Last summer, my friend and I went to see Leap Year and fell in love with Ireland. We told ourselves we wanted to move to the country, meet an Irish chef that tells us how “lovely” and “gorgeous” we are, and grow a veggie garden based mainly off potatoes.
Well, my friend moved to Turkey and I moved to France, but I did go on an excellent countryside tour of Avoca, Glendalough, and Wicklow in search of said Irish gentleman. The first stop was through the Wicklow mountains, where they filmed PS. I Love You and Leap Year (as well as Braveheart and Excalibur, but who really cares about those?). There was a rowdy group of British girls that got out of the back of the bus and reinacted almost every scene by heart, which gave the entire bus a good laugh. Mostly, the scenery was breathtaking – the desolate mountains with lush greenery was exactly what I’d seen on the big screen.
Glendalough was a 6th century monastic settlement, which is first evidenced through the old buildings and cemetery full of Celtic crosses. It is amazing how much has survived through years – nothing you would ever see in the states. We then took a long walk through the woods, winding around the lakes and taking in the emerald landscape.
Avoca Village is outside of Dublin in county Wicklow, known for its handweaving mill owned by the store named after the village. Its beautifully woven clothes, ever so delicately dyed and crafted into blankets, sweaters, and hats are the main attraction of the visit. However, the unexpected gem inside the shop is their café. The endless salads, full of cheeses, grains, and were very refreshing and light compared to the normal tourist fare of heavy stews and breads. But then again, I couldn’t resist one of their delicious little cakes after my oh-so-healthy lunch. I was inspired to go to Avoca after reading this post by my favorite French/American/Irish food blogger.
Howth was another one of my favorite visits in Ireland. This is a beach town on the coast, just twenty minutes from Dublin by the DART train. You can hike around the entire penninsula, so be sure to pack a picnic and wear your walking shoes. The cliffs hanging over the water, the rocky beaches: it made for an idyllic day with my cousin, who also happened to be in Dublin at that time. We spent some time talking about our grandfather, who would have loved this coastal town.