Ireland was a wonderful place to start my journey, especially because I was fortunate enough to be there with my family. Having them around for the beginning of such an experience was comforting and encouraging, and exploring the country with them also proved to be a classic Doyle family experience. Great food, even better conversation, and lots of moments that I’ll cherish forever.
We started in Dublin with a couple of days to explore the city on foot. Grafton Street, which is a main street of sorts there, had a steady stream of Irish folks and tourists, and we spent a good amount of time branching off from there to find great restaurants and bars. One day we walked to a delicious little coffee shop that was recommended to me by my friend Garrett. It’s called 3FE and it had a beautifully modern and minimalist aesthetic to it. The same day we then ventured over to St. Stephens Green, which is a gorgeous park right near Grafton Street. Another fairly famous part of Dublin that we visited that day was the Guinness Factory. This was such a fun experience/tour, particularly because at the end you get to learn how to pour a Guinness and then of course, you get to drink it. For me, this was big because it’s where I would learn that I really like Guinness; the first beer that I actually enjoy.
That day (June 26th) was also a day I will never forget because it was the day that the United States Supreme Court granted marriage equality across all 50 states. With the limited Wi-Fi I had at the time, I was nervously checking Twitter and all sorts of news sources for the good news. When it did come, I immediately told my family and we all celebrated the news with our Guinness, right there in the factory. Although it was a bit of a bummer that I couldn’t be with my friends in DC at the time, it was exciting to be in Ireland with their own recent passing of gay marriage and with my loving and supporting family.
After those first days in Dublin we rented a car and then began our journey throughout the country. Our first stop after leaving Dublin was Cork, a great little city that we would stay in for two nights. Each day we would usually venture out to a nearby coastal town or neighborhood and tool around for a bit before heading back toward Cork. Two of those places would be Kenmare and the Dingle Peninsula, both of which were beautiful in their own right. Kenmare was a quaint little town built around a small bay. We had lunch here and then drove to the end of the road where there was a golf course and some staggering cliffs to look out over. This would be the first of many times I was amazed by the stunning coastline of Ireland. Dingle was also a fun little area with lots of cute stores and bars. We tried something called Irish coffee while we were in Dingle and did some meandering through the streets.
After Cork we went to Killarney where we stayed at a cute little B&B. Killarney was one of the smaller towns we visited, with one main street running through the middle, but it was peaceful and enjoyable nonetheless. We ate at a restaurant one night where the dessert was a sticky toffee pudding and let’s just say that we all loved it (we ordered 2, almost 3). The next night there we actually had drinks with our neighbors from San Diego who we coordinated with while they were also vacationing in Ireland!
From Killarney we headed Northwest again toward Galway, but before we arrived we stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, one of the main attractions of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher ended up being one of my favorite parts of the entire trip (pictures in Gallery) and I was so pleased that we could see them with relatively good weather (no rain). I highly recommend going if you ever visit Ireland.
Although Galway was technically our next stop for two nights (we explored it a bit each day), we stayed about an hour outside of the city in a great rural area surrounded by gorgeous scenery. We ended up going on a family bike ride, hiked a bit, and then my Dad and I went golfing one day while my sister and Mom went horseback riding. That day was truly special because again, the weather was superb, and also because golfing with my Dad is always one of my favorite things. I also had a great shot out of a bunker, so that’s nice. :)
Back in Dublin for our final day, we took time to walk around again and just soak up the city atmosphere. The people are very diverse, very loud and fun, and the whole place just seemed to have a friendly vibe to it. While my parents and sister would leave the following morning, I spent the rest of that day alone in Dublin exploring and would end up meeting three girls from UCLA with whom I would later go to dinner with for a 4th of July celebration from abroad!
Ireland really proved to be a beautiful country covered with stunning shades of green that I’ve never seen before and wonderful little towns filled with great people. Having a car and driving to different locations definitely made it more enjoyable and easier to experience, so I would certainly recommend that if possible. Also, Times Hostel on College Street in Dublin was a pretty good experience, good price, and great location. Onward!