Ireland Travel Guide | Attractions & The Best Things To Do In Ireland

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Ireland Travel Guide | Attractions & The Best Things To Do In Ireland
Ah the Emerald Isle, my home. It is safe to say for a such a little country has so much character, charm and things to do. For so long I never appreciated it, I was stuck in my little Dublin bubble not even looking around to appreciate my own city never mind the rest of the country.

After my J1 I really started to look around me and see more of the country, I would spend my weekends and sometimes weekdays when I didn't go to college (sorry mom lol) doing all the touristy things this country had to offer. I had realised that millions of tourists come to Ireland every year and see more of the country that I ever have. I found that unless I made the effort to get up and out, the weeks just go by and you realise you haven't left the city! We talk so much about travelling but never appreciate the country we are in. Wether you're a soon to be tourist to Ireland or you've lived in Longford your whole life, get driving and get stuck into the best of Ireland.

After that ramble and rant, lets talk about the attractions:

Spike Island, Cork.

Hands down one of the most interesting experiences I've had touring the country. Who knew Ireland had it's own Alcatraz? Not nearly as famous but the same concept. Yep, we have our very own former prison off the coast of Cork. You can book a tour online and head over to the island to experience the former prison and got an insight into life for them and the families of the staff who worked there. Wander around the cells and various blocks where thousands of prisoners once lived and worked. Tickets start at €20 for adults but they do discounted rates for students, groups and senior citizens! As well as that, there are art exhibitions, discover the gun park and see the gorgeous Cork Harbour as you sail over. The ferry departs from Cobh, a gorgeous little seaside town with so much history as it was the last port of call of the Titanic before it set sail on the Atlantic Ocean. For more information about Cobh and Spike Island, see the links below.

Book Tickets for Spike Island
Visit Cobh

Loftus Hall, Wexford.

Another little random spot that you may not have heard of or thought about. Loftus Hall is Ireland's most haunted house which serves one of the most entertaining tours that I've done, seriously, the staff are great! This house has a few tours available, we did the regular one during the day but they have a night tour for over 18's which I'd LOVE to go back and do. Basically, it's an old mansion in the middle of nowhere but the tour made the experience exceptional. Basic tickets start at €12, a bargain if you ask me! They explain the history of the home and paranormal things that have happened. It's a hidden gem that deserves more recognition!
Address: Loftus Hall, Hook Head, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Loftus Hall Website
After Dark Experience

Black Cab Tour, Belfast.

A broad name for several companies who will drive you around the history filled city of Belfast showing you the murals and telling stories of the troubles. Being born in the 1990s, it's fascinating hearing our own tour guide relay stories of the fighting between the Catholics and the Protestants which started in the late 1960's. We booked our tour with Taxi Tours Belfast who were superb! Tickets start at £40 per person, pretty reasonable for a 90 minute private tour around the city. Prices are reduced if there are more than two people and they can also accommodate large groups. Make sure to put it on your list if you're heading to the city.
Book Tickets Here

Bray to Greystones Walk

If you're on a budget and looking for something to fill up a sunny weekend afternoon, put on your waking shoes and hit the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones. The walk one way is 7km and sports gorgeous views of the cliffs and east coast Ireland. Be prepared, it's not a nice smooth path as I once thought! You're probably thinking, DUH Michelle (my bad haha). Bring your walking shoes, get some fresh sea air and treat yourself in one of the quaint Greystones cafe's when you reach the end. You can either walk back, or catch the DART which runs the whole way back along the walk. If you get a nice day, you'll be blown away by the views and definitely get your steps in! We parked at the free car park at Raheen Park, which knocks about a kilometre off the trail but a hidden gem nonetheless!
More Information
Cark Park Address: Raheen Park, Newtown, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Dun Laoighre

Yes, the little south county Dublin town. Easily accessible by DART, the town has the loveliest atmosphere, restaurants and my guilty pleasure, the ice cream shop Scrumdiddly's (which has more locations but this one will always be the winner in my eyes lol). Admittedly, I'm a little biased. It is my favourite place in Dublin mainly because it calms me, I find more clarity in my thoughts there and again, Scrumdiddly's is there (can you tell I'm a big fan?)! There are Christmas markets over the holidays to enjoy, the 'Fourty Foot' to jump off and enjoy during the summer and Killiney Hill nearby to walk up if you want some exercise.

Blarney Castle & Gardens

During my time in the US if I could count the amount of Americans who told me that they had kissed the Blarney Stone I'd be here all day. If you're from Ireland, have you done it too? The Blarney Castle and Gardens, located in Blarney, Co. Cork is a lovely day out and not too far from Cork City itself. The gardens are lovely for a stroll and the castle boasts lovely countryside views, the experience being well worth the €16 (and even less if you're a student or a senior). Legend goes, if you kiss the Blarney Stone you'll gain the gift of eloquence so what's not to lose? If nothing else you can say yes, you have in fact kissed the stone when asked by an inquisitive tourist who has too!
Book Tickets Here

Jameson Distillery Midleton, Co. Cork.

If you're looking for beautiful buildings, an interesting insight to whiskey and the best Jameson & ginger you've ever tried then the distillery is for you. Admittedly, I haven't been to the one in Dublin (shock horror I know) so I can't comment on it, but I'm sure it is a great alternative. The production of your typical Saturday night drink never really passed my mind until experiencing the tour and hearing about the history of the brand. Nowhere near the scale of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin (a great thing to do too on a rainy afternoon), the laid back tour is a must if you're in Cork.
Address: The Old Distillery, Distillers Walk, Midleton, Co. Cork
Book Tickets Here

I hope you enjoyed my top picks of Ireland, I truly do. I hope it encourages you to get up and out on your days off and enjoy the places around us rather than giving out to no end about where we live. This is just my experience and by no means am I finished exploring. I need to hit the midlands and the west in particular, but all in good time ay? I'll be sure to update this when I do! Let me know your favourite Irish attractions in the comments below & make sure to follow me on Instagram for updates as I'm moving to Australia next week (ahh).

The Trials and Tribulations of Being ‘The Shy Girl’

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Trials and Tribulations of Being ‘The Shy Girl’
Ah yes, a memoir by me. I’ve discussed my struggle with shy on my blog before, I begrudgingly admit it has been a huge part of my life over the years. While so many people suffer with being shy, it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. I share somewhat of my life online and writing is quite therapeutic for me, this swiftly leads me on to opening up and sharing my experience about the STRUGGLE of being ‘The Shy Girl’.

Primary school was particularly difficult. I wouldn’t put up my hand, I was always the girl in the class who you had to force a few words out of. I’d get embarrassed if a teacher asked me a question. I’d much rather sit silently, ticking by and let everyone else do the talking. Thanks to this, I became ‘unfamiliar’ and I’d be the person that people would forget. Even though I longed to be the person in the room that held the conversation, strutted up to the center of the stage but I couldn’t bear the thought of doing it. My parents got told “she’s doing great, but she’s very quiet” at parent teacher meetings but nothing changed with me over the years. I’d be the child who was swinging out of my parents at events and who refused to order Dominos over the phone because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it (God forbid the Dominos man judged me for ordering a margherita pizza).

Shyness gets misunderstood for rudeness, I’m sure people have thought that I was rude countless times in my life. I have self-diagnosed social anxiety, something that I know for sure I have been suffering with all my life but have only really come to terms with in the last few months. It is so hard to explain; any other person would get on fine if they bumped into a random old acquaintance on the bus but the panic that rouses in me isn’t normal and I know that now. My hands would get clammy, my face would turn red and the panic would rise within me almost causing a fight or flight response.. All for seeing an old acquaintance in the shopping center, weird how the brain works isn’t it?

My friendships and relationships are complex and something that I’m still trying to figure out, even after all these years. I don’t start off shy with everyone- I could chat to my friends and family now for hours. Sometimes I just click with people and other times I’m much more reserved and it takes me time to open up and be myself. Sometimes I freeze and just can’t let go and be myself- I find it so strange and can’t put my finger on why it can be polar opposite from person to person. 

Top / Bottoms / Hat (sold out) / Boots
I feel like this can help me though, it is almost like an indicator to me, a gut feeling to what a person is really like. My gut feeling has never really failed me, especially about the people around me. This comes into play for me especially with relationships. When I was a teenager, I didn’t have a whole lot of luck with boys thanks to the reason that I just froze when I talked to them (hilarious when I look back at it now but traumatic at the time lol). To me, boys were a strange species that you just could not have a conversation with. I couldn’t deal, I just got too panicked. If I met a guy I liked I desperately wanted them to like me back however a little siren was going off in my head with a little person yelling ‘SOS, A CUTE BOY, WHAT IF HE LIKES YOU? SAY SOMETHING TO MAKE HIM LIKE YOU’. As you can imagine, it just made me more panicked and I ultimately ended up just not saying anything and kicking myself later lol! 

As I got to the end of my secondary school years, I gained confidence and became much better socially (luckily enough) with people that weren’t my friends. I thank alcohol for this (sorry mom) but it did really help me come out of my shell and loosen up a bit. I feel like relationships shaped the last few years of my life and I can see exactly why I was initially attracted to my two ex-boyfriends. It was because I was instantly comfortable with them. The siren was not going on in my head and I just felt at ease. Although I can’t say my first relationship was smooth sailing (no beef just a reflection in hindsight haha), it sure did teach me a lot and it was what I needed at the time to test my shyness and to have someone in my corner cheering me on when I needed it. When I met both of my exes, I felt like I had known them years and at ease, there is no other way of explaining it.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I remember the look on my mam’s face when I came home from a blog event explaining that I went completely alone. I walked in with my goodie bag in hand, she was intrigued as to what was in it, followed by the question “and who did you go with?”. When I answered by myself it was an interesting mix of shock and pride. Walking into an event is daunting to begin with and it is even scarier when you’re by yourself. Networking is something that I’d like to work on, but one step at a time ok haha. 

Sure, it has been one of the hardest things I have dealt with in my life, I wouldn’t change it. It’s easy for me to reflect and see the humorous side of it all now which I’m very glad to be able to say. Now I’m an empathetic listener, I have good perspective on things, I’m laid back and I love a DMC- all aspects of myself that I’m not sure I’d have if it wasn’t for my shyness and social anxiety. Sure, I’d rather be able to rock up to a group of strangers and be able to sit and chat for hours about pure shite but the reality is, that’s just not me!

I don’t know the point of this post, if it was helpful to anyone, insightful or it just passed the time on your commute to work. It is an aspect of my life that I want to share, felt like I had to share for all the people that know me both personally and that don’t, for people that have thought I was rude to them in the past when I’m just ticking along trying to figure out my own mind and WHY I’m freaking out so much. This is a post for all the gals and guys who are currently so shy, it gets better, it gets easier, it just takes time.

Summertime in Chicago | A Reflection

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Summertime in Chicago | A Reflection

Some say that labor day weekend is a farewell to summer, and boy am I sad to hear that. I arrived in Chicago in the dead of Winter, the 30th of December. It was about -14 degrees celcius, there was snow on the ground and to say 'sure you wouldn't be long getting frostbit' was an absolute understatement. I got a little job to keep me going where I on a daily basis I was met with the words 'just wait until summer, summertime in Chicago is THE BEST' and boy were they right.
The days got longer, sun got stronger and all of a sudden it was 30 degrees, restaurants had their doors open and of course the place was streaming with Irish. The J1's had hopped off the plane, piled their air mattresses high and we hit Joe's most Tuesdays because by the Monday evening I had forgotten how absolutely tragic the hangover was sitting in work from 8:30 - 5 the Wednesday previous. The J1 season had gotten off to a bad start for me, my first Joe's experience I was far too sober for if you ask me. $2 pitchers of Bud Lite and a burst of freedom for some young Irish boys just aren't a great mix. I came out looking like I had just showered in Bud Lite to meet two very rude Irish (which we won't talk about today) but luckily, it was all up from there and I can feel myself starting to miss the absolute dive that is Joe's on Weed St.
For me, summer started when I arrived home from my trip to Ireland. My parent's came to visit the day after and we wined, dined and acted like tourists for the week. It was bloody lovely to spend some quality time with them since we now obviously live so far away from each other. It's so easy to catch up over Whatsapp but it doesn't beat some quality time. Then my best friend Lizzy visited the week after, same thing- more eating, drinking and exploring Chicago which was so much fun.

The 4th of July came and went which we spent watching the fireworks on Navy Pier which was followed by (probably one of the best trips of my life) VEGAS! Now while I have a whole blog post written on it already, I can't help but touch on it again. Between looking rough at the pool parties while some absolute queens looked fabulous in their Gucci belt's and heels to meeting Olly Murs, it was so much fun. It's insane to think we saw Calvin Harris, The Chainsmokers and Kygo all within 3 days of each other, but thats the beauty of Vegas. It really is a girls world over there so if you're heading over, just know you only need to flash a smile and you'll be straight into VIP! For more tips and tricks and to hear more about what we got up to, make sure to check out my blog post here.

My second trip of the year fell at the end of July with a very spur of the moment trip to San Diego. I had my reservations about going, I had such an amazing time there before but I was worried it wouldn't how I remembered it. I was worried I had almost romanticised it and it just would be the same as when I lived there in 2016. But let me tell you, it was! I was only there for about 36 hours but I fell in love with the city all over again. I met my cousin Emma and her three friends there as they spent about 2 and a half weeks there in this Airbnb. We drank, went to Seaport Village, got acai bowls and lay on the beach, I had the perfect day there. Before I knew it I was whisked off to the airport yet again but with a firm belief that San Diego cannot be beaten and a low key regret that I didn't do my graduate visa there haha.

Following that was my two day stint at Lollapolooza where Bruno Mars absolutely rocked the main stage. My cousin Emma then came to visit me for the week where we went on jet skis and got the gals together so we could drunkenly go and see Mamma Mia 2 where we were the only ones in the screening, ideal for us as we know ALL the words.

Towards the end of August I got free tickets to a Cubs baseball game in Wrigley Field where Niamh and I had AMAZING seats. I got to meet David Dobrik after the game, he was just standing outside a bar (yes I fangirled and yes I'm a 10 year old boy haha).

Finishing off the summer, I had to bid Wicker Park goodbye as my lease came to an end and move across town to Wrigleyville with the girls.

This was just a little summery of my summer here in the windy city. My J1 graduate visa has been a whirlwind so far and I feel like I need to share it more here on my blog. Anyway, here's to cosy knits, chelsea boots and hot coffees- roll on fall (lol sorry I've turned v obnoxiously American).

The Ultimate Guide To A Girls Weekend in Las Vegas

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Ultimate Guide To A Girls Weekend in Las Vegas
Aka your Vegas Travel Guide! Ah Vegas, the one place in the world where the gals rule the turf. Some people give out about the gender inequality there but with all of the sexism and pay inequality everywhere else in the world, move over lads and give us girls one place to be superior. Now if you're planning a trip to Viva Las Vegas, look no further. I'm here to tell you things to do, where to stay and of course all of the tricks and tips about how to have the best time in sin city.


On my recent trip to Vegas, I stayed in honestly the perfect hotel for a girls trip. I stayed in Bally's Hotel which was on Flamingo Road (yes the famous road Tupac got shot on) and which is owned by Caesars. Let me tell you why it was the best.

  • We got the most AMAZING view from our room (The Bellagio Fountain, the Eiffel Tower and the whole strip down to the MGM, it was just magical).
  • The room was cheap and cheerful- working out at about $111 between 6 for 4 nights in the middle of summer which is a really good price for being on the strip. As it wasn't one of the really big names the price was lower but the hotel itself still had the same effect featuring a nice pool, casino and a food court.
  • It is in a perfect location. It is opposite Caesars Palace and the Bellagio- basically in the very middle of the strip which made it very handy to walk from place to place (if we could stand the heat lol). I stayed in the MGM before and although it was a fab hotel and very easy to get to see Calvin Harris (as Wet Republic and Omnia Nightclub are both in the MGM), it was just too far down the strip to walk up and experience a good few of the sights.


So let's be honest- we went for the nightlife. In the four days we spent there we saw Kygo, Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers all for free, yep you heard that right. I'll break it down step by step.

11 of us gals went to Vegas together and it couldn't have been more perfect. As I said before, girls rule Vegas (luckily for us) and as a result we got in free everywhere and didn't have to pay for drink as we were on the guest lists and we sweet talked our way into VIP.. Not too difficult to do, even for an awkward soul like me. To get the drink, the first night we ended up talking to these guys in VIP asking them how to go about getting bottle service and acting very casual as they said a cool $3000 when it should have been $9000.. When another group swooped in and took the table 'we were after' then they offered us a drink and that was that! The rest of the weekend ended up following a similar path of finding our way into VIP because honestly it isn't difficult once you have a bit of dutch courage!

I organised guest list for us all for all of the events before we even arrived. I simply searched 'Wet Republic' on Instagram and a load of reps pop up. It seems weird, but all you have to do is DM them on Instagram or give them a text saying the dates you're arriving and how many guys and girls will be there. As I have said before and I'll say it again, they just want girls. Guys must be prepared to pay in ($75 into Calvin @ Wet Republic) but if your group of gals gets in there early (ish) and are on guest list, then you're sorted! If you don't know what DJs or artists are playing the weekend you're going then the rep will let you know and sort it all out for you!

We saw Kygo in Encore Beach Club which was in the beautiful Wynn Hotel in Vegas. Unfortunately I think the weekend we went (6th of July 2018) was his last show in Vegas of the summer but it was so fun and in such a cool venue.

If you're going to Vegas, you HAVE to hit a pool party, they are nothing like you have experienced before. Some people go looking seriously stunning but if you want to let loose a bit and really enjoy yourself when Calvin comes on then prepare to come out looking rough! If you want a drink, be prepared to pay a lovely $50 for a huge drink (that basically counts at 4) and $60 for a locker to put your things in. I would recommend getting a locker between a few of you if you want your phone and belongings to be safe and sound. There is an option to buy $15 waterproof pouches to put around your neck which didn't fail any of the girls but I'm sure could be bought for about $3 on Amazon before you go lol. Honestly, an amazing experience!

For our last night we ended up at Encore again but this time for another pool party.. More reasonably priced at $25 for an essential locker and absolutely crazy all round. I won't say too much other than we met Olly Murs and honestly had another amazing night.


As we went out and drank quite a bit and chilled by the pool, we didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing but this is what we did do and what I'd recommend.
  • Welcome to Las Vegas sign - the queues were crazy but you just have to get a picture when you come to Vegas.
  • The Venetian - The shops at this hotel are just insane! You'd swear you were in Italy because you can even get a gondola ride through the 'streets'.
  • Just roam through all of the amazing hotels.
  • I didn't go but I've heard the MOB museum is really good.
  • Another thing I didn't do was Fremont Street- full of shops bars and it is meant to be really good.
  • If you want to leave the city for the day- head out to the Grand Canyon which is unbelievably breathtaking!


Honestly, I can't say we did much 'fine dining' as we mainly stuck to slices of pizza in the food court but we did try the famous West Coast 'In-n-Out' which was basically the same as Five Guys but still pretty good!

Aaaand I think that is everything! Let me know if you have any questions, I'd be happy to help and if you're thinking about going to Vegas, do it! There is something for everyone and it is a surreal experience.

Short & Sweet - A Trip Home to Remember

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Short & Sweet - A Trip Home to Remember
After a manic 5 months of living in CHI, it's safe to say that I was well and truly caught up in it all. Pottering along to work everyday which kept me entertained to say the least, followed by the gym then editing videos. The weekends of consisted of a lot of Four Loko which ended up in the ultimate fear on Sunday which was well deserved after a night which only finished up at 7am.

I was away from Ireland, aware but very detached from all that was going on.

From when I set foot on the plane last December, I was dead set on not coming home until the year was up.. but then came a referendum and an opportunity which i could not pass up.

Jacket / Boots (Sold Out) / Top / Shorts

Between a very sound boss who said I could work from home and extremely generous 'Abroad for Yes' Facebook page, I found myself on a plane home. I kept it quite- mainly because I wanted to surprise my parents (a plan that ended up going swimmingly if you were wondering) but I had no idea what Dublin would really be like with the referendum looming.

I won't go into too much detail- if you were in the country the day of the referendum and the day afterwards, you know what I mean. It was just ecstatic and it is why I will never forget my little unplanned trip home.

Don't get me wrong my friends and family made the trip home amazing too. I was all over- Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, Meath and Kildare and I was only home for 7 days!

The spontaneous trip ended up being hectic, troublesome, filled with joy and ultimately pride. Pride because I love Ireland, our culture and how we have progressed over the last few years. Anyway, I know this post was short and sweet but so was my trip home, see you in December Ireland!

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