Like I told my parents when they were in Dublin, time moves slowly here in Ireland, but I can’t explain exactly why. Is it the long summer days with the sun rising at 5 AM and not setting until nearly 10 PM? Or it is the laid-back attitude of Dublin and its people when compared to the madness that is American city life? Or could it just be the beauty and majesty of the rolling hills and plains juxtaposed with the raging waters of the Atlantic that suck you in? Like I said, I’m really not sure what the answer is, but I am certain that Ireland has some sort of supernatural ability to lure in unexpecting visitors and make them want to stay a while.
Today, I want to talk about the three most magical places I have discovered in my three weeks so far in Ireland: Kilkenny, County Wicklow, and Giant’s Causeway.
Like many Irish towns, Kilkenny is a quaint, suburban village with more churches than schools and more pubs than churches, but what makes Kilkenny unique is that located directly in the city center is a medieval castle. Built in the 12th century by the Normans, Kilkenny Castle is unreal. Though the castle has many stories, the most famous is that of Petronilla de Midia, a “witch” who was actually burned at the stake in the front yard of the castle. Beyond witchcraft and wizardry, Kilkenny is the home of the 6th oldest pub in Ireland, Kytelers Inn.
Moving on, County Wicklow and its nearly 50,000 acre National Park is a truly magical place. Nicknamed the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow is known for its immense physical beauty, temperate climate, and world famous gardens. Due to its landscape, Wicklow was the filming location for Hollywood blockbusters PS I Love You and Braveheart, and oddly enough, amongst the sheep on one of the hillsides, there is actually a “Hollywood” sign, which denotes the village of Hollywood, rather than the movies’ filming spots. Because County Wicklow has become so popular in recent years for not only travel but also as a summer home escape for Dublin city-dwellers, only those born in or who have family from the county can actually live there.
Finally, the last of the three is Giant’s Causeway, which is located up on the coasts of Northern Ireland. According to the legend, Finn MacCool, the most famous Irish giant, and Benandonner, a Scottish giant, were challenged to fight, so Finn built the causeway so that he and Benandonner could face off. But when Finn discovered how much bigger the Scottish giant was compared to himself, he pretended to be his son and dressed like a baby. When Benandonner knocked on Finn’s door, his wife, Oonagh, answered and explained that Finn was away and their baby (aka Finn) was asleep. When Benandonner saw the size of Finn MacCool’s “baby,” he assumed that his father had to be massive, so he ran back across the causeway and tore out the middle so that Finn could not cross over to Scotland. Of course, the scientific explanation is that the basalt columns are a result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption, but to each their own. Nevertheless, the view is breathtaking and indeed magical.