A Honeymooner’s Guide to Ireland

It’s been a month since we returned back to the states from the most amazing week in Ireland. It’s crazy to say, but I’m still kind of floating around work and find myself day-dreaming about our time there. It was the kind of trip where everything feels serendipitous; we literally followed rainbows to their ends. It felt like we were on some kind of imaginary yellow-brick-road and there is literally only one thing we would have done differently and that’s add more days in Killarney and Galway (but I’ll get there). Really the best way to see Ireland through our honeymoon eyes is to watch this recap video Kyle made. It is perfect and I couldn’t write enough words to describe how perfect it was so maybe the imagery will help.

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A couple of great things we did that made the trip what it was:

  • Rented a car and drove from city to city
  • Booked through a Vacation site (Great Value Vacations); we saved thousands and they organized everything, which was needed with the wedding planning as well
  • Planned only the main things we wanted to see in each city; it was hard to not have an itinerary, but it was amazing to be able to explore and stumble upon things
  • Talked to locals… we made friends in every city and they changed our plans for us to make sure we did things the way they would (none of that super touristy stuff)
  • Did a honeymoon photoshoot; you don’t realize how hard it is to get pics of you both together on your honeymoon that aren’t selfies! I’ll link some from our shoot below, but it was the best way to see Galway while capturing memories we’ll have forever

Here’s a rundown on the cities we went to and the things we did. Putting a one out of ten next to each so you know which ones matter most:

Kilkenny:

*The people here don’t like outsiders as much as other places (not that I blame them because their town is adorable and a lot of us Americans are not haha!). It’s more of a “through town” though; great to stop in for a bite to eat and a pint, but then I’d suggest getting moving to the next stop on your list*

  • Hungry Moose 9/10 (Head chef used to work for Beyoncé – no biggie. Amazing burgers! Add grilled pineapple to whatever you get and thank me later.)
  • Dylan’s Whiskey Bar 7/10 (Vibe is great. Drinks are fairly priced. Bartender was not a fan of women sitting at the bar and this American babe wasn’t about that life.)
  • Kilkenny Castle 10/10 (This was the best way to tour a castle. Unlike the bigger cities, there weren’t drones of people and it felt like we really got the full experience… there’s also a really amazing market set up right outside and the hot chocolate is out of this world!)

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Cork:

*I thought I would be obsessed with Cork and not want to leave, but to be honest, it reminded me of any college town back home; not a bad thing, just an observation. We didn’t have a full day there, so that might be why it didn’t have time to win me over, but the one place we ate at sure did it’s part to. Dwyer’s Pub was so cute and quaint. I loved how everything in Cork centered around music and Dwyer’s was no different. I had some of the best carrot & ginger soup with homemade soda bread and it just warmed me from the inside out*

Killarney:

*MY FAVORITE! MY FAVORITE! I can’t scream it enough. As soon as we turned onto the main street I was in awe. This town looked like something right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Our hotel was the most amazing place we stayed the whole trip. It was cozy and just fancy enough without feeling stuffy. They constantly had a fire going in the lobby and we could walk to everything from there*

  • Killarney Royal Hotel 10/10 (The most amazing hotel I have maybe ever stayed in… we were greeted with a plate of sweets. I mean, come on!)

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  • Killarney Grand Pub 10/10 (Hands down we had the most fun here. The bartender, Shane, was a true guardian angel of our trip. He literally told us to scrap our bus tour for the Ring of Kerry we had scheduled for the next day and follow directions he wrote for us on a cocktail napkin… and we did. I’m going to share it with you below.)
  • Laurels 8/10 (Crowded with locals and amazing way to experience the true heart of Killarney. Everyone was celebrating the birth of their friends’ baby when we were in there and it felt like we were a part of it. Maybe a little much if you have anxiety or don’t like crowded spaces, but the food is worth it.)
  • Cronins 10/10 (amazing Italian food… you heard me right. Great atmosphere and you feel like one of the locals. Three doors down from the Killarney Royal – make a reservation!)

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  • Celtic Donuts 10/10 (I mean… they’re donuts. Mouth watering. Fresh baked. The employees cheer for you because you say you just got married… donuts).
  • Ring of Kerry 10/10 (by far the coolest things we did the whole trip! An 8-hour day of exploring, stopping along the way, taking pictures, listening to Irish song recommendations from new friends at the Grand Pub the night before. It was perfect – here are Shane’s directions)…

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Along the Ring of Kerry:

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  • The Lobster in Waterville 9/10 (For a warm meal… and their french fries)
  • Avoca 10/10 (Pull off area with café upstairs; between Kenmare and Killarney on M71. The most perfect spot for views and hot chocolate… bonus if you go when it’s almost Christmas)
  • Ladies View Outlook 10/10 (Breathtaking views and not too crowded because most bus tours don’t stop there)

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  • Killarney National Park 10/10 (here’s a photo that doesn’t need an explanation)

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Galway:

*Another top of the list city for us… Wow, wow, wow! This city has everything*

  • Menlo Park Hotel 7/10 (I wished our hotel was a little closer to downtown center. It’s very nice in the lobby and had the best breakfast of all the places we stayed but the rooms were outdated and a little musty. Still a warm, safe place to lay your head that’s affordable!)
  • The Front Door 6/10 (Wait staff wasn’t great, but the food was. After a while in Ireland you get real tired of potatoes and the pizza here was definitely worth having!)
  • Espresso 44 10/10 (BEST COFFEE IN IRELAND… I am convinced)
  • Butler’s Chocolates 10/10 (Mouthwatering… and I mean, how can you go wrong with chocolate?)
  • Garvey’s Inn 10/10 (Really unique pub that plays American football games! Kyle loved this because he could catch some of what was going on back home.)
  • Burger Story 8/10 (Tight seating arrangements but the burgers… oh my goodness)
  • Shop Street 10/10 (The whole Galway experience from start to finish…)
  • Eyres Square 10/10
  • Middle Street 10/10
  • Cladagh Beach 10/10 (The most amazing views of the colorful houses you know and love from all Galway screensavers.)
  • Kate Nolan Photography 100/10 (Yes, I meant to put the extra 0. Kate went above and beyond for us. She picked us up at our hotel, did a portrait session with us, let us change outfits, introduced us to Espresso 44… the list goes on. Most of all though, she gave us the images below that will forever encompass the time of our lives that this honeymoon was.)

Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )Photo by: Kate Nolan Phptography ( www.katenolanphotography.com )

Dublin:

*Like any city, Dublin has it’s overwhelming portions (peoples, bikes, buses, etc. all seem like a lot more than they are when you’re coming from small seaside villages). If we could do the trip over again, we would do only one day in Dublin and a day to Killarney or Galway*

  • Stayed in Dalkey at the Fitzpatrick Castle 10/10 (The most amazing staff and character, but VERY haunted. We’re talking giggles at the foot of our bed at 3 a.m…Peep the green orbs around Kyle’s legs in the third picture below.)

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  • Queens Bar 6/10 (Good spot to re-fuel but very slow service if you’re in a hurry to catch a train)
  • Took the train from Dalkey to Dublin and it was so affordable and way better than driving in and finding parking that doesn’t exist 10/10
  • Trinity College / Book of Kells 10/10 (Must-see)
  • Graffton Street 10/10 (Love the character of the street and the buskers who you just feel like will all be famous one day)
  • The International Bar 10/10 (You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but they do comedy on the third floor every night. It’s the oldest comedy club in Ireland. We saw an improv show the night we were there and it was incredible. We laughed so hard we were crying!!)
  • Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour 10/10 (Makes getting around Dublin much more accessible. Start early and you can do pretty much everything in one day!)
  • Kilmainham Jail Tour 10/10 (Spooky, thorough, so much history, so many stories… a little more uncommon to do when you’re in Dublin, but so worth it)
  • Rolling Donut 5/10 (I mean all donuts are great, but honestly they didn’t compare to the ones in Killarney.)
  • O’Connell Street 10/10
  • Beshop Fish & Chips 8/10 (the place to go in Dublin for sure-fire fish and chips. I mean two points off because my breading was falling off, but really I can’t complain.)

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So there you have it… the best spots to go as your travel through Ireland, or just dream about going to when you’re home and not planning any trips for a while. This was by far the trip of a lifetime for us and I am so grateful we got to experience it. What’s been your favorite trip you’ve ever taken?

Just because I promised to make this a comprehensive guide, here’s a playlist that is just long enough to keep you dancing on a road trip from Kilkenny to Galway. Make sure you download it since you won’t have service!

Here’s to taking a much-needed re-charge with the family for Christmas & New Years and seeing you again in 2020! Happy Holidays, friends.

xx

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