Nicole O'Neil Photography
I figured it would be good to highlight the places I loved seeing and the places I loved staying while in Ireland (and the ones I didn't love, but may be good for others).
The first places that I LOVED to stay was Avelow B&B in Kenmare, Co. Kerry. The owner, Pat was wonderful. He was attentive to everyone's needs (everyone meaning everyone staying there) and helpful in giving suggestions for places to eat, hearing good Irish music, and things to see. When I arrived in the afternoon, Pat got me some tea and a snack after showing me to my room. The room was beautiful and clean, the breakfast was very good and fresh, and there was parking right out front. The B&B is right on the Ring of Kerry and just outside of the beautiful little town of Kenmare. I would HIGHLY recommend staying there if you go to that area.
I stayed at a B&B in Galway that felt like more of a hotel. It was two buildings connected and there must have been 20 rooms total. I didn't like it much, but it may be good for people who aren't picky about the hotel feel. The room was very large (and had a double bed as well as a twin) and they have parking. It was also affordable and right in a neighborhood of Galway. It was Amber Heights B&B.
The next B&B that I was very happy with was in Boyle, Co.Roscommon. It is Linsfort Bed & Breakfast. Patricia and Michael were unbelievably nice and helpful. When I arrived, I was shown my room (one of 4 en-suite rooms) which was large and spotless. I had a larger bedroom with a double bed and desk and then walked down a few stairs to a smaller room with a twin bed and then a large bathroom. It was situated on a street right in the town close to attractions. Patricia got me some tea and a snack when I arrived and provided me with a map and showed me where she recommended I visit as well as possible places to eat. There was a room to sit and watch TV and where breakfast was served that was comfortable and inviting. It felt like my nana's parlor. When I was leaving the next morning, we had a great conversation about Boston and Ireland and they made some great recommendations on places to see. I would definitely stay there again.
The next B&B that I absolutely loved and will visit again was Aras Ghleanna Cholm Cille. This was when I stayed in Glencolumbkille, which is a great traditional and beautiful area on the west coast of Donegal. The house is large and the owners live there with their sons. It felt like being at home. There is a large room that has tables for breakfast and a couch in front of a fireplace as well as large kitchen area that is for guests to use. The room was a great size and was en-suite.
I was not overly happy with the other places I stayed, so I won't go into detail about them.
Now, for favorite places I visited.
As said above, I loved Kenmare. It was just a small town and great location if you want to do the Ring of Kerry, which I thought was good, but did not live up to the hype in my eyes. It may have been better had the weather been nicer for better views. I did, however LOVE Dingle and the whole Dingle Peninsula. I loved the town of Dingle and all of the fishing boats as well as the views across the water. As I drove the peninsula, I was constantly seeing amazing views and what I describe as a more "traditional Ireland". I also enjoyed the sites such as the famine cottages and the beehive huts along the way.
When in Boyle, I visited the Lough Key. It is a large park which includes historical buildings and beautiful scenery. I walked around a while and also walked in the servant tunnels leftover from a house that used to stand on the grounds. I then, walked along a treetop canopy that overlooked the water (lake) and an island that you can visit with a castle still standing on it. There are also some other great attractions in the Boyle area.
My trip toward Glencolumbkille was filled with great places. I visited the town of Bundoran, a surfing town on the coast. It is a popular summer vacation spot with great beaches and atmosphere. In Sligo, I visited the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery which is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland. After this, I went to Slieve League Cliffs, the largest cliffs in Ireland and one of the highest in all of Europe. It is considered a sacred mountain. I personally enjoyed this more than the Cliffs of Moher. You can drive or walk up the road leading to a view of the cliffs and an amazing view of the ocean. You can then go higher including a hike all the way to the summit which is certainly only for those prepared. I plan to do it next time, as it was very rainy and windy the day I was there.
Glencolumbkille is beautiful and worth staying for a few days. It is near Slieve League. There is a lot of tradition still there and the landscape and seascape is absolutely breathtaking. There is a beautiful cove which is at the end of a road and beautiful little beaches and hills as well as historic sites.
Let's just say that ALL of Donegal is beautiful. As I drove through the countryside and along the coast, it was all amazing, and I even missed some of it. I plan to spend a lot of time here on my next trip traveling along the entire coast and spending time on the Inishowen Peninsula, which is steeped in history. I can't even tell you to visit specific places because I believe you need a lot of time to explore the entire county. (That last place was actually in Donegal County as well.)
The northern coast of N. Ireland is beautiful with castles, old houses, and Giant's Causeway. I also heard about the Ulster-American Folk Park which I did not get to, but plan to visit on a future trip.
Belfast is a must see, if only to take a Black Taxi Tour and visit the Titanic Museum. There is a lot of history here, and much of it is not accurately portrayed to us. Take a longer tour and see as much as you can.
That sums up my absolute favorite places and places I plan to visit next time. Hope this helped if you are considering a trip!