March Newsletter from Lovejoy Travel Agency
The Emerald Isle:
Must-Visit Destinations throughout Ireland
I was at it once more, this time traveling across the pond to Ireland. I was invited by Celtic Tours (pronounced Keltic) to explore the beautiful lands and lovely people. I came back with a soft soul and appreciation for their history, hardship, and humor. Let me take you through my journey as it was.  
Dublin: I flew in with a dear friend a day before the tour to defeat jet lag and explore Dublin a bit on our own. We stayed at Clontarf Castle in a town where Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, grew up. The stonework and architecture was beautiful. After we took in the scene, we dropped our bags and caught a bus to Dublin. It was an easy, cheap, and fun to get around. We explored Trinity College, did a whiskey tasting at Teeling (based on a recommendation from an Irish man we met on the airplane. PS I highly recommend chatting with the locals).
We strolled through Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral all before finding a pub to have our first official Irish Guinness of the trip. At home I love to put a shot of Frangelico in my Guinness to make it a bit sweet. I have to say it was hard to find Frangelico, and I am pretty sure that the bartenders lied to me when I asked as they were afraid that I was going to ruin their “God’s nectar.” It was all in good fun!  
Wicklow: The next morning we headed southeast to Wicklow to explore the Brook Lodge an Macreddin Village. It was lovely spot if you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of day-to-day. They have wonderful grounds for a wedding, offer organic cooking classes and relaxing spa treatments. Work off that made-from-scratch feast with a walk through the magnificent countryside.  
Enniscorthy: We moved on to Enniscorthy, this cute little town further south. My friend and I ventured off and had lunch at a lovely deli where a sweet older man took good care of us. A boy and his parents were also having lunch. They were so cute together and they taught us how you ‘properly’ eat chips with vinegar. The kindness of the Irish people was so heartwarming. We didn’t leave without seeing Enniscorthy Castle, the cemetery at St. Aidan’s Cathedral and Vinegar Hill where a rebellion took place in 1798. 
Cobh: Cobh is the Irish term for ‘cove’ and is pronounced as such. Cobh was the last stop before the Titanic set out for the Atlantic. They have beautiful museums including the Cobh Heritage Museum and Titanic Experience Cobh where you get Boarding Passes upon entrance for real people that sailed the ship. Throughout the tour, you follow the history of that person on your boarding pass to find out their fate. It’s such a touching way to feel for the people who experienced the tragedy.  
Blarney : My HIGHLIGHT! I adored exploring Blarney Castle and envisioning royalty strolling through the rooms. The story of the Blarney Stone states that Cormac Laidir McCathry was told by the goddess Cliodhna to kiss the first stone he found on the morning of his court hearing where he was involved in a lawsuit. This would allow him the gift of eloquence to get him out of his trouble. To his surprise, it worked. He wanted to keep the stone safe, so he hid it on the top of the castle. To kiss the stone, we had to lean backwards over the edge, held by an employee. This stone has now been kissed by millions of people to gain the same gift. 
Dingle Peninsula: Heading out to the west coast, Dingle house the inspiring Beehive huts that were designed for the monks on pilgrimage. This is also one of many places where you will find a mass amount of stone walls. These walls are protected and people are not allowed to moved the stones, even if property lines change. The stones themselves come from the field. The Irish landscape are full of these stones and needed to be unearthed for proper farming. Not only do the walls draw property lines, but it also keeps the animals contained.

If the stone work doesn’t impress you, the beach and cliffs will. If you are more into history, the area is peppered with Famine Cemeteries. During the potato famine, people died so quickly that graves couldn’t be dug for each one. Instead, they have mass graves identified by a single stone cross. Very few people in the area survived the potato famine. 
Cliffs of Moher : Ireland’s most visited natural attraction for its majestic beauty. The cliff rises right out of the Atlantic Ocean and is beaten by the waves crashing into the side. Gillemonts and puffins nest in the ledges of the cliff. There is a path opposite the cliff that leads to O’Brien’s Tower if you are looking for an alternative view of the beauty. I especially like the Guinness Beef Stew that was served, and can't emphasize enough how much you will enjoy the warm, hearty meals when you visit. 
Killarney: Killarney was my favorite town. It was just the right size, not too small to get board and not too big to get lost. They had a great mix of shopping, pubs and restaurants. I met so many locals that shared their jokes and quick wit. The night life was booming and it was a great home base as we made our way to the Dingle Peninsula and back. The group went out of our way to take a Jaunting ride (horse drawn carriage ride). I was reluctant as I felt that we have horse drawn carriage rides at home. What we are missing at home is the Irish charm of the driver, the funny stories and the Irish accent that makes the ride one of my most memorable events of the trip.

One last stop in Dublin : Back to Dublin where learned how to pour the perfect Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse, had lunch at a pub, and made our way to my favorite hotel, Fitzpatrick Castle. You can see how the authentic structure of this castle and the elegant furniture add to the experience. It’s a short ride into the city, but they have the Dungeon Bar in the hotel which is a must-see. I chatted with a really nice Irishman who owned a “garment” business where he makes wool sweaters. The pride of his business and his family linage was so sweet. Bright and early, we headed to the airport. In Dublin, you go through customs before you board the airplane, so we didn’t have to do it in the states. It was an easy 8-hour flight where I watched movies on the back screen (The Meg, Peppermint, and Mama Mia), read and took a little nap.