Aoife Owens, Director of Sales & Marketing for White Elephant Resorts shares her winter travel plans with Nantucket Insider. This Insider makes her journey home to County Kildare, Ireland to spend time with family and friends. Aoife gives us the inside track on places to see and explore and it sounds wonderful! I travel to Ireland to see my family as much as I can – mostly over the holidays and I try and get there over the summer too. The travel is very easy from Boston to Dublin. Aer Lingus flies direct and you can be in Ireland in short over night flight to Shannon (west coast) or Dublin - 6 hours. Also Dublin is a fantastic gateway to anywhere in Europe. So often I plan a trip home to County Kildare and then a little break for a few days somewhere else! First thing I like to do is go straight home and enjoy all the comforts and see my family -it's just green fields for miles and very restful.
The best place in Dublin to shop is Grafton Street – it has all types of stores from high street to luxury and lots of great side streets for boutique shopping. For a modern store check out Brown Thomas – but for traditional Irish goods I would recommend Avoca Handweavers or The Kilkenny Shop. As a tourist, I would not miss a walk to Trinity College, the National Gallery and without a doubt Guinness Brewery to see amazing views of the city and try a glass of the black stuff where it is made!
This year I went for a trip to the Dingle Peninsula, which is really a stunning small coastal town in County Kerry and is a total different feeling and perspective to the east coast of Ireland. Much of the Dingle Peninsula is a Gaeltacht or an area where the Irish language is widely spoken in the home in daily life. It stretches 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland's south-west coast. I am biased, but I think it is a one of the most beautiful places in the world . Mountain ranges run through the center of the peninsula and the coastline has steep sea-cliffs, lovely sandy beaches and the views of the Blasket Islands. Dingle town very quaint with lots of options for fine dining and casual restaurants with a heavy influence on local seafood, craftmakers, potters and artists call it home and the town has a fun nightlife with traditional music to be found. A great friend of mine, Nuala and her husband Martin who is the restaurant's chef, have a restaurant there – the Global Village – it's amazing so mention Nantucket if you visit! We rented a chalet in the center of town but there are lots of options for accommodations there. You do need a car so you can drive around and see everything!
My recommendation to a first time visitor to Ireland spend at least a week. I would explore Dublin which is really a cosmopolitan European capital - It has such a diverse range of things to do from restaurants, shops, galleries, museums etc. Then I would tell them hop over the south west which is scenic and the classic atmosphere you expect -so you get a great sense of a modern country with uniquely traditional characteristics. Its also a lot of fun!