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I’ll admit when we first decided to plan a trip to the Emerald Isle I didn’t know what we’d spend our time doing.  I always knew Ireland was beautiful, but other than rolling green hills, sheep, and taverns, I wasn’t too sure what would fill our time.  I started researching and was quickly shocked when I realized the 7 days we planned on wouldn’t be near enough!  Here I will point out some of the many things Ireland does have to offer, and how we saw Ireland in 7 days.

You can follow our exact daily itinerary by using the map below. The red markers represent the hotels we stayed at, and the blue lettered marked show our stops on each day of our trip!

Day 1:  Much needed rest

Whenever my family flies international, we make it standard practice to rest the whole first day.  We do this because flights from the United States to Europe all fly over-night landing in Europe in the morning, and we are usually dead tired upon arrival.

We landed in Dublin on an overcast Wednesday morning.  We’d soon come to realize that most days in Ireland are overcast, but after living in the Seattle area for 2 years, we were well used to this so it didn’t bother us.  We jumped in the bus that took us the rental facility and got our rental car.

Note: If you’re planning on visiting Ireland, I recommend driving to visit a lot of the popular sites.  While motor coach bus tours are available, and quite popular, these buses can’t make it down the narrow – and I mean NARROW roads all over much of the island.  Many Irish heritage sites are not accessible by motor coach tour buses, so driving is your ticket to get to them!  You can read all about Ireland’s Heritage Sites here.


Driving in Ireland can be a bit tricky, because they drive on the left side of the road with driver on the right, however it’s not as bad as you might fear.  You can learn more about that experience in my post:  How to tackle driving in Ireland.

After getting our rental, we headed over to our hotel where we begged to check in early.  Well, we didn’t exactly beg, but the sob story of us having 3 tired kids in the car convinced the girl at the desk to give us an early check-in.

Ireland in 7 Days - Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport

We stayed at the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport which I highly recommend.  The hotel is less than 4 miles from the airport and featured an underground parking garage, spacious lobby with an excellent restaurant, and clean and comfortable rooms.  We had our first authentic Irish meal at this hotel as we sampled their “Bangers and Mash” which is a common Irish dish featuring Cumberland sausage atop mashed potatoes.  Yum!  It was delicious.

We relaxed the rest of the day and caught up on much needed sleep.

Day 2:  County Wexford & Kilkenny

Stop 1:  Enniscorthy

Charity and I are fans of the movie Brooklyn starring Saiorse Ronan and Emory Cohen, which is about an Irish girl (Saiorse Ronan) who emigrates to the U.S. in the 1950s.  The movie is set in Brooklyn of course, but has several scenes in the character’s home town of Enniscorthy, Ireland.  After some research, I discovered the movie was actually filmed in the real Enniscorthy therefore we decided to make a stop there to check out the filming locations.  If you’re a fan of the movie and want to read about these filming locations and see pictures of us on location, please check out my article here.

Stop 2:  Inistioge

From Enniscorthy we drove to Kilkenny to see our first historical site.  We stopped along the way in the small village of Inistioge because the scenery was absolutely beautiful.  To me, this represented the quintessential village I imagined when I pictured Irish living in my head.  The town was quiet and peaceful with uncrowded streets, and colorful storefronts.  One sign even read “Bits ‘n Bobs” which I thought was neat because it added a bit of Irish charm.  Around the bend besides a park and the edge of the river was a quaint little restaurant named “The Old Schoolhouse Cafe”.  There was an old man with a cap on sitting outdoors which to me further drove home the “image of Ireland”.  It was very nice.

Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge

We walked along the riverside and found a white horse standing in the river by itself looking very majestic which just added to the surrealism of the scene.  It’s kind of funny how sometimes in life, the simplest things can seem the most amazing.

Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Inistioge

Stop 3:  Kilkenny

We then ventured on to our intended destination – the town of Kilkenny.  Kilkenny is a small town, but not as quaint as quiet at Inistioge was.  It had crowded streets bustling with lots of tourists going to and fro.  Walking to Kilkenny Castle there were a lot of street vendors to browse through.  This is where we wound up eating fish and chips for lunch.

Ireland in 7 Days - Town of Kilkenny

Right in the heart of town stood Kilkenny Castle.  The 4th Earl of Pembroke, William Marshal, (c.1146-1219) had the Anglo-Norman stone castle built to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways.  It was constructed in the first decade of the 13th century, with many renovations over the next 600+ years.  Being our first “heritage” stop, we purchased the family heritage card here which served as our admission for most of the other stops along the trip.  You can read more about the heritage card here.

Ireland in 7 Days - Kilkenny Castle

The castle offered a full tour and was beautiful with elegant furnishings and decor – it reminded us a bit of “Downton Abbey”.  The higher floors of the castle offered amazing views of the town and the River Nore, as well as the castle gardens which were just as beautiful as the castle itself and very well kept.  The south-east side of the exterior were the castle grounds, which were huge providing plenty of lawn space to have a picnic, or lay out and relax.

Ireland in 7 Days - Kilkenny Castle

Stop 4:  Dunmore Cave

We then drove about 15 minutes (11 km) north to our next stop – Dunmore Cave.  Unlike a regular cave, Dunmore Cave has a bunch of spooky history to it.  It is known to be one of the “darkest places in Ireland” according to old Irish texts called the Triads of Ireland, written from the 14th to 19th centuries.  Ireland in 7 Days - Dunmore CaveAs the texts explain it, in the year 928 AD there was a great Viking massacre within this cave where invading Viking warriors trapped some 1,000 women and children within the cave and slew them all.  Spooky right?  Modern archeologists cannot prove nor disprove this story, however HAVE found the remains of many women and children within the cave.  Some hypothesize that the women and children where hiding in the cave and died from asphyxiation when the Vikings tried to smoke them out.  Whichever is correct,  the evidence points to a very tragic event happening within the cave.  The tour is definitely worthwhile – and we were the only ones on it!

Stop 5:  Jerpoint Abbey

We then ventured down to the town of Thomastown in hopes to see the ruined Jerpoint Abbey before it closed.  The abbey was a Cistercian abbey built in the late 12th century.  The abbey is notable for it’s stone carvings including a magnificently sculptured cloister arcade.  Unfortunately, we were too late as we arrived after closing.  We did get to walk around a little on the grounds and take a few pictures.  The kids were having fun so it was a great photo opportunity.

Ireland in 7 Days - Jerpoint Abbey

Stop 6:  New Ross (Hotel)

We spent the first night on the road at hotel called the Brandon House Hotel & Solas Croí Spa in the town of New Ross.  It had been converted from and old mansion.  It was decent, a little old, but was one of the best choices I could find in this area.  The kids found it comfy as they played on their electronics.

Ireland in 7 Days - Brandon House Hotel & Solas Croí Spa Ireland in 7 Days - Brandon House Hotel & Solas Croí Spa

Day 3:  County Tipperary & Cork

Stop 1:  The Rock of Cashel

We woke up early and drove 1.5 hours to the town Cashel in County Tipperary.  The town is home to the famous Rock of Cashel – also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock.  In short, the “rock” is this hill within the town with a massive cathedral sitting on top that can be seen for miles.  I won’t begin to explain all the history behind this famous landmark because it’s very extensive however it is one of the most widely visited sites in Ireland for a couple reasons.  According to legend, this is where St. Patrick came in 432 AD and baptized King Aengus who became Ireland’s first Christian ruler. This is also where Brian Boru was crowned High King in 990 AD.  He is the only king who was able to unite all of Ireland under one ruler for any significant period of time.  A full guided tour is available (which was awesome) and provides a plethora of information – it was also quite humorous.  The cathedral itself dates back to the 12th century and is constantly undergoing restoration to keep it standing.  The weather atop that hill gave it quite a beating over several hundreds of years.

The look of the place is stunning, even from a distance.  The picture below wasn’t taken by me but I included it because I found it fascinating.

Ireland in 7 Days - Rock of Cashel

Ireland in 7 Days - Rock of Cashel - St. Patricks CrossThis site gets crowded, especially during the summer months, so plan to arrive early and be prepared to have to wait a little bit for a guided tour (worth it).  There is a tiny museum you walk around in as you wait which houses the original Cross of St. Patrick.  The being quite large and heavy was difficult to move, therefore the sculptor created an alcove within the base to store valuables in the event of a robbery (Very clever).  There is a legend about the cross as well which states that “Whoever can wrap their arms around the Cross of Saint Patrick and touch their fingers together will never suffer a tooth ache again” (Don’t ask me where they come up with this stuff).  While we couldn’t attempt this on the real cross because it was gated off, there was an exact replica outside for enthusiastic tourists to try.  For short people (like myself), it is difficult to get your arms around it mostly because of the height of the base.  But if you can manage to boost yourself up enough, it’s rather easily achieved.  It must have worked because I haven’t suffered a tooth ache since we’ve been!

We waited for the tour maybe 40 minutes, but it didn’t seem that long.  We walked around and took photos while we waited.  We were lucky the get the picture below with no people in it, because the site was super crowded!  We had the luck of the Irish with this one – perfect timing!  (FYI – I carry a collapsible tripod with me on these trips – I set a timer and frame the shots myself)

Ireland in 7 Days - Rock of Cashel

The tour was absolutely fantastic and one I’d do again in a heartbeat.  This is one site I definitely recommend.  Below are some additional photos we took .

Ireland in 7 Days - Rock of Cashel

Stop 2:  Cahir Castle

About 20km south was another picturesque 12th century castle called Cahir Castle.  It is located along the River Suir and is one of the largest castles in Ireland.  There is another guided tour at this castle however we didn’t wait for it because our kids wanted to make sure we had enough time to visit the Titanic exhibit in Cobh (our eldest son LOVES everything Titanic).  So instead of touring the castle, we instead had some fun on the castle grounds taking pictures and goofing off.

Ireland in 7 Days - Cahir Castle

Stop 3:  Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is the home to the famous Blarney Stone.  The stone itself is is a block of Carboniferous limestone built into the battlements of the castle high up at the top of tower.  It was added to the castle in 1446.  As legend has it (the Irish are big on their legends) if you kiss the stone you will be endowed with the gift of eloquence.  Ireland in 7 Days - Kissing the Blarney StoneFor hundreds of years people have come far and wide to kiss the stone including world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen.  The origins of the stone are debated – with some very fascinating tales.  Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah.  Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul.  A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.  The Irish are very creative!  Whatever the truth is who knows, but reputable facts say that the stone has been kissed millions of times – averaging 300,000 each year!  That’s a lot of germs! And yes, I kissed it… though Charity wouldn’t kiss me for a good while afterwards.

Ireland in 7 Days - Blarney Castle Ireland in 7 Days - Blarney Castle

The castle itself isn’t as popular as the stone within it, however has a lot to offer in itself.  The current structure dates back to 1446 and was built as a fortified stronghold near the River Martin.  Today is lies in partial ruin, with the roof missing, however is still fun to climb the spiral stairs and explore.  The gardens surrounding the castle are absolutely beautiful and another good picnic spot.

Stop 4:  Cobh

Finally we headed down to the coastal town of Cobh (pronounced “Cove”).  Over 2.5 million Irish immigrants have emigrated to North America from the port in Cobh.  If you have Irish ancestors, chances are they left out of here.  Cobh is also where the famous RMS Titanic last departed from before it’s fateful voyage through the Atlantic.  You can see the route map the Titanic took below.

Cobh was renamed Queenstown in 1849 after a visit from Queen Elizabeth, however renamed Cobh in the 1920s after the formation of the Irish Free State and complete independence from Great Britain.

The biggest reason we came to Cobh was to see  the Titanic exhibit located at the actual White Star Line building where many of the late passengers left shore for the last time.  The original building still stands just as it did on April 11, 1912!

Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Titantic ExhibitThe building is now used for the exhibit, and the way it’s organized is really creative.  Once you purchase you tickets, you are each given a postcard that displays a ticket of an actual passenger that boarded Titanic from Cobh in 1912.  You can learn about your passenger by some information displayed on the ticket, and through an interactive computer kiosk that gives you further details regarding your passengers life.

The tour shows you a video, some mock-up first class, middle class, and third class cabins, and displays other artifacts from the ship.  The best part is when you get to go outside along the upper balcony in the rear of the building and stand where the actual first class passengers waited before they boarded.  From here you can see the lower platform where the middle and 3rd class passengers stood, and what remains of the actual dock used to board the passengers onto the tether that took them to the Titanic which was anchored close off shore.

Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Titantic Exhibit

Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Titantic Exhibit

Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Titantic Exhibit

At the end of the tour, you get to find out the fate of your assigned passenger.  As it turns out, my wife and kids passengers all survived the sinking and were rescued and carried to New York where they lived the rest of their lives in various parts of America.  Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Titantic ExhibitMy passenger perished.  Of course.   Actually it’s quite accurate because had the 5 of us really have been on the Titanic on that fateful evening, most likely the same thing would have happened being women and children were put into the lifeboats first.

The boys, especially our eldest, thought the whole tour was completely fascinating.  Here they are with a large scale replica of the Titanic.

We walked around the town a little before heading to the hotel.  There was a monument in the center of Casement Square dedicated to the sinking of the Lusitania.  The Lusitania was a ship similar to Titanic, though smaller, which sank 11 miles south of southern coast Ireland on May 7, 1915 when a German U-boat launched a torpedo at it killing 1,198 passengers and crew.

Ireland in 7 Days - Cobh - Lusitania Memorial

Stop 4:  Cork (Hotel)

Ireland in 7 Days - Eating in a pub!We spent the evening in the city of Cork, where we had a taste of authentic cottage pie from a local pub.  We’ve discovered that  if you want to taste authentic Irish cooking in Ireland, the best place to go are pubs and taverns.  Many of these feature a restaurant styled seating area and offer a full menu of classic Irish dishes such as shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, bangers and mash, and lamb stew.   Please note that true “shepherd’s pie” is made with lamb, not beef.  The beef version we make in the US is known as “cottage pie” in Ireland.  (Yes, we have it all wrong!)  Many pubs and restaurants offer either one or both of these.  The one we ate offered cottage pie with chips, so we had to try it.  It was delicious!

Ireland in 7 Days - Cottage Pie!

We stayed at the Cork International Hotel which was very nice.  My only complaint would be that there isn’t much in the vicinity as the hotel is located near a business park.  So if you want to eat out, you’ll need to go into town as we did.

Ireland in 7 Days - Cork International Hotel

Day 4:  County Kerry & Limerick

Stop 1:  The Uragh Stone Circle

I’ll admit I had hidden anticipation about our next stop.  Those who think Stone Henge would be a cool attraction to see would understand.  We decided to venture off the beaten path to go check out one of Ireland’s stone circles.  We truly didn’t know what to expect having never been to a stone circle before, and this one probably most people never heard of.

There are 1,303 stone circles in Britain, Ireland and Brittany. These include 508 sites in Scotland, 316 in England, 187 in Ireland; 156 in Northern Ireland; 81 in Wales; 49 in Brittany; and 6 in the Channel Isles!


Ireland in 7 Days - Uragh Stone Circle

The drive there was interesting to say the least. We followed a 1 lane narrow road that was the width of the vehicle in many places out to the middle of nowhere. Ireland in 7 Days - Uragh Stone CircleOccasionally we’d meet a vehicle coming in the opposite direction and one of us would have to find somewhere to move over to let the other vehicle pass.  We arrived at a gate at the end of the road with a pay box where you drop in a few Euro for your admission.  (It was on the honor system).  From the gravel parking lot it was a short hike to the actual circle.  Ireland in 7 Days - Uragh Stone Circle

We were the only ones there so that made the whole experience even more surreal.  When we arrived at the circle we were immediately shocked by its size.  I’m not really sure what I expected, but what I didn’t expect was it to be as small as it was.  There were 5 stones of about equal height set in a small circle with one outlying tall standing stone off to the side.  The scenery was absolutely stunning.  Beyond the circle lie a lake (Lough Inchiquin), and beyond that lie a beautiful waterfall coming down from the mountain’s edge.  We took a bunch a photos naturally, and being there were 5 of us and 5 stones to the circle, I figured why not take a clever shot?  That tripod came in handy once again!

While not a popular destination in the least, this was one of our favorites on the entire trip!  While we do enjoy the popular tourist traps along with the next family, sometimes the places everyone else ignores can be the best, at least this is our philosophy.

Stop 2:  Killarney National Park,  The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a 179km road that loops around the Iveragh (pronounced eev-raa) peninsula in South-Western Ireland.  The circuit is very popular for tourists because of the scenery in this part of the country.  The loop takes about 3 hours to drive nonstop with no traffic, however most sites I’ve researched recommend spending a day to do the entire loop.  We didn’t do the whole loop because we only had 7 days to see as much as we could, so we decided to do a portion of the loop which connects the town of Kenmare to Killarney.  If you do decide to do the entire loop, many people suggest driving the loop in the clockwise direction because all of the major tourist buses drive it counter-clockwise and doing so may get you stuck behind one of them for quite a bit of time as the road is only 2 lanes.  The 34km section we did was counter-clockwise (same direction as the buses) and we had no problems, so the choice is really yours.

The section we did took us through Killarney National Park, which is incredibly scenic.  There is no admission to the park, and you can drive right through from one end to the other if you wish.  This is what we did.  The park has a lot to offer, such as an education centre, waterfalls, hikes, and more.  We wanted to see as many castles as we could, so after stopping for a quick a tasty lunch at “Ladies View” within the national park, we headed to Ross Castle – which is located in the northern part of the park on the edge of Lough Leane.

Ireland in 7 Days - Killarney National Park

Ireland in 7 Days - Killarney National Park

 Stop 3:  Ross Castle

Ross Castle was awesome.  That’s all I really need to say.  Haha.  The castle is a tower house and keep built originally for the O’Donoghue clan in the 15th century.  The guided tour was outstanding as this castle was very different from Kilkenny Castle in the beginning of our trip.  Ireland in 7 Days - Ross CastleWhile Kilkenny Castle was very ornate and polished with luxurious furniture and tapestries throughout, Ross Castle was very medieval, and you could tell was built with defense in mind.  The castle was designed carefully with several defensive features in the case of an attack.  Some of these include a “murder hole”, spiked doors, and spiral stairs built purposely with uneven tread heights going up in a clockwise direction to deliberately disadvantage any foes who managed to get into the castle.  As most swordsmen were right handed, the clockwise upwards direction made it difficult for the enemy to use their sword on the stairs giving the residing clan coming the stairs in defense the advantage. Uneven treads made it further difficult as strangers unused to the stairs would find themselves stumbling over each other – very ingenious!  There are several other interesting facts that were simply amazing to learn.  I highly recommend Ross Castle if you visit County Kerry.

Ireland in 7 Days - Ross Castle

Stop 4: Limerick (Hotel)

We stopped for the night in the city of Limerick, which is one of the largest on the western side of Ireland. We stayed at the Castletroy Park Hotel which nice.  Once again we went downtown to eat and decided to try the Glen Tavern that I read Ireland in 7 Days - Lamb Stewhad “Ireland’s best lamb stew”.  My daughter and I both tried the stew while Charity sampled their version of Bangers and Mash.  The Bangers and Mash won.  While the stew was good, the lamb was a little overcooked and was cut up into tiny pieces whereas I prefer larger chunks.  So, in my opinion – they weren’t the best.  Stay tuned for a place that DID have a very tasty lamb stew.

Day 5:  County Clare

 Stop 1:  Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

This is a destination I definitely recommend for families which children.  The folk park is the size of a small village, and is set up like a 19th century one.  You Ireland in 7 Days - Bunratty Castle & Folk Parkcan take your time walking around strolling in and out of farm houses, black smith shops, a school, doctor’s house, hardware shop, printers, and more! In many of these are workers dressed in character to explain to you how people lived and worked during this era.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed this.  There is also a playground with a kids zipline they LOVED, and a “fairy village” which they had fun in.  The park also contains Bunratty Castle, which is another 15th century castle which is quite large.  This castle doesn’t offer a guided tour, but you’re free to wander about and explore the entire thing for yourself.  We took some fun pictures here.

Ireland in 7 Days - Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Ireland in 7 Days - Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Ireland in 7 Days - Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The cafeteria here was incredible!  This is actually where we had the lamb stew we were looking for.  It has fresh Wexford Queens (potatos of County Wexford), carrots, and huge chunks of lamb, and it was super delicious!  So this is our recommendation for the best Irish lamb stew.

If you’re interested, Bunratty Castle also offers a medieval banquet dinner in the evenings for an extra charge where you can enjoy listening to performers dressed in period attire playing instruments while feasting in medieval fashion.  We didn’t stay for it, but it’s worth mentioning.

Stop 2:  The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are probably one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.  These massive cliffs reach a maximum height of 702 ft. (214 meters) off the Atlantic Ocean.  They have appeared in numerous movies, including The Princess Bride (1987), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) and Leap Year (2010).  We arrived to parking lots FULL of cars and tour buses.  There were thousands of people there.  While the cliffs were incredibly beautiful, we would have enjoyed them more if it was less crowded.  But if large crowds don’t bother you, by all means go, the view is amazing!

Ireland in 7 Days - Cliffs of Moher Ireland in 7 Days - Cliffs of Moher

Stop 3: Burren National Park

Ireland in 7 Days - The BurrenWe drove through Burren National Park on the way back to the Dublin area.  “The Burren” as it’s also known is a region of County Clare in the southwest of Ireland. It’s a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites.  We didn’t have time to stop and explore, so we mostly skipped this destination, just viewing from the car.

Stop 4:  Dublin (Hotel)

Ireland in 7 Days - Swimming!We made it back to Dublin which served as our pit-stop before heading up to County Meath and Northern Ireland.  We stayed at the Clarion Hotel Liffey Valley which was enjoyable.  We grabbed some food from the hotel’s restaurant because the boys were begging to go swimming.  This hotel featured an indoor pool and I had promised they could swim if we had enough time.

I don’t know if this is a European thing, or just Irish, but the pool required you to wear a swim cap at all times in the pool.  The boys naturally didn’t want to for fear of embarrassment, but after they saw everyone in the pool with one on, they decided to suck it up just this once.

Day 6:  County Meath & Northern Ireland

Stop 1:  Trim Castle

We started our 6th day off by driving up to Trim Castle which is famous for its appearance in the 1995 classic Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.  While the castle has a history of its own that’s quite fascinating, as movie buffs, Charity and I naturally wanted to check it out.  Ireland in 7 Days - Trim Castle

Trim Castle is a Norman castle on the south bank of the River Boyne.  It’s the largest of it’s kind in Ireland.  It dates from the 12th century but has gone through multiple renovations over the centuries.  Unlike Ross Castle, which was pretty much fully functional, Trim castle was a hollow shell.  The interior had been completely gutted, including the roof and floors, and now has catwalks going from corner to corner on the various levels for guided tours.  (It also has a circus-like tent top added to keep the elements out)  Ireland in 7 Days - Trim Castle

The wait for the tour was well over an hour so we decided to come back here after our visit to Belfast the following day.  Just a note for those who plan to visit:  There are no scheduled tour times at Trim Castle.  Tours are made available based on the demand of the day.

Stop 2:  Loughcrew Cairns

Loughcrew Cairns sits at the top of our list along with the Uragh Stone Circle simply because of its beautiful views.  The site is composed of clusters of megalithic “cairns” (mounds of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark).  What made this site so enjoyable was the trek to get to the actual memorial.  Once you enter through the small gate near the parking lot (free admission), you have to walk 1/3rd of a mile UP HILL to get there!  Why is this enjoyable?  Because of the scenery on the way.  Granted we were lucky enough to have a beautiful sunny day (which is extremely rare we were told by the locals), however the hike was definitely worth it.  The views of the countryside were astounding.

Ireland in 7 Days - Loughcrew Cairns

Ireland in 7 Days - Loughcrew Cairns

The top of the hill features another stone circle made of small stones, and then a mound of stones with a tunnel underneath where ancient hieroglyphics were discovered.  It was enjoyable, however the kids were having a blast just running around in the tall Irish grass!

Ireland in 7 Days - Loughcrew Cairns

Ireland in 7 Days - Loughcrew Cairns

Stop 3:  Hill of Tara

Ireland in 7 Days - Hill of TaraThis was another ancient monument site which from photos looked like it had this massive cone shaped monolith that I thought would be worth the trip in itself.  When we got there, we were humorously disappointed that the ginormous stone monument was shorter than us!  The site also consisted of these huge ring shaped hills similar to golf course bunkers, but without the sand.  The kids had a blast with these hills.  The boys loved running up and down them and then would throw themselves on the ground to roll down the hills.  This was worth the price of admission instead!

Stop 4:  Belfast, Northern Ireland (Hotel)

From the Hill of Tara it was 148km (92 miles) to our hotel in Belfast.  This route was mostly multilane expressway with one toll which doesn’t take credit or debit cards – so remember to bring cash.  Ireland in 7 Days - Belfast StreetsFor those none-the-wiser, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, so this means road signs are now in miles, not kilometers, and they use pounds (£), not euros (€).

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Belfast which we were initially excited about since it was the one American brand we were staying at, however it wound up being probably our least favorite of the entire trip.  While the room was decent, the hotel was located in Queens Quarter which was less than impressive.  It seemed safe enough but the streets were rather dirty.  The parking lot for the hotel was also incredibly small and tight.Ireland in 7 Days - Build-a-Burger

We walked a few blocks to what looked like the main thoroughfare (Botanic Ave) and ate at a burger joint named Build-a-Burger.  I’d never seen a place like this before.  In a Sub-way like set up, you choose the toppings for your burger including anything you want – even gummy bears!   They offered pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches as well so we opted for this, and it actually was quite delicious! – And HUGE!

Day 7:  Belfast, Trim, and Dublin

Stop 1:  The Titanic Experience

Our last full day had finally arrived.  We started by heading to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter for the next “Titanic” adventure for our trip.  If you refer to the map above, you’ll notice that the Titanic started its journey in Belfast – where it was built!  This is the home to the world’s largest (and best) Titanic exhibit.  Because the boys are big Titanic fans, (not the movie, just the ship in general), naturally we had to go.

Ireland in 7 Days - Titanic Experience in Belfast

The exhibit is called the Titanic Experience and is enormous, just like the Titanic was.  Over 4 floors of state-of-the-art exhibits featuring a fully automated ride (similar to something you’d do in Disney’s Epcot Center), and many other really wild presentations.  One of our favorites was this big room you can stand in with movie-type screens all around you where they make you feel like you’re on the actual ship!  You start in the boiler room and watch as the machinery is going all around you, and you slowly progress upwards floor by floor until you’re standing on the first class deck.  It was very nicely done.

Ireland in 7 Days - Titanic Slip in Belfast

To top this experience off was the outdoor experience.  Right outside the exhibit was the actual slip where the Titanic was built, and where it first entered the water!  To us, this alone was worth the trip up the Belfast.

Stop 2:  Trim Castle (again)

We returned to Trim castle to do the tour we missed the day prior.  The tour was excellent and very informative.  We even got to see a prop that remained from the filming of Braveheart.

Stop 3:  Dublin

While Dublin has a lot to offer in itself, we decided not to spend too much time in the capital city in order to spend time traversing the countryside, which was more appealing to us.  To get a taste of Dublin, we headed into town to walk around the famous area known as Temple Bar.  Temple Bar is neighborhood located in central Dublin just south of the River Liffey.  It is the cultural quarter of Dublin featuring many touristy shops, restaurants that feature live bands, nightlife, and of course pubs.  Dublin has over 750 pubs which is a reason many like to visit.  However as my family and I do not drink, you won’t find any commentary on which pubs are best here.

Ireland in 7 Days - Temple Bar in Dublin

The most famous pub in Temple Bar featured the same name – The Temple Bar.  While the area is not named for the pub, it is a widely known tourist attraction and the line to eat or drink in there can be rather long.  We didn’t eat there, but just walked by and took pictures like the tourists that we are!  We enjoyed walking through the MANY shops down there, where you can get any green shamrock featured t-shirt you want along with all kinds of Irish souvenirs.

We finished the day staying at the same hotel we stayed at during the beginning of our trip – the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport, because it is close to the airport and was very comfortable.

Day 8:  Home!

The morning of Day 8 we returned our rental and boarded our airplane back to the United States.  We truly enjoyed our 1st Irish vacation and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.  While I am by no means an expert on Irish travel, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a note below!  I appreciate the feedback!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Ever since I missed my opportunity to see Ireland while I was studying abroad (thanks, French fishermen on strike!), I’ve wanted to visit, and this post makes me want to go even more. Now I’ll know what to do if I ever get over there.

  2. This was a lovely article that I came upon by accident while trying to find the location of the M50 toll to see if I passed it yesterday and had to pay! Thankfor clearing that up for me and for sharing your adventures. I’ve lived in Ireland all my life and have not been to the places you have visited. I do have a request though, please come back and visit the glorious North West next time. You will love it.

    1. Hi Laura, Thank you so much for the kind words. Comments like yours are the reason I do this, so I really appreciate it! Our family loved Ireland, and we definitely plan to visit the Northwest on our next trip. We wanted to but had limited amounts of time. What would you suggest we see in the Northwest? Any suggestions would be definitely helpful and considered for our next Irish road trip! 🙂 Thanks again for your comment!

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