I had a wonderful time in Ireland. Most of what I day dreamed about Ireland came true. I feel fortunate that I was able to explore a lot there before Hurricane Ophelia, the worst storm in recorded history on the island of Ireland, arrived.
My Top 10 Great Experiences in Ireland:
1) Friendly and welcoming Irish people: The Welcome sign in Gaelic and English is everywhere in Ireland. I was impressed that the local residents are still so friendly despite the high number of tourists arrives in Ireland year after year.
2) Lively Dublin with amazing sights that are free to visit: I walked to explore Dublin on my own, and also joined a free walking tour which was excellent. I visited all the major sights such as Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Molly Malone statue, Ha’penny Bridge, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the General Post Office (site of the 1916 Easter Rising), Grafton Street (main shopping street), the Temple Bar area, and many more. I met a graduate student from Germany and we spent a wonderful afternoon enjoying tea and browsing books at a place called Books Upstairs, as well as viewing world class art collections at the National Gallery of Ireland for free.
|Molly Malone statue|
3) Comfortable train rides from Dublin to other counties and back: I had ordered my rail tickets online before my trip. It was straightforward to print the tickets at the train stations. The trains were on time, with stop announcements and monitor displays in Gaelic and English. The rides were all so relaxing.
4) Lush green scenery dotted with sheep, cows, and horses: It was a real visual treat to see one green rolling hill after another. I liked the sheep with paint on their backs for the farmers to know which sheep belong to them.
5) Beautiful landscapes in Killarney National Park and the Ring of Kerry: The mountains here are soft in appearance. Killarney National Park was simply lovely. I think I could easily spend at least a week there to hike, or go boating, or go on a buggy ride. The Ring of Kerry had amazing scenery for miles.
|Killarney National Park|
|Ring of Kerry landscape|
6) Deer seen roaming in Killarney National Park: It’s always a thrill for me to see wildlife in their natural habitat, without looking threatened by human visitors. I was very close to a mother deer and a baby deer while hiking on a trail, and saw a stag with big antlers at a distance.
7) Delicious seafood and all kinds of “Irish weather" along the Wild Atlantic Way: I had salmon and seafood chowder at different pubs and they were all delicious. On one day, the local weather changed quickly from sunny, to cloudy, to rain drizzle, to heavy rain with strong winds, and back to sunny at different parts of the Wild Atlantic Way. We faced dense fog upon arriving at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren but had fairly good weather everywhere else.
9) The friends I’ve met in Dublin and Killarney: Even in shoulder season, there were many international visitors in Ireland. I met and made new friends from Germany, and Canada.
10) The rich literature, poetry, and music throughout Ireland: What can I say? This is the country of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, and other world famous writers. The live music at Irish pubs was memorable fun.
|St. Stephen's Green Park, Dublin|
Note to self: Next time I go to Ireland, I'll definitely spend more time at Killarney National Park and along the Wild Atlantic Way.
I hope you enjoy my recap and pictures of Ireland. Please feel free to comment.