Staff on Tour: Exploring the Emerald Isle
December 1, 2023
The Emerald Isle is a magical land of exquisite coastline views, interesting historic sites, wonderful pubs, very friendly people, and leprechauns. Okay, so maybe I did not really see a leprechaun, but when you travel the Ring of Kerry and visit Blarney Castle, you can almost feel their presence! I toured with our “Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day” group in 2022 and walked in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Killarney, and it was a marvelous experience!
After our flight across the pond, we toured the delightful city of Dublin by coach, seeing the many interesting sights and beautiful pubs. The highlight of our first day was a visit to the Guinness Brewery. It’s always time for a Guinness, especially in Dublin, where Guinness has been brewing beer since 1759. We learned about the company, the brewing process and enjoyed seeing the creative and iconic advertisements that are very much a part of Irish culture. The glass-enclosed 7th story rooftop bar offers a 360-degree view of Dublin city and is the perfect place to enjoy your complimentary pint of Guinness.
The next day we left Dublin for the start of our visit around the island. The National Stud Farm was a treat, especially for horse lovers! We strolled the grounds, enjoying their beautiful Japanese Garden, visiting the stables, and getting to pet the mares and foals in the fields. Next, we were off to the Rock of Cashel. It is one of Ireland’s most historic sites, seat of the Kings of Munster, and dates to 370 AD; a fascinating ruin, with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
During our time in colorful Kinsale, we enjoyed our visit to The Cobh Heritage Center, which tells the story of Irish emigration throughout the years, and features exhibits on the Titanic and Lusitania. Blarney Castle was the highlight of this day, as most of us climbed the winding rock staircase to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone and hopefully leave with the “gift of gab”! Shopping in the Blarney Woolens Store was a lot of fun, and a lot of us came away with wonderful Irish souvenirs. Wool hats, scarves, biscuits, and chocolate were only a few of the many items we admired and purchased!
Mizen Head was our destination the next day, a fascinating Maritime Museum with amazing views of the rocks and ocean, as well as a glimpse into life at the signaling station. This promontory was the last view emigrants had of their homeland as they sailed for America. Our drive on this day was one of the most spectacular, as it encompassed part of the Ring of Kerry – beautiful beaches, ocean views and green hills.
Our parade day in Killarney started with a horse drawn carriage ride (an Irish Jaunting Car) to Muckross House and Gardens. This beautiful mansion was completed in 1843, and is situated close to Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes. Later that day we had the experience of a lifetime: walking in the parade in Killarney (dressed in our festive green attire) was so much fun! We had met the mayor of Killarney the day before and she, along with the locals cheering for us along the parade route, made us feel most welcome. After the parade we had the balance of the day to explore the cute town, enjoying the pubs and the shops and meeting some of the friendliest people on the planet.
Our last three days we saw some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The Dingle Peninsula is a spectacular drive (part of the Wild Atlantic Way drive around the island, which we started in Mizen Head), with breathtaking ocean views – the colors are so blue and green they must be seen to be believed – and the houses are painted in a cheery rainbow of colors. The Cliffs of Moher were another amazing experience, it was hard to stop taking photos! Another bucket list experience not to be missed! In Connemara, we saw Connemara ponies in the fields and toured beautiful Kylemore Abbey – an absolutely magnificent estate, with fascinating history.
Our last evening was a memory I will treasure forever – dinner at an 800-year-old Irish pub, listening to a talented band play traditional Irish music. What a memorable way to wrap up an incredible trip – I will treasure my time in Ireland forever!
Margie Oldeg is a Reservations Specialist and Office Assistant at Sunrise Tours. For more about Sunrise Tours, click here.Back to Blog