Are you visiting Dublin but wish to explore more than just the city? Do you want to book your hotel in Dublin but have no desire to unpack more than once? Well, you’re in luck! Dublin is a great base for days trips. Because driving around and playing tour guide all day wasn’t an option, I hired a luxury private tour company. Little Gem Private Tours of Ireland put together the perfect itinerary! They picked us up in luxury vehicles and Colm, one of our tour guides, even put up with us when we sent him on a wild goose chase to find the P.S. I Love You Bridge. More on that later… Robbie, owner and tour director, along with the other gracious tour guides will probably oblige to whatever requests you may have. Sorry Robbie, I may have just sent all the crazies your way!
Staying In Dublin But Want To See More? This Is The Perfect Itinerary!
Our first stop was Newgrange, Brú na Bóinne in Gaelic, which means Palace or Mansion of the Boyne Valley. This is the best-known passage grave in Ireland which dates to 3,200 BC. It has been a very important and sacred site throughout Irish pre-history as it has come up in Irish folklore and legend many times. The façade was reconstructed in the 1960’s and most probably looks nothing like it did a few thousand years ago. And there has been much debate on what the site was used for.
The mid-winter solstice phenomenon, what Newgrange is most famously know for, was discovered by professor O’Kelly in 1967. On the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, sunlight enters a small opening found at the passage entrance lighting up the way. Isn’t it interesting how it was reconstructed in the same decade the first observation of the winter solstice phenomenon was made? And by the same person, I might add. But what do I know, I’m no archaeologist. Worth a visit nonetheless.
Guinness And Stew In A Castle
Because why not?! The Hill Of Slane is home to Slane Castle, a popular concert venue that has hosted artists like U2, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Queen and more. We stopped for lunch at Browne’s Bar, a cozy little bar filled with memorabilia from past concerts. My discerning palate was pleased with my choice of venison bourguignon which I washed down with a pint of Guinness. Beer and stew; it doesn’t get more Irish than that! There is also a distillery, Slane Irish Whiskey, which is now owned by Jamieson. Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited. Being that whiskey is an acquired taste and I have yet to acquire said taste I was not disappointed. Missing all the above-mentioned artists in concert; huge disappointment!
Hot Coco On Top Of The World
Ok maybe just the highest point of the Boyne Valley, also known as the historic Hill of Tara, is where we ended up next. It is said that 142 Kings reigned in the name of Tara. It is also one of the largest Celtic monuments in all of Europe. I had to look up the meaning of the word monument; you’ll understand why when you see the picture below.
Turns out my sister brought along a cold front from Canada and it was the coldest week of the year during her visit. Since my inner Canuck was left behind when I moved to Dublin along with my parka and “real Canadian” winter boots I needed frequent sheltering from the cold. Thankfully we had a warm comfy car and a charming café, Maguires of Tara, serving hot coco to keep me warm.
I Am William Wallace.
Braveheart fans will get this reference. On our way to Trim Castle, we learned that Michael our tour guide, grew up in the same town as Pierce Brosnan. And their mothers knew each other! How cool is that?! Nothing to do with Braveheart or Trim Castle. The only thing in common is the region. If you’re still wondering what the heck I’m talking about; Braveheart was filmed in Trim and you’ll recognize Trim Castle if you watch the movie. Besides its famous Hollywood status, this is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland and took 30 years to build!
Is Your Dog As Bright As A Sheepdog?
On day 2 of our eastern Leinster tour, Colm picked us up and we headed straight for the Wicklow Mountains. About an hour drive from Dublin. Where we experienced the second most Irish thing to do after eating stew and drinking Guinness; a sheepdog demonstration. If you love dogs, this is a must! Michael Crowe, owner of Irish Working Sheepdogs, was delightful. For more on this experience check out Is Your Dog As Bright As The Border Collie?
The Glendalough Valley
Also known as the Valley of the two lakes, Glendalough is scenic, rich in history and is home to a Monastic City. We made a little pit stop at the gift shop to purchase wool socks and a hot chocolate before commencing our short hike. Zero degrees is my new -20, don’t judge. As you walk through the city you come across several monastic remains dating back to the 6th century. You can then hike The Wicklow Way trail to the upper lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery. From here we hoped back in the car and drove to Turlough Hill for more scenic views.
A Guinness Lake?!
Yup! You’ll see it at the Lough Tay Scenic Stop. Ok fine, it isn’t filled with Guinness, but it really does look like a pint with its brown color and white sand shore. See for yourself!
PS I Love You Bridge
After driving around for a while and crossing several bridges, none of which were the PS I love you bridge, I turned to Google. This tour was not ending without a selfie in the spot where Holly met Gerry! I found a map of all the PS I love you film locations and the famous Ballysmuttan Bridge! At this point we had driven 40 minutes in the opposite direction but Colm, the incredibly patient and sweet guide, turned back. Turns out the bridge was rebuilt in 2011 and is now a memorial site named after a police officer killed during a flood.
And that’s a wrap folks! I hope you found this article useful! If you have less than four days in Dublin, these are some great spots to visit outside city center. Otherwise you can check out A Weekend Break In Northern Ireland for more.
Have you been to Dublin? Tell me more if you have and if you haven’t, would you like to visit?
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