I didn’t know what to expect from Ireland. All I knew was that I wanted to experience what made Ireland special. I didn’t want to kiss mystical stones, chase leprechauns, or drink beer. Ideally, I would make a plan to get lost among the rolling hills and rocky outcroppings. I probably spent one hundred hours researching everything I could about the little island country, but when it came time to leave I still felt unprepared.

As it turns out, nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it was. Ireland was picturesque in a way that is almost impossible to recreate in the United States. Imagine the cutest most idyllic little village you’ve ever seen. Now imagine a country that is mostly made of those little villages, connected by rolling hills, and overgrown stone walls.

There was a lot we wanted to see in Ireland. We were based in the fairly central area of Cashel Ireland. Eric’s cousin moved there with his family recently, and they were extremely kind to host Eric, myself, and our friend Allyson for eight days. To start out, we planned several day trips from Cashel, and decided to be very flexible with our schedule. This was the best thing we did for our trip. We had a lot of freedom to go wherever the weather was best. As a result we saw a lot and had some pretty great weather along the way.

We went so many places, saw so many things, and took so many pictures (over 1500!!) that I’m limiting this post to just our very favorite pictures. This post won’t cover our travel tips, or everything we loved, but we can always save that for another day. Enjoy!

Our trip started out with a redeye flight. I think we slept on and off, but once the sun peeked through the clouds just before our first peak of Ireland we were all too excited to go back to sleep!

Coming soon to AirBnb, we called this cute little two-bedroom cottage our home for the week! It’s on a larger property belonging to Eric’s family. It might look rural and quaint, but it had a kitchen, fireplace, and WiFi. We were NOT roughing it!! 🙂

After taking a rest from all our travel, Eric’s family showed us around some neat local sites. We saw our first Irish apple orchard!

St. Patrick’s Well.

The first stop on our long list of must-dos was Athassel Priory, now a ruins dating back to the 12th century.

Our only structured day started with Dublin because we had timed tickets to see the Book of Kells, the Long Library at Trinity College, and Kilmainham Goal.

Allyson suggested we stopped by Powerscourt Gardens just South of Dublin, and it was beyond stunning!

Springtime in Ireland is so gorgeous!

After Powerscourt we drove through the meandering hills of the Glendalough Valley.

Staying in Cashel meant we kept seeing the Rock of Cashel from a distance, but it wasn’t until midway through our trip that we got the chance to visit.

Personally my favorite day was our road trip through Southwest Ireland that started with Cork and the English Market.

Garinish Island was an odd, but lovely little sanctuary in the middle of a bay.

We stopped for a snack midway through the Healy Pass in the Beara Peninsula. We chose the Ring of Beara over the Ring of Kerry because it was too narrow for big tour buses.

Calling it a two lane road would be generous.

The sweet little town of Kenmare, Ireland.

We spent a half day at Kilkenny and Kells Priory.

Like most of the ruins we explored, it was only accessible through a pasture.

Spectacular sunsets over the cottage we stayed in were a regular occurrence. And yes, those are castle ruins and a cow pasture in the distance!

I loved the time we spent in Galway, we arrived early and visited the local market.

Then, on our very last day, the weather finally cooperated at the Cliffs of Moher.

It was very well worth the wait. 🙂

Ireland was like a fairytale. Everything we saw was impossibly charming. The food we ate was phenomenal (especially the butter, preserves, tea, and ice cream!!) I can’t thank Eric’s sweet family enough for hosting us, it was a trip we’ll never forget. I may have been super anxious planning this trip, but now I’m confident I want to go back someday. If you’re thinking about going to Ireland, don’t hesitate. Not to mention, I can recommend a pretty great place to stay. 😉

Ireland photography