I was planning on jetting off somewhere hot and sunny for an end of summer break, but after much deliberation and searching ‘Galway’ on Instagram, Ireland happened. I was meant to go to Ireland a few years ago but a volcano errupted in Iceland and the airspace got closed. Casual as you like. FYI I went to Cardiff instead and had a bloody great time driving round Wales, drinking flavoured vodka and suffering very harsh hangovers.
Anyway, IRELAND. I used to be against going anywhere without a guarantee of sunshine, heat and beach days, but lately I’ve become kind of obsessed with beautiful landscapes and I don’t care if they’re not basked in glorious heat (bonus if they are obviously), I just care that they look good and I can climb all over them with a camera. Ireland ticks that box. It ticks it a thousand times over. I’m half Irish, so I have family connections and decided to try and visit the tiny village where my grandmother was born. I also, ever since watching PS I Love You as a weepy teenager, have wanted to visit Galway. So we did both and I cannot recommend you do the same enough. Maybe not those specific places but most certainly the Wild Atlantic Way. 1. You’ll come across villages like this, which is a jolly little place called Doolin. We drove past here on our way back from the Cliffs of Moher, and it sort of just came out of nowhere. one minute it was all fields of wild flowers and not much else, the next minute there was this flash of pink and there was Doolin. We stopped here for tea and to take photos of how outrageously quaint it was and met a dog called coolin. Coolin from Doolin. What more could you ask for?
2. The People are amazing. I know it’s common knowledge that you aren’t likely to stumble upon random ‘hellos’ and friendly smiles from strangers in London, so maybe us Londoners notice it more when we go elsewhere, but the friendliness is another level. We were greeted everywhere with such hospitality that we felt like we knew everyone.
3. Everywhere looks like a postcard. I’m not joking. Everywhere. It is so beautiful. I went to Scotland earlier this year (ticking off those British Isles) and I wondered if anything could ever be so bloody gorgeous. Ireland is, just in different ways. If you like colourful houses, endless amounts of flowers, amazing coastlines and uninterrupted countryside and pubs galore, you need to book a holiday to the Emerald isle.
4. Bleak never looked so good. You definitely don’t go to Ireland for the weather and you certainly won’t be hitting up ASOS for new bikinis before you depart, but the lack of sunny days and sunbathing doesn’t matter because even grey days look like fairytales. For bleak at it’s very best visit the Flaggy Shore, which is in the protected Burren landscape. I found this by using my trusty Instagram search that’s so good for travelling, and knew I wanted to see it.
5. You can channel your inner Dora the Explorer all day everyday. Ireland is the kind of place where you can do a lot of absolutely nothing or a lot of everything and have equally good times. We went into caves, went on historical tours, went on walks, watched hurling, sat in pubs, went on long drives, fed ponies, went to national parks, visited castles. A lot basically. We did a lot. But it also felt really peaceful, probably because there is so much silence.
6. It makes the ultimate road trip. If you’re going to spend a lot of time in a car, which I’m not hugely keen on, it needs to be worth your while. Essentially, you need to be able to continually be like ‘omg pull over I need to take a photo.’ The roads along the Wild Atlantic Way drive are really good too, just keep your eyes peeled for the waves symbol on road signs. So yeah, fire up your best 90s playlist and get going.
7. Guinness really does taste better in Ireland. Yep, they weren’t lying. If you’ve tried it outside of Ireland and thought it absolutely vile, you need to get to Dublin and get yourself a pint.
8. Connemara National Park. This gets a point of its own because it was just so damn beautiful. We went on the only day of sunshine we had and it looked like The Shire. If you go into the actual national park be sure to do one of the mapped walks, preferably the blue or red as they go highest and the view just gets better and better. Kylemore Abbey is also stupidly pretty and there are Instagram opportunities that’ll blow your tiny mind.
9. You can do it on a really low budget. If you’re coming from the UK especially, you can get immensely cheap flights (we flew from Gatwick for £45 return), car hire is cheap (around £160 all in all) and we used Air B&B for accommodation. Dublin is an expensive city so if you want to spend a lot of time there doing tourist bits, take extra money, but outside of Dublin prices aren’t so bad. Eating out isn’t the cheapest but if you’re willing to cook some meals you can cut costs a lot.
10. The Air B&B game is strong. So very strong. We stayed in the most beautiful house overlooking a lake in county Clare with a really lovely family. We had our own apartment which was in there basement (although it had three bedrooms, a garden, lake view and large kitchen, so not so much basement as full on house) and spent an evening drinking wine and being taught all about the country. We had another really nice, quaint and fully equipped house to stay in when we got to Galway. The perks of Air B&B are endless in my opinion and Ireland has a lot to offer, so be sure to check there before you book into hotels.
What I’m saying is, go to Ireland, do a road trip, Instagram pink houses and try Guinness. You won’t regret it.
Some photos are by @dannyboyjnr who you should follow on Instagram more amazing travel pictures