How do I even begin to describe Ireland? The beautiful land, the legends, the rich history, the vivid green grass, and beautiful cliffs all come to mind. Something about our trip in Ireland reminded me of home. Home as in Texas. Ireland felt comfortable and familiar to us. The people are friendly and talkative, and lots of wide open spaces combined with a relaxed casual vibe make this place feel like home. We’ve nicknamed Ireland “Texas Europe”.
Our first full day in Dublin we decided to explore the Guinness Storehouse. No trip to Dublin is complete without visiting Guinness.
7 stories high, this interactive tour has something to impress everyone. If you aren’t a Guinness fan I’m betting you will be when you leave. Brewed since 1709 in Dublin, the Guinness Brewery was born when Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the property.
As we walked through the lower levels of the Guinness Storehouse we learned how they make their perfect brew. Even kids find this tour enjoyable because its so interactive.
It all starts with the grain…
and the purest water that comes from the Wicklow Mountains, just south of Dublin. The Guinness waterfall is fun for everybody to explore. You can walk completely around it and throw coins in to make a wish. I wished for lots of Guinness.
Next we took a short class stimulating our senses and finding new flavors in our Guinness we never knew were there. We also learned the importance of the perfect pour.
After our journey all the way up the 7 levels we made our way to the Gravity Bar for a 360 view of Dublin. We then traded in our tickets for complimentary pints. Guinness is always great, but the rich velvety smoothness is something that tastes truly extraordinarily fresh from the Guinness Brewery.
The next day we visited the Cliffs of Mohr. These cliffs are raised 390 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and are one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions. Many movies have been filmed here, such as Harry Potter and the Princess Bride. The true beauty of the cliffs is something that cannot be captured by a camera.
We were extremely lucky not to have any rain the entire week in Ireland. What? That’s crazy, it always rains in Ireland. Often the skies are hazy, but when the sun did come out our views were incredible!
No worries about running into any snakes while you’re exploring Ireland’s countryside, Saint Patrick banished them.
The cliffside is gorgeous, but with only a few low guard rails and a steep drop off in terms of safety they must be respected. The cliffs are breathtaking but also dangerous. It’s often extremely windy, and if you veer too close to the edge a gust of wind could easily blow you off.
Believe the sign and stay away from the edge. We saw a few dare-devils though.
Here my babies were at least 20 feet from the edge, but that didn’t stop me from being a frantic mama.
We drove a little farther down and the views are still breathtaking. Driving all along Galway Bay is gorgeous.
If you’re in the Galway area a visit to Dunguaire Castle is a must. This castle was built in 1520 and has one of the most picturesque locations on Galway Bay. The 75 foot tower and defense wall look stunning against the waters, making this the most photographed castle in Ireland.
A bit off topic, peat moss extraction is killing the wetlands in Ireland and other countries. In fact Ireland has lost 90 percent of it’s bogs due to commercial peat harvesting. Please consider using alternatives while gardening to protect the environment.
After heading back to the city, we looked for a place to dine. The Bank on College Green restaurant, located in the heart of Dublin, was our choice. This building, designed by one of the British Empire’s leading architects, began construction in 1894, and it took two years to complete. The interior, once the main Banking Hall, stuns with its ornate architecture. The Bank opened as a pub and restaurant in 2003. Have a drink at the bar while listening to the pianist playing in the background, or with the extensive menu, enjoy lunch or dinner. After a long day of site seeing this was a great way to end the day.
After a good night’s sleep we were ready for more exploring. The next day we ventured to Tipperary and Cork. We took in the breathtaking scenery everywhere we went. Just as you’d imagine…sheep grazing everywhere.
Driving through the gorgeous Tipperary countryside, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel. Sitting at the top of a beautiful green hill, this cathedral was built between 1235 and 1270. With the foggy skies I wasn’t able to get a distant photo, unfortunately.
This is where Saint Patrick baptized King Angus. Legend has it that Saint Patrick accidently stabbed the foot of the King with his crozier during his baptism. The king simply thought that this was part of the painful process of becoming a Christian and he said nothing.
Inside the grounds around there is a medieval graveyard that includes a number of high crosses.
Walking around the grounds is quiet and peaceful even with other tourists around. The fog limits our photo taking abilities, but it also adds to the ambience.
I never tire of looking at Ireland’s lush green grass. We said goodbye to the Rock of Cashel and headed a bit farther down to Cork.
We stopped off at Blarney Castle so we could kiss the famous stone. The stone is actually at the very top of the castle!
So off we went up into the narrow winding halls of the castle. This is definitely not a place to be if you’re claustrophobic!
While making the climb to the top of the castle you’ll find many rooms to peak in and great photo spots.
Now for the kissing of the stone. It’s not an easy kiss. Kissing the inconveniently located stone is such a risky process that castle employees must help visitors by holding them down so they don’t fall. According to legend kissing the stone endows the kisser the gift of the gab. It’s definitely an odd experience, but worth it because we now all have the gift of eloquent speech.
Blarney Castle is about 5 miles outside of Cork. Ready for lunch, we arrived in the heart of the city.
Time for some Irish stew and a big ol’ Guinness.
After a long day of sight seeing we headed back to Dublin. It was impossible to forget that the next day was Saint Patrick’s Day, excitement was filling the air and the buildings had begun lighting up green.
We needed to get up early in the morning for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, so we stopped to grab some essentials, then off to bed we went.
Something magical happens on Saint Patrick’s Day. Brian Phillip becomes Phil O’Brien.
We arrived to the parade location nice and early so we had a great spot.
The parade started and the crowd was filled with excitement.
After the parade, we ventured off to lunch and then back over to the Temple Bar area to celebrate.
Temple Bar is Dublin’s historic area filled with live music, pubs, and restaurants.
Here you’ll find a good mix of locals and tourists and any type of food you’re looking for.
The day ended with the perfect shepherd’s pie.
We had such a wonderful time in Ireland. While I wouldn’t call it a very relaxing trip because we were constantly on the go, it was certainly beautiful. I can’t wait to go back, I’ll need to visit Ireland every few years, it’s good for the soul.
All throughout our Ireland adventures my daughter discovered O’Donnells cheese and red onion chips. These are so good! Since returning home I found them on Amazon. Gotta love Amazon!
And speaking of Amazon, when we returned home Brian was bummed we didn’t buy any Guinness beer glasses but honestly our luggage was maxed out and I was worried they might break. Hooray Amazon saves the day again, I found the glasses HERE. The Guinness glass really makes a difference in the overall taste.
While on this trip we also visited Northern Ireland, and there’s a separate post about that. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our Ireland adventures and soon have your own!