Ireland

At the end of  2015 I had the pleasure of spending over a month in Ireland for work. Whenever I travel for work I try to take advantage of any free time I have to explore (I mean why not?). Ireland has always been on my list of places I’ve wanted to go and it definitely lived up to my expectations with it’s lush countryside and historic charm. It also had me singing “hello from the other side” way too often (thanks Adele).

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One thing to note if you ever decide to take a trip to Ireland is that it rains ALL THE TIME. From the end of November through the end of December I saw a total of 4 hours of sun (sort of depressing).  However, I was also there over labor day weekend and had amazing weather so don’t let this discourage you from planning a trip. It is still amazing in the rain. 

Getting around Ireland:

If you ever find yourself in Ireland I recommend renting a car. It is the best way to explore the countryside and get lost in your surroundings. It takes a little time getting used to staying on the right side of the road, and by the right of course I mean the left. It also takes some time getting used to driving on the right side of the car. I may or may not have sideswiped the mirror of a parked car at one point during my trip (my depth perception on the left is horrible). But trust me, if I can do it you definitely can do it. Below is a picture of the cute little guy I drove.

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Where I worked:

I worked in two different places while I was in Ireland. The first place was called Lough Rynn Castle in Mohill, CO Leitrim. Let me tell you.. this place was amazing! If you want a true castle experience this is the place to go. The wifi wasn’t bad and they had Taylor Swift on replay in the girls bathroom. What more can you ask for?

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The second place I worked and spent a majority of my time was Longford. Longford is located in central Ireland about an hour and a half drive from Dublin. While I was there I stayed at Keenan’s Hotel Bar and Restaurant in Roscommon county in a village called Tarrmonberry (10 minute drive from Longford). This adorable hotel is right on the River Shannon. Barry and Annette Kennan, the couple who own the place, are extremely accommodating and operate the attached restaurant which serves great food (I personally loved their seafood chowder and homemade brown bread.. YUM!). They also make an excellent breakfast in the morning!

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Because we had to work over thanksgiving, the people from work took all of the Americans out to a nice “Thanksgiving” dinner at a boutique hotel called Viewmont House. The food was amazing but there was a LOT of it. The courses consisted of an appetizer, middle (essentially a main course before the main course), the real main course and dessert. Needless to say they had to roll me out of there.

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Favorite places I visited:

Galway:

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Quay Street

Quay street is a great place to walk around. On this street you will find a lot of great pubs and  restaurants. One bar I recommend is The Quays Bar. This place has an awesome vibe with stained glass and wood interior.

Galway Cathedral

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The Galway Cathedral is right on the banks of the River Corrib in Galway City

Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare

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About an hour and a half drive west from Galway are the Cliffs of Moher. I highly recommend going here if you have a sunny day. Not only are the views from the cliffs amazing but so are the views of the countryside on the drive there.

Places to stay in Galway:

During my time in Galway I stayed at the Clayton Hotel as well as the Park House Hotel and Restaurant. Both places were very nice. The Clayton is a little more outside the city (about a 5 minute cab ride), where the Park House is walkable distance from anything you would want to do.

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On the way to Dublin:

Kilbeggan Distillery

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I stumbled upon Kilbeggan distillery on accident during my drive from Galway to Dublin. It is the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland dating back to 1757. I’m a pretty big whiskey fan so it was fun learning about the process of making it. This was also a great stopping point halfway to Dublin. Even if you are the person driving it’s fun to see and they will give you some whiskey taste testers to go!

Dublin:

Guinness Storehouse

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The Guinness Storehouse tour is one of my favorite brewery tours. Each floor has its own special charm where you can learn about how the beer is made, the history behind how it has been marketed through the years and how to drink it correctly (because apparently there is a wrong way to drink beer). When you buy your ticket you get one free drink coupon which you can use at either the second floor bar which is a classic Irish bar with live irish music, or the 360 degree bar on the top floor.

Jameson Distillery Tour

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Sadly I did not go on the actual tour because I got there too late at night and their last tour was already booked (poor planning on my part), but I’ve heard it’s fun and there are some great photo opportunities. Also.. Whiskey..Yum!

The Brazen Head Bar

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Irelands Oldest pub dating back to 1198..do I need to say more…

Dublin Castle

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Dublin Castle was beautiful to walk through. But with that being said, if you are short on time and have visited other castles I personally don’t think it’s worth going in. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t find it to be anything spectacular.

Trinity College

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Walking around Trinity College was beautiful and made me want to go back to school.  But then I remembered I would have to take classes and study, not just enjoy the beautiful campus… so no thanks.  It’s located in the heart of Dublin city right around great shopping and restaurants.

Temple Bar

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Temple bar is probably one of the most, if not the most iconic bar in Dublin. Bono, Bill Clinton, Billy Joel and actor Chris O’Dowd are some of famous people who have enjoyed a pint (or two) there.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

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Also known as “The National Cathedral and Collegiate Church of Saint Patrick, Dublin” and is the largest church in Ireland

Irish Dance Show and Dinner

The first night I arrived in Dublin my friend and I went to Celtic nights at the Arlington Hotel. I highly recommend this place. It’s located right in the city centre of Dublin and is a fun experience with traditional Irish dance rhythms, amazing dancing and iconic Irish songs. At one point in the night I got pulled up on stage and just about fell over from being spun around in circles too many times. I will leave the dancing to the professionals. 

The Church Bar & Restaurant

Exactly as it sounds – church is the former Saint Mary’s church of Ireland which was converted into a restaurant. A fun fact is that Arthur Guinness (founder of Guinness brewery) was married at this church in 1761.

Places to Stay:

I stayed at the O’Callaghan Davenport Hotel. As you can see below the outside of the hotel is beautiful and it is a close walk to Trinity College and the center of Dublin.

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Belfast (Northern Ireland):

Donegall Square

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Due to an intense rain storm on my trip to Belfast, I did not get to explore as much as I would have liked to. Long story short, one of my co-workers cars got washed away in a road flood and we got stuck in a town called Balleyconnell for almost the entire day. By the time I finally arrived in Belfast it was very late, but I did get a few hours to enjoy the nice christmas market that was set up in from of the parliament building.

Note: Because Belfast is located in Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) they use Pounds as their currency, not Euros.

Giant’s Causeway

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Giants Causeway is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The polygonal shaped basalt rocks are stunning and fun to climb around on. If you visit I recommend wearing rain boots because 1) as stated previously it is always raining and 2) the rocks get pretty wet and slippery from the waves.

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I’m not a big risk taker, so this was a little stretch for me but the views from the bridge were breathtaking (have I said that enough times??). It’s only a short 15 minute drive from Giant’s Causeway so if you have the time it’s worth doing. One thing to note is that its about a mile walk from where you park the car to the bridge so be prepared to get your exercise in.

Xoxo,

Kirsten

 

 

 

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