Family adventure to the 'Emerald Isle'
Ireland has always held a special place in my heart and was a country I was very eager to visit. Our family has deep roots in the 'Emerald Isle'...my great grandfather emigrated from the country to start a new life in America and when my grandfather was alive, he would invest in Irish companies to help them flourish. If you've also seen my St. Patrick's Day post, you know my family loves celebrating our Irish heritage with elaborate parties. So, when my parents offered me the chance to visit my sister who is currently studying abroad in Dublin, I couldn't pass up the amazing opportunity.
For those of you interested in visiting, Ireland and the country's capital, Dublin, were included in Travel + Leisure's 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018 roundup curated by the outlet's travel experts and National Geographic's Places you need to visit in 2018. The country's tourist appeal is on the rise as Ireland offers a harmonious balance of an intimate, cultural capital and breathtaking countryside views. During our week-long trip, we toured Dublin, Killarney, The Ring of Kerry, Kilkenny, Waterford, Cliffs of Moher and Carrick-on-Suir. Transparently, it's really hard to put into words how incredible this trip was. We made so many amazing memories and were blown away by how gorgeous Ireland is. Below I shared our adventures by each place we visited, tying in some of our favorite restaurants, hotels, tourist excursions, and my favorite photos. I hope you enjoy reading about our McGeehan adventure!
Dublin is a melting pot of rich culture. We stayed in the city for the first leg of our trip and the last two days, spending our time eating incredible food, being tourists, and visiting exciting destinations. After some serious jet lag Saturday morning, we checked into the Iveagh Garden Hotel, and excitedly tackled my sister when she met up with us. We walked around the city visiting her favorite spots including, Georges St. Arcade, Iveagh Gardens, and Grafton Street, Ireland's world famous shopping center. Even as tired as we were, we were overly ambitious and went on an adventure to Marlay Park to find the tree planted in honor of my grandfather's memory. Mind you, he passed away twelve years ago so the reality of finding the actual tree was very slim...but after a thirty-minute cab ride, scouring through the park, and not being able to get service for a taxi back to the city, it surely was an adventurous first day.
We started our second day off by touring the Kilmainham Gaol Museum, a historic jail in Dublin from the 1798 rebellion to the Irish Civil War. Today, the jail symbolizes militant and constitutional nationalism, playing a key role in detaining Irish Republican leaders. The architecture was very impressive and fun fact, Kilmainham Gaol has appeared in several famous movies and music videos including Paddington 2, The Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones, and U2's A Celebration. We also explored Dublin's stunning Phoenix Park, visited the iconic Temple Bar and drank our way through the Guinness Factory (well my dad and sister did, I'm definitely not a beer or stout girl!). Seeing the process of how Guinness is made was pretty fascinating, the museum does a really great job of outlining their history in a visually compelling way. I am also proud to say I became a certified Guinness pourer.
Monday my sister had her internship, so my parents and I toured St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin Castle and Trinity College. The Book of Kells Exhibition and Old Library were truly the highlight. Seeing a book from 800 AD really brings a unique perspective.
Dublin places to eat & snack // Bijou Restaurant, Larder Restaurant, Bewley's tea, Murphy's, The Woollen Mills
Killarney & Ring of Kerry
My favorite part of the trip (besides visiting my sister)? Touring Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. Seeing Ireland's countryside was simply breathtaking. Sheep roamed the peaceful land and I've never seen more vibrant blues and green hues in my life. From Dublin, Killarney is about a four-hour drive, so we spent Tuesday driving to the quaint town, stopping at Cashel Castle along the way. Our hotel was gorgeous, we stayed at The Killarney Park Hotel which has amazing food and drinks (try the 'porn star' cocktail if you visit), incredible staff and stunning hotel rooms.
For our Ring of Kerry tour we hired a private driver, Mary, from Tours by Locals which gave us a really personalized, more intimate experience. The trip took the entire day with sightseeing stops at stone forts, Skelling Michael, Kenmare Town, Ross Castle, the Muckross House and more.
Killarney places to eat & snack // Killarney Park Hotel, Italian Cuisine
Kilkenny, Waterford & Cliffs of Moher
For the last part of our trip we drove to Kilkenny so we could tour Kilkenny Castle with my sister, who ended up taking the train to visit us. After exploring the castle and an impromptu photoshoot, we started our drive back to Dublin on Friday and stopped at Waterford to experience the House of Waterford Crystal tour. The tour was very immersive because we had the opportunity to see each meticulous stage of how the crystal is hand crafted.
After driving back to Dublin on Friday, we woke up early to catch a guided tour bus to the Cliffs of Moher, stopping at a sheep dog demonstration and viewing the Cliffs of Moher by boat.