The country that I probably get the most advice asks about is Ireland. I have Irish heritage and love everything about this country. I’ve been twice – May 2011 with my ex-husband & mom and June 2016 with a group of friends for an amazing wedding. I’m still trying to figure out the format for this blog, I know I’m going to throw a lot of information at you, I’ll try to organize it so you can skip stuff you don’t care about.

General Stuff

  • Guinness. It tastes different over there and it is like angels are breathing sweet sighs on your tongue. Less calories by volume than OJ, so breakfast, lunch and dinner!
My mom and I at the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Brewery in 2011 – free beer with your tour
  • I always recommend staying with your preferred hotel chain so you can earn or use your points and perks. But in Ireland the people are great and the more touristy you go, the farther away you get from the people. Try for a mix of hotel chains, bed & breakfasts, and castles, naturally!
  • If you’re going to do ancestry research, you should do as much as you can before you arrive. We were overwhelmed while we were there.
  • You’re still going to be going to remote places where NOBODY has any cell coverage. Download the NAVMII app for the UK and ROI. It’s Google Maps offline, and was SUPER helpful and got us to all these backroad places and never had a problem. Her voice is also super breathy and sexual and it was kinda funny!
  • Driving is difficult, and harder in the west where the roads are smaller. It’s not the driving on the left that’s was so hard for me, but it’s the SUPER narrow roads and blind turns. You’ll be on a road between two major cities and it will be the size of a driveway, not even the size of on one-way street. It will be a two-lane road. The funny things that will happen to you are: accidentally using your windshield wipers when you’re trying to signal a turn, and you’ll get in on the wrong side of the car by habit at least once!
  • You need to pack as light as possible if you’re driving around. The rental cars are SMALL because the roads are small. You want a smaller car, trust me. And that means you’re not going to have a lot of trunk/boot space. Everything was very casual and comfortable, pack accordingly. If you can only bring carry-ons, that’s ideal.
  • The food is good, but of course a lot of meat and potatoes can be had. By the end of each trip I really wanted some salad.


I flew into Dublin on both trips, and of course it’s totally charming and amazing. If it’s your first trip, you’ll probably want to do what I did and are thinking about spending a lot of time in Dublin when you’re there. Dublin is a cool city, and I would totally live there, but it’s not what Ireland is all about. You want to make it to the West and spend your time there.

Stay: If you have Marriott points to burn, the Shelbourne is posh. If you don’t, that is an ideal location, look for things nearby. I stayed at Blooms Hotel on the second trip and here is my Trip Advisor review.

My favorite things in Dublin: Trinity Library. The Book of Kells is a very important literary text. But you can breeze through that pretty quickly and my fav part was going to see the Long Room in the library.

Long Room @ Trinity Library

You should also do the tourist trap thing and do the Guinness Brewery tour. Guinness tastes better over there where it’s fresh. They have a bar up at the very very top that has just shy of a 360 degree view of the whole city. Super neat.

Guinness Brewery Tour

You also need to go to Temple Bar. It’s confusing because Temple Bar is a neighborhood, and there is a bar in it called Temple Bar. Just head over to this area and walk around and grab a pint anywhere with live music. This will be all tourists and no locals, which is generally not what I’m looking for. That is why I say you need to get out of Dublin and head west. The fun shopping/walking area is called Grafton Street. I promise you there are better castles that await you than the Dublin one. Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedral are beautiful if that’s your thing.

Temple Bar in Temple Bar

On a personal note, on both trips I made a stop at Glasnevin cemetery to visit the grave of an ancestor that I’m not entirely sure how I’m related to. I think that old cemeteries are super interesting, and this one is about the size of central park.

Eats – Here’s the places I can remember from both trips that I liked:

  • Blind Pig Cocktail Club was a super cool speakeasy. I’m not going to tell you how to find it, that would be too easy.
  • Porterhouse – has multiple locations and an amazing selection of craft beers outside of the big ones you’ll find at every pub.
  • Brazen Head – Went there on both of my trips to Dublin. Oldest pub in Ireland. Touristy AF, but worth a stop for a pint!
  • @dublinbeer was fun for craft beer near the Guinness Storehouse.


Newgrange is a 5000 year old passage tomb at Bru na Boinne. Super interesting for a side-trip. If you can snag a spot to go on the solstice, that would be totally ideal, but hard to do.



This was an amazing little town that I really liked the vibe of. Visited on the first trip. My ex really liked the tour of Smithwick’s brewery & St Francis Abbey. My mom and I loved going to Kilkenny castle. I would definitely recommend checking out the Rock of Chashel, nearby. Stayed at the Pembroke, which was fine.


Do you like whiskey? I like whiskey. (Spell it with an E in Ireland!). Definitely recommend a stop at the Jameson Heritage Center in Middleton. There’s another Jameson place somewhere, but the Middleton one is where you want to go. My thoughts about distilleries is this: you can go to a couple and learn how it’s made and do some tasting. But you’re not going to learn too much new and they’re not reinventing the wheel if you go to a bunch of different places. Pick your favorites, even if you’re a die-hard. There are only tourists at the distilleries. The locals are at the pubs, and you can do just as much sampling there.


This was an amazing little village. A sleepy fishing town that was our first taste of what smaller Irish life was like. Right on the water, with amazingly colorful buildings. They have night time ghost tours, which we didn’t take but were super popular. One of the best B&B experiences I’ve ever had was here – Staying at the Olde Bakery was like staying with your grandparents having them cook for you and make you feel at home and dote on you. Super charming. We went to the Charles Fort, which was kinda neat, especially for the great view; but honestly you’re going to see a lot of ruins and stuff and we could have probably skipped this one.


Yeah, it’s super touristy. Yeah, the locals allegedly pee on the Blarney stone because they think they’re funny being assholes to the Americans. Don’t care. Loved it, thought it was surprisingly fun and cool. I wouldn’t go back unless I was with someone who really wanted to go, but I would recommend first-timers to check it out.

I try to avoid them, but this is one of my favorite touristy experiences

West Coast

On the west coast of Ireland, there are three peninsulas that are just ridiculously gorgeous. Beara, Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. Everyone goes to the RofK and Dingle, but our B&B host one night said that you should totally go to Beara instead because it’s just as beautiful and less people go. We didn’t make it, but I want to go back. You just drive around these peninsulas, when you see a pretty view with a pull-out, you stop, take some pictures for three minutes, then put your camera down and absorb the beauty for four minutes, and get in your car and go again. Stop when you’re hungry. The Rick Steve’s Book was super helpful at letting you know where you are and what you’re looking at. Obviously, better weather is more helpful here.

We stayed in Kenmare because it was at the base of the RofK (north of Baera) and it was an amazing small town to check out. Stayed at the SallyPort House: gorgeous antiques, gardens, and surrounded on 3 sides by gorgeous water. Walking to the town for dinner and drinks led to one of the funniest stories I have about my mom, but I’ll have to tell you over a pint. The next time I’m in the area, I will stay at the Park Hotel Kenmare. If you can’t stay here, at least stop in the amazing bar they have in the lobby for an Irish Coffee. One of the nicest bartenders I’ve ever met had a great conversation about whiskey and Lady Gaga with my mom and I. You’ll feel like you’re at Downton Abbey. One of the TOP FIVE MEALS OF MY LIFE was at Mulcahy’s. You should go out of your way to go there.

Park Hotel Kenmare

The town of Dingle was super cool. Cute shopping and the pubs were AMAZING. A lot of them were double duty – hardware store by day, pub by night. Lots of tourists, but I was kinda OK with it. Stayed at the Barr Na Sraide B&B, which was fine. When you’re driving around here, I would recommend trying to take the Connor Pass if the weather is clear because the view is amazing and there’s a cool waterfall.

The roads in Dingle were no joke!

You know how in Star Wars Episode 7, at the very end, Rey goes to a remote island and it’s so amazingly beautiful? (Update – and it’s in Episode 8!) That’s Skellig Michael, and I didn’t get to go there, but I’m dyyyyyiiiing to.

On the way to our next stop at Tralee (picked as a convenient waypoint), we stopped for pictures in scenic Brandon Bay, which was cool. We stayed at the Glenogue House B&B and it was super cute and on a working sheep farm. Very kind family.

Cliffs of Moher

Been there on both trips. **IF YOU GO TO IRELAND AND DON’T GO TO THE CLIFFS OF MOHER, I’M GOING TO BE MAD AT YOU** There are few places on the planet that have a “knock you upside the head ridiculous” view like this. Machu Picchu, Santorini, Grand Canyon, and Cliffs of Moher are all like this for me. You pay for parking and go walk around the cliffs for free. Plan to walk around a bit. Dress warm. The next time I go, I want to do one of the boat tours to see the cliffs from the water. But that’s very weather dependent. Nearby check out Moran’s Oyster Cottage.

Maybe don’t wear flip flops or a skirt at the Cliffs. I was freezing.


For the wedding I went to in 2016, we were based out of Galway. It’s a total university town, and super fun. Great nightlife where you can go out to the pubs and listen to the real awesome live music. I think the one we liked the most was the King’s Head. I went on the first trip too, and really like the feel here. Near Galway is Connemara National Park. Totally gorgeous. The bride and groom took everyone on a coach tour around the day before the wedding. Definitely check out Kylemore Abbey (see banner photo) – Instagrammable AF. Stayed at Petra House B&B (nice people!) the first trip and the Clayton the second.

Connemara National Park


I stayed in two castles while we were there on the first trip. AMAZING. But seriously, if your castle doesn’t have a helipad, should you even bother?? Ashford (might be harder to go now, it’s where they film Reign on the WB) and Dromoland used to be Ritz Carlton (and therefore Marriott) properties, and I stayed on points and got dope upgrades. Both of these places offer falconry, which we all thought was SUPER awesome. Just something neat and unique that you’re really not going to find many other places in the world you’re going to get to do it. The wedding we went to was in Cloonacauneen Castle, and that was fabulous too! You can stop by there for a pint.

Ashford Castle
Our falconer at Dromoland castle with a Peregrine Falcon

Stuff I’ve never done and want to do on my next trip

Northern Ireland in general, haven’t looked into too many specifics. I would like to see the Giant’s Causeway. Saw a continuation of the same formation in Scotland (Fingal’s Cave) and thought it was just so neat. As I mentioned before, Skellig Michael for sure.



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