In June 2016, my parents surprised my sisters and I with a week-long family trip to the beautiful country of Ireland. It was unlike any other traveling experience I have ever had…every twist and turn on our CIE Tour coach bus left me awestruck by the lush landscape and inspired by the country’s mystifying history.
My parents are no strangers to the motherland, as they spent their honeymoon driving through the countryside. However, this was a life changing experience for my sisters and I. Finally, we were able to connect with our roots and immerse ourselves into our Irish heritage.
So, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day and I’m already reminiscing about my time in Ireland, I thought I’d share the brief itinerary as well as photos from our travels. Boy, what I would give to be in Ireland during St. Paddy’s Day!
Day One – County Dublin
After flying into the Dublin Airport the night before, we started Day One bright and early with our tour guide, Murt, and continued with a bus tour of the city of Dublin. We were also given a personal walking tour of Trinity College, had a chance to view the Book of Kells (sans flash photography), and witnessed the monstrosity of Trinity College’s library!
Day Two – County Wicklow, County Wexford, County Waterford
We travel to Glendalough and took a walking tour of St. Kevin’s Glendalough monastery. The views of the mountains and celtic crosses looked like they were out of a storybook! Next stop was the Dunbrody Famine Ship, a life-size 19th century ship used as an example for what traveling conditions were like for the Irish emigrants who sought a new life in North America. We ended the day in Waterford.
Day Three – County Waterford, County Cork, County Kerry
The morning of Day Three was spent visiting the House of the Waterford Crystal and having a tour of the glass blowing process. Afterward, we traveled to Dungarvan then to Cobh, which was the last port of call of the Titanic. Lastly, we travelled to the Blarney Castle and had a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone. Sure, kissing the stone may seem unsanitary, and climbing the narrow, spiral staircases could be a chore…but legend has it that whoever kisses the stone is given the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness! You can learn more about the Blarney Stone here. We ended our day by venturing to Killarney, which was actually our tour guides hometown! Killarney is the most picturesque town, and is home to the Killarney National Park. Luckily, we were staying in town for two nights.
Day Four – County Kerry
Next was the Ring of Kerry, which is found in between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains and the beautiful Atlantic coast. Then, we learned about the lives of early Christian hermits who lived on rocky island, Skellig Michael, at the Skellig Experience. I was blown away that actual people lived on such a steep landscape…but they made it work!
Day Five – County Clare
Day Five was spent saying goodbye to Killarney and hello to the next adventure! We crossed the River Shannon Estuary and continued into County Clare until we were at the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. The sheer beauty is indescribable. The Cliffs had a stone path for guests and tourists to take pictures to their hearts content. There was also a man-made path for those who have no fear.
Day Six – County Silgo, County Derry
Day six took us to County Silgo where we met a sheepdog trainer. The doggies were so cute, and the sheep were even better! We then traveled up the Blue Stack Mountains to County Derry, were we took a guided walking tour of the city and learned about it’s turbulent past.
Day Seven – Northern Ireland, County Louth
Day seven was spent exploring the enormous structures of Giant’s Causeway, which were formed by volcanic activity. Then, we drove to Belfast and had the freedom to explore the Titanic Belfast museum and witness restored artifacts from the cruise-liner’s fateful night. We ended the day with a traditional Irish meal and entertainment at the Glyde Inn, then reluctantly made our way back to Dublin for our last night.
Day Eight – County Dublin
This was our last day and it was THE WORST. I’d say one of the saddest parts about leaving was saying goodbye to the friendships and bonds formed with the people in our tour group. There is something to be said about sharing experiences with strangers, such as: not having a usable coach bus toilet, having a group member(s) sleep in just minutes before coach departure time, and of course experiencing local pubs together. Murt did say that we were probably one of his most well-behaved group of tourists he’s had the pleasure of meeting, which made it all the more bittersweet.
If you’re enough lucky to be Irish…you’re lucky enough!