It’s halfway through August and although it’s still in triple digit temps where I live in Oklahoma, we’re all starting to sense that Fall is just around the corner. As we gear up for all things pumpkin spice and crunchy leaves, I thought this would be a good time to finally getting around to posting this travel guide. Last October, Adam and I took a beautiful trip to Ireland with some friends. And actually, we had a little stowaway on our journey as well since I was nine weeks pregnant with our little girl! It did prevent me from enjoying some pints and Irish whiskey but it made for even sweeter memories. Everything I saw and experienced was somehow magnified by the love I was filled with and the dreams of some day returning with our new addition!
While I used to live in the UK and therefore spent a ton of time in Scotland (that’s where I went to church camp every summer and also visited friends) and even Wales, I actually had never been to Ireland. Choosing to go in the Fall was absolutely the best decision. So, if you’ve been waffling on whether or not to book a cozy getaway to the Emerald Isle in the latter half of this year, here’s your sign!
We chose to fly into Dublin and spend one night there before heading out the next day to drive somewhat of a ring around the country, stopping in different towns every night. This made for a whirlwind trip and might not be your style, but if it is this blog post can act as a great trip planner since it will help you fit a ton of things into your trip! There were definitely things we planned to do and missed for various reasons (Cliffs of Moher, archery at Ashford castle, etc.) and things we didn’t plan to see that I wish we could have worked in (Waterford, going to Northern Island, etc.) but this was a fantastic trip with just enough activities, relaxation and changes of scenery that truly allowed us to feel like at the end of our journey we had really experienced Ireland!
Day One– Dublin
As it turns out, Adam and I did not have the luck of the Irish on our journey across the pond. While our friends, traveling on a different airline, made it over to Dublin…we did not. Our flight was canceled the day we were supposed to fly out and we had to meet them in Dublin 24 hours later than planned. This was a huge bummer, but we did wind up extending our trip on the back end to make up lost time! When we finally got to Dublin, it was right in time for a spot of lunch so we dropped our luggage off at our hotel (We stayed at Zanzibar Locke – so cute and very central as it’s literally right off of Ha’penny Bridge) and headed out to a pub to meet our friends. Like I said, no pints for me but I did enjoy a pot of Irish breakfast tea!
With some open-faced turkey sandwiches in our belly, it was time to head to the first activity of the trip – a tour of the Jameson Distillery! Which, along with the Guinness Storehouse, is not to be missed in Dublin.
For dinner that night, we went to Mulberry Garden, a quaint and very chic little restaurant on the outskirts that supplies a gorgeous three course tasting menu and all of the beautiful Irish ambiance you’d want.
Day Two– Blarney
On our second day, we hit the road for County Cork to go see the adorable town of Blarney. Yes, that Blarney AKA where the Blarney Stone is! We stayed at Blarney Woollen Mills which was literally so close to the castle that we walked there. I actually cannot recommend this hotel enough! It’s huge and spacey with a pub on site, a tea room and breakfast space and the biggest collection of Irish woollen goods, in fact the store claims to be the largest Irish store in the world and I believe them – it’s huge! We came home with a ton of things and shopping in there was a dream. Cozy cable knits galore!
Before we skipped off to kiss the famous stone, we hung out at the hotel for a little bit and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon tea. If you know me, you know I’m always on the hunt for a fun high tea – I’ve even enjoyed one in Reykjavik, Iceland!
While at tea, it began to rain – a common occurrence in Ireland, especially in the Fall. I have to admit, finishing up a high tea as it rains in Ireland could not be more perfect. It was such a light drizzle we just decided to walk over to the castle in the rain. It might have been because of the weather or because maybe October is the off season or maybe it was even the fact that it was in 2021 when COVID was still ravaging the world’s ability to travel…but we mainly had Blarney Castle to ourselves. I never imagined we’d be able to do such a hot tourist spot virtually alone! It was incredible! We all know about the Blarney Stone, but I didn’t know the grounds had so much more to offer with huge gardens and all kinds of things to explore. You could easily laze a whole day away just exploring all of what Blarney Castle has to offer. Make sure to read up on all of the folklore of the stone (otherwise known as The Stone of Eloquence) while you’re there…so many fascinating tales behind it’s alleged magic.
Day Three– Killarney
On the third day in Ireland we hit the road again and went to Killarney in County Kerry. We stayed at Cahernane House Hotel which was by far my favorite stay of the trip. Adam and I sprung for a suite and oh my goodness…fluffy bed, claw foot tub, sitting area for tea, huge windows looking out on the grounds, a chandelier. Need I say more? I just won’t tell you about the ghost we definitely heard in the middle of the night! Before we left for the next town the next day, we took full advantage of their breakfast spread and loved every second.
Killarney was a picturesque Irish town, but what really made it special to us was that we had decided to spend the day taking a traditional horse-drawn jaunting cart through the Gap of Dunloe, a natural gap in the landscape created by glaciers. We got our hot coffees and pastries in the morning, bundled up (buying extra hats, scarves and gloves in town) and went out for our adventure which took up our whole day…and was an excellent way to spend the day by the way. It was drizzling off and on and in between our jaunting cart adventure and a boat ride on the lake we enjoyed hot soup and tea with scones. Irish perfection if you ask me. Just look at these pictures and tell me you don’t want to book that trip now?
Day Four– Dingle Peninsula& Galway
When planning the trip, we couldn’t decide between driving the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula to get all of our Irish landscapes, but we ultimately decided on the Dingle Peninsula. We drove it and soaked up all of the Irish countryside, stopping for pictures, deep breaths of crisp air and a lunch of fish and chips by the sea as we made our way up to Galway.
For dinner in Galway (which honestly is about all we did in Galway since the drive took us all day and we left again the next day) we went to Michelin-starred Kai which was absolutely delectable with the perfect cozy ambiance. I actually think Kai was my favorite dining experience of the trip!
Day Fiveand Six– Back to Dublin
Our last two days in the country were spent back in Dublin as we bookended the trip. We packed in quite a bit in our last two days including: seeing Oscar Wilde’s statue in St. Stephen’s Park as we strolled through with delicious coffees, shopping on Grafton street and picking out beautiful silver pieces for baby girl, visiting the Guinness Storehouse (I was happy to find out they had zero proof Guinness!), Eating dinner at The Brazen Head which is Ireland’s oldest pub, and seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
We stayed in two different hotels, Clontarf Castle Hotel which was the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Stoker lived just down the street and grew up dreaming up stories about the castle) and The Wilder named after Oscar Wilde. Honorable mention for best breakfast of the trip definitely goes to The Wilder.
And now that I’ve walked back through this trip by pulling back up all of the pictures and writing out this post, here I go to book another trip back! Ok, just kidding. BUT we are headed somewhere else fabulous this October and I can’t wait to share all about that one. Hint: it’s somewhere I grew up going to and is a city that means a lot to me and my family. Can’t wait to bring you all along so make sure you’re following over on Instagram!