Travel Diary: Ireland

Ireland Travel Diary

Happy Travel Thursday, you guys! In case you’re just tuning in to GWS — one, we’re happy to have you! and two, while ‘Green Wedding Shoes’ may be the name, we LOVE to share so much more: travel, food, entertaining, lifestyle…all sorts of good things. Well, today we’ve got one of our GWS Preferred Wedding Artists, the fabulous Mandee Johnson, here to share her epic adventure through Ireland!

Mandee, the photographer behind Mandee Johnson Photography, has shared a number of other guides with us, and we adore how detailed they are, including food, drinks, and amazing views… Interested to see where she’s been? Check out the Iceland Travel Guide here + the Tuscany + Cinque Terre, Italy guide here!

Without further ado, let’s take a tour through Ireland!

Dingle

Dingle is a sleepy port town on the northernmost peninsula in the County of Kerry and the westernmost point of Ireland. It’s a perfect spot for a trip out to the countryside while visiting Ireland.

Dingle is also known if it’s traditional Irish music. It can be heard almost every night pouring out of many pubs. It’s worth going in to sit for a spell and soak in the music, energy and culture. The beautiful music, a cold pint of Guinness and good company is all you need to enjoy an evening out in Dingle.

Murphy’s Ice Cream

There are a few things that you must do and eat while in Dingle. The very top of that list is Murphy’s Ice Cream. It’s amazing and hands down the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The owners use milk from Kerry Cattle, make their own sea salt from the Dingle sea, and distill Dingle rain for their sorbets. It’s magic. I would recommend eating it every day in Ireland. Don’t worry it’s also available in Dublin.

Dick Mack’s Brewhouse

At Dick Mack’s Brewhouse you’ll find a pub, a brewhouse and an open-air courtyard with seating, food trucks and sometimes entertainment. We recommend getting a made to order wood pizza from Beast and some drinks from the pub for an al fresco dinner or lunch.

Foxy Johns

Foxy Johns is a combined hardware store/bar and no, it’s not a speakeasy. Upon entering there’s a bar to your left and a hardware check out to your right with stools at both. Occasionally your bartender might be a bit slow if they’re ringing someone up for some duct tape or a pipe wrench but it’s worth the wait. The laid-back vibe in the bar will keep you there for hours with no complaints.

Coumeenole Beach

At the end of Slea Head Drive you’ll find Coumeenole Beach. It’s an iconic spot on the peninsula and a famous surfing break in Ireland. Wade out into the water, enjoy a picnic on the rocks or dive in with your board. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Be sure to swing by Bric’s Brew Pub for a quick bite and a pint on your way to/from Coumeenole Beach. With its old-school charm and tasty micro-brews, it’s a perfect spot.

Conor Pass

A twisty one lane road winds its way from Dingle to Brandon – cutting right through the heart of the Peninsula weaving around stunning lakes and sharp cliff faces. There’s a parking lot at the top where you can get out and hike up the fence line to a large Cairn. This is easily one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done – so pretty that I did it twice while in Dingle. Although, I would not recommend this for someone who is not comfortable with driving in Ireland or in bad weather.

Brandon

On the other side of the pass is a quaint village of Brandon with a wonderful dock-side bar of Murphy’s. Grab a pint and have a seat out on the picnic tables. Watch the kids swim in the water and the locals come back from fishing.

A Few Stops Along the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a circular route in County Kerry with a handful of tourist spots. They range from viewpoints, forts, castles, waterfalls, mills, cliffs and beaches. Even if you don’t have time or interest to stop at all the spots it’s a beautiful drive and worth a day or two of exploration. A few highlights…

Torc Waterfall

A short but sometime steep hike will bring you to the falls. It’s a peaceful area that is insanely green with often with a natural canopy overhead.

Kerry Cliffs

These are epic and worth the drive every time. In the distance, you can see the Skellig Michael Islands (famous from Star Wars). There are boat tours that take you around the islands and some of them are permitted to land and allow you on shore. These trips book up quickly so plan ahead.

A Good Pit Stop on Your Way To/From Dingle:

Kilcrea Friary

Stretching your legs on a long drive is always welcome in my book. Plus, you get to see more beautiful sites. The Kilcrea Friary is a perfect spot to check out on your way to Dingle. Open to the public you can wander around the old Abbey. The beautiful tree lined overgrown grass walkway to the entrance made me want to host a dinner party there with string lights and long tables.

There is a Kilcrea Castle across the road – a small path will lead your way through the field. You’ll have to hop a fence but it’s totally legal. Be careful, on the other side of the fence are often male cows that may or may not want you around. The day we stopped by the cows were not interested in our explorations

Dublin

Dublin is a great city. It’s easy to navigate and small enough to wrap your hands around in a few days. It’s also filled with lovely people, great food and wonderful pubs who all know how to pour a proper pint of Guinness. Don’t forget to sample your fair share of Irish Whiskey and Gin. Ha’penny Pot Still Gin and Yellow Spot 12-Year-Old Whiskey are my personal favorites.

Sheridans Cheesemongers / Ivagh Gardens / Trinity College

This delicious cheesemonger in the heart of Dublin just steps away from two beautiful parks. Pick up some cheese and a fresh banquette on your way to sun with the local in Ivah Gardens. After you’ve had your fill of sun and cheese stroll through the beautiful grounds at Trinity College. Tip: bring your own wine and knife for the bread.

Klaw

After shopping and exploring Dublin head over to Klaw for their amazing happy hour. It’s a perfect spot for a cold glass of wine, oysters and smoked salmon.

Marsh’s Library

The smell of old leather and paper wraps around you as you walk through this small and stunning library. Adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, tucked away from all the tourists is the entrance to Marsh’s Library. The first public library in Ireland, Marsh’s Library boasts a historic collection of 25,000 books from 16th, 17th, and 18th-century in addition to many manuscripts and around 80 books from before 1500.

Tip: Be sure to ask to see where the bullets hit the books during the World War 1, you can still see the bullet holes.

Swan Bar + Delahunt

A great one-two-combo for an evening out in Dublin includes drinks at The Swan Bar and dinner at Delahunt. The Swan Bar is an authentic Victorian pub with humble beginnings from a Medieval Inn. The pubs been in operation since 1661 and is in perfect condition. Just a short walk down the street is the stunning contemporary Irish restaurant, Delahunt. With an extraordinary cocktail + wine list and impeccable food plan to sit back and relax into your meal.

John Kavanagh Gravediggers Pub

I was in Ireland at the cheesemongers when I heard Anthony Bourdain passed away. I thought what better activity to be doing when you hear that someone you admire, who encouraged you to travel, opened your world is no longer with us. Later in the trip we took our friends to Gravediggers, to the old part of the bar for our last Guinness before our flight. It wasn’t until we sat down that I realized we’d heard of this bar from one of Bourdain’s many shows. He was quoted as saying, “Heaven looks like this” and I couldn’t agree more.

The Glasnevin Cemetery and National Botanic Gardens are steps away from John Kavanagh. They are stunning and well worth a long stroll through after a toast or two to Anthony.

 

Final thoughts… I love Guinness. I really do. I drank at least 3 pints a day while in Ireland. It’s perfect in Ireland in every pub. There is no reason to go to the Guinness Storehouse. It’s crowded, loud, and ultimately the most expensive beer you’ll buy in Ireland (you get a free pint at the top). The view from the top is nice but you’re also squeezed into the bar with 100 other people pressing against the window. Take the day trip to Kilkenny and climb the 9th Century Round Tower. It’s got a better view with way less people.

Day Trips from Dublin

Kilkenny

Kilkenny is a short drive from Dublin and perfect for a day trip either by car or train. It’s a great trip for just the two of you or for the whole family. Make sure to check out the castle with the sweeping lawns it’s the perfect place to eat your fresh fish and chips.

Take a walk along with Rive Nore before heading into town to see St Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower. It’s the 2nd largest cathedral in Ireland dating back to the 13th century with a 100 foot 9th century tower. The tower is a bit of a climb but the view from the top is stunning. After you’ve completed the climb head to the Elvis Presley KK Fan House. It’s fun to climb a tower from the 9th century and then check out this fan house in the span of an hour.

Jerpoint Park

Just down outside Kilkenny and down the way for Jerpoint Abbey is Jerpoint Park. It’s also a historic site filled with interesting history that your guide and owner will share with you. The best part of stopping here is for a small fee he’ll show you how his sheep dog herds the sheep up close and personal.

Trim Castle

A bit of Hollywood and Scotland in Ireland. Trim Castle is located just outside of Dublin. It’s where Braveheart was filmed… that’s right the Scottish movie used and Irish castle. If castles are your thing this is a pretty good one and worth the day trip. If you’re a speedy traveler you could combine it with Kilkenny.

Fan Fact: Trim also boosts Ireland’s oldest in use bridge.

So, is Ireland on your list? Are you adding it now, or have you already been? If you’ve already been, we’d love to hear your thoughts + recommendations below! Happy traveling, friends. :)

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