Curated by: Lucas Santos & Ben Dumas
Travel Period: August 2017
Traveled With: Ben’s whole family (Mom, Dad, Zack, Cait, Sam, Lyle)
Typical Weather: 60-70 degree days, cool nights in the low 50’s. Some typical Irish rain, but we got lucky with mostly sunny days – unseasonably sunny and warm.
Getting There: NYC – Dublin (Nonstop)
Getting Around: Driver and 12 passenger van. Highly recommend having your own vehicle to get around Ireland.
Every other year, Ben’s family organizes a big family vacation, alternating between beach and non-beach destinations (to satisfy everyone). When this year’s trip came around and it coincided with Ben’s Dad’s 60th birthday…Jack was the deciding factor in us choosing Ireland – a place he’d always wanted to go to. We were also extremely fortunate that a friend generously offered us their family home for a comfortable and highly authentic week-long stay in Ireland.
Located on the outskirts of the small town of Oughterard, about an hour outside of Galway on Ireland’s rugged Western side – we were beautifully isolated in Irish countryside. The home sat on a gorgeous green lot with a river running through it, and was surrounded by small farm homes and rolling fields of sheep (yes, Ben tried to catch them for a photo opp most mornings). Our stay in Oughterard was the jumping off point for a week mixing sightseeing and relaxing family time. We’re not typically a ‘touring’ vacation type of family so we tried to limit the distances and prioritize those places we absolutely needed to see, rather than trying to cram in all of Ireland and spending the week in the car. We were also close enough to Galway to enjoy that cities fun bars, restaurants, and lively young vibe.
This was an atypical trip for us – and proved to be unique, unexpected, and fun in many different ways.
Currarevagh Country House [Authentic Irish B&B, Oughterard]
Just down the hill from the house we stayed at in Oughterard, and as the name suggests, this Victorian Country House B&B is very quiet, set on beautiful grounds by the lake, and feels authentically Irish. The restaurant here is also delicious and provides a very homey yet elevated dining experience where all the restaurant guests (maybe 18 total) sit down at the same time for a 3 course meal.
- Ashford Castle [Unique Splurge]
If you’re looking to treat yourself and want to feel like castle-dwelling royalty, this is the place to be. The castle is set on a gorgeous property of gardens and sculptures so it’s certainly worth a visit even if you’re not staying there. They also have a falconry course that guests can participate in.
- The Westbury Hotel [Classic Luxury, Dublin]
Right in the heart of downtown Dublin, the Westbury’s rooms very nice, but the lobby bars, restaurants, and overall vibe make this place even better. The location makes it easy to explore any part of Dublin.
- Sea Breeze Lodge [Comfortable Stay, Galway]
This charming B&B located in the Salthill section of Galway offers a clean and comfortable stay with great views of Galway Bay - the perfect jumping off point for exploring all the fun Galway has to offer.
SEE & DO
- Cliffs of Moher – This must-see tourist spot doesn’t disappoint. Although it can be crowded, the views and sunsets are spectacular and completely worth it – not just for the Instagram post.
- Aran Islands – Catch the 1 hour ferry from Ros a' Mhíl (20 miles outside Galway) to explore the Aran Islands – full of scenic viewpoints, ruins and historic sites, and beautifully rugged Irish landscape.
- Salt Hill Esplanade in Galway – Little Oceanside village close to Galway – great place to walk around or rent bikes and explore.
- Galway Races – If you happen to be Ireland at the end of July/beginning of August, try to catch the Galway Horse races for a really fun day of betting and drinking Guinness at the track.
- Connemara – This national park in Western Ireland is full of beautiful scenic drives, rugged and rural landscapes great for hiking, and almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Cliffton is the largest town in this area of Ireland, and a perfect spot to stop for lunch.
- Croke Park (Dublin) – The third largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 82,000, this is a really fun place to watch a football match and experience the intensity of Irish sport.
- Dingle Peninsula – A very scenic area of Southwestern Ireland, this is great for a day trip or overnight stay. The Dingle Peninsula is full of small seaside towns, beaches, good restaurants, and mountain backdrops.
- Ard Bia at Nimmos (Galway) – Delicious seasonal Mediterranean food served up in a cozy and unpretentious waterfront space right in the center of Galway. This was our favorite meal in Ireland, and the food was as beautiful as it was tasty – the Rib Eye was our favorite!
- McDounagh (Galway) – The best fish and chips in Galway. Make sure you stop by here for lunch, or a late-night meal after hitting the bars and the beers.
- Wildes (Dublin): Located in the lobby of The Westbury hotel in Dublin, this fine-dining restaurant serves up delicious steak and seafood options in an impressive setting. The amazing atmosphere and semi-private back table made this dinner really fun for our large group.
- Balfes (Dublin): Also located in the Westbury hotel, this place has a French bistro vibe and tasty menu. Perfect for lunch, dinner – or just for great cocktails at the bar.
- Cullen's at the Cottage (Ashford Castle): This casual restaurant on the grounds of Ashford Castle is a good spot to have lunch outside by the fire on a nice day, and it’s more about the castle views than the food itself.
- Boat House Inn (Oughterard): Located right in town, this Inn’s restaurant had delicious, very reasonably priced food – mostly traditional Irish dishes but some unique options with Indian and Asian influence.
- CoffeeWerk (Galway): Best coffee we had on our trip – located right on Quay street!
- Quay (Galway): Amazing Irish bar with a stained class and wooden arch decor reminiscent of church (in a good way). With amazing live music, this was our favorite bar in Galway.
- The Kings Head (Galway): Another staple on the main bar strip in Galway, this three story Irish pub is full of live music, local Irish pub food, and more pints of course.
- Powers Thatched Pub (Oughterard): We were the only non-Irish people in this authentic town bar consisting of great pints and old Irish men and women singing songs well into the night.
- Peruke & Periwig (Dublin): This vintage prohibition era bar was another one of our favorites with it’s cozy speakeasy vibe, great service, and tasty cocktails (perfect as an after-dinner spot).
- Davie Byrne (Dublin): Just off the beaten path, this authentic Irish Pub has been serving up Dublin since 1798 and is certainly worth a visit.
- Kehoe's (Dublin): Another traditional Irish pub in Dublin with live music – one of our favorites!
- Pigmallion (Dublin): If you’re looking to step it up from the pub-scene, this is a fun club/dance spot which lets you party indoors and out.