Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and what better time to highlight favorite travel memories from my two trips to Ireland. A fairly quick trip from the US or a close weekend jaunt during my semester abroad in London, the ease and access makes Ireland a must see.
Traveling with family and friends on both occasions, we adopted a divide and conquer strategy. Breaking into small groups based on sightseeing preferences allowed us to discover Ireland at our own pace. Ireland is a stunningly beautiful country - lush with greenery, history, and a gayety that immediately captivates.
After two trips, I have rounded up my top five things I love about Ireland.
1) Best of Ireland: The People
Warm, welcoming, and inviting, I never had an unpleasant encounter with the locals. They seemed to embrace tourists as one of their own and always willing to lend a story or two.
2) Best of Ireland: The Birthplace of U2 and Bob Geldof
U2 as in the old U2 - the scruffy, scrappy band of the early 80s producing Boy, October, and War. Seminal records that are still among my favorites.
The Boomtown Rats and Band Aid made Bob Geldof a household name. Geldof is now best recognized for his work as humanitarian and activist, with Queen Elizabeth II bestowing him with an honorary knighthood. I remember seeing him in a movie theatre in South Kensington fifteen years ago, breezing through the lobby with his long black trench coat billowing behind him. The coolest.
3) Best of Ireland: Jameson is considered Holy Water
My family and I did a little tour of monastic sites, and the tour guide handed out little plastic cups indicating we should "drink" from a purportedly "holy" lake. He then whipped out a bottle of Jameson and poured everyone a taste. That will forever be the best Jameson I will ever drink.
4) Best of Ireland: Guinness Beef Stew
5) Best of Ireland: Avoca Wool Blankets
Avoca's famous throws, blankets, and textiles are heirloom-quality treasures. My parents managed to sneak a few back as presents for my sisters and me. It is still my favorite blanket.