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In Honor Of St. Patrick’s Day: My Favorite (Irish) Things

Somehow, it’s almost the middle of March already. Seriously guys, wasn’t it JUST Christmas, like, a week ago? Time is flying, and spring is right around the corner. And you know what that means—if spring is just about here, then it’s time for that annual rite of green beer and parades. Yes, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day. So put on your sparkly shamrock antennae and shamrock-shaped green sunglasses, and sip a shamrock shake (possibly the best thing about March). Rock every shade of green as you read about all things Irish.

I thought it might be fun to take a virtual tour of some of my favorite Irish sights, since I’m not independently wealthy and can’t buy us all tickets to Dublin. Everyone knows about the Blarney Stone, but I thought I’d concentrate on some other aspects of the Emerald Isle. (Note: I’ve only visited in and around Dublin (aside from an epic day trip North) and I’m sure there are a ton of non-Dublin sights worth visiting. Tell me about them in the comments!)

Giant’s Causeway: This natural wonder is in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, but it’s worth the trip if you can do it (I should know; I day-tripped it from Dublin and it was looong, but it was one of the highlights of my entire vacation). Natural basalt columns rise from the water, just begging for kids (and adults) to scamper over them. It’s a beautiful natural wonder, and whether you agree with the scientific version of how it was created, or indulge your sense of whimsy and go the Finn MacCool route, it’s something to see.

Howth cliff walk: The seaside village of Howth is more than just picturesque boats and winding streets. There’s a gorgeous walking path that loops around the cliffs there. Admittedly, it took some convincing for me to agree to the jaunt (especially after reading the wind warnings that said you could get blown off of the cliff), but it was gorgeous. You feel like you’re in a Victorian novel, traveling back in time, wandering along a lonely but beautiful road. I didn’t meet any mysterious strangers, but you might get lucky.

Wicklow Mountains: Feeling the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of Dublin for a few hours, I went on a tour of the Wicklow Mountains. This was the Ireland I’d imagined…rolling hills in a hundred shades of green, tiny white cottages, even an ancient monastery with Celtic crosses. If you can’t get over to the fabled west of the country, Wicklow will give you a taste of the countryside.

Trinity College library: I love books. I love libraries. And when I entered the Trinity College library, I knew I had found my perfect spot. Beautiful wooden arches line the main room, with two floors of books rising high above you. The smell of old paper fills the room, and I was tempted to apply to Trinity College right then, just so I could hang out in the library for a few years.

Butlers Chocolate Café: I have it on very good authority that the hot chocolate here is TO.DIE.FOR. I didn’t know about this spot when I was in Ireland, but the glowing reviews from a friend who lived in Dublin has me seriously considering booking a flight soon, just to sample it myself. It’s completely logical to base travel plans around chocolate, right?

What’s your favorite thing about Ireland? Or what are you dying to see/do on the Emerald Isle?

Come tweet with me @StephSpitler

Featured Image by Jason Steele

  • Fiona Bruise Carton

    You can buy the Hot Chocolate to make at home

    It’s pretty epic

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Thanks, Fiona. I’m in trouble now! Lots of hot-chocolate-drinking in my future :-)

  • Rachel O’Hara

    Oh I love Trinity College! I was dead set on going there when I was 12. I still have a sweater from there. Other awesome things about Ireland include Galway in general and climbing Croagh Patrick. It’s an intense hike and some people actually do pilgrimages up the mountain barefoot!!! However, it is beautiful and such a cool thing to experience.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Rachel, thanks for the suggestions! I love to hike, so I’ll definitely have to check out Croagh Patrick on my next trip.

  • Michela Palese

    The best place has to be Galway. During the summer it’s beautiful and full of live music and entertainment. And the Galway Arts Festival in July!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I’ve only heard great things about Galway. It’s on my must-see list for my next trip!

      • Michela Palese

        Absolutely! And the Aran Islands are a must as well.

  • Virginia Procopio de Araujo

    Well, as a Brazilian living in Dublin for 6 months now and doing a Masters at Trinity College, I might be a little biased about Ireland. But it is a wonderful country, with lovely, kind people. And with killer sense of humor. The white hot chocolate of Butlers may be the most fantastic (and delicious) invention ever made! And the most gorgeous place a person can visit here is the Cliffs of Moher, on the west coast. It is breathtaking, but no, it is not the location of “Leap year”, that is in Aram Islands. The castles here are also a thing of beauty: in Malahide (20 minutes ride by DART – their trains), also in Kilkenny and Cashel. All easy to access from Dublin, either by train or bus. And for those who love the movie “Once”, you can go on the places they shoot. And lucky me, when I was in St. George`s Arcade I bumped into Glen Hansard!! So, yeah, Ireland is pretty magical! And the music scene is also mind blowing!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I went to Malahide Castle on my trip and I agree; it was beautiful! Enjoy your time in Ireland. I’m jealous! :-)

      • Virginia Procopio de Araujo

        Thanks, I am. :)

  • Tali Stein

    Giant’s Causeway is one of my favorite places on Earth. During my family’s Ireland trip we were staying in Dublin and we actually did the whole trek up to Northern Ireland because I HAD TO SEE IT. And it was worth it. AMAZING!

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I know, right?! It was awesome. We were deciding between the Giant’s Causeway or The Cliffs of Moher, and I’m so glad we picked the Causeway (especially because I heard that the sea level is rising and the Causeway might be underwater eventually!)

  • Lauren Nicole

    Did you go to the Long Room in Trinity Library? It’s amazing. And the Book of Kells? I die. I’m ready to go back immediately! Cliffs of Moher (aka the CLIFFS OF INSANITY!) and the Giant’s Causeway is amazing. Sprang my ankle playing on those rocks! Ahhh the good times.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Lauren, I did go to the Long Room in Trinity Library. The Book of Kells was gorgeous. The Cliffs of Moher is on my itinerary for next time. Also, it’s kind of amazing to me that more people don’t get hurt at the Giant’s Causeway; there was a lot of running and jumping going on!

  • Lauren Jean St. Martin

    I love the Howth cliff walk! And I also was a bit terrified of those signs saying the wind can blow you off. I personally loved Killarney and it’s National Park. Just so magical. When I went, there were deer grazing among the wild daffodils. If that’s not from a fairy tale, I don’t know what it is.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      I haven’t been to Killarney but I love visiting parks/hiking (especially when I’m traveling). It’s so nice to get out of the city! Wild daffodils and deer: sign me up!

  • Amanda Ryan O’Connor

    County Tipperary is probably Ireland’s best kept secret. There are well maintained castles everywhere, and a lot of ruins too. Cahir Castle is definitely worth a tour. Carigeen Castle is now a lovely B&B, and so reasonably priced. Tipperary is also fairly unusual landscape for Ireland – dense forests cover quite a bit of the county. Also, you can’t go wrong with Donegal. It has the most gorgeous beaches in the country, and you’re not far from the border, so you can visit Derry as well if you are craving the city.

    • Stephanie Spitler

      Thanks, Amanda! I’ve always wanted to stay in a castle/b&b. I was in a regular hotel in Dublin (definitely NOT romantic or scenic!).

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