If you know me, you know I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I have been to Ireland a handful of times now, and each time I say “okay, this is the last time for awhile, I need to explore other places.” But, I keep going back. Maybe it’s the beautiful countryside, maybe it’s the friendly locals, it could definitely be the peat fires, or the cozy bars playing traditional Irish music, it could even be the brown bread (which I never liked until this most recent trip!). I think though, it’s how I feel when I’m there. I’m not sure if my body knows that it’s where my roots stemmed, but it certainly knows I’m home when I’m there.
Evan and I went back, for our second trip together this past June. I am ashamed that I am just getting to write about it now, but I have been so busy and honestly, overwhelmed, since we returned, which I’ll get to later.
We flew into Dublin, rented a car, and drove around the beautiful country for six days. Flying from Boston, you arrive at 8am their time, and I don’t sleep on planes. That first day is always difficult but you have to push on through or else you won’t get on their time.
We arrived in Dublin, and went straight to brunch at The Bakehouse in Dublin, which was recommended to me by my best, Rachel. It was delicious. We had a longgg day ahead of us, so from there we got in our rental car (which Evan drove the whole week, God Bless him), and headed three hours across the country to Galway. Looking back, this was unsafe. It was literally difficult to keep my eyes open during this drive, I don’t know how Evan did it.
Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel, The House Hotel, which was lovely and extremely central. We went to dinner that night to arguably the best fish and chips restaurant in the country, McDonagh’s. We both got fish and chips, obviously, and Galway Hookers (it’s a beer, thank you very much). From there, we went to Tig Choili for a pint of Guinness and a traditional music session.
The next morning, we woke up refreshed. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Evan and I got up, and headed down the street to the cutest cafe, Coffeewerk+Press. I loved their “take-away” cups. (Side note: I always feel like we wake up too early in Europe. We’re always the first ones out on the street, at 9am! That’s not even early and makes me feel extremely American.)
We decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and go somewhere neither of us had been. We took a one-hour ferry over to Aran Island. It is a beautiful, small island right off of Galway. We rented bicycles to get around the island, and stopped at the beach and saw a dozen seals right on the beach! The bike ride was truly breathtaking.
We had heard that there were cliffs on the islands, similar to the Cliffs of Moher, but rockier. We headed toward the cliffs. It was quite a hike up the cliff, but when you got to the top, it was so worth it. Evan and I found a secluded area, and took a picture together with the ocean and the cliffs in the background. When I turned back around, Evan was down on one knee.
This was the moment. It was our moment. And I, of course, said yes. Forever yes.
We took the ferry back to Galway in the afternoon, and made a few phones calls to loved ones. We went out for a celebratory dinner that night. Irish food wasn’t in my mind for celebrating our engagement. I needed champagne and I needed it fast. We walked down the streets of Galway, and stumbled across a French restaurant called Rouge, which looked promising. It was delicious, and perfect! Afterwards, we went to Taaffes for a pint, after all, we were still in Ireland.
We stayed at The International Hotel, which is the same place we had stayed before and I really like it there! It is also very centrally located. I had scheduled us a couples massage at Muckross Spa, and it was amazing. We got there early to use the vitality room, pool, and lounge area they have, then we got a couples massage and facials. We then got to relax with champagne and chocolates. It was lovely, and just what we needed after all of the traveling we had been doing. An afternoon of relaxation that I would absolutely recommend.
Afterwards, we freshened up and went out to dinner at Cronins. I was in my element at Cronins and had the most delicious brown bread, the best shepherd’s pie (ever), and a Bulmers Irish cider.
Day four, we woke up and drove an hour to Dingle. Dingle is one of my favorite places in the world, it is just that beautiful. The drive to Dingle is amazing with the rolling green hills. In Dingle, we took a boat out and saw Fungi, the Dingle dolphin. It was my first time ever going out to see him, and we saw him a lot! He was everywhere! Afterwards, we went to lunch and walked around the town. We also got ice cream at Murphys Ice Cream, which is handmade in Dingle. I got Dingle sea salt. It started pouring out, so we headed back to Killarney for dinner.
This was our last day in Killarney, and we did the Killarney Falconry. It was SO cool. We got to walk around with a hunting falcon, and hang out with three of the coolest owls. I love owls and this was really just an amazing activity that I would do ten times over again.
Afterwards, we drove almost four hours back to our original, and final, destination: Dublin. We checked into our hotel, Clontarf Castle Hotel, which was incredible. It is just about 20 minutes outside of Dublin city centre, but so. worth. it. It’s an actual castle, and they treat you like royalty. Next time I am back in Dublin, I will be staying here again.
That night, we met my family at Arlington Hotel for dinner and a show of traditional Irish music and dance. It was so great to see them and have Evan meet some of my family who still lives over in Ireland.
This was it, our last day. The next morning we would head to the airport and go back home to start our new lives together.
Our last day in Ireland, we spent exploring Dublin. We walked through Trinity College, Temple Bar, St. Stevens Green, and Grafton Street. We stopped to get cheeseburgers at Bunsen Burger, mmmm. Then, we walked over to the Guinness Factory, which neither of us had ever been to before. It was great, we went through the whole tour, and got to pour our own Guinness’s. It really is worth it.
This past trip to Ireland was a dream, and I brought home the best souvenir, a fiancé. I swear, this will be our last trip to Ireland for a while … maybe …