5 Days in Ireland: Where to go, What to do

 

You’ve got five days—120 hours—to take in the Emerald Isle. Time is of the essence. Where do you start? What do you do? Maximize every minute with our guide to hit the high points.

Ha’penny Bridge, a pedestrian bridge constructed in the 1800s in Dublin.

 

DAY 1 // Do Dublin

No matter your city of departure, chances are you’ll be arriving in Dublin on a flight. Make the most of your time here by stopping at a few of the city’s highlights. Start with a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland, a free art museum with numerous exhibitions and permanent collections. From there, stop in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the National Cathedral of Ireland, and a breathtaking structure for viewing and worship. If it’s a nice day, we also suggest a visit tot St. Stephen’s Green, a 22-acre Victorian-style park. If you came for good drink, visit the Guinness Storehouse where you can learn about the brewing history of Ireland’s most popular beer. In addition, there are numerous Irish whiskey houses to see.

            If you want a fast and friendly tour of the city, tourist companies operate buses where you can get the scoop from a guide and hop on and off as you please. Rent a car for the next four days of your journey and find a hotel in the area. You’ll want a good night’s sleep to prepare you for the fast-paced days ahead.

Waterford Museum of Treasures at Bishop’s Palace

 

DAY 2 // Head South

Drive south from Dublin to the towns of Kilkenny and Waterford. These areas will give you a sense of the Irish countryside while also allowing you to mark some attractions off your bucket list. Coming first to Kilkenny, you can tour Kilkenny Castle, a restored 12th century castle. The town is also home to several cathedrals, including the historic St. Canice’s, which was built in the 13th century and also has a round tower and St. Mary’s, which was built in the 1800s. From there, head on to Waterford where you can go on a factory tour and shop at the House of Waterford Crystal and also visit the Waterford Museum of Treasures, a trio of museums telling the city’s history over time. Waterford is also a good spot to spend the night as well as to enjoy local fare and drink for dinner.

A hiker along the Cliffs of Moher

 

DAY 3 // Drive West

Cliffs of Moher

If you spent the night in Waterford, you have about a three-hour drive ahead of you to get to the next destination. If you’re an early bird, get up and at ‘em and stop for breakfast along your route. This will give you more time to take in one of Ireland’s most breathtaking and popular sites, the Cliffs of Moher. Over 350 million years old, these iconic cliffs are what many think of when Ireland comes to mind. Note that you should check the Cliffs website for weather updates. If there is a weather warning, you may not be allowed to access the Cliffs. When your adventure here is finished, you may choose to spend the night in County Clare or drive north and find a place to stop on your way to day four’s excursion.

 

Sunset in Galway

 

DAY 4 // Go Slightly North

Just an hour and a half from the Cliffs of Moher lies Galway, another city deep with Irish history and local flair. This town thrived during medieval days and still has some of the marks to prove it, such as its stone city walls, along with numerous present-day attractions. Visit Quay Street for a bevy of local restaurants, pub, and shops. You’ll enjoy strolling the streets and unwinding among locals and tourists, alike. Since the city is located on the banks of the Atlantic, you can also enjoy a walk along the shore after dinner.

 

 

DAY 5

Wind Your Way Back to Dublin

You’ve been running at break-neck speed for the past few days. Now is your chance to slow down and take in a few final sites, including some countryside and any local eateries and attractions you stumble across on your way back to Dublin. The drive back to Dublin should take you approximately four hours. If there’s anything you missed in the capital city on day one, take this opportunity to view those sites as well before turning in your car and heading home.

Of course we didn’t make every stop along the way. What are some of your favorite cities and sites not included in this trip?

Roast a Leg of Lamb

Lamb is a tradition in Ireland. Whether it’s a wedding feast, a holiday, or an elegant, intimate dinner with friends, it’s a meat of choice for special occasions. It’s a particular favorite for Easter as well. The story of the Passover and the sacrificial lamb often lead chefs to choose a leg of lamb as the meat of choice for the day’s meal. Here, we’re sharing a simple recipe that celebrates the flavorful taste of the lamb without overpowering it. Visit a local butcher or specialty store to find a choice leg of lamb and then prepare to enjoy a feast.

INGREDIENTS

1 (4 lb) leg of lamb
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut two large sheets of aluminum foil and place them in a plus or X pattern on a work surface.

Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the meat deep enough to allow you to push the garlic into the meat. Do the same with half of the rosemary. Melt the butter and cover the outside of the meat. Sprinkle the remaining rosemary on the exterior. Cover with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the lamb on the aluminum foil and wrap to cover. Place in a deep roasting pan and cook for one hour. Remove from the oven, open the foil, and spoon the juices over the meat. Return to the oven to cook (uncovered) for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the pan, check to see that it is done, and allow to rest in a separate pan or tray for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

As the capital city of Ireland, you might expect Dublin to be a hub of activity on the most Irish of all holidays—St. Patrick’s Day. For locals and the influx of tourists who flock to what also happens to be Ireland’s largest city for the day, Dublin offers no shortage of parades, events, and opportunities to be immersed in the history and culture of the area and the day. Many of these events are part of what is collectively known as the St. Patrick’s Festival. Here, are a few of our top picks at this year’s festival.

 

Custom House Dublin during St.Patrick’s festival

 

See the City in Green

On the evening of Thursday, March 14, Dublin will go green. Well-known sites, including the Guinness Storehouse, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the National Gallery of Ireland will all be illuminated in a green glow. While you stroll through the streets on your way to dinner at a local restaurant or pub, pause for a moment to take in this mesmerizing sea of green unity throughout the city. Note the buildings will be lit for the following three nights as well.

 

Interior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Ireland

 

Follow in St. Patrick’s Footsteps

Get a dose of history on this walking tour led by Dublin historian Pat Liddy. The two-hour venture will cover such places as Christ Church Cathedral, City Hall, Lamb Alley and end at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Along the way, you’ll hear the story of St. Patrick as well as bit of local history. Follow this link to reserve your spot on one of the tours, held March 14-18.

 

Spend the Day at Festival Village

Held in Merrion Square, the Festival Village is brimming with delectable food offerings, kids’ activities, live music, and theatre as well as hands-on and science activities and demonstrations. The venue will be open throughout the weekend for enjoyment. 

 

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair is the place to taste test more than 400 ciders, beers, and spirits. Enjoy live music, watch rugby on what is advertised as three of the largest screens in Dublin, and feed your appetite with plenty of local fare.

 

St Patricks day celebrations in Dublin

 

Attend the Festival Parade

An event not to be missed for those of all ages, the parade is a display of heritage, pageantry, and good old-fashioned entertainment. This year’s theme is storytelling and will “intertwine seamlessly with Dublin’s streets,” according to the festival website. The route starts at Parnell Square. 

For more information and to see a full list of events, visit stpatricksfestival.ie

Not spending the holiday in Dublin? Check out the festival’s internationally associated events, including several in the United States, here 

Plan Your St. Patrick’s Celebration

It’s the most wonderful time of year—at least if you’re Irish. St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and today we’re going through several of the most popular preparations to get ready for the big day. Read on for ideas for your St. Patrick’s Day party.

1/ Find Your Wardrobe

If you’re headed for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you’d better dress the part. After all, you don’t want to get pinched. Show your green gusto with a T-shirt that gives a nod to your heritage as well as your personality, like this option.

If you’re going to an outdoor celebration, consider a shamrock scarf, which is also a quick way to dress up a plain outfit. And, don’t forget to add a little jewelry. Slip on a shamrock bangle, which has both the color green as well as Irish-inspired charms, or choose an understated pair of stud earrings. This set features three options, giving you a range of choices for daily wear.

 

2/ Remember the Kids

Get the little ones in on the fun, too. Books, games, and characters are a great way to teach them about their heritage or explore the folklore. For example, this plush leprechaun sings “Too-Ra Loo-Ra Loo-Ral.”

You’ll probably find they also love green leprechaun hats, which seem to be readily available this time of year. And, even the tiniest member of your crew can dress the part in a striped dress or romper.

 

3/ Fly the Flag

Whether you’re riding a float in a parade or hosting a St. Patrick’s-themed dinner at your home, be sure to include a salute to the Irish flag. Show your family pride with a personalized version that features your coat of arms. If you’re out and about, a lapel pin featuring the Irish flag is a subtle, sophisticated way to incorporate the flag into the day’s events.

4/ Eat (& Drink!) Up

A few Irish delicacies are sure to put you in the spirit of the day. Use a mix, like this one to cook a loaf of soda bread. Have a pot of tea, like this Irish Afternoon Tea ready when guests arrive. And, finally, don’t forget the cookies to go with your tea. Try a box of these shortbread classics.

 

5/ Honor the Saint

Last but certainly not least, be sure to honor the saint for whom the day was named. You may say a prayer or attend mass in his honor, or find a way to incorporate a little piece of his history into your celebration. For example, this prayer block acknowledges his impact and adds a bit of green to your home.

 >>Psst! Use the code GFEB191C for FREE SHIPPING on all St. Patrick’s Day items.

The Best Times to Travel to Ireland

If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, picking a date is most likely first on your to-do list. But when to go? Do you like the warm days of summer or are you looking to beat the crowd? Check out our quick tips to find your ideal Ireland travel time.

If you prefer warmer temps…

Much like the majority of the U.S., June, July, and August are the hottest months in Ireland. However, it should be noted this time is still relatively mild. The high is generally in the mid 60s with lows in the mid 50s. Of course, summer is also a popular travel time for families because school is not in session, so you can also expect crowds to be at their peak. One other factor to note about the summer season is the amount of daylight. The sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and doesn’t set until around 10 p.m., giving you plenty of opportunities to soak up its rays.

If you like cooler weather…

Again, spring, fall, and winter are in similar timeframes for Ireland as they are in the United States. Expect temperatures to be slightly less warm than the summer months (mentioned above) in both fall and spring, but dropping to the mid 40s for the daytime in the winter. If you’re looking to see lots of green on the Emerald Isle, choose spring and fall. You may also see some warm-hued foliage if you opt to visit in the fall.

If you want to beat the crowds…

As noted, common sense tells you there will be a throng of tourists when school is out for the summer. However, other peak travel times may be less obvious. If you’re going to specific areas of Ireland, check their local calendars to be aware of any festivals or events that may create an influx of people. Also, note the Christmas markets and the holiday season in general are popular times for travel to Ireland. Choosing to go at a time when the crowds are slim is also a great way to save money on your trip. You might find more affordable flights and hotels as well as lower expenses when it comes to food and events.

If you’re looking to experience life as a local…

Research specific areas of Ireland you would like to visit and delve a bit deeper into the place’s culture by following town halls sites, local shops, and restaurants. Then use this information to make your trip coincide with a locally held workshop, special dining event, or festival. We suggest following your favorites on Instagram and Facebook to make quick work of your research.

 

 

Cross Your Heart

Still looking for the perfect gift for your valentine? Or maybe you want to update your home’s décor or your wardrobe. Either way, we’ve rounded up some of our most-beloved items featuring crosses to enjoy in your own home or give away to someone special this month. Cross our hearts, you’re sure to love these picks

1/ Swarovski Dangling Cross Necklace

Your sweetheart is sure to love a beautiful sterling silver necklace featuring not only a trinity knot encrusted with Swarovski crystals but also the message “Keep the Faith.” She can wear it daily as a reminder of both her beliefs and your love.

2/ Irish Home Art Cross

This small decorative cross is a perfect hostess gift. It can be used as a wall hanging, hung on a doorknob, or even as an ornament during the holiday season. Shamrocks and the traditional “Bless this Irish Home” saying give it an Irish flair.

3/ Celtic Cross Carved Box

Wooden boxes can be both décor and storage solutions. Stash everything from loose change to jewelry in this rosewood version, which features a Celtic cross engraved on its lid.

4/ Sterling Silver Celtic Cross Ring

Made in Ireland, this classic signet-style ring features a Celtic cross rather than a monogram. The masculine look is a durable piece of jewelry that offers a way to celebrate your faith each day.

5/ Porcelain Celtic Cross Ornament

The words of the Irish Blessing grace this porcelain Celtic cross, which makes a perfect wall hanging. It’s a sweet sentiment for any time of year, but could be a beautiful ornament or could hang in a window year-round.

6/ Celtic Cross Visor Clip and Key Ring Set

They say you should never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly. We say take a cross (or two!) with you wherever you go with this visor clip and key ring set featuring a Celtic cross.

7/ St. Brigid’s Cross Pendant

Celebrate one of the Ireland’s patron saints with a cross inspired by her. St. Brigid’s cross is said to be constructed from reeds that grow riverside. Here, it’s beautifully recreated in a silver version.

8/ Celtic Cross Holy Waterfront

A true fount of blessing—this holy water vessel features a beautifully crafted cross along the top and a basin below.

 

Irish Cream Truffles

Ready to indulge your sweet tooth this Valentine’s Day? Add a hint of Irish flavor to your sweetheart’s meal with these easy-to-make, delicious-to-eat truffles that include a bit of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate morsels or chopped bars
¼ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy cream
cocoa powder, for topping
crushed nuts, for topping
shredded coconut, for topping
sprinkles, for topping
white or dark chocolate, melted, for drizzled topping

PREPARATION

Place the chocolate morsels, Irish cream, and butter in a large glass or heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour the heated cream over the morsel mixture and stir together until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. May refrigerate over night, if desired.

 Take the mixture out of the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until soft enough to work with. Use a teaspoon to scoop out a truffle-sized ball. Use your hands to help form a well-rounded ball.

Place the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, crushed nuts, coconut and sprinkles in five separate prep bowls. After forming the truffles, roll in one or more of the desired hard toppings. Or leave plain and drizzle with the melted white or dark chocolate topping, if desired.

TIP: Wash your hands every 2-3 minutes with cold water to prevent the truffle balls from melting.

Truffles will keep for two weeks when stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

 Prefer a ready-made version of an Irish sweet treat? Check out our ready-to-ship options.

Irish Jewelry Guide

Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away—meaning now is the time to find a special gift for your sweetheart. Don’t limit yourself to red roses and chocolate; browse our guide to Irish jewelry to find a piece that suits your sweetheart perfectly—and gives a nod to your heritage.

CELTIC KNOTWORK PIECES

Two Tone Trinity Pendant

The perfect Valentine’s Day pairing? Celtic knotwork and the shape of a heart. This silver pendant features a standout gold trinity. Its classic appeal works for any age and will stand the test of time and trends.

 

Swarovski Pearl Jewelry 

Pearls are a favorite for girls around the world. Choose from earrings or a pendant necklace, each featuring a single drop pearl with Celtic knotwork in shimmering Swarovski crystals.

 

Craig Bracelet in Black 

Looking for something casual? This unisex leather cuffs are a durable, everyday reminder of your Irish heritage. Also available in brown.


 

GREEN GEMS

Shamrock in Circle Necklace 

Give her your heart with three small green heart stones that come together to form, what else, a shamrock. She’ll carry your love and a reminder of Ireland in this circle pendant necklace.

 

Celtic Fraternity Ring 

This man’s ring includes two nods to the Emerald Isle, a green cubic zirconia and Celtic knotwork set in sterling silver. Available in a range of sizes to find the perfect fit for him.

 

Sterling Silver with Green Hearts Necklace

Trinity knotwork and a shimmering green heart-shaped cubic zirconia unite in this dainty necklace. See the matching earrings here . 


 CROSSES TO LOVE

Celtic Cross Necklace 

Simplistic styling and neutral stones make this cross pendant a perfect fit for a man or a woman. What’s more, it’s made in Ireland.

St. Brigid’s Cross Pendant

Celebrate one of the patron saints of Ireland with a unique St. Brigid’s cross. The shape depicts the reeds typically used to construct these crosses.

Irish Symbols Bracelet 

A cross is just one of the Irish symbols depicted on this feminine charm bracelet. You’ll also be delighted with a lyre, Celtic knotwork, the Claddagh, and a shamrock along with crystal and green baubles.


CLADDAGH FINDS

Sodalite Stone Claddagh Jewelry

Sodalite, a natural deep blue stone, shines brilliantly in this sterling silver oval setting featuring the Claddagh. Choose from earrings or a pendant, or pair them together for an extra special gift.

Classic Claddagh Stud Earrings 

From your niece to your grandmother, these timeless studs are perfect for every Valentine on your list. Understated yet meaningful, the sterling silver earrings are sure to be a favorite for years to come.

Claddagh with 10K Gold Heart Ring

A symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship, the ring is the traditional expression of the Claddagh. This version features a 10k gold heart that stands out against a classic silver band.

Who Was St. Brigid?

Stained Glass Window Featuring St. Brigid

Who Was St. Brigid?

The Feast of St. Brigid is upon us—February 1 to be exact. But what do you know about this patron saint of Ireland? Follow along as we take a closer look at her life.

 When and where did she live?

St. Brigid was born in the middle of the 5th century and died in the first part of the 6th century. She is thought to have been born to a slave mother and a noble father. Her mother was sold to a Druid landowner, and therefore Brigid grew up alongside the Celts in Ireland. It was during this time as a very young child that she began to demonstrate her generosity, feeding the poorest of the poor and healing the sick.

Cathedral of St. Brigid, Kildare, County Kildare

What are some of her acts that lead to sainthood?

There are numerous legends about the woman, who is sometimes referred to as Brigit, Bridget, or Brigid of Kildare. She performed numerous acts of kindness for the poor. The bulk of these involve providing food or healing as mentioned above. Notably, she is said to have restored sight to a fellow nun. Popularly, she is credited with having changed water into beer for a colony of lepers. This led to her sometimes, jokingly, being referred to as the patron saint of beer.

She founded two monasteries (one for men and one for women) in Kildare along with numerous convents across the Emerald Isle. In addition, she started an art school. She was also thought to have been close friends with St. Patrick, and it was he who heard her final vows before entering a convent.

 She is the patron saint of what things? She (along with St. Patrick) is a patron saint of Ireland. She is also patron saint of dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies.

St. Brigid Reed Cross

How is she remembered today?

Her feast day is commemorated in the Catholic Church on February 1. She is often depicted holding a reed cross, a hooked staff, or a lamp. Since she is the patron saint of dairy, fresh bread and butter are staples of the day. Some still leave a loaf of bread and milk or butter outside their door in honor. Many also enjoy a beer in observance of the day as well.

Dublin Coddle

Looking for a meal to fill your tummy and warm your bones? Try a pot of Dublin Coddle, a unique stew blend of sausage, potatoes, bacon, and seasonings. This dish is said to be a centuries-old favorite of the Irish, with many families and towns having their own variations for the thick stew. It’s a favorite for a number of reasons. Notably, it’s a hearty, low-cost dish, and the one-pot dinner requires little hands-on or cleanup time. Try this recipe (or your own variation) for a crowd-pleasing winter dinner.

Serves 4-6

 INGREDIENTS
1 lb thick-cut bacon
1 lb pork sausages
3 medium-sized onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 lbs white or red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups chicken stock (vegetable or beef may be substituted)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut the bacon into 1-to-2-inch pieces and sauté in a skillet or Dutch oven. Once crispy, remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. Cut the sausage links into similar bite-sized pieces and sear in the bacon fat remaining in the pan. In a clean Dutch oven, layer the ingredients in this order: onions, carrots, bacon, sausages, and potatoes. Sprinkle parsley throughout the layers and cover with chicken stock and salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 4 hours on 300°F. Alternatively, you may cook the meat as directed above and then add all the ingredients to a slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours. If desired, add additional broth to reduce thickness.