Over the summer, Eric and I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ireland. Eric is of Irish descent, so he was extra excited to check out where his family is from (and drink beer…lots and lots of beer)! We were invited to a family friends wedding and decided to make a week-long trip out of it. We traveled with both Eric’s mom and sister and we had an absolute blast. Rather than spending most of our time in Dublin, we received great advice and got out into the Irish country-side. I am going to be sharing what we did, where we did it and how to plan an unforgettable trip to Ireland!
Obviously we had to spend some time in Dublin, which is where we started our trip! We took a redeye into the Dublin airport and landed in the morning. Taking a redeye is always a bit risky because you never know if you will sleep or not, but we managed to sleep a little before landing. From there, our first stop was…you guessed it, the Guinness Factory!
Despite how cliche this might sound, you have to do a tour of the Guinness Factory! We spent a few hours walking through the multi-level factory, learning about their beer-making process and drinking beer! When you do the tour, you get a voucher to either learn how to pour a perfect glass of Guinness (and then drink it) or head up to the Gravity Bar and have a drink. The Guiness Factory is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin, so the Gravity Bar gives you a great view fo the city! Don’t forget to also check out the Jameson Distilleries as well!
Shops, Restaurants & Bars
There are tons and tons of amazing shops, restaurants and pubs in Ireland. We really just walked around the city for the whole day, eating the local fare and checking out the local shops. One thing you will find in most of the clothing shops is a huge variety of wool goods. All of the wool is cultivated in Ireland and was something we knew we needed to bring home as a souvenir (check out the wool cape I brought home)!
Check out some of my Ireland outfits here!
After enjoying Dublin for two days, we all piled into a small SUV and hit the road! We drove along the southern coast of Ireland heading West to our next destination, the Dingle Peninsula. We were on the highway for a little while, but as we neared Dingle, we had to switch over to the winding, country roads that you are probably envisioning. The roads were very narrow and were lined with stone walls and sprawling hills filled with sheep! We decided to skip the Blarney Stone because it was a little out of the way. We were told that we weren’t missing anything, but if you decide that this is a must-see for you, this would be the time to add in the stop!
We decided that instead of staying in regular hotels, we would be staying at Bed & Breakfast’s while travelling the countryside! Our B&B was just outside of town, surrounded by hills and sheep. The B&B owners allowed us to go up into the hills and get some great shots of the landscape! The breakfast room was basically a greenhouse, with windows on the walls and ceiling. Ireland during the summer has only a few hours of darkness, so we were able to sit in the sunroom at 11pm and watch the sunset!
From there, we ventured into the amazing town of Dingle, which had the most beautiful and colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, pubs and views of the ocean! We immediately ducked into the first pub that we saw and ordered Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips and Corned Beef before heading out to explore. We stopped in every pub that looked old and had an “Est.” date on the sign and learned a ton about the history of the town, which sits on the Western-most part of Ireland.
My sister-in-law and I did some shopping of course and found a store with amazing Fascinators that we each purchased to go with the outfits we were planning to wear to the wedding. On our way out of town we were told that we had to do the drive around the peninsula. We saw the most amazing historic thatched roof huts and drove on top of the cliffs around the peninsula.
From Dingle, we drove North up to Galway. Similar to Dublin, Galway is a larger and more established city with great shops, restaurants, pubs, cobblestone streets and historic views! We only spent one day in Galway, which we felt was enough to get the lay of the land and the culture and vibes of Galway! We stayed in a B&B just outside of Galway and were hosted by Mrs. Doubtfire. I kid you not, the owner of the B&B that we stayed at looked and sounded exactly like Mrs. Doubtfire. She was absolutely adorable and made the most amazing toast with Irish butter! Staying at her B&B was one of the highlights of our trip!
Cliffs of Moher
Just outside of Galway are the famous Cliffs of Moher. This is definitely a more touristy spot, but totally worth the trip! After checking in you are basically set free to climb the steps and pathways up to the top of the Cliffs. It is a bit treaterous and definitely chilly, so I would suggest wearing sneakers and a jacket or windbreaker. In fact, I would suggest bringing warm clothes for Ireland in general. It was about 50 degrees our entire trip, which was in early July. The views walking up the cliffs were absolutely stunning and are memories that I will have forever. We even framed a photo that Eric took on the Cliffs and hung it in our home!
Our next stop was to head to the Aran Islands. We took a ferry from Doolin to Inisheer, which is the smallest of the three islands and the shortest ferry ride. Once we docked on the island, we headed to the nearest rental shop to rent bikes for our self-guided tour. We rode around the entire island, taking in all of the sites, historic buildings, shipwrecks and beautiful buildings.
Once we finished our tour, we stopped in a dock-side restaurant called Tigh Ned for a quick lunch. We were told in advance to order whatever the Special was for the day, which was a Lobster Salad that day. Well, the special did not disappoint. The Lobster Salad was actaully an entire lobster sitting ontop of a few greens. It was the freshest and most delicious lobster any of us have ever eaten before, likely because it was caught just outside that same day! Before heading back to the mainland on the ferry, we picked up some homemade fudge as well!
After ferrying back to Doolin, we started our journey back East toward Dublin. This time, we drove on the Northern highway to hit a few sights. We decided to stop in Athlone because we were sick of driving and it was the biggest city on our way to Clonmacnoise (see next section). While we were there recharging, we stumbled upon the oldest pub in the world, Sean’s Bar, which is said to have been built in 900AD! (check out this post where we stopped at America’s Oldest Bar). There was a spot in the wall where you could still see the mud and stick construction, which was totally cool to see!
Clonmacnoise is an old Monastary dating back to 544AD. We had the opportunity to watch a short film outlining the history of the site in the visitor’s center before getting to explore the ruins. Everything was really beautiful and was definitely worth the trip!
Newgrange is said to be the “Stonehedge of Ireland” and is a prehistoric monument surrounded by grass huts. These ruins were absolutely spectacular and are by far the oldest ruins that I have ever seen in person. I would highly recommend checking these out if you are in the area!
If you recall from the beginning of this post, our entire trip to Ireland was for a wedding! Well, we started in Dublin, drove counter-clockwise around Ireland and landed back on the East coast, just outside of Dublin, at Slane Castle. The ceremony was in a beautiful church and the reception was at the famous Castle, that is used for all types of events including concerts and weddings!
What does one wear to a wedding in an Irish Castle? If there was ever a chance to go over-the-top, this was it. My my sister-in-law and I donned the hand-made fascinators that we purchased in Dingle to make sure we felt fancy and European! I decided to pair my fascinator with this super classy nude lace and mesh dress. I actually wore this dress to my rehearsal dinner and I was excited to get to wear it again. I opted for nude stiletto heels and emerald accessories for my purse and earrings. I curled my hair with the Sultra Bombshell Iron, which I’ve had for a few year and still love love love.
I hope you enjoyed reliving our Irish trip! Check out my outfit details below!
Dress – BCBG (similar, similar) | Heels – Theory (similar) | Clutch (Michael Kors, similar, less expensive) | Earrings (Amrita Singh) | Bracelets (David Yurman, Cuff, love this) | Fascinator (Irish boutique) | Hair (Sultra)
The vacation was amazing and the wedding was beautiful! I hope you enjoyed this post. Happy Shopping!