Ireland, a route to discover the island of U2, James Joyce and Guinness

They call it the Emerald Island because of the green that paints its landscapes. The chromatic range of this color in every corner of Ireland is infinite, like its imposing cliffs and its beaches overlooking the Atlantic. Land of contrasts, maintains the charm of the rural -in capital letters because its towns preserve intact the magic of the close and the small- while cities like Belfast and Dublin display culture, gastronomy and modernity. in the capital of North Ireland -country of the United Kingdom- starts this journey through the island of Joyce, U2, the fish and chips and, of course, Guinness, a symbol that still endures.

Until recently, little was said in Belfast about the tragedy of the Titanics. It was a slab for the inhabitants of the city, until in 1997 James Cameron and his movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet filled the city with tourists eager to learn more about the luxurious ocean liner, which sank on April 14, 1912 after colliding with an iceberg and causing 1,500 deaths. Once the conflict in Northern Ireland was over, the ship returned to the news and has since become the best tourist attraction.

The Titanic Museum in Belfast.

The Harland and Wolff shipyards are today the neighborhood of titanicawith the museum, an imposing building of 27 meters (measuring the ship) inaugurated in 2012 coinciding with the centenary, as place icon. The visit (which lasts about two hours and is interactive) wonderfully contextualizes the beginning of the 20th century, the years before the outbreak of the World War I, with a Belfast symbol of the naval sector.

From there, you can walk to the lively City Hall area or take a tram to stroll through the center and eat something. Sawers is a store deli where to snack on something quick and tasty. They prepare everything at the moment and with fresh product, both salads and sandwiches -an obsession of the Irish- and bagels. Right across the street at Jeffers, the coffee and sweets are worth another stop before heading back on the road.

The murals on the sides of the houses represent a whole tradition in this city. Some mark the territory, others are demanding and some are simply decorative. exist circuits in black taxis that run West Belfast; the drivers are the ones who best know the terrain and the location of each one of them. Among the most iconic and visited, that of Bobby Sands, an IRA militant who died in prison after 66 days of hunger strike; one of the most famous unionist murals shows King William III on his white horse. On weekends, the life of the city moves to the St George’s Market. More than 150 stalls selling clothes, antiques, crafts, food and good live music have made this beautiful Victorian building a meeting point.

The Long Room Library at Trinity.
The Long Room Library at Trinity.

An hour’s drive north, nature begins to show its potential. The Giant’s Causeway, in the county of antrimis without a doubt the star visit to the coast of North Ireland. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the views from the top of the hills are impressive. From there, the 40,000 stones in the form of hexagonal steps dating back to almost 60 million years they paint a picture somewhere between wild and volcanic. In September and October the place is especially beautiful, when the green shares the limelight with the brown and red of autumn. They organize highly recommended guided tours.

The roads show a buccal landscape, in which the cows are never lacking. It is worth stopping by the beaches and viewpoints that mark the way, always keeping an eye on the forecast of the weather and the sky. By car, approximately 20 minutes, you reach Portstewart, a charming coastal town with colorful houses and a good atmosphere. In front of the beach, next to the Ferris wheel, is Native Seafood, a very nice place to eat fish and seafood from the area at a reasonable price. The mussels, the oysters, the halloumi burger and the kentucky fried monkfish burger make up a short and appetizing menu. It is run by a team of very friendly and attentive young people.

GREAT WRITERS

Next stop, Sligo, a pleasant little town famous largely for the poet’s descriptions of it. W. B. Yeats, Nobel Prize for Literature and adopted son of the place -it is worth remembering the large number of great writers that this island has produced-. O’Connel and Grattan Street bring together the bars, restaurants and shops from the city. From there it is a pleasant walk along the river. If it’s time to eat, in Coach Lane they prepare a delicious fish and chips

The Native Food restaurant, in Portland.
The Native Food restaurant, in Portland.

The west coast beaches of Ireland are not well known and are spectacular. Of white sand, very long, often escorted by green mountains and where a food truck in which to have a great coffee. A couple of examples near Louisburgh: Old Head Beach, family-friendly and perfect for practicing sports – all equipment can be rented – and Carrownisky, where you can take a long, leisurely walk or simply watch the surfers from the sand. We leave the bathroom only for the intrepid. in one of those food trucks they recommend us to approach their own town of louisburgh and get lost in its streets. It is one of the many charming towns in the area, one of the wildest and most authentic on the island. Here we stop and eat at 74 Louisburgh, a business run by a young and determined female team that offers a menu based on soups, wraps, salads and homemade bread. There is no lack of delicious desserts, a corner where to buy objects from local artisans and even a small bookstore.

the abbot
The abbey of Cong, from the 12th century.

After a few days on the road, the foliage becomes familiar, but there is still room for surprise. Get lost in Kylemore Abbey -it has paths and routes for it-, on the banks of the lake connemaraIt is like traveling to another time. Here lived Mitchell Henry, a wealthy businessman, his wife, Margaret Vaughan, and his nine children. It is convenient to dedicate some time both to the family castle and to the neo gothic church nestled in the mountains, where there are sometimes live harp concerts. You have to go to the cafeteria to taste its delicious tomato soup.

More towns to make a stop en route. Cong, in County Mayohas gone down in film history for being the setting where the quiet man (The Quiet Man), the classic directed by John Ford who won an Oscar. A typically Irish town, it has turned the film into its tourist treasure -with a Pat Cohan’s museum and pub included-. Of the highlights to visit, the lakes, asford castlewhich was the residence of the guinness family and today it houses one of the most luxurious hotels in Ireland, and the 12th century abbey.

MUSIC IN THE STREETS

From the calm of Cong we jump to the lively Galway, which is just over 45 minutes away. The music plays on Shop Street, the city’s pedestrian street and commercial artery; a theme is heard TheCranberries a few meters before a kid covers Ed Sheeran. Among the recommended plans to do in this university city, visit the city museum, tour the salthill promenade, sit down in one of its pubs (Tigh Neachtain and Murphy’s are two of the best known) and go to its market. To eat there is a wide and varied offer, from pizzas of The Dough Bros. even Michelin stars like Loam and Aniar.

The spectacular Cliffs of Moher.
The spectacular Cliffs of Moher.

From Galway you can make very interesting day trips, such as to the Cliffs of Moher -an hour and a half by car-, to the Burren and its lunar landscape and to the Aran Islands. The best photos of the famous cliffs are achieved late or early in the morning. Travel the eight kilometers and enjoy the views that plunge from 214 meters into the Atlanticbecome one of the best moments of the trip.

both in the most rural part As in the cities, there is a common denominator: the friendliness of the Irish, always attentive to clueless tourists. In dublin, cosmopolitan and welcoming capital of the Republic of Ireland, there is no street without a pub, which are undoubtedly the best embassies. The Guinness Storehouse It remains a hit as a tourist attraction.

The distances -and the good music that plays through the streets- invite you to explore it on foot. The Trinity College, the oldest university in the country, attracts curious people from around the world who come to see two of its main attractions, the book of kells and the Long Room Library, one of the most impressive on the continent. The walk through the gardens that welcomed Oscar Wilde in his day is a delight.

the coffee
The Kaph cafe on Drury Street in Dublin.

From Trinity it doesn’t take long to get to druri street, where coquettish restaurants, designer shops and small cafes, like Kaph, who usually has a queue at the door, they invite you to relax for a while. The castle, where the great state events are held, is within reasonable walking distance. To delve into the essence of the island and its people, you cannot miss a visit to the Emigration Museum (EPIC), located on the banks of the Liffey, in the Dockland area, an interactive proposal that puts a face to many of the 10 million Irish who have set sail from the island throughout history.

The kilmainham jail It is the most original stop on the route. It is the largest unoccupied prison in Europe and touring its facilities makes your hair stand on end. Important politicians involved in the struggle for ireland independence. If there is time, it is worth going to the fishing village of Howth. The atmosphere of the city is incredible. As soon as a ray of sun comes out, parks and terraces They fill up with people and pints. In every corner there is background music and that always adds up. The feeling after 12 days touring the island is that Ireland hides many different versions. Impossible to choose just one.

HOW TO GET THERE. Iberia and Ryanair offer flights from different cities in Spain.

WHERE TO SLEEP. AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast (marriott.com). It has a privileged location with views of the Titanic neighborhood. Pet friendly. From 150 euros per night. Staycity Aparthotels in Dublin (staycity.com). It has different buildings in the city, all with spacious rooms and very good locations. From 220 euros per night.

WHERE TO EAT. In Dublin, the streets of Drury and Camden have an interesting offer of restaurants.

MORE INFO: On the Ireland Tourism website.

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Ireland, a route to discover the island of U2, James Joyce and Guinness


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