During my flight to the land of leprechauns and Guinness, otherwise known as Ireland, I took some time to consider my trip expectations. Apart from the aforementioned mythical creature and beer, I associated Ireland with green hills, funny accents and shamrocks. In other words, a whole bunch of stereotypes.
While Guinness and greenery were certainly in abundance and there were a few laughable phrases – ‘tirty-tree’ became the mantra of the trip – Ireland really surprised me and took my breath away with its stunning natural beauty.
As we drove along the north coast of Ireland, we made our first scenic stop at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Ballintoy, County Antrim. The walk to the bridge affords some stunning coastal views and then it’s time to face your fears as you cross the Rope Bridge, located 30 metres above the sea. To be honest, unless you have a crippling fear of heights, you should be okay…
Next stop was the famous Giant’s Causeway. As the name suggests, this unique rock formation is rumoured to be the handiwork of a giant called Finn McCool, who attempted to bridge the gap between Ireland and Scotland. Others say the thousands of basalt columns are the result of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. I think I like the first explanation better…
We took the coastal walk along the cliff tops before descending down to the shore and the Causeway, where we leapt from step to step. The Atlantic Ocean acted as the perfect backdrop for some quality photos and as we gazed around the awe-inspiring columns, it was easy to see why the Causeway is the stuff of legend:
Journeying between Galway and Limerick, we paid a visit to the famous Cliffs of Moher, situated on Ireland’s south-west coastline in County Clare. The Cliffs have been immortalised in a number of movies and television shows over the years, including appearing as the Cliffs of Insanity in the 1987 film, The Princess Bride.
From the Visitor Centre, you can walk to the left or right or both to get different viewpoints of the cliffs. Wherever you end up, you’re guaranteed to get some spectacular shots:
While Ireland’s coastline has a lot to boast about, let’s not forget the country’s many castles. Not only do these aging ruins remind us of a time long ago, they can also be the centrepiece in a memorable photo. Our trip saw us visit Dunluce Castle, Dungaire Castle, Bunratty Castle and my favourite, Blarney Castle.
Located near Cork, Blarney Castle is home to the famous Blarney Stone, as well as a Poison Garden, Wishing Steps and the Witch Stone. Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will be endowed with the gift of eloquence. Winston Churchill visited and kissed the Stone in 1912, so this may be more than a legend…
Finally, a blog about scenic Ireland wouldn’t be complete without the Ring of Kerry. This circular trail can be found in the country’s south and has many roadside stops where you can take in the endless amounts of beautiful coastal and mountain views.
While they say photos never really do a place justice, I think one thing is pretty clear: from top to bottom, east to west, Ireland is an absolutely beautiful country… to be sure, to be sure.
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