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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Must-See Ireland Locations (Part 2)

Last week we had an Ireland destination date night and celebrated St. Patrick's Day while also exploring some cool places in Dublin. Then we made a happy hour spread for the actual 17th and watched an Irish band via a live stream while we ate, so it felt like we were in a really comfy bar. 

It may be a while before we are allowed back into the UK and  things to reopen, this gives us all time to plan and also save for this amazing trip.
Photo credit to my wonderful cousin, Cassidy

If you missed part 1 of this post, go check it out first. You can work on planning a great Irish road trip between these two posts. 


The most well-known city in Ireland, Dublin is home to a lot of tourist sites and easily the most popular destination. One thing that I feel is iconic is the O'Connell Bridge over the River Liffey. It's not that long or that remarkable, but it is over 200 years old and wider than it is long. It's a great nighttime photo opp. Here are some of the other things.

  • Trinity College & Book of Kells - Built in the late 1500s, Trinity College is best known for its amazing, gorgeous library, the Book of Kells. It only costs a euro more to take the entire tour than to visit just the library, so you might as well get the whole experience and really see the beautiful campus through the eyes of those who love it. 
  • Temple Bar - This is Ireland's landmark pub. Though small, it has been expanded. The bright red facade is easily identifiable, and if you stand on the corner you can wave to Earth Cam, where people around the world watching the live feed can see you. I always love when I see people do that. 
  • Guinness Storehouse - While you can take an online tour for free, you can't recreate a visit to this interactive museum where you learn about the making of Guinness and all that's involved. Get a free pint with your tour and don't forget to check out all the cool branded merch.
  • Old Jameson Distillery - If you love whiskey, then this is probably already on your must-do list. If you don't, there's still something here for you. See how whiskey is made in Ireland, including the original distillery that still sits in front of the new, shiny, modern factory.
  • National Museum - Learn more about the people of this great land through Celtic artifacts in permanent and revolving exhibits. 
  • Kilmainham Jail/Gaol Museum - If you don't know much about the history of Ireland, this tour is exactly the place to start. Housed inside a 19th century prison, known for its harsh treatment of prisoners, has a free museum, or a paid guided tour.

Ann Schreck on Unsplash


Galway is a gorgeous seaside village that sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. Like many other cities on the water, Galway emerged as a trading port and was populated by merchant families. Now it's a quaint village of 80,000 people that hosts a bevy of festivals throughout the year.

  • Galway Crystal - Established in 1967, Galway Crystal is one of the most well-known crystal factories in the world. Every piece is very well made and unique. They make great gifts for friends and family.
  • Kylemore Abbey - Built in the late 1800s, inspired by love, this estate was said to boast "all the innovations of the modern age". The Benedictine community have lived and run the abbey since 1920. 
  • Athenry Castle - Located on the banks of the River Clarin, this castle doesn't look like much, but is more interesting inside and has a very cool history. Parts of the original outer enclosure wall still survive for you to view. 

Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash


Best known for its natural beauty, County Kerry is home to Killarney National Park and the Lakes of Killarney. It's the perfect destination for those that like hiking and doing other outdoor activities.

  • Ring of Kerry - This 111-mile circular tourist route has a ton of tings to see and phenomenal views of the sea. The road is narrow enough that buses can't travel side-by-side along it, so all tour buses must travel anti-clockwise. Those traveling by car are suggested to start halfway along the route in order to miss the buses, or travel in a clockwise direction instead.
  • Muckross House and Gardens - This British-designed Tudor-style mansion was built in 1843. After several sales, it was then presented to the Irish Nation in 1932, and the house and gardens became the very beginning of Killarney National Park.
  • Dingle - This little fishing town sits on the Atlantic Coast. After the war, the town bounced back with a thriving linen industry. Unfortunately, linen was pushed out by cotton and the town fell victim to the cholera plague, but was saved by its fishermen. The fishing industry grew even larger with the arrival of the railroad, allowing seafood to be transported further away.

Ingo Doerrie on Unsplash


Kilkenny and Waterford are an extension of Kerry. It's a medieval town, settled by the Normans.

  • Smithwick's Brewery - Ireland is synonymous with beer/ale. Smithwick's has been an institution since 1710 and tours are conducted by knowledgeable locals who want everyone to know what sets their ale apart from all others.
  • Kilkenny Castle - Built in 1195 to keep people from fording the River Nore and crossing into Norman territory. In the 60s, the castle was "sold" to the people of Kilkenny for just £50. Awards and graduation ceremonies are now conducted on the lawn and the Parade tower is used as a conference venue. 
  • House of Waterford Crystal - Known as one of the best crystals in the world, Waterford dates back to 1783. Though the original factory closed and a revival was attempted several times, it wasn't until 1947 that one succeeded. Throughout its rocky history, it continued to produce high quality bowls, glasses and more. Now you can take home a part of that history.
  • Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum - This is actually three museums within walking distance and tell the 1100 year history of Waterford, including its inception by Vikings in the early 900s.

Lucas Miguel on Unsplash


Just a stone's throw from Dublin, Meath is known for its archeological sites and completes your tour of Ireland.  

  • Newgrange - This Irish passage tomb is a large mound that is surrounded by 97 stones. It covers just one tomb with highly decorated passageways.
  • Boyne Valley - Lush and green, this is a fantastic place to view the countryside and also much of the history Ireland has to offer. There's much to see and do within the valley. 
  • Hill of Tara - This beautiful site is the gem of the valley, used for burials and assemblies. Irish mythology places Tara as the home of the High King of Ireland. 
  • Trim Castle - The largest, best-preserved & most impressive Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, Trim was built in 1172. It has changed a bit with each in habitant, but much of the original Anglo-Saxon feel remains.
Now that you've taken a virtual road trip around Ireland, it's time to plan for you own in the future. It may be a while before we are allowed back into the UK and Northern Ireland and things to reopen there, this gives us all time to plan and also save for this amazing trip. 

Have you ever been to Ireland? If so, what was your favorite part?

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