By Molly O’Neil
Photos courtesy of Nancy O’Neil
Ireland is the exact opposite of a sunny and warm beach vacation.
The weather forecast is basically the same year round for Ireland, which is in the mid 50’s with rain showers. You don’t even have to think of outfits to wear in the morning because you need similar pieces daily: a rain jacket, sneakers, a sweater, and jeans.
A car is also a necessity in Ireland if you wish to travel around. I highly recommend traveling to multiple counties from Dublin because there are unforgettable landmarks all over the country.
The Ring of Kerry is in the county of Kerry. The Ring is more than 100 miles long with pockets of natural scenery.
I loved the Ring of Kerry ( www.ringofkerrytourism.com ) because it was foggy on the day that we toured it. The mist made it more difficult to see rock formations in the distance, but it also brought out the colors of the land.
Another green location in Ireland is the Cliffs of Moher. By car, you can travel from Kerry to the county of Clare ( www.cliffsofmoher.ie ). All there is to do is to look at the view, but it is worth the travel time of three hours.
The moment that you notice how high up you are is exhilarating. The wind is crazy and whips everything around. The Cliffs of Moher are made up of 702-foot tall rocks that stand against the Atlantic Ocean. There is a walkway on top of the cliffs and an observation building for visitors called O’Brien’s Tower.
A more interactive place to go would be Blarney Castle in Cork, which is about a two-hour driving distance from Clare. My family and I wanted to get the gift of gab, so we kissed the Blarney Stone.
The Blarney Stone is a brick in Blarney Castle that is believed by the Irish to give fluency in speaking to whoever kisses it. The stone’s origin is unclear because people have different accounts of how it was stolen from Ireland and then taken back.
I didn’t know this before the trip, but in order to get to the Blarney Stone, you have to walk up several stairs. Then, an employee would hold you upside-down while you grabbed onto bars and kissed the Blarney Stone.
For people who are unable to climb the stairs and go upside-down, you should take a walk through the gardens surrounding the castle ( www.blarneycastle.ie ).
The Irish are known for their beer, so touring the Guinness factory in Dublin is always a good idea. The beer-making process was explained and there is a station to sample the product. The price for a ticket into the Guinness Storehouse is 16.50 euros (www.guinness-storehouse.com).
I’m sure that the adults in my family would encourage others to take a trip to the beer factory because they believe that the Guinness beer in Ireland is much better than the American version. As a teenager, however, I was thoroughly bored because I don’t like the smell or taste of beer.
One of the places I didn’t like visiting was Waterford. It takes an hour and a half to drive from Dublin to Waterford. When I went into the Waterford Visitor Center I was told that the crystal in the store wasn’t even created in Ireland, which was a letdown ( www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com ).
I skipped out on buying the expensive Waterford Crystal and walked around the area instead. There was nothing for tourists in Waterford besides the Waterford Crystal Center so unless you’re a crystal fanatic, skip this location.
Ireland abounds with locations for tourists to stay, from a family’s abode to the Lough Rynn Castle. The only downfall to posh locations such as Lough Rynn is its overpriced food. You’re better off finding sustenance elsewhere. I can’t complain too much about the castle, however, because the interior was extravagant with large beds, two baths, and many pillows ( www.loughrynn.ie ).
Although I wasn’t able to enjoy white sand and crystal blue waters on this vacation, Ireland’s charm is in its misty local. I encourage you to check it out for yourselves.
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