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Your Most Memorable Irish Experiences


We are beginning to plan a beginning-of-September trip to Ireland and would love to hear tips about memorable experiences you've had in this county. We will certainly be doing our research in travel guides and on Yelp/TripAdvisor, but sometimes it is hard to find the truly special experiences this way (it can be hard to discern them from the others in the sea of hundreds of highly reviewed places and general recommendations). I know from our previous travel experiences that there are typically one or two things that end up being special/standout experiences of each trip, and would love to hear what those experiences were for you in Ireland. This could be anything from restaurants that had a memorable ambiance (above and beyond just having good food) or activities that made a big impression on you. Thanks!

Posted by
136 posts

Seeing the Rock of Cashel on the hillside (beautiful!), kissing the Blarney Stone (which I found terrifying but exciting ... and did it both trips to Ireland! LOL!), driving the Ring of Beara (stunning views!) and the Hawk Walk at Dromoland Castle (so much fun!). There are just so many wonderful things to see and do that it's hard to narrow it down to one of two! Loved the towns of Kilkenny, Kinsale (had a great dinner at Fishy Fishy) and Dingle and we did the dinner at Bunratty Castle both times we visited! I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip!

Posted by
458 posts

I did all of our driving while in Ireland which gave us freedom to travel to out of the way places. But I missed much of the scenery because I was focused on driving. We hired a private tour for the ring of Kerry and tht day was my highlight. Our tour guide was awesome and I got to sit back, see the sights, chatter back and forth with our tour guide about Ireland, and he took us to some awesome spots. So, my most memorable experience was our guided tour with Paul Brown. Here is the link to his web site, it was a great day. Paul picked us up at our B&B in Kenmare. We also loved our self drive of the Beara Peninsula (Paul helped us plan it) and we totally enjoyed the hawk walk up in Cong at the Ashford Castle. We didnt stay at the castle but loved our hawk walk there!! Doolin was great for music and our night at the Doolin Music House was memorable followed by an evening of music and brews at the O'Connor pub in Doolin. An easy walk from our B&B, wont go wrong with any of these. As you can see we were up and down the west coast!

Posted by
11832 posts

Unfortunately my most memorable experiences are twenty years old. I just went in May and never found a local pub with a traditional music session - which was the highlight of my trip years earlier. Instead I found pubs full of tourists where a paid musician, or two, played traditional songs. It's nice but not nearly the same as seeing the local plumber, carpenter and roofer breaking out their instruments for fun rather than money. The best I found was O'Donaghues pub in Dublin Merrion Row that had a decent, but crowded, session. I think I spent too much time in either large cities, tourist traps or really small towns to find a good session at a local pub.

Posted by
6354 posts

Traveling in November when the Fall colors were in full bloom and the orange, yellow gold and red hues gleamed in the sunlight. No crowds and lots of rainbows.

Stayed in Dingle. One day hiked a portion of the Gap Of Dunloe, returned to my car and then drove over it.

Kates cottage was closed as were a few restaurants in Dingle but made no difference to me. Could drive Slead Head without being behind tour buses.

Over the whole route of the Gap Of Dunloe I came across only 2 rock climbers, 1 cyclist, 1 trap driver with 2 passengers, 2 lorries, 4 cars and countless sheep. Most gorgeous day ever! Loved the solitude.

Sitting in Foxy Johns hardware store/pub. So unique. Walked in to find 2 men sitting at opposite ends of the tiny bar. Ordered my pint. Thanked the young bar keep for adding the shamrock to the Guinness foam. Got the “ where in the States are you from query. “

Then the older man who was working a cross word asked another older man sitting at the opposite end bar who was Romneys running mate in the 2012 election? No response.

I spoke up, “ Paul Ryan.” The Poli Sci degree paid off.
Conversation began.

Jeer Point Abbey. No one there but me.

As I walked back to my BnB in Dingle heard some lively music and peered through some windows to see children learning to dance. Stood there smiling. Endearing to see Irish traditional dance being taught.

EDIT: how could I forget my embarrassment when I first laid eyes on the island? Was flying from London on a cloudy day. Window seat.

Kept looking out the window for a break in the clouds. Had ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland. Was extremely emotional about getting there. Finally the clouds parted and I saw it.

Initial reaction which caused laughter in the cabin and my chagrin....

"___T it really is that green. "

Totally memorable moment which I now recall with fondness.

Posted by
6484 posts

A pub crawl in Galway listening to traditional music, especially when locals dropped in and jammed with the group performing. Also loved talking to the locals in the pubs.

Our day trip to Inisheer (the smallest Aran island) was wonderful. Took the little ferry from Doolin and walked out to the lighthouse, had a quick lunch in town, and then returned to Doolin, we were on a private tour and finished the day with a tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.

Posted by
42 posts

Renting a narrow boat barge and spending 3 days slowly motoring on the Barrow Canal south of Dublin. No boating experience necessary. Magical!

Posted by
41 posts

Few highlights from our trip 2 years ago:

*After taking in the Cliffs of Moher we drove by Burren National Park. Quite a site. Thereafter, we stumbled upon Hazel Mountain Chocolate Factory where we had lunch. Quaint, off the !road eatery. Unique and fabulous.

*If you are going to Dingle (highly recommend), have breakfast at Heaton's Family Guest House! SO PERSONAL AND AWESOME
*To mix things up a nbit, while in Kilkenny (great place also just an hour from Rock of Cashel), we took a half day class learning to play Ireland's national sport, hurling.
*We thought Newgrange was very interesting!
*Loved Belfast much more than we were expecting. Beautuful park in the City. Also, I thought the Titanic museum (in Belfast) would be cheesy but it was not. Very well done and informative. If in Belfast, do the Black Cab Tour to learn all about "the Troubles"

Of course, Giant's Causeway was great to see as were the Dark Hedges.

You can google all these sites to see if it fits your interests.

Posted by
1256 posts

I loved Ireland last summer. Kinsale is beautiful, small village with houses painted in bright colors. I loved the pub there (Kitty O'sheas.) Dingle with Funghi, the dolphin, swimming along our small boat (touristy, but great fun.) Trad music everywhere. The concert at the church is wonderful All over, great food, great hotels and B & B's. I am not sure you can go wrong. I loved all of Ireland but the southern part was my favorite. Dublin is a great town with lots to do. My only disappointment was the Book of Kells. It was very crowded even in the morning and the two pages they were showing didn't have much color (they alternate the pages.) I did love the library there though which made up for it.

Posted by
96 posts

Drinking Guinness at the Harbour Bar in Portrush poured by Willie!!! I'm not kidding. I had the greatest time... two nights in a this bar. Talk to Willie and ask him why his Guinness tastes better than anywhere else.

Posted by
26 posts

We were in Ireland during the end of September into early October. In no particular order of preference:
1. The Old Library @ Trinity College
2. Kilmainham Gaol
3. Epic Museum
4. Kinsale
5. Kerry Cliffs and watching as a storm rolled in from the Atlantic
6. Skellig Chocolates
7. The Dingle Food Festival
8. The Hawk Walk @ Ashford Castle
9. Mass at the local church in Annascaul (Catholic Mass, interesting to see the differences between there and home)
Our favorite B&B’s were Harbour View Farm, just outside of Kinsale and about a mile from Charles Fort, and Ardrinnane House in Annascaul and their wonderful furry hosts. Favorite meals were actually The Lobster House in Waterville and a Vietnamese place on the Northside of Dublin. The black pudding with turnip puree we had at the Dingle Food Festival was surprisingly tasty. As was the coffee stout brewed at Dick Mack’s Pub.