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Irish Destinations

My Trip to Glendalough, Dingle, Dublin and Belfast

By Jessi L., Guest Blogger
Originally Published in January 2020


Months ago when my friend asked if I would like to join her in traveling to Ireland in December I jumped at the opportunity. Even with its reputation of cold and rain in the winter months, to me, the thought conjured up images of sparkling lights at Christmas Markets, the breathtaking and always green countryside, and the annual hometown show for one of my most beloved Ireland based bands, The Coronas. We planned our itinerary carefully to get the most out of our brief time there, especially since the daylight hours are quite limited.

Our excursions included a day trip to Glendalough, in County Wicklow, an overnighter to Dingle in County Kerry, and another overnighter to Belfast in Northern Ireland. 



Blog - Jessi L Photo
(photo courtesy of Jessi L)


Glendalough is the most serenely beautiful place I have ever visited. I recommend walking from the monastic settlement to the Upper Lake. If you're up for it there are more challenging hiking trails up into the hills. 




Blog Jessi Photo

Blog Jessi Photo
(photos courtesy of Jessi L)


If Glendalough is serene, then Dingle is moody. The Wild Atlantic Way is aptly named, and we made sure to listen to Aoife Scott's gorgeous song "All Along The Wild Atlantic Way" as we drove through the stunning scenery. We had a lovely evening in Dick Mack's pub and woke to a rainbow over the perfect little town. Our drive down to Dún Chaoin was bright and sunny but cold and there was even a bit of a sleet shower.


CelticMKE Blog Irish Destinations - Dublin Cemetary
(photo courtesy of Jessi L)

Back in Dublin, we visited Glasnevin Cemetery. If you are at all interested in Irish History the tour can't be beat. Bridget was the most wonderful guide and shared a wealth of information. 

If you were lucky enough to catch The Coronas when they played at Milwaukee Irish Fest in 2018 then you know what a great show they put on. Every year during the Christmas season they play a series of home town shows in Dublin, at The Olympia Theater. The impressive 140-year-old Olympia is located on Dame Street in Dublin, across from Dublin Castle, where we visited a quaint little Christmas Market before the show. 

Blog Jessi PhotoBlog Jessi Photo
(photos courtesy of Jessi L)

The Coronas are a high energy band at every show they play, however seeing them in their native environment surrounded by their adoring and faithful fans is an entirely new and amazing experience. Many times lead singer Danny O'Reilly would step back and let the voices of the crowd fill the room, creating awe-inspiring moments that gave us chills. Hearing the crowd sing the lyrics to "Heroes or Ghosts" in Irish with such great passion is a moment I will never forget. Combine that with a very unique light show, Co2 blasts, and confetti cannons and you end up with one heck of a rock show. 

Blog Jessi Photo of The Coronas at Olympia Theater
(photo courtesy of Jessi L)



Another show we got to see were Milwaukee Irish Fest favorites, The High Kings. We traveled up to Belfast to catch up with them at Ulster Hall, which is about a two-hour drive. We left Dublin early Friday morning and made a full day out of it. We first visited the Titanic Museum, which was fascinating and I highly recommend visiting if you get a chance. 

The Belfast Christmas market was our next stop and was conveniently located just a short walk from the venue in front of a festively decorated Belfast City Hall. The cute little booths housed all kinds of goodies and wares and the area was filled with twinkling lights and delicious smells giving it a dreamy Christmas feeling. 

Blog Jessi Photo  Blog Jessi photo
(photos courtesy of Jessi L)

Ulster Hall, which opened in 1862, is a lovely old venue filled with history and fantastic acoustics.  As one would expect, The High Kings sold it out. Brian, Darren, and Finbarr have been joined by the newest member, Paul O’Brien, who adds to the already full and beautiful sound of the band. They played all the favorites plus their new Christmas song, "Christmas The Way I Remember." The new song is set to the tune of "Red Is The Rose," and is absolutely lovely and sure to become a holiday favorite. By the end of the show, there were people up and dancing in the aisles to "Step It Out, Mary." Then the entire crowd was on their feet for "Whiskey in the Jar." The High Kings also had their latest album Live & Kickin’ available for sale, which is being sold exclusively at their shows.  

One week is never long enough to take in all the beautiful and interesting sites and music that Ireland has to offer. I am already planning a trip back, this time to experience Halloween in it's birthplace. If you get a chance to travel to Ireland, take it, even if it's in the "dreary and cold" winter months.

The High Kings - CelticMKE Blog
(photo courtesy of Jessi L)

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