- Blarney Castle
If you look in any book of pictures of Ireland, you are bound to see many pictures of castles. Before coming here, I’d never been to a castle before so I jumped at the chance of seeing as many as I could in Ireland. I quickly realized that the castles that are more like museums or are situated in the middle of a town, such as Kilkenny Castle, aren’t very interesting to me. Then I went to Blarney Castle and I’m pretty sure I stepped into a fairy tale. Unlike Dublin Castle and Kilkenny Castle, Blarney Castle isn’t in the middle of town but instead is surrounded by an estate that has trails, gardens with waterfalls, cows and horses, and a lake. I really enjoyed the ISA trip there, especially the freedom we had to wander and explore. Inside the castle, you can kiss the famous Blarney Stone, which is supposed to give you the gift of the gab. I can’t say it’s working for me yet, but at least Blarney Castle didn’t let me down.
- Fairie Ring + Cliffs of Moher
On the ISA excursion to Galway, we spent a day touring the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. There’s a reason why the cliffs are one of the most popular tourist’s destinations in Ireland. It’s one of the sights that you look at and think “I can’t believe I’m seeing this with my own eyes”. Although I was afraid the wind was going to carry me right off the cliff, I couldn’t help but want to keep exploring and taking a million pictures. Google a picture right now of the Cliffs of Moher and the beauty will speak for itself.
On the way to the cliffs, our lovely guide Michael took us to a fairie ring. It’s a small area where the raised ground around the edge makes a ring that houses the fairies. It’s a sacred sight that no Irishmen would dare destroy, for it is the home of friendly spirits that supposedly help with problems. I would recommend that anyone go, especially those that need some peace or some help from the fairies. If you want to see a beautiful spot that really makes you feel like you’re in Ireland, this is the spot.
Glendalough is a park located in County Wicklow, and isn’t too far away from Dublin. The name means “Valley of the Two Lakes” and is not only home the two lakes but also a medieval monastic site founded by St. Kevin. Glendalough is a really nice place to visit if you want to see some trees and climb some hills. It offers a sweet relief of natural beauty, which I welcomed after being in the city most of the time.
- The Sea – Dunlaoghaire and Clifden
I am from Indiana. We don’t have an ocean there, so anytime I get to see the sea it feels like the greatest day of my life. On my first weekend here in Dublin, I took the short bus ride to the coastal town of Dun Laoghaire (pronounced dun-leery). There was the sea. The sun was shining, the water was full of sailboats and even a seal swam by! To add to the magical day, I ate the freshest fish and chips right on the pier. If you come to Ireland please please please eat these fish and chips ( or at least some fish and chips).
Another amazing view of the sea can be found in a small coastal town called Clifden, which is on the west coast of Ireland (opposite of Dun Laoghaire). A few friends and I decided we’d try camping in Ireland and we found a campsite right on the coast. Now I’m sure that it would be great in the summer, but the wind was something fierce in October! Still a treat to see the ocean though, and the scenery of the whole Connemara area is really breathtaking and worth seeing.
Want to read more about Ireland? Check out “4 Reasons You Should Study Abroad on the Emerald Isle”