It has been 12 years since my last visit to Ireland. So much has changed and so much has remained the same. My love for this beautiful country of rolling green hills and luscious vales will never change.
Flying directly into Dublin from Dubai has made travel into Ireland so much more convenient. No longer do you have to negotiate the long layover and transit at either London Heathrow or Frankfurt airports.
I had a window seat. I was excited. It looked exactly like how I remembered with its jagged shoreline, rocky cliffs and green topped grassy farmlands.
This holiday is to visit old friends. I lived and worked here in 2004. I had somewhere to stay and was met at the airport by one of my most favourite people on this earth. For most travellers, I would suggest a self-drive holiday incorporating car hire and staying in B&B’s or castles all across the country. You can pre-purchase accommodation passes before you go. Can you imagine spending a night in a 13th century castle? The history, the ghost stories…
Kick start your road trip by collecting your hire car at the airport to roam around whenever and wherever you please. A couple of hours driving will get you quite a distance so you can afford to take your time. Stop at every castle or abbey ruin, each little village, try their pub grub and get lost on the winding country roads. Not kidding. Anyways, that’s what GPS or google maps is for, right? Wink.
Some of my favourite spots….
Browneshill Dolmen, Co. Carlow
This prehistoric structure is said to date back to the Neolithic era. It has to be seen to be believed. How on earth did anyone put this granite capstone in place to withstand all the years gone by? It is possibly the heaviest of it’s kind in all of Europe. Worth the visit.
Duckett’s Grove, Co. Carlow
Duckett’s Grove is a ruined 19th-century great house and former estate in County Carlow, Ireland. Belonging to the Duckett family, it was formerly at the centre of a 12,000-acre estate, that dominated the landscape of the area for hundreds of years.
Rock of Dunamase, Dunamaise, Co. Laois
Enjoy walking around and climbing these castle remains. Then stop, look around and appreciate the breath-taking views over the countryside as this castle ruin stands 46 metres above the surrounding landscape.
Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare
This is quite a busy tourist location but you can’t go to Ireland and say you haven’t visited the Cliffs of Moher. It’s a similar experience as going to the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.
Ring of Kerry, Co. Kerry
Follow this 179km scenic loop around rugged coastal landscapes and rural seaside villages. When in Killarney consider taking a tour through Ross Castle.
Wicklow Gap, Co. Wicklow
A scenic 26km drive between Hollywood to Laragh is one of two ways crossing the Wicklow Mountains from east to west. Many films have been shot in the area including “PS I love you”, released in 2006, starring Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler. A love story that breaks my heart, fills my eyes with tears and takes me back to the time I visited.
Some of my favourite foods unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Black and White Pudding
These items complement your “fry up” for breakfast and consist of pork meat and fat. The difference between the black and the white is the blood content. Both delicious in my opinion.
Can be bought at a number of places, however I prefer the fast food chain Supermac’s version. If you like tacos and you like fries, you will just have to try it. The perfect cure for a hangover.
The right kind of soda bread lightly toasted and lathered with butter is delectable. Particularly nice with a cup of tea.
Some of my favourite Irish sayings used in general conversation every day.
“Soft auld day”
A soft day is a description of the weather, and is probably very unique to the Emerald Isle. It is a day when the precipitation is a cross between mist and drizzle and is sometimes referred to as “mizzle”.
“Ah shur, go an, you will, you will”
The response when someone offers you something, particularly food, tea or coffee and you politely decline. It’s the Irish way not to accept no as an answer when it comes to hospitality.
“He scared the bejaysus out of me”
Translation.. He scared the daylights out of me.
“Thanks a Million”
Pronounced.. Tanks a million
Go to Ireland. Fall in love. Drive the myriad of windy roads. Drink a pint with locals. Share stories. Fill your belly with bangers and mash. Walk amidst century old castle ruins. Feel the history. Fulfill your adventurous heart. Ireland, the Emerald Isle… it truly is a little gem.