Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

Why do we keep returning to Ireland? In a nutshell, Ireland makes us feel good. We have magical memories from our first visit and each one that followed. In addition to the memories, Ireland tops our charts for scenery, engaging people, remarkable history, moderate weather, and affordability.

To expend our time and limited retirement income resources, to travel to the same European area six times (so far) is the best endorsement we can make to encourage you to make Ireland and Northern Ireland your next travel destination.

As listed in my earlier post, here is a list of previous posts published about our Ireland travel.

Seashell Cottage in the Ballinskelligs

Ireland – Making a Plan

Ireland has its hooks in me!

Must-know tips before traveling to Ireland

As we have on our past trips, Steve and I visited historical landmarks, churches, and abbeys and saw stunning scenery each day of our visit, all day long, from early morning until dark, which is close to 10 pm. We enjoyed conversations with many locals and loved the stories we heard.

I want to share with you some of the beautiful experiences we have been able to add to our unique Ireland and Northern Ireland memories.

Crowne Plaza – Dundalk

What a perfect choice. Dundalk is about an hour’s drive from the Dublin airport and very near the Ireland – Northern Ireland border. There are many historical sites within a very short drive from Dundalk. These are the reasons we made this hotel our home base for eight days.

We ventured into Northern Ireland on our first day of sightseeing. There is no border crossing or noticeable change as you move from Ireland to Northern Ireland. The only difference we observed was that gas stations along the highway advertised their gas in Sterling Pounds instead of Euros.

Google Maps

I’ve mentioned that we have recently taken several trips to Ireland and Northern Ireland. During our first trip, we spent much of our time lost, mostly clueless, trying to find our way. After that first year, I began downloading Google maps of all the places we wanted to visit.

What a great plan. The maps would be available to us offline and would decrease the number of hours we wandered lost in the beautiful countryside. Being lost is not a bad thing either, though. I highly recommend downloading offline maps whenever you travel, so they are available on your phone at all times.

Another habit we have is to drop a pin on a Google map from our phone as soon as we have parked our car, whether at our B&B, hotel, restaurant, parking garage, museum, or attraction. We are then free to walk or hike wherever without worrying about how to get back to where we started.

Sightseeing at last

Listed below are a few of our memorable stops as we meandered down those scenic roads in the Dundalk area for our first full day of sightseeing.

First stop: Castle Roche

This castle ruin, constructed in 1236, is about seven miles from our hotel in Northern Ireland. The castle ruins are closed to visitors because of the danger of falling rocks, but we were able to see it and take a few photos.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

A legend about Castle Roche is that Lady Rohesia de Verdun, owner of the Castle, promised to marry the architect but instead had him thrown to his death out of one of the castle windows. That window is called the “murder window.”

Second stop: The Church of St. Patrick, Dundalk

The immense Roman Catholic Church of St. Patrick, named after the patron Saint of Ireland, is also referred to as St. Patrick’s Pro-Cathedral, and dates back to 1750. This Church is magnificent with colorful and beautiful stained glass windows and mosaic sanctuary walls.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

Third stop: Dundalk County Museum

The three-story Dundalk County Museum is in an 18th-century warehouse building and chronicles the history of County Louth beginning in the Stone Age. A large number of artifacts are on view here.

Fourth stop: St. Joseph’s Redemptorist’s Church

The 1800 St. Joseph’s Redemptorist’s Church is a stunning Romanesque-style church. It is quite beautiful and one of those must-see churches in Ireland.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

Fifth stop: Proleek Dolmen and Wedge Tomb

The Proleek Dolmen, a portal tomb dating from 3000 BCE, is about 13 feet high, and the capstone weighs over 35 tons. The Dolmen and Wedge Tomb are in the middle of a golf course on the property of the Ballymascanlon Hotel.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

Proleek Wedge Tomb

Portal tombs have a large capstone rock angled and supported by smaller stones. Wedge tombs, built 500 to 1000 years after portal tombs, are similar, except they have a box shape with a sloping roof slab. These are two of the four types of megalithic monuments in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

Beautiful stream along the pathway to Proleek Dolmen

The Proleek Dolmen and wedge tomb required a 10-minute walk behind the hotel along a path through the golf course. A geocache is here but, unfortunately, we could not find it. Some fascinating legends exist to explain the origin of these megalithic monuments.

Sixth stop: St. Brigid’s Shrine

St. Brigid is a patron saint of Ireland, one of three. There are multiple shrines to St. Brigid in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and this particular Shrine most likely was in place during her lifetime. St. Brigid is believed to have performed many miracles.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

I am sure you have seen one of St. Brigid’s crosses before. They are made from a straw-like plants. St. Brigid’s Day is celebrated February 1 of each year. It is a tradition to create a new cross each February 1. The old cross is then set on fire and burned to protect the home from fire.

Ladywell Shrine

This Shrine in Dundalk is a holy well that has existed since the early 1600s and is a pilgrimage site still in use today. Legend says that on the feast of the Assumption, the water in the well will magically appear. Stations of the cross are built around the well.

These are only some of the sights we visited on our first full day in Ireland. We enjoy going to these historical and notable sights in Ireland, but we genuinely enjoy the journey, the stops for coffee, the people we meet along the way, and the history we learn.

Keep following for more stories about our Ireland experience.

Why do we keep returning to Ireland?

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