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Is Ireland a good choice for a milestone anniversary trip

Hi fellow travelers. My spouse and I want to take a special trip for our upcoming anniversary and are considering going to Ireland for the first time. We are more of the quiet type and would love to see some beautiful sights, have some romantic dinners, stay in a castle or a luxury hotel , and do a bit of shopping. What areas would be must-sees?

Some friends say Ireland is "Rowdy." haha. In your opinion, would Ireland be a good choice? We are also considering Italy.

Posted by
1800 posts

I would not say rowdy! We rented a car and set out for the countryside, stayed in gorgeous B n B's, beautiful views everywhere, fun people and great seafood and pub food with awesome music! Maybe Dublin is more rowdy?

Posted by
5011 posts

You can find plenty of "rowdy" in Ireland if you look for it. A lot of the rowdy will be from foreign tourists intending to get hammered, some local college students (some of whom are always looking to get hammered anywhere) and a few locals anywhere, who have nothing better to do than get hammered.

If you feel like being rowdy, you can find that (especially in Dublin, which seems to draw crowds from around the world seeking to get rowdy). If you're not looking for rowdy, you will find plenty of quiet, beautiful places with gentle people. I'm not so sure that "staying in a castle" is all that so many people seem to expect it to be. Luxury resorts...I think those are kinda similar all over the world, so not sure it's worth going to Ireland for that.

Have you ever been to Europe before?

When exactly is your trip? The weather in Ireland can be a bit tricky at times, if you're not prepared for it.

Posted by
5078 posts

Ireland’s a great pick - music, scenery, and seafood are among its greatest attributes. We were there September 2018, our second trip, and in June 2011, first trip.

First trip, touring on bicycles, we didn’t travel fast, and got caught in a downpour one day and a bit of rain on another, but we started in Galway, and followed the west coast to Dingle. Music was phenomenal in towns the whole way, but Dingle was tops, with excellent “trad” sessions on pubs, and an evening performance in a church with probably Ireland’s finest piper. From Dingle, a trip down to Portmagee, to take a boat for a day trip to the mystic Skellig Michael island, and passing the seabirds-only Little Skellig on the way, was an Only in Ireland experience.

Last September‘s trip also started in Galway, but headed north, and clockwise, up more of the west coast, then into Northern Ireland, then down to Dublin. Highlights included the personalized Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle’s falconry school, where we strolled thru the woods with a falconer and our own Harris Hawk, landing on our leather glove for treat bits of mice, which the falconer managed. We didn’t stay at the castle that night, but you could. The Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Jags parked out front indicate it’s pricey, but quite possibly worth it, especially if you’re celebrating.

On both trips, we spent a night and two days on Inis Mor (aka Inishmore) island, off the coast from Galway. We used the ferry the first time, and flew by plane the second. Fly - it’s the way to go!

If you’re doing your own transportation, bike or car, be aware that it’s challenging, if you’re not used to driving on the left side of narrow, twisty roads, in kilometers per hour, with the potential of having sheep in the road around the next curve. But fantastic views are everywhere. If you don’t rent a car, trains and buses are available for many places. Bus Eireann buses have an Irish Setter on the side, not a greyhound! Driving yourselves gets you to more remote places, on your own schedule, but “relaxing” isn’t exactly how I’d describe it.

That second trip finished in Dublin, which has some historic sights. But lunch our first day had a noisy and raucous wedding Hen Party at the next table, getting more boisterous as our meal went on. Wish we’d picked a different place. And one night, after an excellent Shakespeare’s Richard III performance at the Abbey Theatre, we walked back to our short-term apartment by way of the Temple Bar area. The sidewalks there were wet, but it hadn’t been raining. It became clear that drunk men were urinating outside, too wasted or rude to use a restroom inside. And a hooting crowd, pretty young, was in a square outside, verging on rowdy, so we got outta there, before it got out of hand that night. The next day, in late afternoon/early evening, we spent a couple of hours at The Cobblestone pub in the west end of Dublin. Fantastic, not rowdy, but full of music-appreciating locals and tourists - can’t recommend it more highly!

Posted by
6679 posts

Ireland is absolutely gorgeous and would be a wonderful choice.

Yes there are some rowdy places but as long as you are not planning to celebrate your anniversary in the Temple Bar area you should be fine!!

In the countryside the scenery is to die for, the seafood is superb, and there is simple or more elaborate luxury to be found.

From one Okie to another, I say go for it!

Posted by
3492 posts

You can find plenty of "rowdy" in Ireland if you look for it

David is correct. But you don't have to look for beautiful sights. They are almost everywhere. Ireland may be the most beautiful country overall we can remember visiting.

Posted by
15 posts

Hubby and I just returned from a 2-1/2 week trip to Ireland for our 30th anniversary. We spent the first week on a Rick Steves tour, then the rest of the time on our own. Our first trip to Ireland and it was amazing. We stayed at Airbnb apartments in Waterford, Cobh, Galway, and Longford. Each was unique and amazing. All previous suggestions are spot on. If you want a less expensive falconry experience, our RS tour guide is part owner of one in Dingle, and it was awesome! Kingdom Falconry Dingle right next to Milltown B&B.

Posted by
1018 posts

I don't think you have mentioned what month you are planning--might make a difference.

Posted by
2774 posts

Just a note about Dublin: the Temple Bar area is by no means the only place where people go to get hammered. We stayed at least a mile away from Temple Bar, on Harcourt Street, which looks like a quiet residential (apartment houses) street in the daytime. At night, there were at least 6 bars and the action got going around midnight, not ending until 5 AM and I'm not exaggerating. Granted, we were there on a Fri & Sat night in mild, dry weather so people were doing their carousing out in the street. The noise was louder than I've experienced anywhere in the world and I've done quite a lot of traveling.

Posted by
128 posts

Spend a couple days in Dublin for the history and the rest of the time touring this beautiful country. Dublin is a city; cities are crowded and loud...but that's where the history and culture is centered. I normally attempt to divide my vacation into 25% crazy and 75% laid back. Don't miss Dublin, but please don't miss the rest of the place either. Oh, and happy anniversary!

Posted by
234 posts

Ireland is a great place to celebrate an anniversary. My husband and I celebrated our 50th in Ireland with our adult children and just returned last month from celebrating our 60th there. We had a grand time. Don't know if we will make 70th.

Posted by
235 posts

Thank you everyone for sharing! I appreciate all of your insights greatly. One last question, if one is not a fan of seafood, are there many other options available? I read somewhere that most restaurants only have about 10 items on the menu, so just wondering.

Posted by
5078 posts

Seafood chowder was a part of every lunch, and the ingredients changed as we moved around the country - highly recommended!

For someone not into shrimp, prawns, fish fillets, etc., lamb is an option. Not all those sheep in Ireland are there just for wool. And pork. Vegetables, brown bread, other bread. Porridge for breakfast is a real treat. For lunch and dinner, there’s pub food, of surprisingly good quality, well prepared, attractive, and delicious. There are also finer restaurants, pricier, and generally with a more varied menu. In Trim, north of Dublin, we found an Indian restaurant so good we had dinner there twice!

If you find a market going on in a town you’re visiting, that’s a bonus.

Posted by
272 posts

My husband eats no seafood (or lamb). We were in Ireland for a month and he did just fine. We ate pub food fairly often because it was quick and inexpensive. Oddly enough some of the best food we had was in hotel restaurants in Lahinch, Clifden, Donegal and Portballintrae.

Posted by
234 posts

I don't like seafood and had no problems eating in Ireland. I didn't notice an overabundance of seafood dishes (except at establishments that billed themselves as seafood restaurants) and found menu offerings to be quite varied and not noticeably limited. I enjoyed pasta carbonara and roast of the day (especially pork) in various locations and there were lots of delicious soups and stews available as well. Irish cuisine has advanced well beyond its bland reputation! I think your husband will be just fine.

Posted by
114 posts

Perhaps more information? First trip? Travel interests? We enjoyed our 8 days in Ireland, but definitely not Paris, Rome or even Greece (among others). Even the Rick Steves recommended guide in Dingle mentioned that Ireland was sort of a third tier destination for European Vacations.

Beautiful country, every single of our meals were excellent. Perhaps not the "wow" factor of some destinations IMO.

I am not sure I have a favorite, returning to Rome after 20 years in March, so many to choose from for a great vacation experience.

Posted by
11798 posts

The destination I believe you would remember fondly would be a stay at Ashford Castle. It's quite upscale (beyond my budget). The grounds are beautiful. We only visited long enough to do the "Hawk Walk" this May. It was a highlight of our trip. I'd certainly suggest the walk for two as part of your stay. If you don't stay, a Hawk Walk includes access to the castle grounds.

From Ashford the local town, Cong, is relatively quiet and has some nice sights, including Cong Abbey and sights related to The Quiet Man movie (filmed there).

You could also visit the Aran Islands as a day trip (or overnight) by ferry from Rossaveel. We stayed a night on Inis Mor and rented bikes to visit the sights (can also do it by horse cart or taxi).

Our nicest b&b as well as best meal were in Roundstone, not far from there. We stayed at Bogbean, our nicest room of the trip, and ate our nicest dinner of the trip at Roundstone Inn. The town wasn't over the top fancy but it was quiet, quaint, comfortable and generally cozy. We enjoyed a quiet walk down to the small dock area, there isn't a lot more nightlife than a few places to get a drink in the evening. There is an area with craft stores just down the road from town. I'm somewhat worried the buses may stop there for locally made products. We did go there and came away with a couple souvenirs at reasonable prices.

If Budget at Ashford is a shock, you might enjoy a stay at Roundstone.

All can be reached fairly conveniently by rental car from Shannon.

Posted by
16 posts

We went this past summer with our family ( includes three kids 12-17) and mother in law. One of our stays was Adare Manor, in Adare. It’s beyond gorgeous. Words can’t describe the grounds and beauty of the manor. Service was amazing. It also has a great spa. Due to the kids I only spent very little time in the spa but looked fantastic. The Manor was quiet and definitely a quaint, grown up vibe. Although my kids were there you didn’t see many other children. I am sure you can find rowdy in IE just like anywhere else. Due to ours being a quiet family trip we didn’t seek it and I personally didn’t get that vibe at all, I got quite the opposite. I found Ireland to be quaint, charming , pretty, very friendly people, great service, very good fresh food lot of farm to table. We were really pleased with our trip. I think it would make a great anniversary trip.

Posted by
2023 posts

Look at Ashford or Dromoland Castles or Bushmill Inn if you go north. I am definitely not a fan of Dublin. For me Ireland is all about the beautiful countryside and small quaint towns.

Posted by
29 posts

We loved the beautiful coast of Ireland but cool rain in September cause us not to be able enjoy some days of outdoor activities. Dingle was fun with all the music. We loved 12 rain free warm days in Sept in Italy. I would choose Italy. Just give some thought to the weather.