9 Out of the Box Things We Did in Ireland

This past October my family and I took a trip to the beautiful country of Ireland. With a joint effort between our tour agency and my obsessive research skills, we planned a great, well-rounded trip. But some of the best things are just things you find along the way! We ended up doing some pretty out-of-the-box things. Some were planned, others we happily stumbled upon. So here is my list of 9 out of the box things we did in Ireland!

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

My absolute favorite thing we did in Dublin. This tour was recommended to me from a few different friends. I love literature, and I love beer, so it seemed like a perfect tour for us!

Ireland is the home of literary legends: Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, C.S. Lewis, I could go on and on. And as a writer, I was excited to sit at the same bars as some of the greats. Our stops were The Duke, O’Neills, Trinity College, The Old Stand, and Davy Byrnes.

The tour starts every night at 7:15pm and lasts until around 10pm. The tour was lead by two local actors, acting out different scenes from Irish literature, and telling us the literary significance of every place we stopped at. A writers dream!

It was educational, a great way to see a few bars we probably would not have gone to otherwise, and who doesn’t like beer?

More information: click here!

Irish Whiskey Museum

Day two in Dublin we took the Hop On Hop Off Bus around the city. A great, cheap, easy way to see the city. Our first stop was the Irish Whiskey Museum.

The tour takes you through five rooms, walking you through the history of Irish Whiskey – from how the monks first produced it in the 12th century, to when John Jameson entered the game. The tour ends in the tasting room, where you get to sample four different Irish whiskeys. The guide will tell you about each one, and even show you HOW to drink the whiskey. Yes, there are different ways to drink whiskey. If you want to find out how, you’ll have to take the tour.

My favorite was a whiskey called “Writer’s Tears.” Fitting, right? I don’t think any of us expected to enjoy this tour as much as we did, but it was very educational, and a good way to sample a handful of Irish whiskeys.

More information: click here!

whiskey

Cork Ghost Tour

While in Cork, we decided to book the Cork Ghost Tour. My family loves the paranormal – ghosts, witches, spooky history – so we were really excited for this tour. Our tour guide, Damian, came fully dressed in a cape, top hat, and walking stick. He told us stories about the River Lee maid, a grieving nurse that haunts a hospital, and a ghost in a red dress. But also told us about the history of Cork, how the entire city is sitting on top of water, all the rats, and pointed out the tilting Starbucks.

It was an interesting tour, but surprisingly not a ton of ghost stories involved. There were lots of interesting stories about Cork, but only three or four actual ghost stories during the 90-minute tour.

Fun and interesting, just not totally what we expected. We all had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about Cork (and SOME ghost stories), just know what you’re signing up for.

More information: click here!

Falconry at Dromoland Castle

While at Dromoland Castle, we booked a falconry class, because when and where are we ever going to get to do that again?!

Our lesson was with the owner of the on-site School of Falconry, Dave. We met him, and our hawk Alice in the front lawn, before starting the walk around the grounds. Dave told us all about the history of falconry, how he started the School of Falconry, about the species, and just a lot of really interesting information. Of course we got to fly Alice as well. The tour ended in the aviary where all the birds were kept. Not just hawks, but falcons and owls as well. He spoke about each and every one like they were a member of his family.

The hawk walk was one of my favorite things we did on the trip because not only was in a once in a lifetime experience, but it was also a great way to tour the beautiful grounds at Dromoland.

But it’s not just Dromoland Castle that offers falconry! There’s the Ireland School of Falconry at Ashford Castle in Cong, Killarney Falconry, Falconry Ireland in Wicklow, Dublin Falconry, and lots of other options.

More information: click here!

Jaunting Carriage through Killarney National Park

We all wanted to see Killarney National Park, but there are no cars allowed on the grounds, which means we had to either walk, or get a jaunting car, so we opted for the jaunting car. We met our guide (and our horse, Precious) in the city, and they took us into the park.

Killarney National Park is the largest national park in Ireland – filled with woodlands, and gardens, and lakes, and fields, and just overall beauty. The halfway point of the ride was Ross Castle, a small castle from the 15th century on the edge of the Lough Leane. A jaunting car was a wonderful way to see the park.

More information: click here!


Visited “The Shire”

Yes, you read that right. Right next to our hotel in Killarney was a bar called “The Shire”, a Lord of the Rings themed bar. This was an accidental find, but once we saw it, we just had to go! My family is full of nerds. For my dad’s 50th birthday we all went to see The Hobbit in costume, and had a LOTR themed cake waiting for him when he got home.

There, we had a flight of LOTR themed beers, “Bilbo’s Beer”, “Frodo’s Lager”, and “Gandolf’s Ale”. They also had a number of themed cocktails like “Fires of Mordor”, “Get Legolas”, and “Kings of Gondor”. Inside hung photos of some of the cast who have made an appearance at the bar, such as John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), and memorabilia and quotes from the movies everywhere. on every wall.

More information: click here!

Holding baby lambs

On our drive from Killarney to Corracatlin we took part of the Ring of Kerry which brought us to the beautiful Dingle Penninsula, where we saw a sign that said “hold a baby lamb for €3” – yes please. There, we also met some sheepdogs, and saw some historic clocháin – or beehive houses. On the other side of the road from the farmhouse was the most picturesque view of the Dingle Peninsula. Also visible from this point was the Skellig Islands – which might mean something to avid Star Wars fans…We got much more out of this stop than expected, and for only €3!

More information: click here!

dingle

Learning to play “Snooker”

When I first saw the snooker table in the billiards room at Ashford Castle I went “wow, what a comically large pool table.” Turns out, it wasn’t a pool table at all. It is a British billiards game called snooker. There are 22 balls on the table, 15 of them are red, and 7 are other colors. Confusing, but it was fun to learn a “local” game that is completely absent in the United States.

Walking the dogs at Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle has two resident Irish wolfhounds, Cronan and Garvan. Every morning, they are brought to the castle lobby to take photos with the guests. But before that, you can also walk the dogs around the grounds. We were on a schedule that day, so we didn’t get to complete the entire walk, but just meeting them and getting to watch them romp around was so much fun.

Of course, we did all the expected things to do in Ireland too. We went to Trinity College, and the Guinness Factory, and Jameson. But I’m so glad we got to include some spontaneous, quirky things in there too. It was a perfectly balanced trip that I’ll never forget.

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40 Comments

  1. I wish I did the Literary Pub Crawl when I was in Ireland – that sounds like so much fun! I’ll have to do the rest of these things next time I’m there.

  2. Koushik Krishnamoorthi

    Seems like you had a fabulous time in Ireland, doing something unusual. I am.really surprised that you had taken the spooky tour, hope they are not real life events.

  3. I would *so* be up for walking the wolfhounds – what a fine pair they are! The whiskey tasting sounds fun, as well as being informative. Hearing about the writers in the places where they took (or rued their lack of) inspiration must have been fascinating too. You’ve got a fine collection of experiences there.

  4. Oh I love this. Although I am originally from Ireland, I’ve only really started exploring the country since my son came along in an effort to show him his heritage. And I love the idea of doing out-of-the-box things with him so will bear these in mind when we travel there again in August.

  5. Okay, how, I repeat HOW did I miss the “hold a baby lamb” experience! My husband and I sadly didn’t make it to the Dingle Peninsula (still kicking myself), nor Ashford Castle which was also on my list. But we loved Ireland so much we gave our son an Irish name and we KNOW we’ll be back. Fantastic post with some great off-the-beaten path ideas.

  6. Oh my goodness, this looks like the perfect itinerary. I love reading and drinking beer, so I am going with you next time! What fun and adventurous activities, and really activities of a lifetime!

  7. I did visit the Whiskey museum even though I am not a whiskey fan. Still a lot of fun! Cork is my absolute favourite, but I didn’t know about the Ghost Tour, will be doing this next time.

  8. I have read about the three most famous symbols of Ireland which are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross. It was a pleasant read to know about the pretty out-of-the-box things that you planned or happily stumbled upon 🙂 “The Shire” sounds absolutely cool and I am sure your dad’s 50th LOTR themed cake must have been awesome 🙂

  9. Very interesting to read about these ideas, as we’re always looking for things to do on our travels that are a little out of the ordinary! Love that you begin with a pub crawl and a whiskey museum, haha. Those would definitely be up our street 🙂

  10. Visiting a whiskey museum sounds like the perfect way to start the day. Those Irish Wolfhounds are adorable. I love dogs and always miss my 3 when I travel so I would stay at the castle just to see them 🙂

  11. Holding baby lambs sounds amazing, “The Shire” sounds like a lot of fun too. Ghost tours are not for me. 😛 Inspiring post, it gave me some ideas on how to enjoy trips doing out of the box things. 🙂

  12. So many super fun things listed here that I also need to do when I visit Ireland one day! Especially the literary pub crawl and ‘The Shrine’ caught my interest.

    Xoxo,
    Laura // afinnontheloose.com

  13. Sarah

    Some great ideas here. We will be visiting Ireland later this year. The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl sounds fun and I can’t resist a ghost tour 🙂

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