Category: ireland

Amazing Irish Road Trip: Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route is an incredible stretch of beauty along the north coast of Antrim. There are various loops to pick from for your scenic drive and we did the Carnlough to Ballintoy one. We did veer off a couple of times so I think we covered some extra ground.

If you follow me on Instagram you know I have placed this route up there on my favourite Irish drives list with Connemara National Park. A different kind of beauty but just as gorgeous. Absolutely amazing on a sunny day. We were so lucky with the weather.

We drove and drove and drove. Well Hughie did and I sat there and pointed out the window at pretty things (thanks HughieūüėČ).

After awhile we decided to stop in Ballycastle and grabbed food. I have a friend from here and she said it won best seaside town so I had been looking forward to seeing it for a little while. It’s a charming town with a lot of great things for small kids like trampolines and a playground with some serious views. We ate at the Marine Hotel’s restaurant and it was lovely! Two happy bellies. You can see below it was a windy day and my denim jacket prevented some Marilyn Monroe moments.

Ballycastle

*dress is from the tall section of Boohoo. Denim jacket, I’m not sure sorry! ūüôĀ

Very very very worth seeing! I wish we had more photos! I focused more on footage of this trip that I’m not really sure what to do with. Have an amazing time if you decide to go! Let me know how if you like itūüėä

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Hidden Gems in Northern Ireland

Thanks to my lovely followers for NI suggestions. Without your suggestions I wouldn’t have stumbled upon some really lovely places.

Basically, one person suggested the Gobbins. So I gave it a quick Google and thought ‘yeah looks great’ and we got in the car in the afternoon and went. To our surprise, it’s a three and half hour intense hike along the cliffs that require boots and helmets and bus to and fro the information centre. Do your research, guys!! However, and ever-so fortunately, the woman at the information desk directed me to a few more casual spots that my flip flops could handle.

Portmuck Harbour

Twenty minutes away from the Gobbins is Portmuck Harbour. A pretty little place hidden at the bottom of a very teeny tiny narrow Irish road that opens into a parking lot set right near the sea. There’s some stairs that lead up to a point where you can grab some nice photo ops. I love some of these photos so much and will probably cherish them forever. I had a really great day.

Skenaghan Point – Brown’s Bay Beach

And the second spot only less than ten minutes away is Skenaghan Point, Browns Bay in Islandmagee. It actually is right near the actual Gobbins walking path. One day I will do the Gobbins! But it certainly wasn’t that day in that new ASOS top. We went up a little path to the right of the water and you could stay on path but somehow we veered off into a field of sheep who scurried away from us as we walked up towards the cliff’s end. Stunning views and a lovely little walk. One of those spots that makes me go, “Ahhh I love this country.”

So! Those are two spots I hadn’t heard of, no one suggested, and no tourists really seem to go. Hope you enjoy if you visit!

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Game of Thrones Locations to See in Antrim

Heya!

If you know me you know I don’t watch the wildly popular show, Game of Thrones. However, I’m a big supporter of it bringing a lot of tourism to Northern Ireland. It’s given a lot of well deserved recognition to Belfast and some of Northern Ireland’s areas of outstanding natural scenery which previously (in my eyes) were overlooked for Irish vacation destinations.

So while I’ve been a big fan of Belfast and the county of Derry, I only got to visit some of the Antrim GOT spots this week. I am not embarrassed to admit I’m an absolute tourist and my inner American pops out when it comes to castles and ruins. I LOVE them. I studied the sociology behind it and could go into it for hours as to why Americans have such romantic notions of Ireland’s landscape but I’ll just leave at the fact I am one of them and I’m in no way ashamed. Ireland’s beauty and history is a marvel to me.

So! With that said, we went to Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges. Right near the Causeway, which we have already visited within the last year so we didn’t go again. However we drove right past it and through Bushmills.

DUNLUCE CASTLE

Dunluce is an hour outside Belfast and well worth a visit. I believe it was ¬£8 for our tickets (I’m still using my student card, it’s valid until September. Even past then, I’ll keep using it). It’s mainly ruins but a pretty vast amount and it’s fun to just explore. Maybe this is only fun to me and other castle loving freaks. It’s a beautiful backdrop for photos since it’s right on a cliff in the countryside and overlooking the sea. You can learn about the background and history of Dunluce through posted signs around the grounds and a pamphlet given to you at the information desk. Parking is available right there and is free. There’s a little cafe too for a nibble if needs be.

THE DARK HEDGES

The Dark Hedges are around 25 minutes away from the Giant’s Causeway. They too are in the middle of the countryside in Ballymoney and pop up pretty randomly. One side of the road is a large estate and modern farm house and the other is the hedges which was full of people walking the length of them. They’re surrounded by open fields, making them all the more intense looking. Apparently this is where they ride horses up and down in GOT. Sorry for my lack of knowledge regarding the show and its relation to these spaces.

I enjoyed both spots! It’s nice to make a little day out of it. You can see more GOT scenic spots here.

Hope you go!

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Botanic Gardens Belfast

Hello!

Another Botanic Gardens visited and this time just a short walk from my new home! Well I’ve been twice now but the first time I didn’t photograph too much and really soaked up the moment with company! David and I went a bit Instagram mad this time. The Belfast Botanic Gardens are much, much smaller than Dublin’s. However, they’re just as beautiful! If you like one, you’ll like the other. If you like gardens or plants or any nature at all, you might appreciate them.

There’s one main building, the Palm House and then the Tropical Ravine (very steamy) which is a minute’s walk away. They’re so nice to walk around.

My good friend from university David came to visit me and this was on his Belfast to-do list. He’s very good to photograph with because he’s big into his social media and is extremely creative! I’m always impressed by his posts.

Palm House

 

Tropical Ravine House

We also went to the Ulster Museum which is beside the Tropical Ravine in Botanic Park and admired it’s many displays until we got hungry enough to leave and head over to Town Square for some lunch. Town Square is a fabulous spot as well whether it’s for a coffee, a cocktail or a full on meal. We got a killer day of sunshine since Ireland’s currently facing another heat wave. Something the Irish can’t handle is heat!! Despite breaking a serious sweat, it was a lovely afternoon! (:

Check out David: @dvidmaguire on Instagram and Twitter. He also has a beautiful Dublin Instagram: @DublinMyDarling.

Have you been? 

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National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

Hello (:

If you’re exploring Dublin, here’s an idea. Check out the National Botanic Gardens.

When Dom of Maiden Moose Photography found me on Instagram and got in touch about a photoshoot I said yes! And after some planning, she suggested the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin (Dublin 9) and I immediately said definitely. It was always a place I was interested in going and I’m so glad we did! It was so impressive. And there’s a plant for everyone! I’m a big flower gal and the beds of colourful flowers of all different kinds would make anyone happy (unless you hate flowers?).

I’ll let the photos do most of the talking!

My personal favourites were the really leafy greenhouses! They’re so beautiful and make you feel somewhere tropical. Hughie seemed to enjoy the fuzzy looking cacti. As well as other prickly plants you shouldn’t touch but he did…

I love Maiden Moose’s black and white shots. They are such creative souls and you can tell just by talking to them!

Dom and her husband Eben moved to Dublin six months ago from South Africa and love travel, photography and storytelling. They were very warm and friendly and it was brilliant shooting with them. It had been a good while since my modelling days (back when I was like 16 haha) so I was out of my comfort zone shooting with someone I didn’t know but Dom made it me more comfortable by being so lovely and easy to communicate with. I cannot recommend her and Eben enough, they really are talented! You can find their social media and check out their artistic photography here:

Maiden Moose Website

MM Facebook

MM Instagram

MM Pinterest

I’m so looking forward to seeing the Belfast Botanic Gardens next week with a friend! Dublin’s amazed me!

Have you been to the National Botanic Gardens? 

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Taking the Scenic Route: Galway to Mayo

Hello, hello!

I’ve had this week and last week off uni. I spent the first week just hanging out and writing essays (exciting, I know) and then got a plane to Birmingham at the weekend for a 40th birthday party which was good fun. After coming back from England, my boyfriend and I said we’d take advantage of both having this week off and head out west to visit my family.¬†We traveled to Galway to visit in Connemara and instead of taking the motorway to Mayo, we decided on going the scenic route through Connemara National Park. It was STUNNING. There was constantly a view until the more main roads in Mayo. All the stops we made were fab.

Connemara National Park, Galway

Very rural, very pretty. We pulled over a couple of times throughout the mountains just to capture the prettiness.

Kylemore Abbey in Kylemore, Galway

My Dad text-suggested that we stop at Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s top tourist destinations. The building itself is run by Benedictine nuns and there’s¬†a lot of fascinating history there if that’s your kind of thing. There’s a gift shop and lovely Victorian gardens to explore as well. The famous Kylemore Abbey church is further over to the right and blends right into the trees but is still visible if you look for it. You can also hike the mountain/hill (who am I to decide what it is!) that it’s nestled into at the bottom of. To be honest, we just saw it and got photos and went on our way.¬†

And it wouldn’t be an Irish road trip if we didn’t run into these guys on the road…Take your time, lads.

Leenane, Galway….or Mayo….

We stopped in the Galway/Mayo border town of Leenane for a quick bite in a local pub. The only place we could find that would take card, haha. There is no ATM in the entire town! What Leenane lacks in money dispersing machines, Leenane makes up for in her stunning beauty. Quite possibly my favorite view in Ireland. These photos were taken in the parking lot just on the water.

Ashleagh Falls 

A small waterfall about a two to three minute drive from Leenane village. Keep an eye out for it on Irish postcards, it’s everywhere! If you look closely there’s a little house on the small hill behind it. I’ve ALWAYS wanted this house since I was little. What a dream!

Ashford Castle, Cong, Mayo

I love the very old movie, The Quiet Man starring American film star John Wayne and beloved Irish actress Maureen O’Hara which is filmed in Cong. Some of my friends think it’s cheesy that I like it so much because it is a very American view of Ireland and they think the stereotypes in it are quite exaggerated. They’re not wrong but it’s still a sweet movie! We are actually studying The Quiet Man presently in my sociology class on tourism in Ireland. Anywho, there’s a statue of John carrying Maureen right outside one of the entrances to Ashford Castle. We parked right near there for free and walked up to the castle. Luckily the sun was shining and it wasn’t that chilly. A lot of tourists were floating around taking pictures like us.

There are plenty of photo opportunities around the castle grounds. The gardens directly behind the castle are well manicured and basically perfect looking. You’ll find them in front of the water view. If you like to walk there’s a good few paths that trail through the woods. My dad just informed me that on the little islands across the water (Lough Corrib) there are little old churches that you can get a boat to check out.

This was not my first time going this route, but it was my first time photographing it. Thank god my boyfriend has taken a photography class (back in secondary school, but still) because I couldn’t have gotten as lovely shots as he did. I’m so happy with the photos! But more importantly, I’m so happy we went!

Let me know if you have been to any of these places or are planning on going! I’d love to hear what you thought! It really is a stunning corner of the world.

Chat soon x

The Best of Belfast: Food to try & places to go

Belfast is one of the spots to visit in 2018 if you haven’t!¬†If you follow me you know I spend half my week in Belfast and the other half around the Dublin area. This is because I have my boyfriend and friends in Belfast and my uni life and friends in Kildare, which is coming to a close as I’m wrapping up my last semester. I lived in Belfast full time over the summer and loved it.¬†It is very different to Dublin and considerably smaller. It’s lovably quirky and very easy to navigate.

There’s always something fun going on. Here are some spots to check out that I love and have tried/visited. I don’t have photos of everywhere but where I do, I’ve included them below.

My favorite food places (I’m picky): I’ve tried lots but these were the stand outs.

  • Ginger Bistro – Good for a nice meal and ambiance.
  • Fratelli – chocolate mousse is INSANELY GOOD. A small portion is just enough.
  • Avoca Cafe – I have tried the other Avoca cafes around and in Dublin but this one in Belfast is also really lovely.

My favorite bars (casual to fancy):

  • Five Points – Always has live Irish music. Really fun for singing along. Whenever I’m there I don’t even mind standing.
  • Parlour Bar – Very student-esque. Casual AND cheap. They have pub quizzes every Thursday.
  • Filthy McNasty’s ¬†– Fun quirky bar for a night out. There are several differently decorated sections and each of them always have a good buzz. My favorite one is the outside part picture below at night.
  • Town Sq. – really yummy cocktails. Love their moscow mule.
  • The National and Sixty6 – Fancier part upstairs if you want to leave the casual scene, but it will cost you a fiver.
  • The Perch – I went here first for my 21st with friends. It is expensive but very, very nice. The espresso martini is great. It has a rooftop view but I didn’t see it that night haha.
  • Babel – Another rooftop bar! View is so great and looks over Victoria Square. Dying to try the food there. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of it!My favorite takeaways: One for almost every variety/takeaway mood.
  • Abacus Chinese
  • Love Pizza
  • Boojum Burritos
  • Chip Co.

Touristy things worth seeing:

  • City Hall – right in town center, beautiful inside and out.
  • Victoria Square – LOVE the design of this place. It’s an outside shopping that transitions into a dome covered shopping center. Casual shopping to high end. There’s something for everyone. If you don’t fancy shopping, there’s cafes and food as well. It is currently celebrating it’s 10th birthday! Read more here.
  • Tours on the history. I have done multiple tours of Belfast for a class I took on Northern Irish society. The city is rich in history and if you like politics it may be of interest to you. Also check out the very striking Stormont building, the home to the¬†Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Titanic Quarter – Titanic museum is there! Read more about tickets for it on their website¬†here.

    Places on my to-try list right now:
  • YoSushi – conveyor belt sushi. I’m going to give sushi another chance.
  • Coppi
  • Cuban Sandwich Factory

Seasonal Things to Do:

  • Continental Christmas Market – different meats from around the world to try, Bailey’s hot cocoa with various flavors, some really cool creative stalls with jewelry, art, and delicious food.
  • Christmas shopping in Victoria Square – caroling, and all around Christmassy vibes.

    A little further away…
  • ON A GOOD CLEAR DAY: About an hour down the road in Antrim you can find the Giant’s Causeway which is a gorgeous area with an interesting geological rock formation that draws in a lot of tourism. There’s also a rope bridge and several trails for walks.


    Are you in the city looking for something else to do?
  • Check out a film at Queen’s Film Theatre. Discount with student card but anyone can go. A more intimate movie theater experience!
  • Crazy Tuesdays at Movie House on Dublin Road. 3.50 tickets all day for any movie.
  • Go for a walk in the town or grab a coffee at a nice cafe. There’s some great coffee places and I’ll do a separate post on this.

There are some ideas! Have you been to any of these places?

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Day in Derry & Weekend Recap

Heya!

This past weekend I ventured up to Belfast, as I usually do, but this time a bit earlier in time to see a Foil Arms and Hog show. Definitely see them if you get the chance! This was my second time seeing them. They have YouTube videos on their channel which you can check out for a laugh. Afterwards we went out for drinks with our friends but were sensible because the boys had to work the next day. Saturday was the day we set aside to go visit Derry. I got little gifts for my boyfriend’s family for Christmas in America and they were still laying about in Belfast. So I gave them their long awaited presents from me…finally!

We were a good bit outside the town in the countryside. The views are stunning. And especially the drive up to Derry from Belfast. It gets prettier and prettier. I think anywhere you grow up you get used to the scenery and potentially forget how beautiful it is because you see it so often. When I was new to Ireland the Irish thought it was funny how much I loved photographing fields, hills and horses and cows, which I get because that’s probably really American of me. But it’s nearly three years later and I still love taking photos of Ireland…But now with a great camera and even greater company (:

All in all, it was a lovely day full of catch ups and scenic driving. Derry in general is a really gorgeous county with a ton of interesting history. I especially love the town itself. It‚Äôs very hilly though so be prepared to work them legs. I can’t wait for the day I get to show my Dad around Belfast and Derry. I know he’ll love it!

Speaking of Derry, have you been watching Channel 4‚Äôs new show ‚ÄėDerry Girls‚Äô? It‚Äôs brilliant. All the characters have crazy good Derry accents (most of them are from Derry in real life I believe except for a couple of the actors). I learned a new term from it the other day…A nicker bocker glory! When a character on the show ordered one of these at the diner, I thought he said ‚Äėnichol bockel something‚Äô and immediately texted my boyfriend to ask what it was. After a few confused texts, he eventually decoded my gibberish and confirmed it was indeed a nicker bocker glory they were referring to. It‚Äôs a layered strawberry ice cream sundae and it is on my list of things to try!! I also want to go to that diner from that scene in Derry Girls.


On Sunday, it snowed and I was praying for a snow day off from uni but no such luck. We did a quick run to ASDA. I love ASDA because big grocery stores remind me of home, haha. Then went bowling. If you watched my Instagram story, you probably saw me humbly bragging about being in the lead. That went south really quick when my boyfriend caught up to me and we tied.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend too (:

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The Big 21 & OOTN

The big 21…on the side of the ocean where I can already legally drink. A party was had up north with some rooftop cocktails at The Perch, followed by some dancing at Filthy’s not too far down the road…but the girls got a cab because of our high heels. If you know the distance between The Perch and Filthy’s you’ll think we’re insane, haha. The night somehow flew by but I was so happy with how it went!¬†

 

I had a ball getting my hair and makeup done by the lovely and funny¬†Maria Gorman¬†(Click her name to see her post about the ‘soft glam’ look on me and follow her for more) at Blue Hairdressing.¬†Everyone at the salon was so nice and they kindly gave me a glass of wine to celebrate turning 21. I must be a light weight because it went straight to my head…after one glass. I’m so lame!

As a student I tried to budget what I was spending on a special birthday outfit but still wanted to feel fab on my big night. I did a lot of searching online and in stores and eventually was pretty happy with how my outfit turned out. I went for a simple all black outfit with pearl details (you can’t see unfortunately but there’s pearls all down the back of my heels – I’d snap a quick pic but I left them in Belfast, whoops!). My heels have been broken in for awhile now, thank goodness, and I can’t find a direct link but they’re from Pretty Little Thing¬†I believe. All in all, it was an affordable outfit for a birthday!¬†I’ve provided links for all items I could find down below.

LBD – Boohoo

Earrings – Accessorize

 Purse РAccessorize

Tan Рthe local NI brand Bellamianta (I love this stuff Рgreat for even the palest of the pale!)

On my actual birthday (Monday) my two best uni friends and I got dinner and some unreal cocktails at Sophie’s in Dublin. Yes, that’s the place you see on Instagram that has the swings! Check out our swing pic below. Did you even go to Sophie’s if you didn’t get a signature swing snap? It’s fab and was such a good shout from my friend Caoimhe. I ordered a ‘Thinking of You’ so yummy.

(The dress from Monday night can be found here)

I don’t know where the weekend went but it was awesome. I’m such a lucky gal to have such great friends and a wonderful boyfriend who made it all so special for me! We¬†celebrated all weekend long, Friday-Monday, and I think I need to sleep for awhile haha.¬†Here’s to 21! I have a feeling it will be a good one.

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7 Questions I Get Asked + Homesickness Tips

When you tell people you’re from another country there’s a few questions that you are bound to be asked. As well as a few randoms! It’s usually whenever I meet someone I get asked a lot of these! It’s been three years of answering them so I have the answers memorized, haha.

Retro Flame’s new video actually inspired this post! She is the opposite of me…from Ireland and moved to America. She’s brilliant and I love her content!

Hopefully these answers give a little insight into my blog!

  1. Is your red hair natural?
    ….Followed by have you ever changed the color? Haha. My color is my natural one! I wanted ombre when I was younger and got my whole head dyed platinum blonde…It was so embarrassing and not my best look. I’ll stick with the red.
  2. Why did you pick Ireland? 
    My parents are from Ireland and they brought me over a lot growing up, which I’m super thankful for. I have always loved Ireland, the people and the culture! University in Ireland just seemed like a great idea to me when I was seventeen and it’s cheaper than most unis/colleges stateside. It’s still my best decision yet!
  3. How’d you pick your uni?
    I had researched all the Irish universities for awhile and thought Maynooth would be the best fit for me. I figured it would be less overwhelming than going to school directly in the city, but if I wanted a city vibe I could just take the train/bus into Dublin. Read more in my post about applying to Irish university here.
  4. Which country do you prefer?
    It’s very tough to pick! Both have amazing places, things, foods and people that I love so much!
  5. What do you miss most about Massachusetts?
    Buffalo chicken pizza tenders/pizza and Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. And my family and friends and my sweet little dog.
  6. Where will you live after uni and what will you do? 
    I’m moving to Belfast, woohoo! Cannot wait. I have some ideas work wise, but only time will tell!
  7. How do you avoid being homesick when you live so far away from home?
    Only around my birthday do I get a bit homesick. Mine literally just passed but it’s a day where I always want to wake up at home!¬†It’s okay to miss home/be homesick! It doesn’t make your journey/trip/move any less successful.

    My tips are:
    – Try and stay busy and distracted. Clean, cook, workout, study, whatever!
    Do something that makes you happy. 
    – Meet up with friends! Call your friends and/or family if you can’t meet up.
    And here’s the most important one:
    – I also remind myself I once lived at home and wanted to move to Ireland so badly! And that I am very happy here and have built a¬†wonderful life for myself! The homesick feeling will pass! 

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