I have traveled to Ireland several times, always off-season (no lines!). The weather was very similar to the Pacific Northwest (rainy), but when it cleared, it was fabulous. Two of my favorite spots are Dublin and Galway, which are marvelous cities to explore and easy to navigate.
Dublin has many sights to intrigue the traveler. Both the Book of Kells and St. Stephen’s Green left lasting impressions with me.Visit Trinity College to see the gorgeous Book of Kells. It may be crowded, but seeing the manuscript is awe inspiring and definitely a must see. St Stephen’s Green is a beautiful place to stroll, perhaps read or people watch. Check out The Irish Whiskey Museum, The Guinness Storehouse, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, the National Botanic Gardens and The Abbey Theatre.
If not renting a car (I didn’t), you can take one day tours to many parts of Ireland or do as I did, and take the train to another area. I took the train to Galway, in the western part of Ireland. As the miles went by, I marveled at the numerous shades of green. Galway, a harbor city on the Atlantic, is a beautiful place to walk about. It has many pubs, fabulous Irish seafood and the people are grand.
One day I flew to Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands. The very small plane departed Galway Airport in the rain (well, drizzle) and from my first glimpse of the island, I knew it was enchanted. I was only there for a few hours but loved the beauty and solitude and the people. I also enjoyed the hearty soup and Irish bread that I had at a B&B that served lunch. It is on my list of places to revisit.
Ireland has several Castle banquet evenings. I went to two and enjoyed both, though each was quite different. My favorite was in the Galway area at Dungaire Castle, located on the water. The banquet food was delicious, there was harp music and readings from the works of William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey and John Millington Synge. It was an unforgettable mystical evening of beautiful music and poetry.
The other banquet I attended was at Bunratty Castle, which is close to Shannon Airport (western Ireland). It took place in the Great Hall; the meal and entertainment were very good and it was great fun. Many people (myself included) go to the banquet prior to flying to the states the next day. After the banquet, many of us went back to the Bunratty Castle Hotel, where we recounted our travel adventures with much laughter. A fitting end to an Irish journey is indulging in an Irish Mist or Irish Coffee with fellow travelers.
Memories of my visits to Ireland are highlighted by the very warm, generous people, the great food and drink and the spectacular scenery. There are magical places, especially in western Ireland, where, if you close your eyes, you can imagine ancient Celts or Druids and feel their presence. And don’t forget the leprechauns. Who knows, you may meet one or two as you journey about this magical isle.
Travel well and often.