Dreaming of Ireland – Come along on my imaginary tour!

Ireland seems to be on everyone’s “short list” lately, and with good reason!  It is absolutely gorgeous, the people are warm and friendly, our exchange rate is favorable, and there  isn’t a language barrier (for us English speaking folks). There is so much available to explore: culture, history, nature and (for my husband) golf!   Here is my list of must-see places for when the Mr and I finally get around to taking this trip.  They may appeal to you as well!

I will start in Northern Ireland, assuming a flight arriving into Belfast:

  1. Belfast– There is a major airport here, so it seems as good a place as any to begin.  Here, you can find the Titanic Museum, which is an extremely popular new museum, so it will be wise to visit early or late in the day and to buy tickets ahead on-line.

    photo from titanicuniverse.com
  2. More to do in Belfast – The City Hall is a grand old building, worth a look.  Tours are available for free and take less than an hour.

    Belfast City Hall photo from wikimedia.com
  3. Still in Belfast, I would visit the Botanical Gardens, because I always love gardens!
    photo from discoverbelfast.com

    4. From here, you can head a little north to the town of Portrush.  You can stay a few nights to explore the area and play a little golf.  For golf lovers, the big attractions will be Royal Portrush and the 128 year old Royal County Down course.  The Royal Portrush course is the only Irish course to have hosted the British open.

    from royalportrushgolfclub.com
  4. Near Portrush, there are a few special sights to see, my favorite being the Giant’s Causeway.

    photo from giantscauseway.co.uk
  5. Next, while in the neighborhood, it might be fun to visit the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery. You can tour the distillery, but the last tour of the day is at 3:30, so be sure to get there early.

    photo from telegraph.co.uk
  6. Dunluce Castle is also nearby, and looks like a great place to visit while in the area.
    photo from wikimedia.org

    Next, we will head on down to Dublin and spend a few days touring with that as a base.

  7. While in Dublin, there will surely be some visiting Pubs, and walking around soaking up the vibe, as well as photography opportunities…

    from the templebarpub.com
  8. The Kilmainham Gaol held political prisoners back in the day.  Tours are available daily.

    photo from irishcentral.com
  9. Trinity College dates back to 1592 and is Ireland’s most famous college.  Short tours are available through the college. The Book of Kells is at Trinity College.  This is a 1200 year old bible and draws big crowds.  You can get your tickets online in advance to minimize wait times to see this very important manuscript from the dark ages.

    Trinity College Long Room photo from wikimedia.org
  10. The Guinness Storehouse is hugely popular and worth a visit, for sure.  There is a museum and the Gravity Bar to see here.

    photo from irishcentral.com
  11. The 700 year old Dublin Castle is a popular spot worth a visit as well.

    photo from gotoireland.com

12. The National Gallery, and the adjacent National Museum of Archeology are both supposed to be excellent and would be a good rainy day activity.

Archeology museum photo from wikimedia.org

13. From Dublin, it might be nice to drive down to Wicklow, a pretty town, and home of the Portmarnock Golf Course.  This is where the Irish Open was played in 2015.

from visitwicklow.ie

The Portmarnock Golf course is known as being extremely difficult, but golfers still seem to love trying it.

photo from portmarnock.com

14. Next, a drive over to Kilkenny would be nice as we head to the west coast of Southern Ireland. This quaint town has a beautiful cathedral, a castle, and charming colorful streets with lively pubs and friendly people.

Castle photo from visitkilkenny.ie

15. Heading west, you will find Tipperary and the very famous Rock of Cashel .  This is the seat of the ancient kings of Ireland and where St. Patrick baptised King Aengus around the year 400AD. At this site you will find the Castle, the Hall of Vicars Choral, Museum, the Cathedral, Cormac’s chapel, St. Patrick’s Cross, and grounds.

Rock of Cashel from ireland.com

16. I suppose a trip to Ireland must include a visit to the Blarney Castle with the famous Blarney Stone.  I am not entirely convinced, but it is en route to Cork and Kinsale, my next points of interest, so it might be worth a look.

photo from visitcorkcounty.com

17. Kinsale is our next stop on this imaginary voyage.  Kinsale is a beautiful town on the southern coast of Ireland. It would be a great place to spend the night, walk around the colorful streets, perhaps with a walking tour.  There is the Charles Fort, Desmond Castle, and nearby historic port of Cobh.  There is also a ghost walk tour that is supposed to be very fun that leaves from Tap Tavern.  As an added bonus for the golf lovers, there is the Old Head Golf Course. This is a newer private course, but access is possible for a price and the course lands on many “best golf in the world” sorts of lists.

photo from kinsale.ie

18.  Next, the Ring of Kerry is on everybody’s list. This is a hugely popular drive that tourists take around the Iveragh Peninsula.  I would do it with a tour guide / driver so that we could enjoy all the sights.  The drive will take the better part of a day, with stops allowed at the many scenic locations.

from the ringofkerry.com
from theringofkerrytourism.com

19. Then, Kenmare or Dingle  would be a lovely place to spend the evening.

Dingle photo from pinterest.com

20.  The Dingle peninsula is supposed to be a wonderful place to explore as well.  From here, it would be nice to do the 30 mile drive with either a private driver, or a tour bus, so as not to get lost and to enjoy the views.

photo from discoveringireland.com

21. Next, we can head up to the pretty town of Ennis, from where we can view the last few sights before flying home from the nearby Shannon airport.

Ennis photo from westclare.net

22. The Cliffs of Moher will be very near to Ennis, and a must-see destination.

photos from cliffsofmoher.net

23.  Finally, the last sight on my list is the Burren.  This is a UNESCO sight, which you can view via a walking tour.  It is known for its biodiversity and Limestone outcroppings as well as the castles and forts.

photo from discoverireland.com

This tour could easily fill two weeks, if you take a leisurely pace.  Seems like two weeks wells spent!



38 thoughts on “Dreaming of Ireland – Come along on my imaginary tour!

  1. Ireland is one of my favorite destinations too. So much to discover! I love Northern Ireland but also Dublin and the south. Ireland has my heart.
    I wrote about both of them as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Always interesting to see the places that others put on their list and the trouble with any list is that it ends up being confined and there is so much more one can potentially put on. For me an Irish list would have to include Glendalough in Co. Wicklow – that is an absolute must and way more impressive than Rock of Cashel IMHO. There are of course plenty of other places that I would look to include (Galway for the culture, Killarney for the craic and scenery – an overnight option for the Ring of Kerry, Connemara for wild beauty and Donegal for the welcome and mighty scenery) but of course that is all down to individual taste and up for debate as well as time / travel constraints. Always interesting to read….MM 🍀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I like to have a list as a starting point, and then work from there. I appreciate your recommendations! My husband and I almost scheduled this trip for this summer, but the (young adult) children want to come, so we will have to wait a while to get our schedules in sync. Ireland looks so very beautiful!


  3. Beautiful landscapes and old castles. Thank you for an interesting story about your journey. There are numerous places where you want to go, but unfortunately did not always have such an opportunity.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Glendalough in Wicklow is worth a stop, historic site of an old monastery. I very much like Cobh with it’s cathedral and a lovely museum, the Cobh Heritage centre and there’s a little zoo on nearby Fota Island. I really don’t think Blarney Castle is worth it, you can’t even walk on the grounds without paying. The village has great shopping at the woolen mill, however or just spend that time in Cobh which isn’t far. The Dingle peninsula is beautiful and less crowded than the Ring of Kerry.

    There’s a spectacularly twisty road down off the Burren into Galway bay. Also in the Burren is Lisdoonvarna where they have a matchmaking festival every year!

    The Book of Kells is definitely not to be missed and the library is exquisite. I wasn’t as impressed by Dublin Castle but the cathedrals are lovely. There is a botanic garden in Dublin as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have been to Ireland several times but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been to Northern Ireland. When I grew up the Troubles were on the TV news every night and it’s hard to shake that off. However, friends have visited often and lived it and John goes to Belfast for business sometimes so one day I will definitely join him.

    We walked the Ring of Kerry once! Well, all except one small part where we got a lift.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A fabulous post, Diane, which I initially found via Inese’s retweet! Your photos are amazing and so beautifully colourful. We’re hoping to get over to Ireland again in August, or it may be September (which is our hold-up on booking at the moment). So much to fit in! My dad’s family came over to England from Ireland, so I feel I’d like to get to know the country better. We’d like to stay in the Cashel area again, as we loved it last time. But we travel round, so who knows where we’ll get to. The Dingle peninsula looks wonderful, so that’s one area to consider. I love Dublin, so that’s definitely on our list, too. Perhaps a few more trips are needed!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I definitely agree with most of your list, and have seen a lot of these sites during my two trips over there.
    Might I make a suggestion for the Ring of Kerry, though? You might enjoy doing the Gap of Dunloe tour our of Killarney rather than a driving tour loop of the ring. The tour takes the better half of the day, but it’s /so worth it/. I say this as someone who was on a tour bus group through the Ring back in 2011, loved the region enough to want to go back, and decided to look for more scenic routes.
    The tour starts at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney, where you meet up with a taxi driver who drops you off at Ross Castle (not much of a sight, but the cathedral’s beautiful if you have time to step in before the pick up). From Ross Castle you get on a small 12 person motor boat with a guide and make your way up Killarney’s rivers and lakes to the mouth of the Gap. After a quick break for lunch at a cafe, you then take an open buggy ride through the gap with another guide. Buggies usually seat four plus the driver, but if Ireland’s experiencing a heatwave, expect it to drop down to two passengers per buggy.
    Our guide was amazing and a local from the Gap, so he had a lot of first-hand knowledge about the region. He was also willing to stop at any point we wanted to take a picture, for as long as we needed him to, and offered to take our picture with his horse before the taxi picked us up again on the other side of the Gap. It’s nearly impossible to describe the different views, and how much closer they feel when you’re in an open buggy rather than a car! Just seeing the whole valley spread out beneath you when you’re reached the top, and the mountains’ walls rising up around you as you ascend and descend… Simply breathtaking.
    We used the Killarney Day Tours group to book it, and felt it was reasonable price-wise. But be sure to pack sun screen – I somehow managed to get a combination of sunburn and windburn while up in the Gap.

    Good luck with your planning, and thanks for checking out my blog too! Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem! And yeah, it wasn’t something I ever imagined having to worry about while over there either. This last time, my mom and I got there in the middle of a heat wave (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit), so it quickly became a problem for me since I’m pretty pale.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been to Ireland a few times and I particularly enjoyed your photos of the Giant’s Causeway and Kinsale. I have just started a poetry blog here on WordPress in case you have time to look? Have a nice afternoon, Sam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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