A Week In Ireland - The Majestic Emerald Isle!

Ireland has always been on my “must visit” list - rolling hills, clashing waves and a pretty cool summer climate (we usually end up traveling in August due to my teaching schedule). It quickly moved up the list after we spent a few days in Dublin for a friend’s wedding several years ago. I absolutely loved the people, the relaxed atmosphere and yes, the food. We began our trip in Dublin, our hub as I decided not to drive this time around (although I would absolutely advise getting a car - and will do so next time). Instead we took day-trips, both on the DART and the tour buses. A quick note of tours - they are well priced, organized and absolutely easy to book. The main negative though is timing - a bus means that everything takes longer and thus, there is much less time for exploring.     

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Dublin is unimaginable without St. Patrick’s Cathedral, especially for me - since I teach Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” almost every semester. It is a majestic building - well worth the visit - and the gardens are a perfect place for a break after. 

There is much to see inside, but I couldn’t get enough of these amazing stained-glass windows. These are not original, but put up in the late 19th and early 20th century. Yet they are absolutely stunning. 

We then walked over to Dublin Castle - to learn more of the city’s history, going back to the Viking Settlement known as Duiblinn (or “Black Pool”). There are still stones from the original Viking walls under the Castle, and you can see them during the tour. 

A short walk to the east, and you find yourself on the Trinity College campus. See the Book of Kells in the Library, or just to walk through its historic lanes. My advise would be to either book a ticket for the Library ahead, or come early in the morning.

Cliffs of Moher are a top attraction, and even though it is a bit of a trek from Dublin, they are well worth it. 

Because of the long drive from Dublin to the Cliffs, most bus tours make a stop along the way. Our tour stopped at a sheep farm to watch how the shepherd dogs gather and move flocks in the hills.

We opted to take the boat tour of the Cliffs in addition to walking along them. 

The power of the Cliffs is on full display from the water.

Back on land. we made our way to the edge of the Cliffs, along with many other visitors.

Even though there are a lot of tourists here, there is enough beauty to go around. If only we had more time to explore!

Our other long bus tour was to Northern Ireland, which included a visit to the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

It is a wild, rocky coast. And the tour describes several legendary and scientific explanations for the unusual geological formations in the area.

The bridge itself is really not as scary as it seems, but it allows one to get a good glimpse of Scotland across the sea. 

North Atlantic coast is beautiful and wild. And alive with many bird species. 

We then dove into ancient history of Ireland with a visit to the Hill of Tara and Newgrange Passage Tomb. The ancient earthworks of the Hill of Tara can be seen above.

The Newgrange Passage tomb is older than the Pyramids of Egypt. It is built out of large stones that had to be moved for miles. We still know very little of its original use and intent, but it is constructed in such a way as to allow the sunlight to enter the tomb on the morning of the winter solstice. 

It is an impressive earth and stone construction, made of 200,000 tonnes of rock and other materials. 

On the next morning we drove through Wicklow Mountains to our next destination. 

It was a bright morning and the wild flowers, mixed in with the grasses, made for a spectacular view. 

We were headed to the historic Glendalough, where St, Kevin founded a monastic settlement in the 6th century. 

The round bell-tower can be seen for miles, perhaps a landmark for those seeking the settlement. 

We finished the day with a visit to Powerscourt Gardens. 

We took the DART from Dublin to Howth - a lovely fishing village on a peninsula just North of Dublin. Get some fresh seafood for lunch after the walk!

The Howth Cliff walk, a short stroll away from the station, takes the hiker along the eastern edge of the peninsula and allows views onto the Dublin bay, the city and even the Wicklow mountains beyond. It was one of our favorite moments of the trip.

On our last day in Ireland, we took the DART all the way to the south, to Bray. A small coastal town, with a population that commutes to Dublin. It has a long boardwalk along the beach, and a walk through the cliffs. 

An easier walk takes the hikers from Bray to Greystones (the next town on the coast), but we chose to head to the top of the cliffs - to the Cross. The hike is much more difficult, but the views are absolutely worth it! I hope you enjoyed this brief photo essay. 

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