Tag: Explore Ireland

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!

x

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