Monday, April 20, 2015

Ireland Top 5

Our trip to Ireland is comprised of so many wonderful memories including #1, our stay at Ballyfin, long drives in the country and the folklore story telling night at the Brazen Head. I had imagined what it would be like before we left, but it far exceeded my expectations...The people were more than welcoming, the pace is MUCH more relaxed and the scenery is unmatched.

While it's hard to narrow down, I wanted to share my top 5 things to do/see while in Ireland:

The Long Room at Trinity College

This was not only my favorite sight from our Ireland trip but probably one of the greatest things I have ever seen. I've always dreamt of seeing a real life library that resembled the one that the Beast gives to Belle and this was even better.

Built in the 1700's, it is approx. 200 feet in length and filled with 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. When we walked in and saw it all for the first time, I had tears roll down my was a slightly unexpected reaction, but I truly felt overwhelmed by the beauty and history that was surrounding me.

The Cliffs of Moher

This is a destination I had on my bucket list before we ever seriously considered going to Ireland in the first place. I remember seeing it in the Princess Bride and Harry Potter, reading about it in books and deciding it was a place I had to see. Standing 702 feet at their highest point, they stretch for 5 miles along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland. 

The human story and history of the Cliffs of Moher dates back at least two thousand years as the name derives from a 1st Century BC fort that stood where Moher Tower now stands. The old Irish word “Mothar” means ruined fort and it is this that gives the cliffs their name.

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is located beside the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland. It was the first national park established in Ireland, created when Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish state in 1932. We visited Muckross House & Muckross Abbey, a 19th century Victorian Mansion and a Franciscan friary from approx. 1448, respectively. 

The attractions are gorgeous but so are the walking paths in between - we chose the "adventure path" which led us through a forest along the lake where the trees looked like a set out of Into the Woods

Quay Street in Galway

Galway is overflowing with charm, even if we couldn't escape the heavy mist/rain showers that loomed over us all day long. While I do wish the weather would have been nicer, we will never forget roaming Quay street and taking in all of its quaint details. We ate at the Pie Maker, the tiniest restaurant you will ever see, owned by an equally tiny blonde who creates Sheppard's pie from scratch on the spot. We wandered in and out of stores (most with gorgeous colored doors), visited some gorgeous churches and stopped by Galway Bay.

Gap of Dunloe

THIS place is what you think of when someone says Ireland. The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass in County Kerry and within it are five lakes. We took a horse and buggy along the gorgeous 7 mile path which led to the winding road which makes the gap at the end. The landscape is absolutely unbelievable and it is so serene, almost hard to believe it's real. As you pass by the grazing sheep and the running waterfalls, it's so easy to forget the honking cars and ringing cell phones back home in Chicago...

Have you been to Ireland? What were your favorite sights and destinations? 

Share with us in the comments!