We are still riding the high of traveling to Europe after not being able to travel to that part of the world for a while. Last month we had the opportunity to take part in a group tour through Ireland led by Celtic Tours. Along with 20 other travel agents from around the US, we took part in a whirlwind 5-day FAM (destination familiarization) Visit to cities such as Waterford, Cork, Killarney, Adare, Dingle, Galway, and we began and ended in Dublin.
After a long flight into Dublin, we were met by Sean and Chelsea, our very informative tour guides and driver for the week, at the airport with the rest of the group. After everyone was loaded and accounted for, we headed out of Dublin to our first of many stops, Powers Court Estates outside of Dublin. This stop set the stage for the gorgeous scenery, lush gardens, gorgeous architecture, and stories that are embedded everywhere in this cheeky country. The moment we were outside of Dublin city limits you immediately felt like you were transported to a simpler time in Europe. The lush green countryside is something out of a fairytale; the abundance of sheep roaming the fields (remind us to tell you a FUNNY breeding story about sheep!), the quaint colorful doors and houses with thatched roofs are so whimsical and absolutely picture perfect, and the people you meet along the way have a very strong connection with their country (and did I mention they have a silly sense of humor too?).
Starting out the week, we experienced a walking tour of Waterford and a lovely overnight stay at the Dooley's Hotel. Waterford, a darling seaport town located in southeast Ireland, is the country’s oldest city and home to the famed glass manufacturer, Waterford Crystal. After a nice morning spent learning about the intricacies of glass blowing and the intense apprenticeship requirements, we set out for the world-famous Blarney Castle. This was easily one of the best stops on the tour. To Kiss the Blarney Stone does take a little courage and one must be ready to make the climb of 100+ steps up a very narrow stairwell, where two professionals meet you at the to help you get in position to kiss the Blarney Stone. We learned that as popular as this is, only 50% of people who visit actually Kiss the Blarney Stone! After Blarney, we forged ahead to the lovely town of Killarney, where we called the Killarney Towers our home for the next two nights. Killarney was a delightful town with cobblestone streets lined with pubs and shops, and live music was plentiful! This is where Kate properly “Split the G” on her first go (A Drinking Game with Guinness!) and Casey was properly introduced to Jameson Gingers and may have found a new preferred drink. The next 48 hours took us to Cork to visit the Lovely River Lee Hotel and the adorable English Market along with more countryside views that are too beautiful to describe, especially in the darling town of Adare and the stunning Dingle Peninsula, where the Dingle Hotel played host to us for a site inspection and offered us delightful tiny sandwiches and beverages. It was this area of Ireland that proved that even a dreary day in Ireland is gorgeous! After Killarney, we headed to the infamous Cliffs of Moher; they were beautiful and quite majestic. This was a perfect pitstop on our way up to Galway, which was one of our personal favorite stops. We got to Galway just in time to experience the start of Galway European Markets. This was a great place to grab a mulled cider or Irish Coffee before wandering the markets and making a stop into the Kings Head Pub, which we really enjoyed. We then completed our tour in Dublin by visiting the Guinness Storehouse, which is a must see in our opinion, as it’s a very interactive brewery dating back to the late 1790s. The EPIC Immigration Museum told stories of the past and the Merry Ploughboy Show was a perfect way to immerse ourselves in Irish Music and Dance. Dublin is a lively metropolis filled with art, music, and gorgeous architecture, surely one will find many ways to fill their day in this walkable city.
One thing was clear during our short time in Ireland is that hospitality is alive and well; Ireland is ready for you to visit! As long as you have a vaccination card to show (as you will need this to enter restaurants, museums, etc.) there is no shortage of things to do, see, eat (and DRINK!) in Ireland. The country is full of charm and there is something for everyone and every age: city life, nature, pubs, music, castles, history, excursion options, tours, and more. Travel Agent Tip: Visiting in the Fall will allow you to view gorgeous foliage colors and the lines won't be as long! Reach out to Casey or Kate today to plan your group or private Ireland experience. The Emerald Isle awaits you!
Independent Consultant (contractor partner under Mode Travel Agency, Inc)