I decided to explore Ireland a bit before I taught abroad at the AMV workshop this year! My original plan for Ireland was to make it to the west coast. I wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher and Galway but the workshop I agreed to teach at was close tot he North coast… so Belfast I went! Below is my Irish vacation and some bonus recs for the coast I didn’t quite get to!

Day 1-3: Dublin

I absolutely adored Dublin. I stayed at the Hilton and it’s a very walkable city! I saw the Book of Kells Library before exploring the campus and going shopping on Francis Street. If you have time, you can consider a day trip to Glendalough or another small booked experience like this one!

I ate at the Pink Restaurant (34 south williams st) but the food around the corner was a bit better although not as aesthetically pleasing! At night, you can take in a. Riverdance show to combat the jet lag!

The next day, my pal Sophie met me in the city and we did tea at Shelborne. I was a MUST DO if you ask me. We then wandered into a pub with live music and Guinness they can print your face on before heading to The Winding Stair for lunch. After some cocktails at Cafe en Seine, we went to House Dublin for more yummy Irish fare. I think 3 days in Dublin was the perfect amount but I could always have spent more time in the square and hitting different pubs! I skipped the Guinness factory tour since I wanted to remain a bit within my wits for the travel days.

Day 3 & 4: Ballyfin

My main reason for traveling to Ireland (besides the workshop) was to stay at Ballyfin. I had heard such wonderful things and seen the glass atrium used as a wedding venue before. It did not disappoint. We were greeted by 5 staff members who took our luggage and greeted us with champagne. We explored the grounds and took a cart to drive the property on the slightly rainy day. We then got a tour of this intimate hotel and learned about the school history and inner workings of the property. After a swim in the pool, we got ready for pre-dinner drinks where a pianist played the Succession soundtrack and classics. Our dining experience in the atrium for lunch and the dining room for dinner was AMAZING. I still think about the bread and service. The next day, we went shooting (Sophie was an excellent shot, me not so much) and wished we had time to do horse or boat activities before heading out. It was the most magical place I’d ever stayed.

Day 5-7: Belfast and Workshop

I drove the rest of the way to Belfast with only one minor traffic oops. Our friend Paula greeted us and took us to the Titanic Museum where the ship actually launched from that port. After a little bar crawl in town, we went to a yummy dinner near her school and walked around the town. The next day, she took us on a spin and we saw the Giants Causeway, the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle! We didn’t make it to Glenariff Waterfall or The Hidden Village of Galboly but we were pooped! Such a magical coastal place.

We then headed off to 3 days at Castle Leslie to create art and teach other photographers. Perfect weather and ghost stories made this trip an absolute joy.

As promised, here are some things I didn’t get to but are on the list!

Galway Recommendations

Food / Drink 

– McDonagh’s – amazing fish & chips

– Morans on Wier

– Jungle Cafe

– The Front Door – multi level pub that was my go to for nights out 

–  The Crane Bar – pub with live music and silent discos on certain nights

– The Quays Bar – iconic pub with live music


– Walk down Quay street and the Latin Quarter 

– Day trip Cliffs of Moher from Gallway

– Ferry to Aran Islands

– NUI Galway

– Galway Cathedral / Cathedral of Our Lady

– Walk along the Salthill Promenade that runs along the ocean


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