Here it is.. my first TRAVEL Blog!
Traveling has always been something I've loved and I've been fortunate to be able to visit quite a few states, but this was my first International trip. Well, I've been to Canada but that was before passports were needed and I drove so this feels different. I think I'm aging myself here, lol.
I've been dreaming of Ireland since I can remember. I've always been fascinated with everything about it from such a young age and I honestly couldn't tell you why. Maybe it's just in my bones. I have a yearning for it, I found the words Hiraeth and Fernwey and they best explain the feeling I have. A type of homesickness for somewhere you've never been. And that's exactly how it feels. Ireland feels like the home I'd never been to. Where my soul is from. I was always told we had some Irish in our blood, but after doing an Ancestry DNA kit last year I became even more interested finding out just how much. Between the Ireland and UK they make up 96% of my DNA whoa. So it completely makes sense now why the Emerald Isle would feel like home to me.
Even with those feelings, for some reason I never really looked into traveling to Ireland, I guess I imagined it was totally unreachable/out of budget. Life was happening and for the last crazy decade Jason and I we were getting married, starting a family, building a business etc etc.. Traveling is definitely a luxury and one we could rarely afford.
One day I got an email from Groupon Getaways (which I did not use ironically), but because of that e-mail it opened my eyes to the possibility and a realization that Ireland was totally reachable. I dove into research and the dreaming became a hardcore hobby of mine. Ireland was on my mind constantly and I totally drove people crazy talking about it (probably).
I loved making fake itineraries and drooling over every Instagram account I could. I followed so many Irish photographers and businesses that they started following me back, lol. I must've popped up in the suggested people to follow for that reason.
Things started to fall into place one day when I looked up tour dates for one of my favorite bands, The Lumineers. I had recently visited with my brother Jake who is a super fan of theirs. He had never seen them in concert and after working so hard this year and pouring his life savings into starting his business ( a super cool cigar shop in Laconia called Etiquette Cigars - go check it out!) I knew he could use a little break. They had a couple of dates - one being Dublin. The light went on -- two bucket list items in one trip! So I called Jake up and asked if he could take a long weekend, he said yes! So the real planning began.
I knew it would be a short trip, almost as if to get my feet wet, knowing I'd want a bigger trip and more time to visit, especially with my husband. He's not always the biggest fan of traveling, but promised he'll come with me next time :)
My brother was such a great travel buddy. He once backpacked through Norway for a month with no itinerary.. Crazy? maybe.. Brave? definitely. He was the perfect person to bring along.
Traveling to Ireland at the end of November was perfect! It's their "off season" so there were not that many people. It was cold, but being New England kids we were totally used to it. We really lucked out with beautiful weather. It only really rained on the first day, just long enough to show us a magnificent Irish rainbow!
We traveled with Aer Lingus. Absolutely recommend. Service was great, smooth flight. Meals and soft drinks included as well as in flight entertainment. We both watched a couple movies each..and I'm currently on the high scoreboard for Tetris in Flight LOL.
We rented a car ( my first time ever renting a vehicle!) right from the Dublin airport. We used Budget - highly suggest! They were reasonably priced, friendly and helpful! The car was great. Looked brand new and clean. It was fun to zip around once I got used to the whole left side thing. It wasn't as much of an adjustment as most people made it sound. Maybe it came more naturally to me because I'm left handed. Jake and I were both very impressed with how well the highways were labeled with signs and painted lanes. It was super easy to navigate. The only issue we found was in the city.. people do not use crosswalks and literally jump right into the road without looking- so be careful!
Day one was spent in Dublin City. We got in SO much. Mostly because we arrived at 5am and couldn't check into our airbnb until 3pm lol. In retrospect it may have been a better plan to check into a hotel that would accomodate us at any hour. But hey, it's a story to tell. We slept on the streets of Dublin, lol. We ended up parking on a side street and took a little nap in the car. We walked about 8 miles that day all around the city. Being used to Boston and NYC ourselves, traffic felt like nothing and the city felt small. We quickly recognized landmarks and found our way around without maps. We stopped by famous sites like The Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Trinity College, The Ha'Penny bridge etc and Jake found every cigar shop in town.
That evening we went to 3Arena which was a great venue, bigger than I expected and right near the water with pretty views. The Lumineers were perfect. They sang all of our favorite songs and it was a really good time. We chatted with the folks around us while waiting for the show to start and it was so cool to find that no one around us was actually from Ireland. We met folks from the states, Canada, Sweden, Argentina, England, and Italy! Music really is a great equalizer and brings so many people together. A great band like the Lumineers can do that! Bucket list item one -CHECK.
The next day we drove across the country to the west coast. It took roughly 3-3.5 hours. Easy drive, basically straight the entire way. Again, everything was labeled really well.
We stayed in a beach house "cottage" on the Clahane Shore in County Clare. Absolutely stunning. I could live there. It was such a beautiful home with an ocean view literally on our doorstep. I found this property on airbnb also. I really, really suggest trying out airbnb. (I'll link my referral code at the bottom) We found beautiful places to stay for a fraction of what a hotel would cost. I would 10000% stay here again. The country side in Co Clare was just beautiful. I chuckled to myself a few times over just how excited I was to see Sheep. I'm from a pretty rural spot in NH and grew up with horses literally at the end of my road. But for some reason seeing them in Ireland was just so exciting. I'd shout "sheep! cows! horses! sheep!" every time we passed them and many times I pulled over to say hello to them haha.
We went to visit my personal #1 bucket list item - the Cliffs of Moher. It was about €17 for the two of us to park. It included access to the visitors center but we arrived late in the day so we didn't go in. It was the perfect time of day. The tour busses had gone and only a handful of other visitors were there. The cliffs were everything I hoped for. Such a breath taking view. We hiked up the coast to take it in from all angles. We were very careful, but ventured passed the warning signs, the cliffs can be very dangerous. We met an adorable couple from Ukraine and I got their email address to send them a picture I took of them. It was a great visit to the cliffs and I would most definitely go there again and again. Basically if you do nothing else - do the cliffs. It's worth it. That night we had dinner at a local pub with traditional irish food and a pint of Guinness.. When in Rome. Neither of us are drinkers, so we took a few sips and called it a night. The water was great HAH!
We had no plans on the itinerary for our last day. We ended up walking our little neighborhood at Clahane Shore before having to check out of the airbnb. We drove a bit north to check out the little fishing village of Doolin. It was adorable and I loved the little sweater shop there. We went down to the Doolin pier to watch the surfers on the wild atlantic way. The waves were awesome. I took a moment to look out at the ocean knowing I was looking back towards home. Since I was little I looked out at the ocean knowing Ireland was just on the other side of the "pond". It was nice to finally be standing on the other side. There was also a great view of the cliffs from the pier which I enjoyed.
After that we were on the road to Galway! We had ourselves a fun road trip and had a nerdy moment rocking out to Ed Sheeran's "Castle on the Hill" and "Galway Girl" ;) Gotta get that content for the 'gram right? lol
We both really enjoyed Eyre square and the Claddagh area of Galway. There was a beautiful sunset that evening as well and we enjoyed strolling around the shops.
We drove back to Dublin that night only taking about 2 hours from Galway and caught a flight the next morning!
Definitely give yourself plenty of time to get through security and customs. I was one of the lucky ones to be picked for random selection so it took a really long time to get through the line.
It was a short trip but well worth it. There's SO Much more to explore, I can't wait to visit again!
If you have any questions or need help planning your own trip to Ireland I'd love to help! And I'm 1000% down to shoot an adventure elopement or destination wedding there. So please, please reach out if that's something you want to do. I'm down for another Irish adventure!!
Here are some favorite images from the trip
The places we stayed: