Travel bloggers rate Ireland
Travel bloggers from all over the world came to Ireland this week for the TBEX travel bloggers' conference. Their consensus? We’re funny, friendly, and sometimes pricey. And our dolphins are way too jumpy
‘Breathtaking, belly-shaking good times’
Heather Greenwood Davis
Writes at Globetrottingmama.com. She and her family were named travellers of the year by National Geographic magazine for their year long round the world trip. @greenwooddavis
Best thing about your visit? The surprises. I’ve met incredible people with personalities that will stick with me for a long, long time. Every cab ride has had me laughing.
Biggest surprise? The small museums in Limerick. We visited Foynes Flying Boat Museum and the Hunt Museum.
Best pub? It’s a tie. Loved chatting with the old-timers at Flannery’s Bar, in Limerick, but the Literary Pub Crawl through Dublin – especially O’Neills – was unforgettable.
Tourist attraction? I write a lot about family travel, and so for me I’d say King John’s Castle, in Limerick, was the best. It paired interactive exhibits with history and provided plenty of great spots for learning and photo-taking. I hope to bring the kids back to see it.
Most memorable cultural experience? Learning to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse. Learning to pour the cream just so on my Irish coffee.
Ever feel ripped off? Not once.
Most scenic spot? I know I should say the Cliffs of Moher but I loved the ragtag mix of Temple Bar.
Oddest moment? Hearing a story about a wedding dress made out of chilli peppers by a local fashion designer, in Cow’s Lane, and watching my husband get his head massaged in a vintage chair at Waldorf Barbershop.
Most interesting new fact? That Foynes was the site of first passenger transatlantic flight.
What do you hope never changes about Ireland? The humour. Deadpan and common. No high-brow pretence.
Ireland in five words? Breathtaking, belly-shaking good times.
Will you be back? Absolutely. (Hope you don’t mind if I bring a few friends.)
‘Bring a raincoat and your roving eyes’
Best thing about your visit? The weather. Even the drizzle and the rain because it brings lush greenery, great clean air. It’s a high point these days, especially for people who live in megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and New York, where the air quality is truly miserable.
Biggest disappointment? Durty Nelly’s Pub across from Bunratty Castle. Very much a tourist trap, though the staff were friendly.
Most surprising? The personal involvement of every staff member at every institution I visited, be it the curator at the Hunt Museum, to the guide at the Foyne’s Airship Museum, to Jackie at Bunratty Castle.
Best meal? Brasserie One at No 1 Pery Square Hotel, in Limerick.
Did you ever feel ripped off? The prices are higher than they are in Berlin, but I didn’t feel ripped off.
Thoughts on public transport? Luas is modern, efficient, clean and well lit: a great system.
Most scenic spot? Cliffs of Moher. The grounds of Adare Manor.
Most interesting new fact? Hurling and its unique rules. There’s no pay for its players, and they must come from the county they play for.
Best thing you overheard? Two elderly gentlemen sitting on a bench actually speaking Gaelic with each other. They are fluent in it and can only speak it with each other, not their families.
Best example of customer service? My Airbnb host Austin going out of his way to pick me up at almost midnight from the airport.
What do you hope never changes about Ireland? The people and their passion.
Advice for people coming to Ireland? Bring a raincoat and your roving eyes. There is bound to be something wonderful just lurking around the corner. Old buildings are full of interesting details . . . Don’t just keep to the main roads; explore the alleys and farther afield.
‘A truly authentic, beautiful place’
What was the best thing about your visit? The Irish people
What was the biggest disappointment? Didn’t meet any Leprechauns
Best meal? Dinner at Ballyfin Hotel, Co Laois
Best tourist attraction? Guinness Storehouse
Did you ever feel ripped off? Never.
Thoughts on public transport? I took multiple trains and was impressed by how efficient they were and that they offered free wifi.
Oddest thing you overheard? A drunk tourist tell her boyfriend to “smell my finger” while on the tram in Dublin.
Best customer service? The first line in the priest’s homily for Sunday Mass was, “Welcome to any visitors who might be passing through.”
Ireland in five words? A truly authentic, beautiful place.
Any other observations? I knew Ireland was going to be special the moment the passenger sitting behind my wife and I on the plane tapped our friendly seatmate on the shoulder to tell him the restaurant he’d just suggested to us was crap. When we arrived we ran into the opinionated bloke who had been sitting behind us. He warned us not to take one of the airport taxis since they’re a rip-off. Instead, he offered to call us a cab, which he said would be a lot cheaper. He then offered to drop us off at our hotel since he was going that way and wouldn’t take any money for the ride.
‘It seems any measure of caffeine costs a tenner’
Writes at turnipseedtravel.com. A freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. @turnipseeds
What was the best thing about your visit? We had an incredible tour guide, Tony Kirby, to take us through Limerick and the surrounding areas. He was so passionate, welcoming, and knowledgeable. From native trees to popular poetry, it seemed like there wasn’t an area of Irish life he wasn’t well versed in.
Biggest disappointment? The horrible instant coffee in all the hotel rooms. It seems strange that hotels will provide North American compatible plugs in each room, while the real power surge comes from good, real coffee.
What surprised you most? The weather isn’t all that bad. I live through Canadian winters, so a spot of rain in an otherwise lovely autumn is easily tolerated.
Best pub? The Hairy Lemon in Dublin. The service was warm, friendly and helpful.
Did you ever feel ripped off? Anytime I wanted to buy a coffee and a muffin. it seems like a tenner is required for any measure of caffeine.
What did you think of our public transport? I love the wifi on Dublin Bus, but I cannot figure out the website or the pricing.
Oddest moment? Wifi at the Cliffs of Moher.
Best customer service? The animators at Bunratty Castle: warm, sincere, humble, homestyle welcomes at their very best. Runner-up could be the attitude-free customs staff at the airport.
Worst customer service? The Airlink bus driver who seemed incredulous that I didn’t have the correct change.
What would you change? Not a thing. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the smoke-free public spaces . . . now I’m experiencing Irish pubs for the first time.
What do you hope never changes? The weather. I’ve lived in the sub-Sahara; give me a season-changing country any day.
Ireland in five words? Imaginative, intoxicating, independent, intriguing, inexhaustible.
Advice for visitors? Have your wits about you when it comes to navigating rural roads. Avoid Dublin on the weekends to get the best hotel prices and know that a one-night weekend stay is nearly impossible.
‘I tried to take a bus in Dublin, but I couldn’t’
What surprised you most? The Irish language has no similarities whatsoever to any other European language. I’m developing a theory that it was invented the morning after they accidently discovered beer.
Best meal? Harvey’s Point, in Lough Eske, Co Donegal.
Best pub? Due to the nature of my tour and the conference so far, I haven’t yet stepped foot into a proper pub. I know. I’m outraged too.
Most memorable cultural experience? The Doagh Famine Village in Donegal.
Thoughts on public transport? I tried to take a bus to meet my tour group in Dublin, but I couldn’t make the route-planning website work. Then three generous people working at the hostel tried to help me manually plan the trip, but it seemed awfully complicated. I ended up walking.
Most scenic spot? The drive to Glenevin Waterfall in Clonmany, Co Donegal. Like being on Mars, but with moss and sheep.
Oddest moment? When it didn’t rain for four consecutive days in September. I understand this hasn’t happened since 1585.
Interesting new fact? Surfing is popular.
Worst customer service? The dolphins that swam next to our boat at the Sliabh Liag cliffs did not hold still enough for photos. It was like they didn’t care about satisfying tourist needs.
Biggest criticism? One day I had a hard time finding a trash bin. That’s all I can think of.
What do you hope never changes about this country? The tireless, astonishing friendliness.
In five words how would you describe Ireland? Green, welcoming, festival of culture.
Will you be back? Definitely. Probably with my parents in tow. Ireland is on their travel wish list.