KidTripster Teen: My favorite 10 things about the Emerald Isle
Ireland is a gorgeous place to visit. With rolling green hills dotted with sheep and archaic castle ruins, every turn is a new experience. I loved every moment of the ten days that I spent here with my family. We booked a driving tour of Ireland through Authentic Ireland. The tour organizer helps plan a route and book hotels, but then you guide yourself. Here are my top 10 picks for teens visiting the Emerald Isle.
1/Go ghost hunting in Dublin
Home to Trinity College and the center of the 1916 Irish Uprising, Ireland’s capital city of Dublin is worth a visit. I’d recommend doing a historical walking tour of the city. I also really enjoyed the Gravedigger Bus Tour of Dublin. It took us on a “haunted” journey through old Dublin that the walking tour didn’t cover. Along the way, we got to hear about the plague that swept through Ireland and about mass murderers. The people running the tour were in full costume and played their parts wonderfully! The haunted tour is obviously better suited to older kids.
2/Sleep in a castle in Galway
A cute little city on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is full of pubs with traditional Irish music and little shops along the streets. We spent two nights here and stayed in a castle called Abbeyglen. It was so cool! Originally built in 1832, the castle is surrounded by beautiful grounds; the bar has live music in the evening. There’s even a little pet parrot! Her name is Froda; she was just learning to talk and imitate the sound of a ringing phone.
3/Stay up late listening to live music
All throughout Ireland, pubs offer live, traditional music. Make sure to visit a few of them, as pubs in Ireland are truly family-friendly. Some of my favorite nights were spent listening to songs like Molly Malone, Waltzing Matilda, and A Rambling Rover. Also, local pubs have the best Irish food. Try the Guinness stew and minced meat pie. So good!
4/Circle the rings near Killarney
Another small town in County Kerry, Killarney has the best Irish music that I got to hear. We went to a little pub and listened to a guy sing for hours. Also, Killarney is right next to the popular Ring of Kerry, a scenic circle that gives you a view of the coast and mountains, all in one. Personally, I liked the Ring of Beara, south of the Ring of Kerry, better. You’re closer to the water, and there aren’t any tourists crowding your view.
5/Visit Killarney National Park
If you’ve been to national parks like Yellowstone or Glacier in the U.S., you’ll find Killarney National Park to be just as beautiful. Here I really got to gaze at the green landscapes that you see in photos of Ireland. We played songs from John Denver and Celtic Woman, while driving through this scenic park. It was goofy and fun!
6/Have a Harry Potter moment on the Cliffs of Moher
Featured in the movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Cliffs of Moher rise over 700 feet and provide breathtaking views that put others to shame. Truly beautiful! I have no words to describe it; you’ll just have to see the cliffs for yourself!
7/Walk through a graveyard
An old monastery and graveyard overlooking the River Shannon, Clonmacnoise holds a collection of early Christian graves and The Cross of Scriptures. The on-site heritage center offers a great timeline of Clonmacnoise’s history. I liked seeing the gravestones made into Celtic crosses; some of gravestones were so old that all the inscriptions have been worn off. I found Clonmacnoise to be eerie and peaceful at the same time.
8/Kiss the Blarney Stone
Included on several “100 things to do before you die” lists, the famous Blarney Stone is a must-visit. If you kiss the stone, you're supposed to get the gift of gab, or eloquence. However from visiting the castle here, I learned that this specific stone was chosen simply because you have to lay down and bend back to kiss it. In the ancient times, the men liked to “help” the ladies. Whatever the history, it’s certainly an experience and fun to be able to say, “I kissed the Blarney Stone!”
9/Lose yourself on backroads
Try to take a bunch of winding backroads instead of the interstates. By doing this, my family and I got photo-worthy views of tree tunnels and ancient rock walls held together without any mortar or concrete. Also, ruins of castles and guard towers pop out of nowhere, adding to the scenery.
10/Gaze at Kylemore Abbey
Built in 1867, gothic Kylemore Abbey was owned by Mitchell Henry until he was stricken with grief by the death of his wife and daughter. The abbey is now owned by a convent of nuns that restored the abbey to its current condition. We didn’t go inside the abbey, but the gardens and the view from outside was enough to make a lasting memory.
Molly Armstrong is a high school junior, who enjoys traveling with her parents and two brothers during the summer. She loves history, playing sports, and spending time with her family and friends. She also holds a third-degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.