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My husband and I were supposed to go to Ireland for our first year anniversary, we had points and were going to do a week-long horse-back riding with B&B nights across the emerald isle. Instead, I ended up being eight months pregnant so we had to put it off. Now, four kids grown and almost gone, for our 25th anniversary we finally made it to Ireland!
These are my reflections on our visit and some of the best places to visit in Ireland. If you’re looking for where to visit in Ireland or for some top places to visit in Ireland, read on.
And may I mention, we managed to visit Ireland on a budget and had a wonderful time.
Top Places to Visit in Ireland – Ennis
We flew into Shannon Airport and spent the first couple of days in Ennis. Ennis means “island” and this quaint little town is surrounded by a flowing river on all sides, making it a literal island. Besides enjoying the traditional Irish town with pubs and live music, shops and an ancient friary, there are lots of things to do close by in this area. We signed up for an AirBnb Experience – a three-hour hike at the Cliffs of Moher. It was so much fun, the cliffs are about a 45-minute drive from Ennis, and our hostess took us on a back trail away from the tourist center and all the crowds. We saw the cliffs from a unique and gorgeous perspective, learned about the history of the Napoleon watch-towers and the highly-intelligent Fulmar birds which live on the cliffs year-round – they look like seagulls, only smaller. After our lovely hike we were treated to hot scones and tea at the studio of her artist friend.
Besides the Cliffs of Moher, in and around Ennis are no shortage of old, ruined churches, castles and abbeys:
- The Clare Museum
- The Clare Abbey
- The Dysert O’Dea Castle
- Bunratty Castle
- The Ennis Cathedral
- The Quin Abbey
- The Killone Abbey
- There’s also horse back riding and golf courses, as well as driving along the Wild Atlantic Way (the Cliffs of Moher and beyond).
Best of all, if you like hiking you can discover the wildness of Burren National Park and our personal favorite, the Dromore Woodland Reserve, tucked in a corner of the Burren. Go walking down the mossy path, past the castle ruin, and you’ll soon be lost in a magical fairy-land of lichen-covered stone walls, grassy soft mounds and shapes and old trunks and castle walls rising and falling under the undergrowth in mysterious and unusual ways.
Best Places to Visit in Ireland – Aran Islands: Inisheer
On the Cliffs of Moher you can gaze across the sea to the closest and smallest of the Aran Islands, Inisheer. You can see how a fire lit in the Napoleon Watchtower on the highest point of Inisheer could easily be seen here on the Cliffs, where this tower would then be lighted, and so on around the island, just like in Lord of the Rings, as the Irish had to watch for an imminent attack by Napoleon’s forces in the 1800s.
From Ennis, we drove our rental car, pausing for our hike in the Dromore Woods on the way, then stopping for lunch in Galway City. This is a favorite destination as it is a bigger traditional Irish town, so you have lots of shops and pubs and sites to see in this colorful town that is fun to walk around in.
From there we drove onto the Connemara Peninsula, stopping for lunch at one of the many villages dotting the road, then took our ferry to Inisheer. Its name means “island of the east” as it’s the eastern-most and smallest Aran Island. Inishmaan is literally the “middle island,” and Inishmore, “large island,” is the largest and western-most island of the three.
Inishmore has the most activities to do and the highest number of tourists, but we wanted a quiet time, so chose to spend all three of our days exploring Inisheer. The lovely thing about this island is that it is small, you cannot bring your car over, so you spend your time walking all over the island, it’s wonderful. The island is covered with low dry-stone walls, dividing the land into small parcels used for farming, sheep-herding, gardening, etc. There’s a castle ruin near the Napoleon watchtower on the hill, O’Brien’s Castle, and you can actually walk all around and in this ancient keep. There are few castles in Ireland now where you can do this – most, we found, are on private land and locked away, or charge a fee for a tour, which is always worth it and never costs much.
On Inisheer our crusty Irish host cooked us a traditional Irish breakfast every morning. Besides walking, you can rent bicycles or pay $10 for a 45-minute horse and buggy tour. You can buy a real Aran Island sweater (our host pointed us to a local islander knitting and selling them from her house across from the Castle Cafe near the castle), Man of Aran Fudge and Turkish delight and various arts and crafts made by local artisans. There’s an Arts Cultural Center with a museum, delicious food in the pubs and restaurants around the Castle Village town. In the middle of town is the stone-age barrow, Cnoc Raithni. Go to the old cemetery above the airport and discover the medieval church ruin St. Cavan’s Church sunk into the ground! Wander to the eastern side to see the Plassey shipwreck – I took mermaid photos there and swam in my tail at a small, private beach just past the tiny airport. Wander to the western side to see Inishmaan across the sea and be sure to find the other medieval church ruin from the 11th century, St. Gobnet’s Church, on the hill near the arts center. Every night there’s live Irish music at the hotel restaurant.
Top Places to Visit in Ireland – Limerick
After ferrying back to the mainland, we drove down to Limerick, staying at a nice AirBnb south of the city in the countryside. This was a perfect location – just fifteen minutes into the city north of us, or about twenty minutes south to one of the oldest historical sites in Ireland with the largest stone circle – Lough Gur.
Limerick is fun with lots of things to do – be sure to visit the Milk Market on a Saturday if you can, especially if you love flea markets, local foods and shopping. You’ll also want time to tour King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. John’s Cathedral, Limerick City Museum and absolutely stop by The Hunt Museum – you’ll find all kinds of crazy items this merchant collected over his lifetime, even artifacts from ancient Egypt and from stone-age British Isles. It were here in Limerick where we saw a young woman performing live Irish dancing at The Locke Bar with traditional music every night – that was so cool and gave me the chills.
Our favorite place of all was the ancient historical site of Lough Gur, where evidence of 6,000 years of human habitation has been found. Be sure to visit Ireland’s largest stone circle at Lough Gur, and you must take time for the Lough Gur Heritage Center, where you can go on an audio self-guided tour and see the various ancient ruins, climb the mossy steps into the trees, pass a fairy village, get a lovely view of the lake with wild swans, flanked by two hills with a medieval castle poking through the trees. Listen to the legends of the lady in the lake or the hollow hill and how it’s dangerous to go on it because a fairy king lives inside. In the free Heritage Center Museum you can see unusual artifacts like the bronze circular shield and artifacts from neolithic to medieval times.
I’ve been studying and applying the law of attraction in my new business of writing and becoming a novelist, learning many law of attraction secrets and law of attraction tips, as magic has unfolded before my eyes. When you learn to live in the flow, serendipity happens and you find yourself living a life of miracles. The law of attraction works in real life. You won’t believe the incredible ways in which the law of attraction has brought about specific things for me to experience in my various steps in writing a novel.
Law of attraction works
My debut novel is all about alchemy, and interestingly enough, the early alchemists were in actuality learning and experimenting with the law of attraction, I believe, discovering the law of attraction secrets through their various explorations and alchemical experiments. Alchemy, after all, incorporates the spiritual plane and the goal of transformation of one’s inner self as well as the physical plane and the outward transmutations of the metals, herbs, water and materials. They believed the outer reflected the inner, and vice versa.
I’ve been applying the law of attraction steps in writing my novel, and it’s been the most amazing and strange journey. Most of it of course was just my life of researching and writing, but the unusual occasionally occurs, and when it does, it’s something vital to my story.
Learning law of attraction secrets through alchemy
As I researched, studied and practiced alchemy, it coincided with my learning law of attraction secrets and tips in my own inward journey. I’m still just a beginner at alchemy, as I’ve focused more on law of attraction in real life, but far along the way I suddenly had a eureka moment as I believe I may have figured out the true meaning of the philosopher’s stone!
Alchemical steps in writing a novel
So what are the processes involved in writing a novel? Just like in alchemy, first I had the germ of the idea, the inspiration. Then I did a lot of research and learning, followed by the experimental work of writing and finishing the first draft. Mind you, I was working a separate business so I only worked on this part-time in fits and starts at the beginning.
But after the first draft was completed, I then spent time transforming my manuscript by revising, editing and reworking it. I would sometimes get flashes of insight on major changes to be made, and I also had beta readers give me feedback on the first draft, which helped tremendously.
When it was finally finished, I queried it out and lo and behold, I got an agent! (I still love just saying that – my agent!) Then she and I went through my novel, purifying and working on it more and more, bringing it to its most exalted state.
At one point I had another eureka moment. My particular novel, Encyclopedeia Magica: Volume 1 – Alchemy, is actually three books in one – it’s a novel, a puzzle workbook and a real alchemy/potions textbook. I had been inspired and had written it altogether, all three components intertwined as I wrote the first draft.
My agent (!) had the brilliant idea of separating the three components – this is exactly what you do in alchemy – in order to focus on each part and bring it to its best self, then eventually we’d recombine it all back together. I couldn’t believe it – this whole process, these steps in writing a novel, in my novel, are following exactly the steps of doing alchemy. Real alchemy was being done to my own novel.
These are the kinds of miracles I’ve been experiencing all through the process of writing my novel.
So we dove in. I took the painstaking effort to separate out the three components of my novel. Then we focused on each part, polishing each until it was perfect – the novel part, the puzzle workbook part, and the potions textbook part. Finally, when all three were ready, I did the painstaking work of recombining the three components and putting it all back together.
Then my agent and I were able to do a final polish, smoothing it all over and making sure it worked. Now we had a perfect, finished and exalted piece of art!
What are the odds that we would end up doing the literal steps of alchemical transformation on my own novel about alchemy? This is another way the law of attraction works in real life, tailoring to each situation. The law of attraction is real.
Law of attraction in real life
The miracles didn’t end there. My husband and I got to take an anniversary trip to London and Ireland. The London portion was specifically to do research and fact-checking for my novel, set in 1665 London. And you won’t believe it – the day we arrived, my agent emailed me to say my novel was ready, and could I send her some graphics so she could start pitching it?
“No,” I answered. “I just arrived in London and won’t be back to my laptop for two weeks.” No problem, she assured me, just get to it when I return.
Well the law of attraction had things in mind (or God? or the universe? all of the above?). Not only did I end up discovering several key elements I needed to fix, change or add to my novel to make it right – one was because I happened to speak to several locals and was a key bit of action at a pivotal point in the story – but I got to experience several of the experiences my own character had when she first arrived in London in 1665.
But the most surprising thing was something I didn’t plan for at all, and just happened. Right before our trip I’d noticed a mistake in the planning and I had to make some last minute changes to our Airbnb accommodations. This change made it so that we had one less day in London, but we did have all afternoon to travel by train out to Essex near the Stanstead Airport (instead of trying to make that trip super early in the morning to catch our flight to Ireland). We got off in a tiny town, then had to walk about twenty minutes, pulling our luggage to get to our traditional English cottage. I didn’t fully realize it till that evening, but we were walking a stretch that was almost exactly the same my character walked on her way to Londontown. In my novel I had her eating wild raspberries, but on our walk we discovered that the English countryside is just bursting with wild blackberry shrubs, and we enjoyed delicious fresh blackberries on our walk. Later, over supper, I looked at a map and saw how close we were to Ware, a town my 17th-century character walked through. And I knew another important detail I needed to change in my novel – blackberries! I couldn’t believe that I got to walk near the same area as her, and this was completely accidental and unplanned on my part – it was all the law of attraction in real life, working its magic.
Steps in Writing a Novel
These are just some of the amazing experiences I’ve been having in the steps in writing my own novel. Becoming a writer is my new career, and I’ve been using the law of attraction in my business the whole way. I love living a life of miracles. We had a great trip, I fixed my novel, and my agent is pitching it. It’s so exciting to see what will happen next!
So far here are the books and resources I’ve used in learning law of attraction secrets and tips – the books can be found on Amazon.com:
- All books and YouTube videos by Esther and Jerry Hicks, sometimes they go by Abraham Hicks
- The Secret DVD
- Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings in the Bible
- Books by Nanice Ellis: Is There a White Elephant in Your Way?