Happy Thursday and St. Patrick’s Day Hidden Gem Travel community – and a special welcome if you’re a new reader and receiving this newsletter for the first time!
Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! Today, I’m thinking back on my amazing trip to the Emerald Isle only 4 months ago. I’m also planning to make one of the Jameson cocktails that I learned in the mixology class at the Jameson Distillery. 😊
If you’d like to be inspired by a few hidden gem Irish experiences, read on for the scoop…
Note – if you missed my newsletters about my time in Dublin or stays in Irish castles, you can read them here:
Deep Dive into Thoroughbred Racehorses
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we pulled up to the Irish National Stud and Gardens (INS) in county Kildare but was quickly amazed by the history, horses, and gardens. Dating back over 100 years, it’s been a working stud farm producing champion racehorses. Seeing the horses up close and hearing their rich stories is both fascinating and breathtaking. Indoors, The Irish Racehorse Experience takes visitors on a deep dive into the world of breeding, training, and racing. It’s all very well done and a high-quality experience.
Not to be missed are the gardens, particularly the Japanese Gardens. The design is representative of Japanese Gardens in the early 20th century. A beautiful, serene place to spend time and explore.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, schedule a chat with me here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Connemara National Park
As you may recall, I stayed at Ashford Castle, the award-winning oldest castle in Ireland. Ashford is a 13th century – over 800 years old – castle located 45 minutes from Galway City. Ashford Castle opened as a luxury hotel in 1939 after a rich history as the estate of Lord Ardilaun and the renowned Guinness family. It’s now owned by the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, valued partners of Hidden Gem Travel.
While there, I visited the Cliffs of Mohr as everyone must do when staying on the mid-west coast of Ireland. Its majesty is truly breathtaking, and I was lucky to have experienced the vistas on a perfect weather day for Ireland (misting on and off).
More of a hidden gem experience not far from Ashford and the Cliffs is Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey. The landscape of Connemara is unique and hard to describe. The drive through the park on a two-lane, winding road offers views of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands, woodlands. Many spots are populated with black-faced sheep who aren’t afraid to cross the road in front of you. We saw a full rainbow on our drive and truly felt the luck of the Irish!
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: For more Ireland castle and hotel options with the perks check this out: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences
Your drive through Connemara National Park will take you to the other-worldly, historic Kylemore Abbey which has real wow factor. Home to a Benedictine order of nuns for the last 100 years, the lakeside castle, gothic church, and walled gardens are a sight to behold. The castle dates to the 1800s and was built by Mitchell Henry who created the estate for his wife so she would have the comforts of the modern age at the time, although living in a remote area of Ireland.
Stop in the high-quality gift shop where you can buy wares hand-made by the nuns. I came home with some spices mixes from the gardens and nun-made chocolates. I also enjoyed a hearty, freshly prepared lunch in the Garden Tea House with a nice warm cup of Irish tea.
Kylemore Abbey is about an hour from Ashford Castle and an hour and a half from Galway City. I highly recommend having a driver take you on the trip so you can fully enjoy the views.
Do you have Irish ancestry? If so, a trip to Ireland including customized ancestry experiences is a bucket list trip I can design for you and your family.
Galway… Europe’s Capital of Culture 2020
Galway is an interesting, historic city on the west coast of Ireland that was named Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2020. It’s a magnet for college students, lovers of a beach getaway, festival-goers, pubs, and Irish music culture aficionados and is a gateway to the Aran Islands just off the coast. Galway also offers a quaint old town with narrow, pathways lined with restaurants, pubs, and shops. Walking through the cobblestone streets, you’ll enjoy live music and a convivial Irish atmosphere AKA craic.
I was in Galway for the opening of their Christmas Market in the main town square and toured nearby Glenlo Abbey, a historic Virtuoso network estate and resort. We saw multiple rainbows over the golf course and checked out the adjacent Pullman train car restaurant, comprising two original carriages from the Orient Express (a hidden gem).
Pub lovers should have a pint at O’Connor’s Pub, an antique-packed pub in Galway’s seaside suburb of Salthill. Owned by the O’Connor family for three generations, it’s a lively spot with a celebrity claim to fame: musician Ed Sheeran filmed his 2018 video for Galway Girl here, which starred actress Saoirse Ronan.
Inspired? If you’re thinking about a bucket list trip to Ireland, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,