Three weeks ago I went on one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. My husband and I traveled to Ireland for 9 days with my sister and brother-in-law. I was beyond excited to explore the country and to spend time with my sister and her husband.
I completely fell in love with Ireland on this trip, and it was really hard to pick just 7 highlights so each one is long.
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Our first rental car was hilariously small for four adults and three full-size suitcases. In the back seat, my sister and I were squished together so tightly our hip bones were touching.
Once we realized this was never going to work, we upgraded to a larger vehicle. I call it the bigger tiny car. It was very compact, but the perfect size for all of our luggage and gave us plenty of room in the back seat. This was critical because we spent a lot of time in the car driving from one town to the next.
We traveled from Dublin to Doolin, Doolin to Dingle, Dingle to Wexford, and then Wexford back to Dublin. Each of us took turns driving one leg of the trip. It was an experience driving on the left side of those tiny roads!
We had several maps, and even stopped and looked at some additional maps in information centers and gas stations. None of them had the minor roads labeled, so it would look like we were supposed to take the next left, and yet there were actually four roads before the left turn we needed to take.
Add that to the lack of addresses (yes, there were no addresses for any of the places we were staying except in Dublin) and the cryptic directions we would receive when we stopped to ask the locals (“Just up the road over the bridge”) and you can imagine how many times we got lost.
Here are some pictures I took at an old cemetery, one of the places we stopped when we were very, very lost. We were looking for a historical site and wound up there instead.
Also, much like other places we’ve visited in Europe, parking on the sidewalk is a-ok.
Driving was definitely an adventure.
The first historical site we made it to was the Gallarus Oratory. It is an early Christian church built sometime between the 6th and 9th century, made exclusively of sandstone.
Seeing this structure, knowing it was built without the benefit of heavy machinery and tools, made me appreciate the intelligence and ingenuity of our ancestors.
We joked amongst ourselves that something like this would be roped off to view from a distance in the United States. We were allowed to explore, go inside, and even touch this structure unsupervised, which made it seem a lot less like a tourist attraction and more like a piece of history we were immersed in.
Dunbeg Fort was a little more touristy, meaning some parts were fenced in and off limits, but the view was incredible.
We stumbled across this beach as we were driving from one destination to the next, and I’m so glad we stopped. We had a blast exploring it.
We visited two more churches while we were in Ireland. The first one, and probably my favorite of the two, is St. Mary’s in Dingle. We went to Mass there on Sunday and it was beautiful. It felt very homey with lots of history.
It was dimly lit, so my phone didn’t capture great pictures inside.
The second day we were in Dublin, we toured St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was very ornate and there was more to see than we could possibly take in during one visit.
One thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the gift shop. They had a gift shop set up in the entryway of the church, and it was so touristy. I was hoping to get holy water or Saint Patrick medals for some family and friends back home, but they didn’t have any. They did, however, have a surplus of shamrock coffee mugs. 😉
Hike to Cliffs of Moher.
One of the best parts of the trip was the 2 hour hike from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher.
We went back and forth about staying at this B&B before we left because the location was kind of out of the way, but I’m so happy we took the detour to visit Wexford. Not only did we have the best meal we had in Ireland at The Yard, but we got to stay at the charming Rathaspeck Manor.
Of all the hotels and B&B’s I’ve visited, this was by far my favorite. Think Downton Abbey meets a castle.
My favorite part of our vacation was the quality time I got to spend with my husband, sister, and brother-in-law.
We were trying to remember the last time we spent 9 days together, and I think it was when she was a sophomore and I was a senior in high school. I won’t share how long ago that was. Let’s just say we were long overdue. 😉
So thankful we got to go on such an amazing trip with family!
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