A couple months ago I took my first real trip to Ireland, years ago will on a cruise and we stopped at an Irish port for a day but I don’t count that. This was a two week trip I took with my wife and we visited a large portion of the island.
My wife, Sandra, had been telling me for the last couple years for trips to Ireland, one of her favourite places in the world. Now it had always been on my list as a place to visit and spend time, maybe a little bit to do with the Celtic heritage but a lot to do with the fact that Ireland was the birthplace of Titanic. I have a personal connection with the story and have been intrigued with the idea of finding a more about the birthplace of this fascinating ship.
When we arrived in Dublin was a little surprised at its size, it was larger than expected. The city and surrounding area has a population of well over 1 million people and it was more of a multicultural Center then I imagined.
Originally a Viking village, where those lads sure got around, Dublin has grown into a bustling multi ethnic city. We were there end of March and there were very large crowds on Grafton Street, one of there main shopping areas.
I’ve been to many large cities but this one has its own individual characteristics, like the Dublin doors. Many homes were built same and the only feature that could make them unique where the doors so the variety of doors or fascinating.
I like the fact that there was a pub on every corner, many of them with live music. Dublin is also the birthplace of Guinness beer. We took a brewery tour located at St. James Gate, is a very modern exhibit and no shortage of tourists, us included.
We also visited Jameson distillery, I have been fortunate over the years to visit many distilleries was pleasantly surprised with this tour. It is well designed, very enthusiastic guides, and in an interesting twist on a tasting afterwards. I enjoy nice whiskey, neat or with a little bit of water but how about cranberry juice. I was surprised! And you will be too.
We left for Belfast, Sandra had never been there so neither one of us new what to expect. Due to the troubles associated with the city tourism is on has only really started to developed the last few years. We arrived there early afternoon and after an hour walking around Sandra I both commented at how amazed we were the city. The thing that struck us first was how friendly everyone was.
We talked to one gentleman who worked for local tour company there and mentioned how friendly Belfast is and he told us that he had lived in a number of other large European cities and said “in many cases if somebody will walk since you knock you down to keep going without turning back, here in Belfast if somebody walks into you knocks you down, not only will they help you up, they will dust you off, bring you into a pub for a drink and then bring it home for the night.” I don’t think there was much of an exaggeration.
We visited the Titanic Quarter, to see where it all began. While listening to the stories I was able to sense the exhilaration and pride that went into the building of Titanic and her sister ship Olympic and then the deep sadness that overwhelmed the city after the ship sank.
We spoke with many people who still had personal connections to the tragedy which is no surprise; there were thousands of workers from in and around Belfast who worked on her.
We drove along the coast visiting the Carrick a Rede rope bridge and then on to the Giants Causeway, where about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. This is a natural phenomenon that has to be seen at least once in life.
We traveled to Galway, a city sometimes referred to as being bilingual is over 10% of the population still speak Irish as their first language. This is a fun city, the downtown core very easy to walk around and music everywhere. From here it’s very easy to take a tour of Connemara.
We traveled to the Cliffs of Moher; currently in a competition to be named one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. As we stood up at the cliffs edge, the abrupt end of Ireland looking out into the North Atlantic, we could not help but feel in awe of what the forces of nature had produced.
We then to the Poulnabrone Dolmen (Irish for “hole of sorrows”) is a portal tomb dating back probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC.
We traveled to Dingle, to me one of the highlights of his beautiful island. I don’t normally like using the word quaint because I feel it is overused but it is the best description I can think of for this little community. Have heard that music bloodline for Ireland, if this is the case in area in and around Dingle must be the heart.
We drove around Slea’s Head Drive, and saw more ancient ruins, incredible scenery, rock walls and sheep.
Our next day was in Killarney, again a very easy community stroll through and no shortage of very friendly people who are interested in a chat.
We stayed in Cork and visited Blarney’s Castle. Now I knew the story of the Blarney Stone; where according to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab. I don’t know why but Sandra told me that was the last thing I needed to do.
I was excited about seeing the castle but I did not know where how amazing the grounds where, it was so easy losing ourselves for a couple of hours wandering around the estate. An absolutely beautiful visit and definitely a place you have to give yourself time to enjoy.
We also visited another community just outside of Cork called Cobh (pronounced Cove). Back in 1912 this community was known as Queenstown and was the last port of call for Titanic before she sailed out to the North Atlantic and her final resting place.
That story is powerful and well worth the visit, but after spending reading about all the other Irish immigrants who had to leave their home to look for a better life during and then for years after the great potato famine left tightness in my heart.
We took two weeks for us to make the trip and the feeling I had during our last day on Ireland was that I could hardly wait to get back.
If you’ve been to Ireland and you can understand my enthusiasm while describing this trip.
If you have not been it is high time to put his beautiful island on your list and make plans sooner than later for your visit.
Now if incredible scenery, amazing stories, fun people, great music and lots of laughs are not high on your priority list; then don’t bother visiting Ireland.
If the opposite is true you may want to visit www.rhapsodytours.net and click on our Ireland, The Birthplace of Titanic Tour to see them this might be of interest to you.
We have planned a wonderfully paced, quality tour visiting all the places I mentioned plus much more. If you have any further questions please feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any stories, questions or events about Ireland and would like to share or for that matter any travel related themes you would like discussed; send them off to us. We will read the all and post our favorites.
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