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One Week in Ireland - Travel Guide

From an experienced traveler

Hawk Walk at the Ashford Castle

I have never visited a place as beautiful or as memorable as Ireland. I will never forget driving down the coastline, walking into Irish pubs, hearing Irish accents from locals, and watching hundreds of sheep walk along miles of green, rolling hills. Traveling to Ireland was a last minute decision for my family, but one of the best decisions we ever made.

Day 1: We arrived in Dublin late the night before, and slept until the next morning when our first full day in Dublin began. The first thing we did was take a public bus to Trinity college. We walked around the beautiful campus before making our way to the famous Trinity college library. We saw the Book of Kells, which is an illuminated gospel book written in Latin by Celtic monks. After seeing Trinity college, we took another bus to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and then took a taxi over to Temple Bar. The cobbled street is a famous road in Ireland, known for Irish pubs, great food, and lots of shops.

Day 2: We began our second day in Dublin by exploring. We walked for several miles around town, and found an adorable little sandwich shop for lunch. After eating, we made our way to the National Botanical Gardens. With free entry, rose gardens, and ponds full of waterlilies, there is no good reason not to visit the National Botanical Gardens. I got some beautiful pictures of flowers that I still use as wallpaper on my phone or computer to this day. We stopped to visit a nearby cemetery, and stood in awe of the rows upon rows of gothic-styled graves. Several of the gravestones could no longer be read, because of how old they are, but some stones had eerie and unsettling messages that could still be read even to this day. After spending most of the day outside, we enjoyed a nice long walk to the Jamison brewery where we had a lovely guided tour and a free drink.

Day 3: We rented a car and drove from Dublin to Waterford. In Waterford, we stopped at a place called The House of Waterford Crystals. We had a guided tour of this location, but did not spend much time in the city. We then drove to an inland city called Cork where we visited the Blarney castle and got to kiss the Blarney stone. There is an old legend that says if you kiss the Blarney stone, you will receive the gift of eloquence. The castle and castle grounds were breathtaking, and kissing the Blarney stone was quite fun. The stone rests at the top of the castle, and we had to lay on our backs and bend over backwards to kiss the stone. The scary part? There was nothing below our heads, just a drop off. A employee at the castle held onto you as you blended backwards, trying not to fall, to kiss the stone. But getting to the stone wasn’t quick. We walked through endless stairwells and corridors to get to the stone, and then waited in line for hours in the rain just to kiss a rock. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Day 4: On the fourth day, we spent most of our time in the car. We drove along the Ring of Kerry, which is a coastal route that takes the driver through tiny villages, green hills, and outstanding seaside views. Unfortunately, on the day we went there it was raining and the sky was filled with clouds. It was very hard to see some of the beautiful scenery with all the fog that surrounded our vehicle. However, as the day went on, the fog cleared, and the clouds rolled away as we went to see the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are anything but ordinary, and there is an adorable lighthouse on one of the cliffsides that you can walk up to. Standing on the edge of the cliffs made me realize how small I am, but also how beautiful the world can be. After the Cliffs of Moher, we drove to Galway where we spent the night in a lovely Airbnb.

Day 5: Galway was one of my favorite cities in Ireland, next to Dublin. The people were so friendly and the shops that lined the streets were simple and beautiful. We spent the entire day exploring the town and eating great food. I am not an ice cream or sweets person, but we stopped at a local ice cream store for some of the best ice cream I have ever had. Because Galway is a harbor city, we heard seagulls and felt a light ocean breeze the entire time we explored. As the day turned to night, we went into several Irish pubs. The Irish pubs were like nothing I have ever experienced. The people were so friendly and lively that it was hard to leave. Just like you may expect, the Irish pubs played Irish songs, and it was a blast to watch the locals sing and dance. The streets were full of people well into the night, drinking and having a great time. After we shopped, we brought a pizza back to our Airbnb while the sounds of the town’s nightlife carried on.

Day 6: Our second to last day in Ireland was something to remember. We drove through winding roads for hours, and after getting extremely car sick, we arrived at the Ashford Castle. The Ashford castle is from the medieval times, and has survived for at least seven centuries. The castle is also being used as a hotel, which you can stay at for a small fortune. We explored the grounds and found tiny towers, horses, a graveyard for the past owner’s pets, and a falconry. Now, the reason this day was my favorite is that I got to ‘walk a hawk’ at the falconry. A guide put a very thick glove on my arm, and then set a hawk upon it. As we walked through lush green trees, the hawk would fly to nearby trees, and then back to my arm. The guide gave me uncooked chicken legs to feed the Harris hawk as an incentive for him to fly back to me. The hawk walk was not nearly long enough and was a fantastic experience I would recommend to everyone.

Day 7: On the last day of our trip, we drove all the way back to Dublin. We had some time to stop at the world famous Trim Castle, and to explore the grounds. The Trim Castle is famous because it is the largest Norman castle in Ireland, but it was also in the movie Braveheart. We didn’t spend as much time at the Trim castle, and if I’m being honest, it was not my favorite castle in Ireland, but still worth seeing. After the Trim castle, we went to the Guinness brewery and took a tour. Of the two breweries, this was my personal favorite. After the tour, we were given tickets for free alcoholic beverages, and went to the top of the building and got a great view of the city.

Then it was time to fly home ♥︎.

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