The Ultimate Trip to Southern Ireland
With Irish roots, it is nice to go visit the country that provided the DNA for my red-headed children. From Dublin to Killarney, I've detailed a few of my favorite spots from my trip to southern Ireland.
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Where to stay
Hotel Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin
The Westbury Dublin
Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa
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Things to do
Things to do in Dublin
Aran Sweater Mart: Short of taking a boat to the actual Aran Island, you can find Aran Sweater "outlets" in most cities in Ireland — home of the classic Irish knit sweater. Pro tip: Irish wool is nice, but find something with the Merino wool if you prefer something softer against your skin.
St. Stephen's Green: A beautiful oasis in the middle of the city with gardens with water features and sculptures all around — take some time to just stroll and relax.
Dublin Castle: There are castles all over this beautiful country, but this one is right in the middle of the city. Amazing to step away from the Sephora and H&M and go back in time to a real piece of history.
George's Street Arcade: This whole "south side" of Dublin is nice to just wander and get lost in the shopping and people watching. George's Street Arcade is a cute little nook full of small shops, local artists, clothes souvenirs and coffee shops — a perfect central point for your walking tour of Dublin.
Jameson Distillery Bow St.: There are a few distilleries around Ireland, each one with their own "only sold here" selections. You can even get a bottle with a custom label personalized for you or for the perfect gift to bring back home at the end of your trip.
Things to do in Cork, Ireland
Blarney Castle & Gardens: Yes, this is the place to "kiss the Blarney Stone," but plan to spend the day here. Once you pay for the entrance, you want to get your money's worth and really enjoy the beautiful grounds and take it all in.
Blarney Woollen Mills: If you could only pick one store to get your Irish souvenirs, this would be your place. It is like the Costco of Irish gifts. Everything you would want to buy, from whiskey, to clothing, to art — this is the place you want to load up your suitcases.
Things to do around Ring of Kerry and Killarney
Dingle: The "westernmost" town in all of Europe: cute little fishing town full of boutiques and shops.
Connor Pass/Peddler's Lake: There is a bumper sticker, "I survived Connor Pass" letting you know the "lore" about how treacherous this drive is, but go slow and it is fine. Make sure to stop just north of the high-point and make the 10-minute climb up to the lake — this is one of those spots that you just can't believe still exists in the world. Get out of your car, hike up and take it in. You will thank me later.
Ring of Kerry: Strap in to your vehicle and be prepared to drive around a beautiful coastline with mountains to one side, cliffs to the other and the most incredible views. This is a must on your trip to southern Ireland. Pro-tip: drive the loop "clockwise" to avoid getting stuck behind a tourbus as they are constrained to only drive counter-clockwise.
Wishing Bridge: A shortcut across the Ring of Kerry, but a wonderful road with views/sights such as you have never seen in your life. Take your time, pull over and get your Instagram shot.
A note from Dru
You really want to rent a car and drive around the area of Ring of Kerry/Killarney so you can meander around and see it all.
Places to eat & drink
Where to eat and drink in Dublin
The Black Forge Inn: If UFC is your thing, you have to visit Conor McGregor's establishment, just to check it off your bucket list.
Old Mill Restaurant: We tried so many places in Dublin and this was the one that we came back to — it is all touristy here, but this place seemed to have the best food/value. Try the Traditional Irish Stew and the Seafood Chowder. I would fly back tonight for a bowl of either one.
The Temple Bar Pub: Yes, the literal center of touristy places to see in Dublin, but, hey, you are a tourist. Elbow your way in, grab a Guinness, and smile at everyone else here having just as much fun as you are.
The Sugar Club: This is a hidden gem — a local "speakeasy" with live music/entertainment. Check their calendar and plan to spend a great evening in one of the coolest, local venues in town — full of locals, so you know it is good.
The Brazen Head: Serving classic Irish fare and featuring several Irish bands, both modern and traditional. Check the calendar and be prepared to enjoy a real "Irish" evening of food and entertainment.
The Black Door: Downstairs, feels like you are in a secret locals-only spot — lots of fun, great music.
O'Donoghue's Bar: Yes, it is a "bar", where you can find a drink. In fact, you can find a Guinness or a Jameson at literally every door you walk into. But this is the place to find actual Irish folk-music. Make your way all the way through this packed bar to the "local side" and you will find a rogue's gallery of local musicians who love to play the real stuff.
Cafe Sol Harcourt Street: These coffee shops are all over town. In the morning when you want a coffee and a scone, this place can't be beat.
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