Things to do in Ireland

A friend just emailed me and asked about places to visit in Ireland. So in case there are some of you out there planning to spend Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland, here are a few suggestions to make the most of your trip:

Dromoland Castle in County Clare (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Dromoland Castle in County Clare (Picture by Loretto Leary)

1. Stay at Dromoland Castle, great golf course and driving distance to the Cliffs of Mohir and Poolnabrone (the most photographed object in Ireland allegedly) as well as the Burren. It is an easy drive from the airport to Dromoland and a lovely way to start your holiday. All these sights are within a half hour to a one hour drive from each other. Unique scenery, as you will see for yourselves.

Connemara in County Galway (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Connemara in County Galway (Picture by Loretto Leary)

2. Maybe after two nights you’ll be rested enough to hit the road and head to Galway, The City of the Tribes. Then head on to Connemara and stay at Renvyle House. The scenery in Connemara is beautiful. This is where JRR Tolkien lived when he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the scenery inspired him. If you feel fit enough and are not afraid of heights, climb Diamond Hill and visit Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.

Cong in County Mayo (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Cong in County Mayo (Picture by Loretto Leary)

3. In Mayo, that’s an easy drive,  visit the town of Cong where John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara filmed The Quiet Man. The famous Ashford Castle would be a lovely place to stay if Renvyle House feels a bit too remote for you. They are about an hour and a half drive from each other.

4. From there I would drive across to Belfast, be sure to see the Harland and Wolfe dockyard where they built the Titanic, and also the Titanic museum. There are taxi tours that will take you through the areas, Protestant and Catholic that were unsafe during the troubles in

Giant's Causeway in Antrim in Northern Ireland (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Giant’s Causeway in Antrim in Northern Ireland (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Northern Ireland but are now safe again. It is a 1-1 1/2 hour drive from Belfast to the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim, and I would highly recommend it. You’ll never see anything like it again.

5. From Belfast you can get an easy flight to Scotland. But I would suggest either flying back to see Dublin and /or going to Dublin and then flying to Scotland from there. There is a lot to see in Dublin. The Book of Kells in Trinity College, Kilmainham Jail, Newgrange just 30 minutes outside of

Interior of Kilmainham Jail in Dublin (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Interior of Kilmainham Jail in Dublin (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Dublin, and you can stay at the Fitzpatrick hotel. It is just a train ride along the coast and about 20 minutes outside the city.

6. If you have the time my favorite place in Ireland is in County Cork. It is a small town that is nick-named millionaire’s row in the summer, but it’s real name is Glandore, and ten minutes from there is one of the best hidden treasures of Ireland, and not too many people know about it. The Drombeg Stone Circle predates Stonehenge and is in the most scenic spot. Worth a visit if you have the time. Kinsale is a great town to stay

Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork (Picture by Loretto Leary)

in, and The Trident is a good hotel.

7. You could finish up the vacation back at Dromoland because the flights from Shannon leave fairly early. If you can squeeze in a trip to Killarney in County Kerry and do a horse trap ride into the Gap of Dungloe that’s well worth it too. The Glen Eagle is the place to stay in Killarney.

I can’t not mention my hometown of Portumna in County Galway. Yes, I’ll admit it, I am biased, but this town has so much history and lots to see and do. The Irish Workhouse Center, Portumna Castle, The Portumna forest park, golfing, fishing, horseback riding….need I say more?

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