Truth be told, most of my travels are greatly influence by the movies I’ve seen. I’ve watched the tearjerker movie “P.S I love you” countless of times. More than the movie’s romantic and heart-tugging, emotional storylines, the film location was also very stunning which was set in the rugged landscape of the Emerald Isle. Its wildness and beauty was so captivating that I want to spontaneously book a hotel, pack my bags and get on the plane to visit the place. I always thought this place is worth visiting in real life.
Whenever I think of Ireland, the picture that crossed my mind are the scenes depicted from that movie; the beautiful purple heather on the wayside, of vast rolling moorland, cascading water stream under the bridge as the characters of Gerry and Holly (played by Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler) were seen flirtatiously chatting as they passed through wild and sweeping landscape. Isn’t it a perfect spot to woo the love of your life? Even the overcast sky looks so perfect and dreamy.
And then you saw them walking and entering the local pub; both lost in a crowd of tourists and villagers. Then you saw Gerry on stage, guitar hang loosely across his body as he started strumming and singing that Irish folk song ‘Galway Girl’. There was something about the Irish songs; you’ll recognise its music as soon as you hear it. Its diverse tones blend so beautifully, its fast rhythms and beats somehow inspire you to move your feet with confidence, not a care in the world if you do it right or you’re tapping on the wrong foot as you joined the rest of the crowd dance to this happy beat.
Inspired with this desire to explore another country, I decided to do my research. With the uncertainty of Brexit that time (2019), I’ve decided maybe Ireland would be a pretty safe place to go and visit (with less hassle on the border) as compared to other European countries.
Apparently, getting to Ireland by Ferry is very straight forward and easy, especially that we want to bring our car with us. The ferry from Holyhead (Wales) only takes 3 hours sea journey to Dublin. The only problem though is that you have to take in consideration the travelling journey (by car) from London to Wales; whilst also keeping in mind that sometimes there are traffic and weekend disruptions (so always check beforehand so you can find an alternative route). For us, the only disruption we encountered was that our car didn’t immediately start when we’re about to leave 😱.
We chose the Stenaline ferry and decided to book a cabin. Although we paid extra for the cabin I thought it was a brilliant idea since we’ve chosen a very busy time to travel (around Easter Break). One advantage of having a cabin is that after we got tired of wandering in the ferry at least we can go to our own room and have some privacy. The children got the chance to sit and watch some of the movies available on the TV or the ones I downloaded for them on their Ipads while hubby managed to have a few winks while I on the other hand had my moment of catching some reading time on my kindle over a warm coffee (the refreshments were complimentary from Stenaline if you book a cabin). I couldn’t find any fault on that journey, it was a nice fine day, the water was calm and more importantly we arrived on our destination safe and approximately on schedule.
Our first stop is Dublin– it’s a city of music where every corner is line with musicians and street performers (especially along Grafton Street); it’s quite common to see buskers belting out their best tune to some eager tourists and spectators. There was even a time that we stop on one of the busy streets when we saw a horde of other tourists standing with their smart phone in hand, to video and document the astonishing voice of a young girl named Allie Sherlock. She sings so well that my hubby decided to buy her own CD. For days we played her music the entire time we were on the road that the kids memorised almost all the lines of her songs when we got home.
There’s never a dull moment exploring this beautiful city; from museums and manicured parks to some interesting and bizarre arts displayed for sale by some aspiring artists. Even the pubs are jam-packed with live Irish music. Among the other things on my “to do and see list” was visit one of the pub and experience what’s it’s like listening live to some traditional Irish songs (although of course I didn’t drink a pint of Guinness when I went in). I only stayed for a few minutes out of curiosity of what’s inside; unfortunately one of the pubs I went in won’t allow young children. But what a lovely way to experience when in Dublin.
One advantage of having a car is that we have the freedom to go and see as many places as we want to. We also had the luxury of taking our time, no need to rush, stopping by to rest to relish the rugged landscape before us or to find a nice place to eat and sample some local delicacy, have a quick browse in one of the souvenir shops, or let the kids play in one of the parks.
Some of the lists of places that we visited in Ireland were listed below:
Probably this is one of the most dramatic architecture I’ve seen which is perfectly positioned against the backdrop of the wild and mountainous Connemara National Park. Definitely, a place worth visiting when in Ireland. The place is so gorgeous that you can literally just point your camera anywhere and it will come out perfect. Even the reflections on the lake were stunning on that day. Although it was a busy time when we explore this area (Good Friday); the place still looked peaceful and serene. There is not much to do and see inside the Abbey since most rooms were not open to the public but just sitting outside under the shade of the trees reminded me of one of the writings by Octavia Hill, “We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently”. As I sat there contemplating and savouring the beauty around me, I thought how lucky am I to be able to witness this moment. You know how you don’t want to blink because you don’t want to miss a thing?
Connemara National Park
I think this place is such a show off the moment we entered the national park. Although we were in a rush to get to our accommodation before night falls, afraid that we might still be driving in the dark in some unknown place but the scene we saw on the way is worth stopping by. The timing was perfect. We can’t help relishing the beautiful colour of the sunset against the backdrop of the calm lake and Connemara Mountains, that fleeting moment when the colour of the sky changed from chorus of blue to fire hearths, tangerines and pink, plus many more shades of all those in between, and all for nothing more than just a few magical minute. So fleeting and yet so perfect. The view was surreal as I took a few snaps and thought if I could have some of that beauty frozen forever in a photograph. I think one of the reasons I love about travels are the unexpected instants we encountered along the way, the things we witness together as a family, the beauty and miracle of that moment. So unpredictable and yet so beautiful.