First Visit to Ireland

by Maddy Butters

October 20, 2019

My husband and I and another couple of friends of ours decided to head to Ireland for a week in March. Here is all that we fit into our First Visit to Ireland.

Day 1: Arrival in Dublin

For our first visit to Ireland we flew from New York to Dublin. After landing, we went to the ATM and got some cash out for anything we could not use our credit card for. Go the ATM as little as possible to avoid racking up many ATM fees. We took out what we planned to be enough throughout the week. Also, do not forget to alert your bank that you are heading out of the country. Make sure to have smaller bills and coins for the taxi trips as you are traveling through Ireland, for fare and tip. We grabbed a taxi and headed straight to our hotel to drop off our luggage. One of the two rooms was already available, so we had the opportunity to freshen up a little before we began exploring. We ate breakfast at The Pigeon House Clontarf. The atmosphere was elegant and casual and the food good. The scones were amazing!

Once in Dublin, we started at Trinity College. This campus is beautiful! We saw the Book of Kells and the Old Library. The gift shop here was also pretty great. The entrance to the Book of Kells had a lot of information and history, but the Book itself was anticlimactic. The Old Library was gorgeous. All in all, I thought these two attractions were overpriced for the experience, but, maybe that is because I found my heart in Ireland’s landscape. We checked out the outside of Dublin Castle and walked along Grafton Street. There are many shops, some street performers and vendors here. We then went to the Guinness Storehouse. This attraction was much better than I expected. It was well catered to tourists, fun and informative. With many levels, it held my attention and interest all the way to the top. My husband and I made a stoutie, which was our picture printed onto the foam of a Guinness. At the top is the Gravity Bar, which has a 360-degree view of Dublin. We checked out the gift shop before we left, which had some cool items for souvenirs. Once we were back outside, we found horse carriages waiting to pick people up. By this time, we were whooped from much walking, so hopped on and told the young driver to take us somewhere good to eat. He chose The Bull & Castle. Food was great here too! Then we went back to our hotel for the night.

Day 2: Dublin to Cork

We ate breakfast at our hotel then headed to pick up our rental car. We started in Dublin and ended the day in Cork. On the way, we stopped at Rock of Cashel and learned the interesting history of this beauty. We then headed to Blarney Castle and Gardens. The landscaping and gardening here is amazing. We got here shortly before closing and with only a couple of other guests in the castle, we roamed freely. I couldn’t imagine it on a busy day. Then we headed to Cork City where we stayed for the night. We grabbed dinner at Jackie Lennox Chip Shop. Some of the streets and alleys are very tight to navigate through in Cork!

Day 3: Cork to Killarney

We left Cork this morning and headed off to Killarney and drove the Ring of Kerry, including the coastal scenic drive around the Skellig Ring. Being there during off season, there was hardly any traffic to see the beautiful sights. We stopped at the Muckross House, also known as the calendar house. We also took a horse ride from there to Torc Waterfall. We stopped at Ross Castle for some photos, then to Killarney for the night.

Day 4: Killarney to Galway

Leaving Killarney, we drove to Dingle and did the Slea Head drive. Though it rained most of the day, I found how much I loved the western coast of Ireland. We stopped and check out some Beehive huts and grabbed Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle. We caught the car ferry in Tarbert,
then headed to see the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately, there was so much fog, it was zero visibility. We decided to see if it was any better the next morning. We stayed in Peter’s castle this night outside of Galway. It was fun getting to spend a night in a castle and get to chat with Peter for a couple of hours.

Day 5: Galway to Dublin

In the morning, the visibility at the Cliffs was still at zero, so a change of plans led us to Bunratty Castle. This was fun to see what a furnished castle and its grounds would have looked like in the past. Not to mention a dark, cold and creepy dungeon. After that we headed back to Dublin to
return our rental car. We had a “Food, Folklore and Fairies” dinner at the Brazen Head. I recommend listening to some of these stories, if you have a chance.

Day 6: Dublin to Belfast

We met our bus tour in the center of Dublin and headed north to Belfast, where we did a Black Taxi Tour. The ride was somber and informative. We had the opportunity to learn more about Belfast’s troubles from a man with firsthand experience. Then
our bus took us to Giant’s Causeway. Along the way, we heard folklore about the Scottish and Irish giants at the Causeway. We walked through the Causeway’s Visitor Center and then headed down the long path to see this unique landscape. We then had lunch at The Nook right near the Causeway entrance. Then the bus took us to Cerrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This was my
favorite part of the whole trip. We walked high up along the coast, with sights spanning out over the ocean and then crossed the bridge to a smaller land mass. After all was over, the bus took us back to Dublin. We ate dinner and watched a terrific show with music and Riverdance at the Arlington Hotel.

Day 7: Returning home

Picked up last minute souvenirs and got back to the airport early enough to clear US customs and board our flight. It was a great First Visit to Ireland.

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