Before I started my Mitchell year in Ireland, I had a goal to find time away from my academic and professional requirements to travel around the country and see as much of it as possible. I was able to make this goal come true over the past few weeks. When the holidays began, I embarked on a journey across Ireland with a group of friends I made at Maynooth. We rented a car and began our journey in Dublin. Over the next few weeks we were able to travel the coastline, major cities, and historic landmarks all around Ireland. Initially, we were nervous the weather would play against us, however we were able to find stretches of sunlight that supported our adventures. One of the best parts of the journey was that it was pseudo-planned. We had a rough idea of where we wanted to end up on certain days, but we also left a lot of time open to make up as we go. Beyond traveling, we were able to experience wonderful activities that include; horseback riding, whale watching, traditional seaweed baths, climbing mountains, and scenic trail walks. We also played golf at various resorts including the opportunity to drive biodegradable(fish food) golf balls into the ocean.
My favorite city on our trip was Waterford. It is a city located in the South-East of Ireland. We stumbled upon it from a tour book that introduced it as Ireland’s oldest city – celebrating its 1100 anniversary in 2014 – with a history that dates back to Viking times. This was quite evident when we arrived, passing Viking inspired boats, museums, and even restaurants. I highly recommend a visit to the so-called Viking Triangle, where there are museums that give an overview of Ireland’s rich history of the Middle Ages. After learning about the history, we visited one of the most iconic areas in Ireland, the House of Waterford Crystal. We toured the factory, met with designers, and were able to find pieces within our price range to purchase!
Beyond the city, we found a beautiful castle to rent out and experience. We stayed at the Waterford Castle Hotel and Golf resort for a few days. This resort is on the River Suir and as a private island completely detached from the mainland, it required a ferry to bring us over. It was the first castle I’ve stayed in while in Ireland and the stunning views alone would bring me back. It also had a beautiful scenic walk that took us around the edges of the Island.
Ending to our epic adventure around Ireland brought us back to Waterford. We had the opportunity to stay at the Cliff House Hotel, one of the finest luxury five-stars hotels I’ve ever stayed in, with Michelin star food, penthouse, a private pool, and a Jacuzzi outside on the roof for us to enjoy. I remember watching the sun set and knowing that our sore bodies from all the traveling would recover with time, but thankfully the memories would be preserved. I cant wait for the next adventure, and I recommend anyone who comes to Ireland to get out of the city and truly experience all that Ireland has to offer. It is a small Island, but you can spend a lifetime trying to see all its beauty.