For my last major adventure while abroad, I was fortunate enough to spend eight beautiful days traveling around Ireland, the home country of my mom’s side of the family. As every local we encountered told us, our weather was gorgeous and majorly rain-free, and the excursions we went on just got more exciting as time went on.
Something I’ve loved about traveling abroad is discovering for myself what stereotypes about a place are true and which have been misconstrued to the point of ridiculousness. So far I haven’t been disappointed; Swiss chocolate really is amazing and Scots do casually rock kilts as part of their everyday wear. But I’ve never been happier to tick off the Irish stereotypes and discover them to be real. The classic music of fiddles, flutes, guitars and old-timey singers crooning about their “bonnie lasses” is literally everywhere, at least in the countryside in towns like Kenmare and Dingle. And it’s like my family was discussing on our fifth trip into a pub: Irish pubs are like Italian churches, so when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The locals are all quick-witted and kind; they can fit in a joke anywhere, and they do really say things like “jaysus” and call people “cabbages,” which gave me an endless amount of joy.
I found these patterns especially apparent in the countryside when we visited the small towns of Dingle, Kenmare, Blarney and Killarney. Not only are the people lovely, but they have the scenery to match. The countryside of Ireland as you drive along the endless road that makes up the Ring of Kerry is explanation enough of why Ireland is called “The Emerald Isle.” The fields and trees are the bright, vibrant green you imagine when you think of Ireland, and the innumerable sheep and cows cover them like fuzz spots on a sweater.

If you ever get the chance to, it’s an incomparable experience to do these things. I’ve never seen beautiful serenity anywhere else like I saw on the drive around the Ring of Kerry along the Wild Atlantic Way, or at the stunning Cliffs of Moher, the Gap of Dunloe, or the lakes of Killarney National Park. I was fortunate enough to have the animals of these parts as companions as well; for two hours I rode through Killarney National Park on horseback, and had a similar experience in a horse-drawn carriage through the Gap of Dunloe. On a boat ride through the Black Valley, we were accompanied by one of my favorite acquaintances that we made on the trip, which was a golden cocker spaniel named Charlie who stayed by our side and kept us entertained during the whole journey.

With the city of Dublin as our final stop, I was able to visit the home of some of my favorite authors, including James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. The city is filled with parks and greenery, but paired with the Georgian homes that I saw in Scotland. Trinity College was one of my favorite points of interest, and the Long Hall Library is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The ceiling is high and rounded, and the books look like they’ve sat on the shelves for hundreds of years, precisely because they have been.

Ireland and its culture has been such a large part of my family for so long, visiting it was unlike any other experience that I’ve had abroad. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an authentically lovely experience, with good-humored people and an island as gorgeous as I imagined.

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