pour a pint of Guinness. There is a bar at the top of the building, but it generally gets more and more crowded as the day goes on. I suggest to get there early and leave before the crowd arrives. We ate lunch in one of the restaurants in the Guinness Storehouse (I recommend a cheeky pint and the stew). We also ventured into the Temple Bar area. Temple Bar was overly crowded, so we stopped into the Temple Bar whiskey and tobacco shop (2 doors down from the bar) – Kristen and Elliott did a tour of Irish whiskey while Alanah and I sat out of that experience. While I suggest checking out Temple Bar (Neighborhood), please not that it is a great place to party but that’s about it. From our experience, there are not a lot of Irish folks there as it is a bit expensive and a bit of tourist trap. However, it is a great for people watching as there are many Hen parties (bachelorette parties) and Stag Dos (bachelor parties).
Our fourth day was spent meandering through Trinity College Dublin and touring the Old Library Exhibition to view The Book of Kells, which is an manuscript written in Latin that contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. Its name is derived from where the book was housed for centuries (Abbey of Kells). The library displays only a few pages of the book at a time, but you can view a digital version of the book without even going to Ireland!
Our final stop was at St Patrick’s Cathedral, another must-see place in Dublin. The grounds and architecture around the Cathedral are picturesque and stunning, even in November. The inside of the Cathedral does not disappoint either. The stained glass on each arch of the cathedral is beautiful.
Our biggest advice is to book tickets online. Tickets are usually are cheaper in advance and will reserve your spot for a certain time and date. This is great for brewery and distillery tours, which can be sold out in advance.
Notable mentions for Dublin include: Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Jameson Distillery on Bow St (skip the Irish Whiskey Museum Tour). If you have the time, check out the National Gallery. We enjoyed St Stephen’s Green (and nearby shopping centre), Beehive Coffee, the Palace bar, and Peadar Kearney’s pub.
We loved visiting Ireland and hope that you will too. Happy 15th anniversary to you both!