Discovering Ireland: The South Side

“I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it” -Unknown

I got a week off of classes this semester for Fall Break and was lucky enough to have my mom and brother come for a visit! We spent 6 days meeting the southern-part of Ireland. We rented a car (which was terrifying) but there are plenty of bus tours that basically do the same trip that we did. If you’re going to rent a car and hit the open road, just be aware that you’re going to be driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road. It’s not easy. We may or may not have hit a few unfortunate curbs.

We flew into Shannon Airport, and then headed to Bunratty for the night, because it was so close.

Day 1: When we woke in the morning, we went to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. Honestly, unless you’re a history buff and are super interested in seeing what Irish houses looked like a REALLY long time ago, skip it. Just go to the next destination: Killarney.

Killarney was great. A local gave us the advice to go to the National Park, so that’s exactly what we did. You can go to the park for free, and walk around as much as you want. We took a horse drawn carriage ride to an awesome waterfall, and spent some time wandering the grounds. You can explore a huge mansion on the property (Muckross House), plus gardens and lakes, all while mountains act as your backdrop.

Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park

Day 2: The next day was my absolute favorite and something I’ll never forget. We took a daylong bus tour from Killarney to Dingle Peninsula. National Geographic once named this area the “most beautiful place on Earth.” The bus took us along the Peninsula, stopping at Inch Beach, cliffs, and so many more beautiful views. I don’t think my words can possibly explain how amazing Dingle is, so pictures will have to do.

Inch Beach
Inch Beach
Dingle Peninsula Cliffs
Dingle Peninsula Cliffs

Day 3: Blarney Castle & Gardens is only about an hour and a half from Killarney, so that was our next stop. We had to kiss the stone! After kissing the Blarney Stone you’re supposed to become a persuasive speaker… so we’ll see how that goes.

Day 4: Because Dublin was about a 4-hour drive away, we decided to break up the time and stay in Kilkenny a bit. It’s a cute little town but we spent the majority of our time there in pubs, oops.

Day 5-6: Our last stop was Dublin. We had a little more than 2 days here so we had plenty of time to explore the city. We did the stuff you’re supposed to do in Dublin: hit the pubs, check out The Temple Bar, tour the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery, walk through the library at Trinity College… but we did something a little odd too. We were advised by the local tourist office to go on the Traditional Storytelling Bus Tour.  I was completely skeptical about this thing, and the only reason we did it was because the ghost bus tour was sold-out. But it was a hilarious experience. All I can really tell you is that you hear Irish folktales and stories, from a funky guy who obviously loves his job. And apparently Leprechauns are real. I don’t really know what else to say about it… it was interesting. My mom was laughing the entire time and I cracked a few myself. Oh, plus you get a beer on the bus. Not too bad.

Complimentary drink at Guinness
Complimentary drink at Guinness

So what’s so great about Ireland besides the views? The people are super friendly and laidback. Because of all the rain, you’ll see a rainbow at least once a day. Live music fills the pubs at night. I could probably go on forever.

Well, anyways, I’ve been to England, Spain, and Ireland now and Ireland definitely takes the cake. You won’t see anyplace like it anywhere else in this world. I can’t wait to go back one day.

Always, K.

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